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While frying is no doubt one of the simplest cooking techniques ever existed on the planet, the aftermath can be a nightmare — splattered oil on the countertop and grease spots on nearby kitchen appliances and backsplash.
The cleaning is not the only thing you need to worry about.
Often, the oil would pop and spatter your pretty arms while frying. This experience is not only painful but also results in ugly burn marks.
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one experiencing this frustration. I’ve had my fair share of oil splatter and burn marks too.
So, I’ve done extensive research — skimming through multiple cooking forums and expert websites — to find the best ways to prevent oil from popping and splatter when frying.
So, how do you fry food without making a mess?
Read on to know more.
- Why is my frying oil popping? Why does my oil splatter?
- How to Prevent Oil from Popping When Frying and Keep Grease from Splattering?
- Top 3 best grease cover or splatter screen for your stove and pans
- Related Questions
Why is my frying oil popping? Why does my oil splatter?
The most effective way to prevent something is to know what causes it so you can eliminate any factors that may trigger it to happen.
So, what causes oil to pop and splatter? Oil pops when moisture in the cooking oil evaporates quickly into gas when hot. The rapid-vaporizing water pushes out the surrounding fat from your frying pan to other places, causing a splatter of oil on the backsplash or burner. Even a little amount of water in the food and cooking oil can cause the oil to pop and splatter.
The rapid evaporation of water is similar to small explosions and occurs hundreds of times within a mere second, generating the iconic “sizzle” in your pan.
Since your food, including vegetables and meat, contain a tiny amount of water, the oil may splatter when you put them into a pan with hot oil.
So, realistically speaking, you can’t completely prevent oil from popping or splattering, especially when it comes to food containing water like garlic and onion.
Hence, the reason why chefs wear long sleeves when cooking.
Nevertheless, there are a handful of effective methods you can try to prevent splatter of oil from landing on your body and kitchen counter (more on this below).
How to Prevent Oil from Popping When Frying and Keep Grease from Splattering?
While these methods have been sworn to work by many people, it should be noted that no one method will prevent the oil from popping completely.
Still, each attempt helps decrease oil popping and its unpleasant effects, including splatters.
Here’s what you can do to prevent and reduce oil popping and splatter.
Tip #1: Reduce moisture in your food
Now that you know the main culprit that causes oil to pop is water, it is only right that you reduce the water content in your food since less water means less oil popping.
In fact, drying your food appropriately before putting them in a hot pan provides the most effective solution to reduce splatters.
Here’s what you can do to lessen the moisture in your food and pan:
- Dry your ingredients thoroughly as much as possible by patting or blotting them lightly with kitchen paper or a clean towel.
- When picking up marinated meat, allow the meat to drip off excess liquid, or pressed it against the side of the bowl before breading it.
- Ensure your skillet is dry before adding oil.
Also, you should never put frozen or partially frozen foods, including frozen vegetables, into hot oil without letting them sit out for a while.
Frozen fries, for instance, contain plenty of water at the surface. That’s why restaurants usually let them sit out around 10 to 20 minutes before frying them.
Letting frozen or very cold foods to sit out for some time allows ice on the foods’ surface to melt and evaporate while bringing their temperature up.
Since onions contain a lot of moisture, some people advised sauteing them enough to cover the entire skillet at once, which will help cover the entire surface of your skillet with vapor.
The vapor, in turn, will generate enough moisture to overwhelm the impact of popping.
Cooking tips: Since garlic burns easily, you should add them toward the end when sauteing. Try adding them once other ingredients inside the pan have calmed down.
Tip #2: Use salt and flour
Flour and salt help absorb moisture from your food.
You can sprinkle some salt or flour in the hot oil when it begins to bubble. However, don’t add too much, just a little flour and salt will do the job.
When appropriate, bread or flour your foods. Be sure to coat the food completely. Breading helps absorb juices that escape from the food during the cooking process, which helps decrease oil pops and splatter.
