The Best Fat Separators
Kiss excess grease goodbye! A fat separator helps you make the best gravy on the block.
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There's nothing sexy about a fat separator. In fact, it’s quite possibly one of the least glamorous kitchen tools. No one really wants to think about fat that much, but these gadgets seriously come in handy when you don’t have time to defat your broth or pan juices. Think about a busy Thanksgiving Day: Everyone is already bustling around the kitchen to get dinner ready, there’s no way you have time to pop your turkey stock in the refrigerator and wait for the fat to solidify (not to mention that there’s probably no room in the fridge anyway!). To make sure your gravy isn’t slick with fat, use a fat separator—like our top pick OXO Good Grips Good Gravy 4-Cup Fat Separator (available at Amazon for $24.95)—which allows you to separate liquids and fats almost immediately.
It’s really just about simple physics: Fats and liquids don’t mix. Given a few minutes’ time, the fat will float to the top because it’s less dense than water. These gadgets take advantage of that and pour from the bottom, making it easier to get flavorful liquid without a ton of excess fat. The best ones even have strainer tops that are designed to filter-out aromatics like chopped onions, carrots, or peppercorns. To find the best time-saving fat separator, we compared eight top-rated models.
These are the best fat separators we tested ranked, in order.
- OXO Good Grips Good Gravy 4-Cup Fat Separator
- OXO Good Grips 4-Cup Fat Separator
- Cuisipro 4-Cup Fat Separator
- Vondior 4-Cup Gravy Separator and Fat Separator
- Bellemain 4-Cup Fat Separator/Measuring Cup with Strainer & Fat Stopper
- Swing-A-Way 4-Cup Easy Release Fat/Gravy Separator
- Trudeau 0991105 Gravy/Fat Separator
- Vita for Home 4-Cup Gravy Separator & Fat Separator
The OXO Good Grips Good Gravy 4-Cup Fat Separator is, by far, our favorite fat separator in the group. By design, bottom-draining separators make it almost impossible to pass a lot of fatty-liquid through their valves because the fat floats on the top. Some of them have temperamental levers, but the trigger on this model is super easy to control. As you depress the trigger on the comfortable handle, it opens the silicone-lined hole in the bottom, allowing as much or as little liquid to pass as you'd like. That helps significantly in minimizing splashing, creating less mess than some of the other models.
Unlike the other bottom-draining models, the OXO also has a pour spout on the top, which makes it much easier to remove the fat left behind in the separator. The strainer on top also has the smallest holes in the group and they caught almost everything we strained through it—even most of the thyme leaves. And, since the lever mechanism is located on the outside of the separator, we had no problems when it came time to clean everything up. All of that comes together to earn the OXO our pick as Best Overall.
If you're looking for a spout-style fat separator and you don't have a ton of money to spend, you can't go wrong with the OXO Good Grips 4-Cup Fat Separator. The design uses a red, silicone plug to create air pressure inside the spout, preventing fat from entering the chamber. When you remove the plug, the liquid spurts up, allowing you to drain it first before encountering the fat that floats on top. There are a few other spout-style separators that look exactly like this one, but the OXO out-performed them all.
Our only qualm with this product is the top strainer, which has holes large enough to allow a few peppercorns to pass through its gates. If straining stock without using cheesecloth is a big deal for you, spend the extra money on our top pick instead of this Best Value choice.
How We Tested
Hi, I’m Lindsay Mattison, a trained professional chef who loves making from-scratch meals. That usually means my refrigerator is jam-packed with the latest batch of pickles, condiments, and sauces. Because I’m always creating new and exciting foods, I don’t have time to wait for fat to solidify when making stock. My fat separator saves me a ton of time, and I’d love to help you do the same!
We picked up eight fat separators—four bottom-drainers and four spout-style pitchers—and put them to the test. Our tests were designed to evaluate ease of use and defatting ability. Ultimately, we were looking for an easy-to-use fat separator that wouldn't make a mess and didn’t allow a lot of fat to pass through with the liquid.
