Last Updated on March 3, 2023 by Claire
You are sick and tired of your meat sticking to the pan like it’s glued on. With the best oil for searing, however, you will be able to achieve that perfect crust on your steak without having to scrape it off the bottom of the pan. The fact is that the key to successful searing is in the oil you use. That’s right, the oil you choose can make or mar your searing game.
Best oil for searing steak
With so many oil options out there, it can be quite difficult to decide on the best oil for searing. We do understand this difficulty, and as chefs, we have done the job for you already.
Your steaks need to come out great no matter what. That’s only possible with the best oil that will not negatively affect the final taste but enhance the taste even better than you desire.
The searing oil options for steaks mentioned below have each been tried out. The bad options that take away the flavor were eliminated to help save your time so you can focus on cooking only. That said, below are the best oil for searing steaks:
Generally speaking, ghee is simply butter that has had all its water removed with only the milky solids remaining. It has a high smoke point of about 475°F.
Have a look at the packaging below:
The Purity farms organic ghee clarified butter adds a nutty aroma to your recipes, in addition to its richness in vitamins, anti-inflammatory acids, and antioxidants.
This product is one of the best for searing. I especially loved its traditional ‘taste’ aroma, and the fact that it complemented my seared steak quite well.
The only downside to this product is that it isn’t as popular as other cooking oils, but you can easily find it in any online store you can think of.
Product manufacturer: Purity Farms
- Traditional nutty aroma
- Excellent searing results
- Its extremely high smoke point means it’s capable of sustaining cooking temperatures of up to 475°F without breaking down
- Not for you if you don’t like that ‘traditional’ cooking aroma
- Not as mainstream as other cooking oils for searing
Overall verdict: Purity Farms organic ghee has to be the best oil for searing steak every cook needs.
Due to its high smoke point of 520°F, the Chosen Foods 100% pure avocado oil spray is a great option for searing because it excels at high temperatures.
Using this product was a sure way of delivering the perfect crispy flavor on all my almond flour cookies and pastries.
While I must say that its price did drive me away initially, one test was all it took for me to adopt this particular brand of avocado oil as my ‘go-to’ brand.
But then again, its neutral taste profile and the fact that it’s been touted as a safe spray oil (though I haven’t been able to confirm this yet), has more than won me over.
It comes as a spray bottle just as seen below:
I’d give twenty stars to this oil if I could.
Product manufacturer: Chosen Foods
- Touted as a safe spray oil
- Long shelf-life and doesn’t go bad quickly.
- A high smoke point of 520°F means its capable of handling extreme heat
- Can also be used for seasoning cast-iron cookware due to its high level of unsaturated fats contents
- Relatively pricey when compared to other cooking oil alternatives
If you asked, I’d say “it’s worth the money”. The decision to include this oil was influenced by what others have to say about it, and the reviews are generally tasty about it.
Another best oil for searing steak is the La Tourangelle organic grapeseed oil. Its extremely high smoke point means it’s a chef’s delight, making it the best oil for searing steak.
I got this product in for review by some sort of divine ‘co-incidence’. I was thrilled by the fact that it’s like a “jack of all dishes, master of all” searing oil.
Grilled meat, pasta, cheese, pastries? Check!
This cooking oil has a nice clean color to it, add this to its affordability, and its neutral flavor that doesn’t affect or change the taste of dishes in any way, then you’ll begin to see why it’s highly rated by professional chefs.
Just one thing, stay away from this oil if you’re allergic to grapes.
Product manufacturer: La Tourangelle
One of the packs did have an issue on arrival, otherwise, it helped the steaks feel sumptuous.
- It has a smoke point of about 420°F which ensures excellent searing results
- Neutral flavors complement almost any dish you cook
- Not suitable for those with grape allergies
The verdict is that it is indeed one best steak-searing oil to spend money on for high value.
Spectrum Naturals refined organic canola oil is a popular oil used in many kitchens due to its versatility and affordability. It has a high smoke point of around 400°F, making it an excellent choice for searing.
I’ve used this product for quite some time, and three things stick out for me;
One, the Spectrum Naturals searing oil works for almost every kind of dish you can think of. Two, it’s safe to consume for even those with allergies.
Three, it’s available in bulk.
Spoiler alert: My major gripe with this oil is that it can give your steak a slightly bitter taste if you’re not liberal with it, and it may not be the healthiest choice for cooking oil (since canola oil has been noted for its high level of omega-6 fatty acids).
