How to Stop Oil from Popping: Avoiding Hot Messes

There is nothing quite as frustrating as preparing a delicious meal and then ending up with hot oil splattering all over the kitchen. Oil popping can be dangerous and messy, but it is a common problem that many cooks face. Luckily, there are some simple steps that you can take to prevent oil from popping and avoid those unpleasant hot messes.

Use the Right Cooking Utensils

The utensils that you use to cook can have a big impact on whether oil splatters or not. If you are using a shallow pan or pot, choose a lid that fits tightly. This will help prevent oil from flying out and making a mess. You may also want to invest in a splatter screen, which is a mesh cover that fits over the top of your pan or pot. It will allow steam to escape but keep the oil inside.

Keep the Temperature Under Control

The temperature of the oil can also play a role in whether it pops or not. High heat can cause oil to splatter, so it is important to keep the temperature under control. Start by heating the oil slowly over medium to medium-high heat. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature and adjust the heat as needed. When the oil is hot, turn down the heat slightly to maintain the temperature instead of cranking up the heat to try and speed up the process.

Pat Dry Your Food

When you are cooking food that contains moisture, such as chicken or fish, the moisture can cause oil to pop. To minimize this, pat your food dry with a paper towel before cooking. This will remove excess moisture and reduce the amount of oil that splatters.

Use Appropriate Amounts of Oil

If you use too little oil, it can cause food to stick to the pan and burn. On the other hand, using too much oil can cause it to splatter. Use an appropriate amount of oil for the recipe and the pan size. You can also use oil sprays or oil misters to apply a thin layer of oil to the pan, which can help reduce splatters.

Avoid Water and Frozen Food

Water and oil do not mix, so adding water to hot oil can cause it to splatter. Be careful when adding wet ingredients, such as vegetables or marinades. Pat them dry with a paper towel before adding them to the pan, and if they sizzle when added to the oil, step back to avoid getting splattered.

Additionally, adding frozen food to hot oil can cause it to splatter. This is because the frozen food contains moisture which vaporizes instantly when it comes in contact with hot oil. Always thaw your food before cooking in hot oil.

Don’t Overcrowd the Pan

Crowding the pan with too much food can make it difficult for the oil to circulate evenly, and it can also cause excess moisture to be released, which can lead to more splattering. Cook in batches if necessary, and leave enough space between the pieces of food to allow for proper circulation.

Clean Your Cooking Area

Oil splatters can leave a mess, so it is important to clean your cooking area regularly. This will prevent oil from building up and possibly catching fire. After cooking, wipe down your stovetop and surrounding surfaces with a damp cloth. Additionally, clean any utensils or pans that came into contact with oil.

Avoid Distractions

Cooking requires concentration, and distractions can cause you to be careless with hot oil. Avoid answering phone calls, checking your phone or browsing through social media while cooking. Pay attention to the task at hand and keep a close eye on the oil to avoid any accidents.

Choose the Right Oil

Some oils are more prone to splattering than others. For example, oils with a low smoke point, such as butter or extra virgin olive oil, can easily burn and cause splatters. On the other hand, oils with a high smoke point, such as vegetable or canola oil, are better for high-heat cooking and are less likely to splatter.


Now that you know how to stop oil from popping, you can cook without worrying about getting burned or making a mess. By following these simple tips, you can safely and confidently prepare your favorite meals without any hot messes or kitchen disasters.

Common Questions and Answers:

  • Q: Why does oil pop?
  • A: When moisture comes in contact with hot oil, it vaporizes and causes the oil to splatter.
  • Q: Can I use water to stop oil from popping?
  • A: No, adding water to hot oil can cause it to splatter even more.
  • Q: Do I need to heat the oil before adding food?
  • A: It is best to heat the oil before adding food to ensure even cooking, but make sure the oil is not too hot to avoid splatters.
  • Q: Can I reuse oil that has splattered?
  • A: Oil that has splattered can be reused, but it may contain burned bits of food that can affect the flavor of your dish.


  • The Kitchn (2021). How to Stop Hot Oil Splatters in Their Tracks. Retrieved from
  • Bon App├ętit (2021). How to Fry Food Without Making a Hot Greasy Mess. Retrieved from
  • Food52 (2021). 5 Tips for Safe, Splatter-Free Frying. Retrieved from

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