If you have any aspirations to be a cook, chances are that you will eventually have to heat cooking oil on top of an electric stove. From the surface, you might think that heating the cooking oil is not very complicated. However, there are a few things you need to know in order to make sure you don't burn your food, under-cook your food, or even worse--start a fire.
Ensure that your cooking oil is a refined cooking oil instead of unrefined oil if you are going to deep-fry your food. The refined cooking oils can take the higher temperatures that are generated by an electric stove. Examples of refined oils are Vegetable, Corn & Canola oil. Examples of unrefined oils are Pumpkin Seed, Grape Seed, & Olive oil.
Note that the unrefined oils can be used for sauteeing, but they are not made to withstand high heats that are used when deep-frying. For a more extensive list of refined and unrefined cooking oils, see the link that is located in the "References" section of this article.
Check to make sure your cooking oil has a high "Smoke Point." The smoke point needs to be at least 190 degrees in order to be used as cooking oil on top of your stove. The smoke point for most of the refined oils is 321 degrees Fahrenheit and above. The unrefined oils carry a smoke point of 320 degrees Fahrenheit or less.
When the oil starts smoking on top of the stove, it means it has reached its smoke point. To determine the smoke point temperature, you can place a thermometer inside of the oil. Frying thermometers can be purchased from most department stores for around $14. If you don't want to invest in a thermometer, you can also determine smoke point levels, by referring to a "Cooking Oil Smoke Point Chart," such as the one that has been provided in the "Resources" section of this article.
Turn the range of your electric stove to a "High" setting. Place your pan or skillet on top of the range.
Pour your cooking oil inside of the pan. Depending on what you are cooking, you will need to pour more or less oil. Read the cooking directions for the dish you are cooking to determine the exact oil amount.
Allow the cooking oil to come to a low "Sizzle." You will see bubbles starting to appear in the oil. The bubbles indicate that your cooking oil is now hot enough for cooking. You can also test the oil by dropping a small drop of "Flour" inside of the oil. If the flour begins to cook, your oil is hot enough.
Note that should not allow your cooking oil to reach a boiling point. Boiling oil can easily start a fire. It can also cause your food to cook unevenly by browning too fast on the outside, leaving the inside undercooked.
Place your food that needs to be cooked into the pan of cooking oil.