The Best Fat Separator Only Costs $15 — And You Absolutely Need It

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

I confess to being a late convert to the fat-separating gadget. The first ones I tried never seemed to work that well and I kind of dismissed the need for one. But after spending way too many precious minutes skimming fat off of turkey drippings while guests wait around impatiently for me to make the gravy and carve the bird, I revisited the gadget.

Now, I can safely say that I’ll never make turkey gravy without a fat seperator ever again.

The Two Types of Fat Separators

There are two types of fat-separating pitchers to choose from. Using one type, the fat floats to the top and, thanks to science, never makes its way to the spout when you go to pour out the usable pan drippings. With the other type, the fat still floats to the top but you actually squeeze a mechanism in the handle to release the juices, trap door-style, from the bottom. Both methods work well but rely on your ability to visually determine at what point you’ve poured out or released all of the drippings and when the unwanted fat is about to come out.

Personally, I prefer the type with a spout. Not only do I find pouring easier than squeezing, but also, in order to see the dividing line between the good stuff and the fatty stuff in the bottom-dispensing ones, you have to hold them up at eye level as you work, which can get splatter-y. Plus, there’s the potential for the mechanism to stick or fail.

The Best Fat Separator You Can Buy

Now that I’ve told you that I use one with a spout, you’re probably wondering which one, right? It’s the OXO Good Grips 4-Cup Fat Separator. I like its large capacity and clearly marked measurements. The spout has a stopper, which builds up pressure in the pitcher and prevents fat from entering the spout. On the lid there’s a high shield that helps keep anything from spilling over the top if you empty the turkey pan into the separator too aggressively.

One quibble: The strainer on top of the pitcher has holes that are large enough to let a peppercorn or thyme leaves pass through, if you’re straining stock. But for the convenience and the low price I can live with that drawback — especially since I use it primarily for making gravy.

Do you use a fat separator when you make gravy? Or do you spoon out the juice and drippings by hand?