To properly cook a juicy, delicious steak, the most important step is choosing the right oil to use. The correct oil retains moisture in the steak without burning or adding strong, undesirable flavors.
The six best oils to use when cooking steak are refined avocado oil, vegetable oil, grapeseed oil, refined or virgin olive oil, peanut oil, and canola oil. The best oil to cook a steak is avocado oil because of this oil’s neutral taste and high smoke point.
6 Best Oils for Cooking Steak
When choosing the best oil to cook a steak, consider the oil’s smoke point. When oil passes the smoke point and starts burning, it gives off an unpleasant bitter, and burnt taste that affects the cooked food. Cooking with healthy oils past their smoke point is dangerous and unhealthy.
Some oils may be more useful than others because they have a higher smoke point, but may not have desirable flavors.
Refined Avocado Oil
Refined avocado oil is extracted from the pulp of ripe, skinless, pitted avocados. The product is refined through a heating and filtering process, which increases the oil’s smoke point. This oil has a slightly nutty flavor that doesn’t affect the food too much.
Refined avocado oil has fewer health benefits than unrefined avocado oil, however, it still can help to reduce cholesterol and enhance the absorption of nutrients, such as vitamin D, E, K, and A. Refined avocado oil is also high in antioxidants and oleic acid — a healthy fatty acid.
Refined avocado oil is an excellent option for cooking steak because the oil’s flavor enriches the meat without overpowering spices or marinades. The oil has a very high smoke point of 520°F, which allows the steak to cook to perfection without the oil burning.
Vegetable oil is made from a blend of oils extracted from various seeds and parts of fruits and plants. Any variety of vegetable oil is great for cooking steak because vegetable oil has a mild, natural taste and is odorless. Vegetable oil’s mild flavors mean that the oil doesn’t affect the taste of the steak.
Vegetable oil is refined but has many health benefits, such as being a source of energy — which also means it’s high in calories — and essential nutrients. The oil also contains oleic acid and Omega-3, which are good for brain and heart health. However, vegetable oil is often made with chemicals that aren’t good for the body, so limit the amount of this oil in cooking.
Vegetable oil adds moisture to steak and has a neutral flavor that doesn’t affect the steak’s flavor. This oil has a high smoke point of 428°F which makes it perfect for frying and grilling steak at high heat.
Grapeseed oil is extracted from grape seeds, which are byproducts of winemaking. Choose expeller-pressed or cold-pressed grapeseed oil to avoid the harmful chemicals used in the heat-based extracted oils.
Grapeseed oil has several health benefits, such as high levels of vitamin E, which support the immune system and protect the body from free radicals. This oil is also great for skin and hair and is often used as an essential oil in aromatherapy.
Grapeseed oil has a neutral, slightly nutty, or fruity flavor that makes it an excellent choice for cooking steak. The smoke point of this oil is very high, at 421°F, which makes it a great option to quickly fry steak at a high temperature in a cast-iron skillet.
Refined or Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil is made by pressing olives to extract vegetable fat from their flesh and seeds. This oil gives a fruity flavor to steak and is one of the healthiest oil options for cooking steak.
Olive oil is rich in antioxidants, which reduce the risk of chronic diseases. The oil also contains healthy monounsaturated fats, and vitamins like E and K. This oil also has anti-inflammatory properties, it protects the body against heart disease and doesn’t increase the risk of weight gain and obesity.
The oil is great on steaks because it enhances the flavor, though the strong flavor may be undesirable to some cooks. Refined olive oil has a smoke point of 390 to 470°F, and virgin olive oil’s smoke point is 410°F. Olive oil is best used when searing rare or medium-rare steaks.
Peanut oil is extracted from the edible seeds of the peanut plant and has a mild nutty flavor. If the oil is made from roasted peanuts, it will have a stronger flavor. This oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids, so consume this oil in moderation. Peanut oil is susceptible to oxidation which reduces its shelf-life.
The oil is high in vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant that boosts the immune system and improves the health of blood cells. Peanut oil research suggests that, when consumed in moderation, peanut oil reduces the risk of diabetes and heart disease by controlling blood sugar levels and reducing bad cholesterol.
Refined peanut oil is one of the best choices for cooking steak because the oil’s smoke point is 450°F, allowing the steak to reach high heat without the oil burning. The oil’s slightly nutty flavor — or strong nutty flavor when using roasted peanut oil — adds a subtle yet enhancing flavor to the dish.
Canola oil is derived from chemically processed, crushed canola seeds. The oil is known to have many health benefits, but the extraction process isn’t the healthiest. This oil is great for cooking steaks because it has a high smoke point and a neutral flavor.
This oil contains K and E vitamins, which add antioxidant properties to foods. Canola oil contains both omega-6 and omega-3, but the content of omega-6 is too high and the omega-3 too low for optimal health benefits. Use canola oil in moderation when cooking.
Canola oil adds moisture to steak without changing the food’s flavor. Expeller-pressed or refined canola oil also has a high smoke point of between 375 and 450°F, making the oil suitable for cooking steaks at high temperatures.
Other Oils for Steak Cooking
There are many other oils that can be used to cook steak, but they don’t have optimal flavors or ideal smoke points.
Semi-refined sunflower oil has a high smoke point of 450°F, which makes this oil a good option for cooking at high heat. However, sunflower oil has a strong taste that alters the flavor of the steak.
Extra virgin olive oil is a popular oil used in cooking steak because it has numerous health benefits. However, this type of olive oil has a low smoke point of 320°F. Using this oil at high heat to cook steak will cause the oil to burn, lose its health benefits, and create a bitter and burnt taste. Use refined or virgin olive oil instead.
FAQs About the Best Oil for Cooking Steak
The following are commonly asked questions related to the types of oil used for cooking steaks.
What Oil Is Best for Cast Iron Steak?
Grapeseed oil, peanut oil, and avocado oil are the best options for cooking steak with cast iron cookware. These oils have high smoke points, between 420 and 520°F, and mild flavors.
What Oil Is Best for Grilling Steak?
Peanut oil, vegetable oil, and canola oil are the best choices for grilling a steak. These oils can handle high heat because they have high smoke points ranging between 428 and 450°F.
Should I Oil Steak Before Seasoning?
Oiling the steak before seasoning will help the spices stick to the meat and ensure the oil is distributed evenly on the steak. When oiling a steak, there is no need to add more oil to the pan or grill before cooking.
How Long Should I Let a Steak Rest?
Rest 1- to 1½-inch steaks for a minimum of five to seven minutes after cooking. Increase the resting time to 10 or 20 minutes for thicker cuts of meat. Resting the steak gives the juices time to redistribute so they don’t run out when the steak is cut.