Which should I use … butter or oil?


Greasing a frying pan with oil or butter is an important part of food preparation, and is crucial to stop food sticking or catching. While there are a range of options that you can use to grease a pan, butter and oil are the two most commonly used. But do you ever wonder when you should use butter and when you should use oil?


If you’re scrambling eggs for breakfast, use butter as it adds a lovely richness of flavour. Choose unsalted butter, so that you can season the eggs to your taste. Fried eggs also benefit from a butter base because it adds a hint of toasted nuttiness, however if you want a crisp white and a runny yolk, olive oil is the best choice. Olive oil will help to create a crunchy white, and you can also baste the egg white with hot olive oil from the pan to make them extra crisp.

Another popular breakfast food is pancakes. While butter undoubtedly creates a wonderful flavour, it can be hard to get the temperature right when using butter for pancakes, resulting in over-browned outsides and undercooked insides. To overcome this problem, choose an oil with a neutral flavour, like vegetable oil. If you really want to stick with butter, try adjusting the cooking temperature, and experiment with different sized pancakes to see what works best.


Because it browns easily and can burn when cooked at high temperatures, butter is usually unsuitable for dishes that require a high cooking temperature.  Instead, cooking oils are the best option and there are a variety of choices available from peanut oil, to avocado oil, vegetable oil and olive oil. If you want to add that delicious butter flavour to your dish, add it near the end of the cooking when you’ll still get the benefit of the flavour without the risk of the butter burning or separating.

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