The best way to dispose of cooking oil

Fried foods are my nemesis – although I love them dearly, they make quite a mess in the kitchen, not the least of which is a copious amount of fat that needs to be disposed of. Although it’s tempting to just pour the used oil down the drain, that’s a huge no-no, as Sho Spaeth explains in a recent article on the Serious Eats website

infused oils

First things first – you do not necessarily have to throw out your cooking fats after one use. Often, the fats can be saved for another purpose. This is especially true of drippings from roasting meat or poultry. These fats are loaded with flavor and can be utilized to good effect in frying or roasting potatoes and other vegetables. You can also reuse deep frying oil as long as it hasn’t gone off; usuallly you can get several uses out of it. 

Once an oil has been well used and needs to be thrown out, the best practice is to gather the oil into a container with a good seal, and put it in the trash once the receptacle is full. You should never pour it down the sink, because even if it is a liquid fat, it can bind with alkaline salts to create a soap-like substance that does not degrade and can clog sewers and wastewater treatment plants. Don’t put large quantities of oil (or any amount of animal fat) onto your compost pile, either. The fats can create water resistant barriers that reduce air flow, a vital component to the composting process. 

Photo of Flavorfully infused oils from The Minimalist at The New York Times by Mark Bittman

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  • jahqdruh  on  April 8, 2019

    Before you put that used cooking oil in the trash, check with your local town/city to see if they have a used cooking oil recycling program. Ours does, and accepts household cooking oil for recycling into biodiesel.

    From personal experience, don't use oil that was used to fry fish to then fry doughnuts. I ruined a batch of doughnuts this way…

  • NickG  on  April 10, 2019

    Yes, in the UK most councils will recycle cooking oil that's past re-using, although you may have to take it to the recycling centre yourself. We just re-use as far as possible then store it in a bottle til there's enough to warrant a trip to recycle.

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