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Making ordinary fried eggs, I heat up the (soy bean) vegetable oil. I usually use the smoke as an indicator of being in enough temperature to pour the eggs in.

I heard that in olive oil, bad chemicals emerges when the oil reaches smoke point. I wondered if this is the case with vegetable oil? Should I strife for borderline of hot enough oil that is not smoking?

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  • This question is related to and maybe a duplicate to the question "Is it safe to use oil at its smoking point?" and a answer to the thread "Frying Eggs—Sticking to the Pan". Commented Sep 16, 2014 at 14:47
  • There's a visual indicator before you reach the smoke point -- the surface of the oil will start to fluctuate slightly. People typically refer to this as 'shimmering'. (I tried finding video of it online, but is seems there's some beauty treatment called 'shimmer oil' which is screwing up my search). You can also place a wooden object in the oil ... if it's sufficiently hot, you'll see small bubbles as the moisture in the wood steams out.
    – Joe
    Commented Sep 16, 2014 at 15:37
  • I almost closed this as a dupe of cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/10425/…, then noticed it's about eggs, so changed the title instead, to prevent others from making the same mistake
    – rumtscho
    Commented Sep 17, 2014 at 15:19

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Considering that you're using Soybean Oil - which has a smoke point of 450°F, you might be using far too much heat for your eggs. Even if you were making an omelette, which typical recipes demand a higher temperature of ~ 400°F - you'd still be far too high if you're smoking soybean oil. In any case, I would recommend frying between 350°F and 390°F.

As for you hearing that in olive oil, bad chemicals emerge when the oil reaches the smoke point - this is true of any oil. Heating any oil or fat past its smoke point causes rapid oxidation (peroxidation) and more-or-less mimics the effects of rancidity. Think about whether you want to be cooking using burnt, rancid oil. At that, you shouldn't be using olive oil (which has a lower smoke point than most fats) for high-heat cooking. As for the bad chemicals, any oil or fat that is taken past its smoke point will oxidize, and as a result, different chemical reactions will occur which may or may not release/create carcinogens. This is a topic that you should explore more with your dietician/physician than on this board.

Ideally, you should monitor your oil temperature - either visually by looking for a slight shimmer/sheen, or physically by using a cooking thermometer or a wooden spoon (look for air bubbles).

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  • You can also test the temperature by holding your hand over the pan. Over time you get a feel for the desired temperature. Watch out for splatters though, if you're using a lot of oil (don't).
    – Preston
    Commented Sep 18, 2014 at 4:06
  • While I've also used that method, I wouldn't advise someone to use that method due to risk of harm vs watching for shimmer.
    – jsanc623
    Commented Sep 18, 2014 at 14:38

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