Cooking tips: When coating or breading meat, set it aside at one side to allow some time for the coating to absorb excess liquid on the meat’s surface and harden it up a bit.
Tip #3: Control your heat
When you want to fry anything on the stove, try to warm up your skillet and oil gradually.
This method gives time for the trapped moisture in the fat to evaporate gently instead of popping vigorously.
So you should always begin at a low temperature.
As you cook, monitor the cooking temperature closely. If your frying pan becomes too hot, your food will start to shrink or contract and releases moisture that leads to oil popping.
When deep-frying, you can use a deep-fry thermometer to help you maintain a suitable temperature throughout your cooking.
Alternatively, you can remove your skillet from the burner when turning the food since juices from the food will accumulate on your food’s surface when you cook its other side. When you remove the pan from the burner, the heat would temporarily lessen which helps reduce oil popping.
Cooking tips: Jalapeno seeds are prone to popping. So you should remove the seed as much as possible before cooking. If you want to use the heat from the seeds in a dish, add them towards the end in the saute after allowing other ingredients in the pan to calm down.
Tip #4: Use thin pieces of meat
When pan-frying, try to decrease the food’s thickness. Fry thin slices of food or compressed cuts of meat.
If you want to cook thick cuts of meat, try using a skillet to sear the meat’s surface, then finish in an oven or with sous vide, and then sear again.
Tip #5: If you can’t prevent it, fight it with the right tools
Apart from wearing gloves and long sleeves clothing when cooking, you can minimize the effects of oil popping and splatter by utilizing the right kitchen tools.
Here are some useful kitchen utensils you can use.
Baking sheets to cover neighboring burners
One trick to keep your countertop clean from oil splatters is placing a baking sheet upside down on top of the neighboring burners to shield them against any splatter.
This method allows you to cook without making too much mess in the surrounding area and makes cleanup easier.
Alternatively, you can try using the stove burner cover.
You can simply clean any escaping grease with hot water and dishwashing soap with a microfiber or washcloth.
Kitchen tips: If there’s grease on your backslash, spray it with an all-purpose cleaner and leave it for around 20 minutes before wiping them off with a washcloth.
Long kitchen tools
Using long kitchen tools, such as a pair of frying tongs, chopsticks, and other long tools help you handle any food from a safe distance where the popping oil can’t reach you.
Cooking tips: When putting your food into the pan, add them slowly to reduce splashing. As the foods touch the pan, carefully lay them away from your body.
Picking a deeper pan with a high side helps you contain and prevent the oil from splattering your arm, backsplash, and nearby appliances.
Alternatively, you can use a frywall, which is a silicone collar that wraps around your skillet to capture higher splatter or splashes.
Choosing the right pan materials and thickness can also help prevent or reduce oil splatter.
Cheap stainless steel pan, for instance, typically has a light bottom or lacks inner metal that can conduct heat, resulting in poor heat conductivity and hot spots.
Hot spots cause your food to burn, smoke, as well as producing more splatter.
In contrast, decent-quality stainless steel pans that have a thick layer of conductive metal, such as aluminum, are lightweight, easy-to-clean, react better to temperature changes, and distribute heat uniformly without any hot spots.
Another cookware typically credited with fairly decent heat distribution is cast iron. Still, this claim is only true if the skillet is heated very slowly and steadily on a big burner or in an oven.
However, since a cast iron pan reacts very slowly to temperature changes, it will remain hot much longer than other bonded cookware, such as aluminum, copper, and stainless steel (which makes cast iron great for serving hot dishes!).
While cast iron is a much inferior option, it does possess sufficient properties that help lessen burning and oil splatter.
You can try using a lid as a shield to protect your countertop and body against popping oil. You may want to cover your food as soon as you place them into the pan.
When you cook food with wet heat like steaming, you can use a lid to trap the water droplets and avoid the contents of the skillet from splattering.
Still, when you lift the lid, some splatter might escape.
