Food & Recipes

This Simple Trick Tells You If Oil Is Hot Enough to Fry Without a Thermometer

Do you ever find yourself just staring at a pot of oil you want to fry with, not quite sure when it’s ready to start cooking? It can be a frustrating guessing game, especially if you don’t have a thermometer handy. Luckily, there’s another tool found in most kitchens that you can use to check the heat instead — a wooden spoon.

No, your spoon won’t magically show temperature digits when you stick it in oil. It will, however, react differently depending on the level of heat in the pan. The simple trick is to check for bubbles forming around the wood — that’s when you’ll know it’s ready to start frying.

Take a look at the clip below to see how it works:

It’s so easy! Now you’re ready to fry up delicious holiday sides or a regular weekday meal without worrying about whether the oil is hot enough. (We recommend trying an at-home recipe for KFC’s finger-lickin’ good chicken for either situation.)

Of course, it’s also important to be extra careful when frying — you don’t want that piping hot liquid splashing back on your skin. And you might want to consider giving your wooden spoon a good soak in boiling hot water to eke out all the oil it absorbs after using it to check the temperature a few times. Those utensils really like to hang onto lingering gunk.

If you would rather use a thermometer to be extra sure your oil is hitting the right temperature (between 325 and 375 for most recipes, according to Cook’s Illustrated), you can definitely find some budget-friendly options, like Saferell Instant Thermometer (Buy on Amazon, $15.95).

Whether you go for a techy gadget or simple wooden spoon, whatever helps get the crispy fried goodness on your plate will be worth it!

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