In this post we’re going to answer a question we regularly get asked, can you cook steak with vegetable oil? Cooking steak is somewhat of an art form, it can be done in many different ways, each producing different results.
Cooking steak at home can cause many people concern, it’s a meal that often tastes delicious when at a restaurant, but not quite as good when cooked at home (for some people that is).
So what type of oil should you use when cooking steak at home, and is vegetable oil a good option? The short answer to this is yes, vegetable oil is more than suitable for cooking steak.
However, there is more you should know before you go dolloping vegetable oil into your pan.
Keep reading to learn more…
Why Oil Is Important For Cooking Steak
When it comes to cooking the perfect steak, preperation is key. You’ll need to ensure that you’re equipped with the right tools for the job, and that includes oil.
Not only does oil prevent your juicy steak from sticking to the pan, but it also makes your steak taste much better by bringing out the flavours and keeping the moisture in the steak.
Oil facilitates the Maillard reaction, this creates the brown pigments in cooked meat which gives the nice crispy outer of steak, making it taste exceptional.
Not only that, but oil conducts heat from the pan onto your food, ensuring that your steak is piping hot and cooking thoroughly from the inside.
Cooking without oil can make your food taste dry and result in your meal being undercooked, which is a disaster especially when cooking meat.
Using oil when cooking steak is essential if you want your steak to taste perfect, oilive oil specifically has been used for over 8000 years in cooking and there’s a good reason for that.
Granted, oil isn’t exactly healthy, it’s pure fat that contains more calories per gram than any other food. However, you only need a very small amount of oil to cook in a pan, as when it’s heated up it disperses evenly and a small teaspoon can easily cover a large pan once heated.
How To Best Use Oil When Cooking Steak
So how do you ensure your using your oil correctly when cooking steak? Well, this is the part where many individuals go wrong, and it’s easy to see why.
One of the biggest mistakes made when cooking steak is that they simply oil the frying pan. This may seem like the correct thing to do, but in-fact you need to oil the steak itself to ensure that it cooks best.
Remove your steak from the refrigerator and let it sit on a plate for around 20-30 minutes until it drops to room temperature.
Once you’re confident your steak is at room temperature you should drizzle your oil over the steak (both sides). Then massage the oil gently into the steak so the oil starts to soak through the meat.
This ensures that your steak cooks perfectly and has that nice brown, crispy texture when cooked and on your plate.
The oil also helps your seasoning stick to the steak and stops your steak from sticking to the pan. We see far too many people simply oil up their frying pan and crank up the heat to the max, this isn’t how a steak should be cooked if you want it to taste perfect.
Understanding Smoke Points
To better understand your choice of oil when cooking steak it’s important to have a basic understanding of smoke points.
So what exactly is a smoke point?
The smoke point of oil is the temperature at which the oil stops shimmering and starts to smoke, this term is also known as the “burning point of oil”.
The smoke point largely depends on the type of oil you are using, certain oils have higher smoke points than others which means the oil can be heated up more before it starts to smoke.
When cooking steak you’ll want to ensure your using a oil which has a high enough smoke point to actually cook the steak without smoking, as a smoking pan can release harmful toxins and make your steak taste off.
The average smoke point of oil is somewhere around 350 – 500 degrees celcius, in general the lighter colour the oil, the higher the smoke point.
This post from Jessica Gavin goes in-depth into the different smoke points of cooking oils, helping you decide which oil is best for the food your cooking.
Is Vegetable Oil Suitable For Cooking Steak?
Yes, vegetable oil is suitable for cooking steak. This is because it has a relatively high smoke point which allows you to cook your steak without the oil smoking and leaving harmful toxins behind.
The approximate smoke point of vegetable oil is 400 degrees Celcius, meaning when you oil heats up to this point it will start smoking (obviously).
When your oil starts to smoke it can leave bad toxins and chemicals behind which can not only cause you harm but make your steak taste a little nasty.
Oils that have lower smoke points of around 200 – 300 degrees make them less than ideal options when cooking steak as the oil will start to smoke when heated up in the pan.
As a rule of thumb, the lighter colour oil the higher its smoke point. Choosing the right oil to cook your steak in is crucial if you want it to taste as nice as possible. After all, steak is expensive, so why ruin the taste with oil that isn’t suitable for the job.
Vegetable oil can work well, given that you typically fry a steak at around 180 – 200 degrees, the smoke point of vegetable oil has you covered for up to 400 degrees.
However, there are even better options to use when cooking steak than vegetable oil.
Some Of The Best Oils To Use When Cooking Steak
As mentioned above, the smoke point of the oil you decide to use is very important. You want to be able to have your pan piping hot at around 180 – 200 degrees without the oil smoking and starting to burn.
Here are some better alternatives to vegetable oil to cook your steak:
- Grove Avocado Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Pure Peanut Oil
- Extra Light Olive Oil
- Canola Oil
If you’re unable to use any of the other alternative oils that I’ve listed above, then vegetable oil will work just fine. Just be sure that you oil up both sides of your steak and massage the oil into the meat before cooking.
Always ensure that you give your steak proper seasoning with salt & pepper too, as well as pre-heating your cast iron skillet and rotating the steak accordingly.
Ensuring that you use an oil with a high smoke point is crucial to cooking steak, as long as your using an oil with a smoke point of around 350 – 500 degrees then you’re good to go.
It’s best to try to use as little oil as possible if you’re health-conscious, after all, most oils are not healthy and should be used sparingly when cooking steaks.
Can you use vegetable oil to cook a steak? Absolutely, however, there are definitely better alternatives to use if you’re looking to cook your steak the best way possible.
If vegetable oil is the only option you have, then using this to cook steak is fine.
Vegetable oil does a great job at ensuring your steak doesn’t stick to the pan and because it has a high smoke point you can be confident that you won’t be inhaling any nasty toxins, providing you have your pan on the correct heat setting.
Hopefully you’ve learned something from this post and now have a better understanding of the some of the best types of oils to use for cooking steak, and why vegetable oil can be used for cooking steaks too.
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