Last updated on January 27th, 2022
In the comments section below my Super Crispy Homemade Chicken Nuggets video, a viewer asked: What do you do with the leftover cooking oil? In truth, I never discard my deep-fry oil after just one use. What a waste that would be! And here, in words and pictures, is how I strain, store, and reuse deep-fry oil:
Select the Right Oil
When deep-frying foods, it is important to use a cooking oil that exhibits a high smoke point (the temperature at which the oil breaks down and begins to smoke). Oils that can withstand deep-fry temperatures (350°F to 375°F) include canola, safflower, peanut, corn, vegetable, and sunflower. Extra-virgin olive oil has a low smoke point. It is not suitable for deep-frying foods.
How to Strain Used Cooking Oil
Once the oil has cooled to room temperature, strain it. To do this, place a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl or large glass measure. I use a 4-cup glass measure simply because my Fry Daddy requires 4 cups of oil, and I like to see how much oil is returned after frying and straining.
Next, place a filter of some kind in the sieve. A paper coffee filter will work. My favorite filtering device is a flour sack towel. Even without bleach, this lint-free, 100% cotton fabric comes perfectly clean in the washing machine.
Slowly pour the used oil into the filter. Stop pouring when you reach the last bit of oil that contains deep-fry debris — the bits of flour or batter that have settled to the bottom of the frying pot.
The oil will slowly trickle into the bowl or glass measure below.
You might be surprised to discover how much oil is returned after the straining step. My aforementioned homemade chicken nuggets were fried in 4 cups of oil. After filtering, nearly all of that oil was returned to me!
How to Store the Strained Oil
Pour the strained oil into a container equipped with a tight-fitting lid. You can return the oil to its original, empty container. Then place the container in some cool, dark location. I store my strained oil in the cleaned-out, tightly-lidded Fry Daddy, just as the appliance’s manufacturer recommends.
How Many Times Can Cooking Oil Be Reused?
When it is properly strained and stored, cooking oil can be reused many times. Of course, the oil will break down a little each time you use it. Discard the oil when it develops any of the following symptoms: A dark or cloudy appearance; a musty smell; a layer of foam appears on its surface, or it emits smoke at fry-temperature.
I hope this article was helpful to you in some small way. xKevin
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If you have a dog, the last bits with the crusty burned bits can be saved and you can put anywhere from a tsp to a tablespoon on your dog’s food once a day, depending on the size of your dog.
Have you ever deep fried in lard and is the same method used? Or is the smoking point of lard too low?
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Hi mlaiuppa – Smoke point for lard is only 370°F. Oils mentioned up top have much higher smoke points, and are thus better suited for deep-frying foods. Thanks for the doggy treat tip!
Donna JOHNSON says
HI So what if you do not use your deep fryer often, that is me. How long will it last just sitting. That was my concern so I got rid of it. Waste I know.
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Hi Donna – Good news: When properly stored (as described above), vegetable oil will last (i.e., remain usable) for 6-12 months.
I never deep fry because throwing out all of that oil afterwards seemed like such a waste! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge! I’ve never made a recipe from you that wasn’t amazing, and all your gardening info…*chef’s kiss*. Just a blanket thank you.
Bonnie Slockett says
Very helpful—thanks SO much, Kevin. 🙂
Hi Kevin, does it make a difference what you’ve fried? We’ve always reused oil from frying vegetables but not meat or fish.
Once the oil is recycled enough, what is a safe way to dispose of it?
Sheri Wentland says
Thank you! I’ve always felt so wasteful throwing the used oil out. Now I can make donuts with no guilt:)
I confess I only save cooking oil if I’ve cooked something bland like potatoes. I never keep it if I’ve cooked fish or anything spicy as the oil is definitely tainted.
Here’s a grandma tip from my mom. Always heat the oil then use a slice of bread or a raw potato slice. Cook till crisp & toss away, it’s supposed to cleanse the oil of impurities. Then go on & use the oil as you wish. I’ve done that many times, if there is an odor it is gone. I always store my left over oil in the fridge in a jar.
Donna Whitley says
Thank you Kevin. Good information!