Asides from this, it’s a great choice for searing steak.
Product manufacturer: Spectrum
As you can see, it’s almost crystal clear and healthy to consume.
- Very affordable and easily available
- Available in bulk
- Doesn’t affect the taste profile of dishes
- High smoke point
- Might not be the healthiest cooking option since canola oil has been noted for its high level of omega-6 fatty acids.
- You need to be careful when applying it, as too much could give your steak a slightly bitter taste.
Forget the ads, the TV shows, or whatever the local chef told you. Want to make excellent seared meat? Here’s your best oil for searing steak.
The Hollywood enriched gold peanut oil is an extremely versatile and healthy cooking oil with a high smoke point of around 450°F, which makes it an excellent choice for searing.
Here’s a kicker, even veterinarians recommend it for dogs. I bet you didn’t know that.
All my dishes had this mild, nutty flavor that my taste buds loved. It’s pretty good for baking, it gave my pastries a light, natural, and crusty kind of texture.
However, this oil might not be the best option if you have a peanut allergy or are cooking for someone who does.
Overall, I’d say it’s a great but pricey cooking oil.
Product manufacturer: Hollywood
- Versatility is off the charts
- Excellent seared meat every time
- Refined oils have a mid-to-high smoke point of 450°F
- Not the best option if you’re allergic to peanuts or are cooking for someone who does.
- Strong peanut flavor can negatively impact the taste of some dishes if you add too much oil
- A bit pricey
The Wesson Pure Vegetable Oil has been a staple in my kitchen for many years and will continue to be.
Why? It can be used for any type of recipe that calls for oil, it has a neutral taste profile, and can be safely stored for a long time without turning rancid.
I could spend all day extolling its virtues, but from my experience with it, I’ve got just two negative things to say about it.
If you’re buying it online you could easily buy the wrong size, so I think they need to do a better job with the size description.
And the fact by its nature of being ‘vegetable oil’, it may not be the healthiest option on this list (although it’s claimed to be 100% natural).
I’ve had many wonderful cooking and baking adventures with the Wesson Pure Vegetable Oil, and I’d recommend it in a heartbeat.
Product manufacturer: Wesson
- Affordable and easily available
- High smoke point
- The neutral flavor doesn’t impact the taste of dishes in any way
- Versatile for every recipe
- Product sizing description could be better
The first thing I loved about the Kadoya Sesame Oil was the shape of its bottle, I kept admiring its svelte shape.
When it came to cooking, it didn’t disappoint either.
I got consistent results every time I used it for searing meat. While the taste might not be everyone’s cup of tea, my guests and I loved that ‘chill sesame’ flavor it gave the meat.
I don’t really have anything bad to say about this oil, maybe because I haven’t used it extensively. The Kadoya Sesame Oil is a great, affordable, and convenient option when it comes to searing meat.
Product manufacturer: Kadoya
- Affordable and easily available
- Great taste and smell
- Consistently great searing results
- Hot taste profile might not be to everyone’s liking
- Not as popular as other cooking oils for searing
How to choose the best oil for searing
There are a few things to be aware of and a few kinds of oil that we do not advise using. Let’s start with the oils that should not be used.
The smoke points of olive oil, extra-virgin olive oil, and ordinary vegetable oil are low. In addition, they usually vary between 300 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit, which isn’t hot enough for steak and may easily result in scorched oil, which will damage the taste.
There is one exception, which we’ll address below: very light olive oil! Here are some of the characteristics to look for.
High smoke point
One of the most important qualities of any cooking oil when it comes to searing is a high smoke point.
Smoke point refers to the temperature at which cooking oil starts to break down and produce smoke. When an oil reaches its smoke point, it stops shimmering and releases harmful gasses into the air. In addition to giving food an unpleasant burnt flavor.
High smoke point oils can withstand high temperatures without smoking (burning), whilst allowing you to get a good sear on your meat without sacrificing flavor.
Smoke point varies by oil, from a temperature range of 300°F (149°C) to over 500°F (260°C).
An incredibly hot pan and oil at its smoke point is an incredibly dangerous combo. This is because a pan needs to attain temperatures of about 400-450°F (204-232°C) for a proper sear.
So, it’s best you use cooking oil with a high enough smoke point that can handle whatever you throw at it.