When cooking food with dry heat, however, most people don’t like using a lid to cover their food as steam may accumulate, leading to steaming or simmering instead of a decent dry heat to saute your food.
Cooking tips: When removing the lid during steaming, try to lift it away from your body to prevent steam burns.
An excellent alternative to a lid is a splatter guard or splash screen, a clever invention that looks similar to both lid and strainer.
As the name suggests, splatter guards have round mesh screens that help you reduce the amount of oil splatter while allowing vapors or steam to escape, preventing it from accumulating in your pan. So you’ll end up with a crisp food.
They have a sturdy rim and handle, and fits perfectly over various types of pots and pans.
While splatter shields don’t necessarily help prevent oil from popping, they help make the cleanup easier.
The best part about splatter screens is that they can also work as a strainer, which helps you drain and strain the oil from your pan.
Pick a splatter guard with a fine or double mesh, small holes, or odor-absorbing properties.
Top 3 best grease cover or splatter screen for your stove and pans
When looking for the right grease cover or splatter guard for your stove, pans, or pots, there are four critical factors you need to consider, which include:
- Size: What is the size of your cookware and the splatter screen; do they fit each other?
- Materials: What is the splatter screen made of?
- Durability: How long can the splatter screen last?
- Efficiency: How effective is the splatter screen in reducing splatters?
Don’t have the time to look for the right one?
Here’s why I like them (including other vital details you should know about each of them).
One thing I like about the Bergkoch splatter screen is its versatility.
It is made of a mixture of high-quality stainless steel and sturdy mesh material.
While it generally has a higher price point compared to other splatter guards, you can use it as a splatter screen, strainer, steamer, or even as a cooling rack.
Plus, it has a heavy-duty design and comes with a lifetime warranty!
It comes in 4 distinct sizes to fit all kinds of skillet, pots, and pans. You can even order up to a 15-inch size splatter screen.
- Offer a lifetime warranty
- Have a hanging hook for easy storage
- Screens may burn or discolored over time
- Handles might melt when placed near the skillet
Unlike most splatter screen that has a side handle, Homestia stainless steel grease splatter comes with a hinged tab placed in the middle, giving off a more minimal and streamlined appearance.
One thing I like most about this grease splatter is its collapsible handle. You can fold down its handle flat when not in use for easy storage.
Moreover, it’s lightweight and dishwasher safe.
It comes in 3 sizes which work with almost all types of pots and pans.
- Has a collapsible hinge tab for easy storage
- Has a nice and tight mesh that can capture most droplets
- Not heavy-duty
- Some wires may become loose
- Malleable to some extent
What I like about this stainless steel splatter screen is its unique design and foldable handle.
It has a concentric rings center design with a handle that you can fold flat for easy storage.
It is also dishwasher-safe and easy-to-clean since its screen is made of stainless steel instead of a mesh cover.
- Sturdy and foldable handle for compact storage
- The handle is a little bulky
- The color may distort
- Have slightly bigger holes that may not reduce splatter as much as expected
How to prevent oil splatter when frying fish?
The best way to avoid oil splatter when frying fish is to season it with salt or coat it with flour or breadcrumbs, or both. Salt and flour absorb excess moisture in the fish. Make sure the fish is well-seasoned and coated thoroughly for the best result.
How to fry paneer without splattering?
Some effective methods to prevent oil splattering when frying paneer are to pat it dry with a paper towel, coat it with flour, or use more oil while slowly adding it into the pan. Baking the paneer with an oven instead of a pan may also work.
How much oil for pan-frying?
The best practice is to pan-fry with just enough oil to cover the pan’s bottom without forming any puddles. Using slightly more oil is better than frying with too little oil, which leads to undercooked food. The amount of oil used should provide sufficient room to add food.
How to pan-fry chicken without splatter?
Splatter is unavoidable when pan-frying chicken. The best practice is to contain and reduce the splatter by using a deeper pan or a splatter guard. Patting the chicken dry with a paper towel and breading it would also help remove excess moisture and reduce splatter.