To test the separator’s ability to defat liquid, we tasked each one with separating large and small amounts of fatty chicken stock. We added 1 cup of vegetable oil to 3 cups of stock, and 1/4 cup of oil to 3/4 cups of stock. Some separators performed better with small amounts of liquid while others excelled at the larger quantities. To become our winner, the separator had to ace both tests.
Next, we tested the strainer to see if it could strain out normal aromatics found in chicken stock. Every strainer was able to keep the chopped onions and carrots out, and none of them prevented all the thyme leaves from passing through without a cheesecloth liner. The biggest differentiator was the peppercorns: Some passed right through the larger-sized holes while others were perfectly positioned to keep those types of solids out of the finished stock.
We finished out our tests by making sure each separator could hold the promised 4-cup capacity. We also measured one cup of water in each model to make sure it weighed 240 grams to check its accuracy as a measuring cup.
How Do Fat Separators Work?
There are two types of fat separators: spout-style pitchers and bottom-drainers. They both work the same way, although their draining methods differ. After you pour your stock or sauce through the strainer (which is designed to catch aromatics like chopped onions or peppercorns), give it a minute to allow the fat to rise to the top. With the pitcher design, you simply pour the liquid through the spout, which pulls from the bottom of the receptacle. For the bottom-drainer types, you pull a lever to drain the liquid directly through a hole in the bottom. With both methods, you stop pouring before you reach the floating fat, leaving it behind in the separator.
Other Fat Separators We Tested
You'll notice the next two products look strikingly similar to one another, but one was more expensive and also performed better on our tests. The better-performing Cuisipro 4-Cup Fat Separator is a little slow to drain, but it had the best yield of all the products we tested, allowing a paltry amount of fat to escape through the bottom drain. It wouldn't be our first choice for use as a measuring cup, not only because it's not entirely accurate but also because the etchings are hard to read. But, as a fat separator, you can't go wrong with this model.
The Vondior 4-Cup Gravy Separator and Fat Separator looks exactly—and I mean exactly—like the slightly-better-performing Cuisipro. The only way to tell them apart is by the brand name was printed on the product. Like the Cuisipro, it isn't accurate as a measuring cup and the etchings are hard to read. But, it's easy to use, doesn't allow any peppercorns to pass through the top strainer, and it does a fine job at draining the liquid without passing too much fat through.
The Bellemain 4-Cup Fat Separator is available for the same budget price as our Best Value pick (and, it looks the same, too), but it falls behind in performance. Overall, we like the separator, but you have to be very careful pouring it to prevent fatty liquids from spilling up over the top. It's more accurate with larger quantities of liquid than smaller quantities, but it just doesn't excel at both.
We love the smaller profile of the bottom-draining Swing-A-Way 4-Cup Easy Release Fat and Gravy Separator, which makes it easy to store. We just wish it had performed better in our tests. It was the only model we tested that couldn't actually hold 4 cups of liquid as advertised, and the cup measurement was wildly inaccurate, weighing almost a full ounce less than it should. It's one of the easier models to clean, but that easy-to-clean handle is also pretty awkward to hold.
While I appreciate that the Trudeau Gravy and Fat Separator is trying to do something different than the others, this wide-spout design just doesn't perform well. It doesn't have a plug to keep fat from entering the spout and fat-filled liquid ended up pouring up over the top as we used it. Since it's also difficult to clean, this fat separator landed itself at the bottom of our list.
The Vita for Home 4-Cup Gravy Separator & Fat Separator might look exactly like our Best Value pick, but it certainly doesn't perform as well. This fat separator splashed and spilled as we used it, dribbling liquid down the side of the spout as we poured. The strainer can't keep peppercorns from escaping through the holes and it lets more fat through than we'd prefer. The kicker: The silicone handle fell off while we were cleaning it, leaving us with an exposed piece of uncomfortable plastic. Considering how expensive this model is, it's definitely not worth it.
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