Besides high smoke points, another important quality of an oil for searing is a neutral flavor or taste profile.
You don’t want the oil to overpower the taste of your steak or fish, so a neutral-flavored oil is an ideal option as this allows the natural ‘tasty’ flavors of the meat to shine through creating a more balanced and delicious dish.
It’s best you consider cooking oils that have a complementary taste profile when it comes to the unmistakable aroma of seared steak or fish.
Good heat distribution
Good searing oil should also have good heat distribution or conduction.
This means that the cooking oil you choose should be able to distribute heat evenly across the surface of the pan in use.
Thus, allowing your steak to cook thoroughly and evenly with some nice ‘crispiness’ to it.
Although this is usually the last thing on anyone’s mind, it’s always a bonus if the cooking oil you choose contains some healthy fats.
According to health experts, cooking oils high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are generally considered to be healthier than oils high in saturated and trans fats. Per Harvard nutritionists, good sources of monounsaturated fats are olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, and avocados.
This can make your seared steaks not only deliciously crispy but also a tad healthier.
Refined or unrefined oils
Compared to unrefined oils, most refined oils are suitable for searing.
Here’s why: Unrefined oils contain beneficial nutrients, enzymes, and minerals which makes them a healthier option. However, their lower smoke point is what makes them unsuitable for searing.
The heat applied to unrefined oils during the refining process rids them of their natural compounds, nutrients, and minerals. But it also gives them a high smoke point, which is a major asset when it comes to searing.
In addition to this, refined oils are comparatively cheaper than their unrefined counterparts.
Tips for searing properly
Here are some simple tips and tricks to help sear like a pro:
Preheat your pan
Always make sure your pan is properly preheated before adding any oil or meat. This will help prevent sticking and ensure a nice, even sear.
To check if your pan is ready, you can use a water test to help determine if the pan is at the proper temperature.
Put a tiny amount of water in the pan, if it forms a bead that glides smoothly across the surface of the pan, then the temperature is right. But if it sizzles then your pan is too hot!
Use the right amount of oil
When it comes to searing, less is usually more.
You only need a very little amount of oil to sear meat or fish properly. This is because if you use too much oil, the meat will simmer rather than sear, giving it a less appealing texture.
So, you only need just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. You can always add more oil later if you need to.
Make sure your meat is dry
Moisture and searing don’t go well together. According to experts, always make sure your meat is as dry as possible before adding it to the pan.
Use a paper towel to pat it down to get rid of any excess moisture in order to ensure a crispy, golden crust.
More space please
Do not put too much meat in the pan at once. Doing this will reduce the overall temperature of the pan, and the meat will simply end up steaming instead of searing.
So, you must make sure the pieces of meat are properly spaced-out in the pan to prevent them from steaming instead of searing.
While searing, it’s crucial to keep an eye on oil because it heats up quickly. If the oil starts to smoke, it means it’s too hot and could burn the meat. If the oil starts to smell burnt, then it’s time to lower the heat.
Make sure you properly season your meat. Don’t just lightly sprinkle salt and pepper on the surface. Proper seasoning helps form a crust.
Use the proper pan
I can’t stress this point enough. Using a high-quality nonstick pan or a well-seasoned and regularly used cast iron pan will prevent any sticky situations when it comes to searing.
Not doing this is like asking for trouble afterward, especially when it comes to cleaning.
Can you use vegetable oil to sear steak?
Yes, vegetable oil is good for searing steak. It has a high smoke point that keeps the air clear and does a great job of not sticking to the pan.
What oil do you use to pan sear steak?
The best cooking oil brand for you depends on what serves your needs and purposes best. There isn’t an overall ‘best’ as every brand product has its pros and cons that are unique to it. So you should only buy cooking oils based on what will suit your needs and preferences at that moment.
What is the best oil for searing?
Ghee is probably the best oil for searing. The combination of a high smoke point of about 475°F, traditional cooking flavor, and numerous health benefits make it a winner.
How long should you sear for?
You should sear your meat for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side to get an even cook. Remove the steaks from the flame once they have been seared on both sides, and then brush both sides with extra virgin olive oil. By doing this, you’ll help create the perfect crust.
And with that, we conclude our list of the best oil for searing steak. So, go ahead, smear on some oil, and start searing. But remember, always put your safety first. Exercise extreme caution when heating oil, and never leave it unattended on the stove.