There has always been some confusion in the world of fine dining about the best oil for cooking steak. People who adore chefs like Gordon Ramsay will swear up and down that olive oil does the job. However, the best oil for steak would have a higher smoke point than extra virgin olive oil.
So why do people still use olive oil? Perhaps it’s a force of habit, or maybe because olive oil is used for so many recipes that it just ‘makes sense’ that you use it for cooking expensive steaks. When picking cooking oil, the general rule is that if the oil has a lighter color, it most likely has a higher smoke point compared to darker-colored cooking oils.
Steak heads will recommend less expensive cooking oils that can withstand 400°F. Refined oils are better suited for high-temperature cooking as the refinement process is necessary for removing the combustible elements of cooking oils. Using the best oil for steak is essential because you don’t want to turn your home into a chimney when winter sets in, and it’s harder to get the oil up to the temperature you need to cook steaks properly.
The sear is essential for a quality steak. Diamond grill marks are great, but hard sears on the stovetop are just as great. Use the lightest variant of olive oil, canola oil, and peanut oil for cooking steaks. You will get less smoke and much more flavor. Cooking oils with lower smoke points will leave bad flavors in your steak due to combustion. This is what a lot of people don’t understand. At certain temperatures, cooking oils begin to break down and leave residual flavors in the food.