I've read that adding cork (from wine bottles) absorbs the fat. I'm not sure if this works or not.

Are there any other ways to remove excess fat without standing there and spooning out or refrigerating and then removing the solidified fat?

  • 8
    Most of the answers are very good, so I won't add to them. But I will say that adding a wine cork is almost guaranteed to be a failure, apart from whatever fat just happens to stick to the outside. They are not absorbent (in any meaningful way). Indeed, that's why they are used to keep the wine in the bottle instead of soaking it up! Also, I recommend against putting anything in your soup that isn't a cooking utensil or food. But maybe that's just me.
    – bikeboy389
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 20:30

14 Answers 14


If you want to be really lazy about it, just get yourself a fat separator. Pour in the soup, the fat will rise to the top, and you can do what you want with it (i.e. dump it).

If you're reading this in an emergency, you can do this with just a strainer. You'll get better results if you chill the strainer before each skim, i.e. by rinsing it with very cold water. The fat will tend to congeal on the cold strainer the same way it congeals when it's actually chilled.

I've also heard that the fat will cling to certain leafy vegetables, like lettuce. If you have a lettuce head kicking around, try peeling off a leaf and dusting the top of the pan with it.

  • 7
    You can also drag a paper towel across the top, especially when the fat layer is very thin. Commented Aug 4, 2010 at 1:31
  • I am going to try the paper towel hope it works!!
    – user22511
    Commented Jan 12, 2014 at 22:11

If you pour the liquid into a narrower vessel to settle, the fat layer on top will be thicker and therefore easier to remove with spoon, paper towel, or turkey baster. Something like this thermos or this ice tea jug would work without needing to cool it down too much.

It is best done before any thickening with starch/flour.

Since some spices are oil soluble, you might end up straining out some of the flavor, and need to re-adjust the spicing slightly.


One quick way I have seen is to put a few ice cubes into your soup/stew. The fat will congeal around the ice cube so if you take them out before they melt you can get rid of most of your fat.

  • 4
    If you don't want to water down your dish, if you have a metal ladle, put the ice in that, then skim the surface with the bowl -- the fat will congeal on the ladle
    – Joe
    Commented Nov 2, 2013 at 21:06

I just used bread on top of the soup, flipped it so both sides got covered, worked a treat, might fry the bread up with an egg tomorrow. Waste not want not


Not to be contrarian, but the easiest way to do this would probably be to just drain off the fat before adding the liquid. For instance, if you sautee your veggies and brown your meat before adding the stock, you'd just pour off the grease in the pan before adding the stock. An ounce of prevention, etc...

  • 5
    Well said, Captain Hindsight. :D
    – Preston
    Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 3:55

If the soup or stew has a good layer of fat on top, I've just dropped individual sheets of paper towels on top. Since the fat is on top, the paper towel absorbs it. Remove, discard and, if there's still a layer of fat, repeat.

Once it starts absorbing stock/broth/sauce, then I stop. Usually the fast majority of fat is gone by then.

Now, however, I have a fat separator, which is, essentially, a handled measuring cup with a spout that connects at the base of the cup. I highly recommend spending a few bucks, it's tremendously convenient, especially for someone like me who loves making and eating homemade soups.

You scoop or pour in the liquid from the top of your dish, let it settle, and, like your pot, the fat separates at the top. Since the spout is connected at the bottom, as you pour liquid back into the pot, it pours back the stuff you want, while the fat remains behind. Once you can see the fat level dropping to spout level, you stop, and have almost entirely fat left behind.

Fat Separator

It's also a great way to separate out fat from roasting drippings, so you can use the fat to make a roux for gravy, and have the rich de-fatted pan drippings added back to whatever liquid you are going to add.


I just tried this: Pour cooled stock through a strainer, lined with paper towels, filled with ice cubes. You may have to do it in batches, as it catches lot of fat. This is a shortcut.

  • I tried both the paper towel idea and the ice cube idea. Paper towels are messy and didn't work as well as the ice cubes.
    – user32705
    Commented Jan 12, 2015 at 23:28

I picked up these fine mesh fat skimmers at an Asian market for under $2 each but I also see them online. The cooler the stew or soup is, the better they work but the fat does not need to be refrigerated or solidified for them to work. The fat particles are too thick to fit through the strainer so it can be easily collected. Also great for skimming the foam off the top too.enter image description here


So long as the liquid isn't being mixed (and bubbling from simmering or boiling counts as being mixed), it'll undergo what they call "type 1 settling", where oil floats to the top, and particulates fall to the bottom.

You can either let it stand in a gravy separator, or just let it come to the top of the pot, and either ue a paper towel, like Darin mentioned, a strainer like Aronut mentioned, or even a frozen bottle of water (which will chill the fat so it sticks to the bottle, where you ca wipe it off then try again).

Personally, I normally use the 'spooning' method, but use a laddle rather than a spoon, so it goes much faster.


you could let it settle so the fat rests on the top then use a turkey baster or syringe to suck the fat off the top.


You can soak it up with slices of Bread. I just did it.

  • 1
    Do you have a method for doing this?
    – SourDoh
    Commented Oct 12, 2013 at 17:50
  • Ever do something like pan-toasting that bread in a skillet, or sticking some cheese in between a couple fat-soaked bread slices for a grilled cheese? Probably about the worst thing possible for your heart, but I'd bet that tastes pretty good! Or is it generally way too soggy? Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 18:17

A Super Lazy Method that only requires some quick and sloppy skimming…

  1. Prepare a bowl of ice. Place a smaller container inside of the bowl such that it sits on the bottom of the bowl and is surrounded by ice. I use a 2-cup pyrex measuring cup in a larger bowl.

  2. Ladle out as much fat as you can without worrying too much about also collecting some of the broth. I stop ladling when I only have few small fat droplets in mostly broth.

  3. Add water to bring the ice/water mixture up to the same level as the fat/broth in the inner container. Occasionally stir the ice/water to ensure that the inner container is cooling as fast as possible. (The handle on the pyrex measuring cup is useful to stir the ice/water around it.)

  4. Once the fat layer is solid (~15 min), scoop it off. Then add the remaining broth (which may have gelled) back to your soup/stew.


Everyone seems to recommend gravy strainers which have a spout at the bottom but any bottle with some form of spout should work if you just turn it upside down... oil will float to the top and you can pour gravy out of the bottom :-)

  • 2
    I think that would make a huge mess.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Jun 2, 2013 at 16:50

Try a Grease Grabber. They are a special pad that only absorbs oil and repels all else. If you float it on top of your soup it will absorb all the grease.

  • Seems like overkill given that you could just use bread or paper towels.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 20:41
  • I actually upvoted this. It may be a bit profligate, at $.50 apiece I wouldn't want to use them every, but the videos show that they work pretty well, better than other options.
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Jan 18, 2015 at 22:32
  • amazing. Are these reusable? dishwasher safe? I'm guessing you dont want to reuse them unless you wash them well because the oil carrying a lot of aroma would go from one soup to the next.
    – Denis
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 5:03

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