Lots of people ask us about what’s in our pantry. Well today’s talk is about fat! I believe it was Marcos who said, “You’re not fat, you’re just too short for your weight.” Excellent.

We use many different fats here at FoodMayhem to rock our dishes’ worlds. The selection is quite variable based on parameters including temperature, cooking method, and, of course, flavor. Another consideration is how well the fat conveys heat to the other ingredients. Each type of fat has so many varied properties to consider.


I’ve listed below the items we commonly use, and to some extent, in the order we most frequently use them (most frequent first). In the case where specific type or brand matters to us, I’ve included it. For instance, we only cook with Large Eggs (because by default all baking recipes call for large eggs). And in the case of mayo, I’ve noted Hellman’s, because they are hands down the winner for flavor and consistency.

If you examine the photo carefully, you’ll notice there are various items included not noted above. That’s because we alter our oils from time-to-time or keep them in easier to use containers than the ones we buy them in. For instance, we buy vegetable oil in the one gallon jug, but then transfer some into a mister bottle (we’re moving away from using aerosol cooking sprays, like Pam). We also made some into Chili Oil.

Also, I’ve included bacon and salt pork, which are on the list, since we will typically render out the fat and cook in it, such as with the recent scallop dish we did. And sadly, we would love to more frequently use lard, but we just don’t generally keep it around the house, so we usually substitute either vegetable shortening or the rendered pork fat.

I’ve attempted to list the oils in a grid below, based on properties that we keep in mind when making cooking decisions. Obviously, we don’t reference a grid like this every time we cook, but we keep these things in mind. Here are the definitions:

  • Temperature – This the optimal temperature or range of temperatures for using the fat. This is based primarily on the smoke point and heat transfer.
    • None – Use it raw, don’t apply heat.
    • Low – Stove top, low to medium heat. About 250-300 degrees F.
    • Medium – Stove top, medium or high heat; or, Oven low to medium. About 350 degrees F.
    • High – Stove top high heat; deep fat frying; or oven high or broil. About 400-450 degrees F.
  • Taste – How enjoyable the flavor of the fat is by itself. That is, Imported E.V.O.O. is amazing by itself and can be enjoyed with plain bread. Whereas, Vegetable Oil tastes pretty lousy. This is a subjective area, so I tried to keep it very general.
  • Cooking Method – These are common methods of using the fat for cooking. Clearly many other methods are used as well.
  • Shelf Life – How long you want to keep the unused ingredient around (including in the fridge).
  • Heat Transfer – How well the fat conveys heat from the heat source to the primary ingredient.
  • Cost – Relative price range.
  • Common Cuisines – The original or most commonly cuisine to experience the fat.
Temp. Taste Cooking Method Shelf Life Heat Transfer Cost Common Cuisines
Rendered Chicken Fat (Shmaltz) Medium Good Fry Short Medium High Eastern European
Cooking Spray Low to High Fair Bake, Fry Long Good Low American
Egg Yolk Low Good Bake, Dress, Emulsify, Fry Short Fair Medium All
Extra Virgin Olive Oil None to Low Good Dress, Emulsify, Saute Medium Good High Mediterranean
Flaxseed Oil None Good Dress Medium High Health Food
Imported Extra Virgin Olive Oils None Excellent Dress Medium Very High Mediterranean
Mayonnaise All Good Dress, Emulsify Long Medium Low American, Northern European
Rendered Bacon Low Excellent Fry, Saute Medium Good Medium All
Rendered Salt Pork Low to Medium Good Fry, Saute Short Good High American, Carribbean
Sesame Oil All Good Dress, Fry, Saute Medium Good Medium East Asian
Unsalted Butter None to Low Good Bake, Dress, Saute Short Medium Medium All
Vegetable (typically Canola) Oil Low to High Fair Fry, Saute Long Good Low All
Vegetable Shortening Low to High Fair Bake, Fry Long Good Medium American

Hope this helps your cooking! Download the grid as a spreadsheet.

posted by Lon at 08:24 AM Filed under Basics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.