5 Ways To Get Oil Out Of Sauces, Soups, And Stews

Sometimes when making a liquid-based recipe like a soup or stew, you may notice that an unappetizing slick of oil gathers on the top as it’s cooking. This often happens when you have meat or some other fatty ingredient simmering away. So how do you get this oil out?

One way is to skim it off the top with a spoon or ladle. You can also drop some ice cubes into an ice-cold ladle and then skim it across the surface of the dish, which helps to collect the oil underneath the utensil.

When I looked into this some more I found some methods seem to work better than others and decided to put the best ones together here. I’ve also included some tips on reducing the amount of oil and fat in the dish in the first place.

5 Ways To Easily Remove The Oil And Fat

I found there are 5 ways that work best to remove the oil from your soups, stews, and sauces:

1. Use a Spoon or Ladle

The simplest way to remove the oil is by using a spoon or ladle to skim it off the surface of the dish. This works well but you need to be careful not to take too much of the underlying sauce or soup with it. 

I find a ladle works best as it holds more and with thicker meals, you can press it into the mixture so that you’re only siphoning off the oil. Here is a great video I found that shows you how to do this:

2. Use Ice Cubes

Another way to remove the oil is by using ice cubes. Simply put your ladle into a bowl of ice cubes so that it gets freezing cold and then lift it out making sure it’s full of ice. Skim the underneath of the ladle across the surface of the piping hot dish and you will find it solidifies and collects oil and fat as it goes.

After a few seconds, lift the ladle out, wipe the collected oils off on a paper towel, and repeat until you have removed all the fat. Put the ladle back in the ice bowl and refill it with ice if it stops working.

You can also just wrap a large ice cube in a clean paper towel (or use it bare) and use that to collect the fat in the same way when it’s just a small amount.

3. Use a Plain Paper Towel

Yet another way to remove the oil is by using a simple paper towel. Simply place a paper towel over the surface of the dish and then press down gently. The paper towel will absorb the oil. Note this is best used with a small portion such as a bowl of soup rather than a large pan of liquid.

4. Use A Special Fat Skimmer Tool

There are a number of tools available made specifically for removing the hot fat including a simple fine mesh stainless steel strainer. By using one of these you can skim the hot oil and fat straight off the top of the pan without losing any of the soup, stew, broth, etc.

You can also skim off the scum when making stock.

5. Chill The Dish So The Fat Solidifies

This last method is not quite so convenient as you will need to chill your soup or stew after cooking so that fats solidify on the top. It does work incredibly well to remove all the fat though.

Note this will only work with oils and fats that become solid when cooled (like animal fats). You can then use a spoon to break it up and remove it without picking up too much of the food itself.

Best Tools For Removing Oil

There are several different tools available that can help you remove the oil from your soups and stews.

The first is a simple ladle which you can use to skim the oil off the surface. This works well but if you’re not careful you can end up scooping out some of the soup, broth, stew, etc. with the oil.

Another option is to use a special fat skimmer tool that has a fine mesh. These are available in supermarkets and online at places like Amazon.

For thinner liquid dishes like soups, gravy, and broths there is also a special fat separator spoon available that looks like a ladle. This device has a unique pouring spout that lets the liquid through from the bottom while holding back the fat or oil on the top.

Finally, there are also several fat separator kitchen gadgets available such as this fat separator that allows you to separate the fat from liquid when making gravy, soups, stews, and sauces.

Why Are My Soup Or Stews So Oily?

The main reason soups and stews end up being so oily is usually down to the cuts of meat you’re using. It’s best to trim as much of the fat off the meat as possible before cooking or to use leaner cuts such as chicken breast, pork loin, and prime steak.

Another reason could be that you’re using too much oil during the preparation of the dish and that’s getting carried through into the final product.

Note that if you bring your soup or stew etc. to a hard boil then any oils and fats will be emulsified into the liquid and become much harder to remove. It’s best to just simmer these sorts of dishes gently so you can remove the residue easily using one of the methods mentioned above.

Tips To Reduce Oil Next Time

If you want to try and reduce the amount of oil you end up with next time you cook your favorite recipe, here are a couple of things you can try.

As mentioned above, choose leaner cuts of meat and trim any excess fat off before cooking. This will make the biggest difference in reducing the amount of oil and fat that forms on the surface.

Another good tip is to brown the meat in a separate pan using a little oil and then transfer it into the soup or stew pot. This way you can drain any excess fat before it has a chance to get into the dish.

The same goes for any other ingredients you’re frying off beforehand, be sure to drain any excess oil so that it doesn’t end up in the final dish.


As you can see, there are a few different ways that you can remove the oil from your soups and stews. The best method will depend on the dish you’re making and how much oil is on the surface.

In most cases, a simple ladle or fat skimmer tool will do the trick but if you’re dealing with a lot of oil then you may need to chill the dish so that it solidifies. This allows you to scoop out large quantities of fat very easily.

The iced ladle trick has also worked very well for many people who’ve tried it but only really works on piping hot food.

If you have a smaller quantity such as a single bowl of soup for example, just placing a paper towel over the top and allowing it to soak up the oils may be all you need to do.

Whichever method you choose, make sure you do it carefully so that you don’t end up losing any of the soup, broth, or stew in the process.

Tom Hambly

Tom Hambly is the founder of Boss The Kitchen. With a background in cooking and building websites, he enjoys running this site to help other cooks improve. About Tom Hambly.

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