I was using canola oil and put the stove top setting on "high - 9". I read plenty of guides suggesting there will infact be oil splatter, but it was pretty excessive and burning my arm with one drop getting near my eye before I stopped. I turned the heat setting down to "medium - 4", where the oil splatter seemed to drop substantially. Before I try to make steak again I'd like to get some clarification

So my questions are:

  1. Which heat setting am I supposed to use?
  2. Is that type of oil splatter normal or should I try using a different oil, and if so, what oil?
  3. Should oiling the meat instead of the pan help the problem?
  • 2
    Stephie's answer is the right one as to why it is spattering. Additionally I would say you are using too much oil when cooking your steak. You only need a small amount rubbed directly onto the meat, not a pool of it in the bottom of the pan.
    – GdD
    Sep 22, 2015 at 7:56
  • 1
    I'll just link this question here: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/8845/…. If we start getting more questions about splatter, each for a different food item, we should consider making a single question and closing the others as duplicates
    – rumtscho
    Sep 22, 2015 at 12:15
  • Try frying your steak without oil. I've been doing this for years without problems.
    – chris
    Sep 23, 2015 at 7:48
  • I made a seasoned butter and fry it in that - no problems with splatter and better taste! Good luck!
    – J Crosby
    Jul 25, 2019 at 17:01

5 Answers 5


You need to realize that oil doesn't splatter, water does. In fact, you could heat oil until it catches fire without any mayor movement.

But the moment water reaches the oil, which in a hot pan is way beyond the boiling point for water, it will instantly turn into steam, expand and pull oil drops with it.

So apart from lowering the heat - which is not what you want to do for a well-seared piece of meat - you want to make sure your meat is as dry as possible on the outside. Kitchen towels to blot off your meat would be my first choice.

In cases of wet marinades, remove the marinade and either grill your meat or lower the heat of your pan a bit. But not because of splatters, but because the marinade may burn.

The more oil you use, the more can splatter. A thin layer, possibly even just brushed on with a silicone brush will suffice in most cases. You may also oil the meat instead of the pan. For the type of oil, just stick with an oil that can handle high heat (save your extra virgin olive oil for a salad), canola is fine and so is peanut and some others.

And finally, there are splatter-guards on the market that can catch those propelled oil droplets. They are made from a fine metal mesh and placed on the pan like a lid. My prefered "hack" is using an inverted round cooling rack with a single layer of kitchen towel for these "will certainly splatter" cases. It lets steam escape better than many of these fine-mesh splatter guards and the towel absorbs moisture, which then can't drip back into the pan. Besides the rack can go in the dishwasher while at least some splatter guards need hand washing (if only because the mesh tends to catch debris from the water).

  • 5
    A suggestion based on this -- brush the meat with flavoured oils if you're marinading for flavour. Home made flavoured oils are particularly good for this. I wouldn't bee too keen on kitchen towel that close to a gas flame, but it should be fine on electric as in the Q.
    – Chris H
    Sep 22, 2015 at 8:23
  • 1
    @ChrisH Good point - I cook on an electric stove. Should be ok on gas if you don't let the flames get high up on the sides of the pan (which you shouldn't anyway) and trim overhanging paper.
    – Stephie
    Sep 22, 2015 at 8:25
  • "Should be OK", yes, but I'd still rather not.
    – Chris H
    Sep 22, 2015 at 8:32
  • 4
    Ahhh, thank you! That most likely explains my problem. I forgot to mention I thawed the steak in a bowl of water (I mistakenly took the plastic wrap off before thawing), so the meat was in fact soaked. I just cooked another piece and made sure to dry it. Very minimal splatter this time and it came out great. Thanks! Sep 22, 2015 at 8:33
  • To reduce the splatter further, reduce the oil. One technique is to coat the steak with the oil (you don't need much), and not put any oil in the pan at all. This works well (especially on a griddle). Also note that freezing meat can burst cells which may cause further liquid to ooze out.
    – abligh
    Sep 22, 2015 at 19:50

In Scandinavia we have this thing: enter image description here

The "lid" is a thin wire mesh that allows steam to escape and keeps most of the oil in.

I have no idea what it is called in english :-)

  • 2
    "frying pan splatter guard" (or "...splash cover" or similar permutation. +1 because it's good in this situation, but it doesn't help the underlying issue.
    – Chris H
    Sep 22, 2015 at 8:20
  • 3
    A pro tip how to easily translate names of furniture items using a Scandinavian web site: Open the IKEA web site, navigate to the item you want to translate, and when you are on e.g. http://www.ikea.com/se/sv/catalog/products/10112530/, replace se/sv with us/en or gb/en ;)
    – Alexander
    Sep 22, 2015 at 16:37
  • 3
    @Alexander For non-furniture/household items, essentially the same trick works with Wikipedia (e.g., Swedish for aardvark seems to be jordsvin. Sep 22, 2015 at 21:08

Get a griddle pan. Not only will it stop splashes from the water / juice as it is trapped in the grooves, it caramelises the meat and leaves a beautiful criss-cross pattern if you turn it 90° as you cook it. Make sure you season the steak well too.

Bonus: deglaze the griddle with Jameson whiskey, add the juice to reduced cream & pepper for the nicest steak sauce in the world.


yes, if it looks wet on the surface then it will splatter. One of the best investments I have ever made in the kitchen is to buy decent kitchen towels that don't turn to slush. I use them to thoroughly dry a steak or the skin side of a fish so that it can be brushed in oil cooked on a medium heat and crisp up nicely rather than char and splatter of the highest heat.


Mix a spoon or two of wheat flour into the frying oil and wait until it gets brown. Then put your steaks in the pan and fry then as usual.

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