Can you cook steak with canola oil | yes, but follow this techniques

Can you cook steak with canola oil
As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases made on our website. If you make a purchase through links from this website, we may get a small share of the sale from Amazon and other similar affiliate programs.

Cooking a truly great steak is an art form, whether it is in a cast-iron pan or on the barbecue. There are plenty of ways to go wrong if you are not careful, and choosing the right oil is one of them. 

Can I use canola oil to cook a steak

Yes, you can.

You can cook sear, pan fry or bbq steak with canola oil. You can preheat it in the pan, or brush it directly onto the grill.

In all cases, you want the oil to create a good sear on the outside of the steak, without burning or smoking due to an excessively high temperature.

A sear (also called browning) is what scientists call a Maillard reaction. A sear is what forms when meat browns in contact with a hot pan or grill.

This happens when natural sugars and amino acids in proteins like beef are heated together quickly. The reaction requires temperatures of at least 300 F – anything less than that will cook the meat without setting off the reaction. In general, hotter is better. 

The initial moments of contact between the meat and the grill or the pan are crucial in creating a sear and the faster the sear happens, the better it is.

Canola oil is excellent for searing because it has a high smoke point. This makes it a great choice for pan-searing and grilling.

At what temperature does canola oil burn

A “smoke point” is the temperature at which an oil will start to combust and produce smoke.

Although many oils (vegetable or corn oil) have a neutral flavor normally, they do change the taste of a steak when they start to smoke. An oil that smokes on the grill or in the pan gives the steak a burnt taste, not the desirable “smoky” flavor you get from smoking meat with wood chips.

The smoke point for canola oil is 400 F (205 C). If you are using canola oil to cook steak, the temperature should never rise about 400 F, or the oil will start to smoke and ruin the flavor.

Should I heat the oil in the pan or on the grill before I add the steak

A sear is created in part due to the difference in temperature between the meat and the heat source. To help this along, it is a good idea to ensure that the oil is already heated in the pan or on the grill and the steak is at room temperature or colder.

This is also a way to verify in advance that you have the right temperature. You want the pan or grill to be as hot as possible without exceeding 400 F so that the oil will not burn. If you add the oil and see it start to smoke, you know that the temperature is too high before you add the steak and ruin the flavor.

What is the difference between grilling and pan-frying steak with canola oil

When you add canola oil to a pan, it has nowhere to go and accumulates there. When you brush oil onto a grill, it can’t pool the same way and so it exists as a thin coating that is easily burned off. 

This makes grilling with canola oil riskier than pan-frying because the variation in coals and the thin layer of oil mean that oil is more likely to burn, and the steak is more likely to stick.

A pan-fried steak will develop a consistent sear where it touches the pan, while a steak on the grill will only sear where it touches the grill, creating a pattern of grill marks on the meat.

You can pan-fry or grill a steak with canola oil as long as the heat source doesn’t exceed 400 F, but managing temperature and creating a good sear is easier with a pan than with a grill.

Will I be able to taste the canola oil

Steak that is cooked with butter has a buttery flavor. Does steak that is cooked with canola oil taste like canola oil?

The answer is yes and no, because canola oil doesn’t taste like much of anything. It has a very neutral flavor.

When you cook steak with canola oil, it just tastes like steak. You don’t need to worry about tasting the canola oil on the steak because it has no flavor and doesn’t change the flavor of the steak.

Using canola oil on a marbled steak

Steak with a lot of marbling and a high fat content can sometimes be cooked without using any oil at all.

The fatty natural juices of the meat emerge as it is heated to lubricate the space between the meat and the heat source, whether that is a cast iron pan or the grill. The steak creates its own cooking oils. This is the simplest approach, but it will only work with very fatty steaks and rarely creates the kind of flavorful sear that characterizes a perfect steakhouse steak.

In a worst-case scenario, if your steak isn’t fatty enough and you don’t use any oil, your steak will stick to the pan or grill and burn.

While it is easier to avoid using oil, the downside is that you won’t get a steak with a proper sear.

What are the benefits of using canola oil to cook a steak

Canola oil is excellent for searing steak because it has a high smoke point at 400 F and a neutral flavor.

This allows you to get a really good sear without altering the natural flavor of the meat like some other oils do. Canola oil is healthier than some other oils on the market and is affordable, too. It can be used in a pan or on the grill.

When is canola oil the wrong choice

If you want the oil to impart a flavor, or if you want to cook using extremely high heat, canola oil is not going to work. Because it is tasteless, some chefs see canola oil as a wasted opportunity in marinades and oil rubs because it lacks the flavor of sesame or peanut oil.

If you want to find out which oil is the best choice for your steak, check here!



I am a kind of person that would sneak a taste out of grandma’s pot when I was barely tall enough to reach it. I grew up in kitchens full of love and liveliness and have spent my whole live learning, experimenting and succeeding in the art of cooking. At Pro Family Chef, every day is an opportunity for a new meal and a brand new flavor. I created this website to connect people that love to cook, with the products designed to make their cooking easier, hassle-free and rewarding every time.

Recent Posts