The Right Way to Deal with Cooking Grease

published Sep 11, 2015
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(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

When you cook a giant batch of bacon for Sunday breakfast, or roast a whole chicken for weeknight dinners, you’re going to end up with a pan full of cooking grease that needs to be dealt with. And the question looms: What do you do with it? What’s the best way to get rid of all this grease?

In the moment, it probably feels like the easiest thing to do is take that pan over to the sink and pour that grease down the drain. Don’t tell me you haven’t thought about it (or done it). Here’s the thing: Under no circumstance should cooking grease or oil be poured down the kitchen sink. And no, don’t think about flushing it down the toilet either.

While there might not be an immediate problem with doing this, cooking grease can build up over time, and eventually block the drain completely. Or worst case scenario, it can damage local sewer systems, which may lead to a messy backup.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

There’s a better way to deal with kitchen grease. You might already be doing this, but if not, there’s no time like the present to get started.

Consider if it can be used again.

There are a number of fats, like bacon and duck fat, as well as cooking oil used for deep frying, like vegetable, canola, and peanut oil, that can all be used again. If you’re cooking with one of these fats, go ahead and reserve it to be used again in the future. Bacon and duck fat should be stored in a sealed container. If you plan to use it again right away it can be kept at room temperature; otherwise store it in the refrigerator or freezer. Store cooking oil for deep frying in a tightly sealed container, in a cool, dark place.

What if it can’t be reused?

If the cooking grease can’t be reused, here’s how I deal with it: Once the oil or grease has cooled completely, pour it into an appropriate-sized container (I typically use an old mug or a small bowl) and place it in the fridge to firm up. Once solidified, scoop the grease into the trash, then wash the container.

Another solution is pouring the cooled grease into a container that can be sealed, then placing the sealed container in the trash. I don’t always have resealable containers that can get tossed, so this method doesn’t work for me. But if it works for you, it’s also a viable option.