If I placed bread crumbs in a pot of oil to deep fry and then take it out, it comes out crispy and not 'wet', although they are drenched in oil initially?

But if I place bread crumbs in boiling water, they just stay soaked?

  • 1
    The answer to this related question more or less answers your question: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/34326/…
    – Ross Ridge
    Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 7:40
  • 7
    Because water makes things wet and oil is not water.
    – GdD
    Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 9:08
  • Cheers Ross. And GdD, a counter example to your explanation is ethanol. It is not water, but if I throw bread crumbs in there, it will come out 'wet'.
    – Trogdor
    Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 9:54
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    Yes but what happens if you try and heat ethanol to 180c the usual temperature used when cooking in oil? I'm sure if you put bread crumbs into 100c oil they would also come out soggy.
    – Doug
    Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 10:10
  • I shouldn't have to say this, but heating ethanol (pure alcohol) to 180c is dangerous, please don't try it unless you know what you are doing!
    – GdD
    Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 12:42

1 Answer 1


Firstly I think you're having trouble making a distinguishment between water and oil absorption. Even though placing food in (room temp) oil may at first seem as if it had gotten it 'wet' it's a very different kind of soaked compared to doing the same thing with water, as the two liquids have profoundly different properties.

Oil when heated, however, behaves even more differently. The immense heat of the oil (160-270 ºC, 320-520 ºF depending on the type of oil you are using) actually vaporises moisture (water) contained inside of whatever it may be you are deep frying, which is why food thermally processed in this way is oily but not wet, and can even be dry if overcooked.

The key thing to remember here is that oils, being hydrophobic and lipophilic, are exceptionally different to water and should not and cannot be expected to behave even remotely similarly.

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