How do you go about figuring how much oil to use for frying? Off the top of my head, I can think of a number of factors such as the type of food, how well you want to cook it, the type of oil, the size of the pan and how much food you are trying to cook. Which of these factors should I worry about the most and does anyone have any general rules for figuring out how much oil to use?

1 Answer 1


As you suggest, there are a number of factors, but the best rule of thumb I've found for pan-frying is to use just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan by swirling it around. In general, you don't want puddles (you'll get splashed with hot oil), but if the pan isn't covered then your food might not get cooked evenly.

These days I mostly just eyeball it, and err on the generous side. Using slightly too much isn't likely to hurt your dish - unused oil just won't get absorbed - but using too little will result in under-cooked or inconsistently-cooked food and probably a lot of gunk stuck to the bottom of your pan. So if you're not sure, just add a little more than you think you absolutely need.

  • 3
    Unless you're like my neighbor, and insist that 2/3 of the way full is exactly how he saw it being on a tv cooking show, and he had no fry thermometer, and we've got every burner on the stove going; the oil boiled over, caught fire, we had to clear the stove to try to pull it out; my attempts to smother it with a lid didn't work as there was an air gap underneath that fed the flames, and the stove's electronics burned out (electric stove), and singed the wall before we got a fire extinguisher and got it under control. So -- maybe extra isn't bad for pan frying, but it is for deep frying.
    – Joe
    Jul 29, 2010 at 22:19
  • 1
    Hah... noted! Yes, this appeared to be about pan-frying, but for deep-frying you generally want just enough to cover the food by about an inch (at least that's what I do, and I haven't seen any ggrease fires yet).
    – Aaronut
    Jul 29, 2010 at 22:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.