Cooking effluents are one of the most important sources of pollution in the indoor and outdoor environment. Exposure to cooking oil fumes (COFs) can increase the risk of many diseases. A healthy indoor environment and an energy-efficient ventilation system in kitchens are urgently demanded. This review is concerned with the current knowledge of the physical and chemical compositions of aerosols generated from typical cooking processes as reported in the literature. It is focused on the effects of cooking fuel, cooking oil, cooking temperature, cooking method, cooking style and other factors on the characteristics of cooking particles. The improvement measures in kitchen ventilation, supply air strategy and evaluation index for the kitchen environmental protection are also reviewed. It was found that the cooking process emits high concentrations of particulate matter (PM), and inhalable particles account for a high proportion, which may cause serious harm to human body. Coupled with various factors affecting the particle concentrations and particle size distribution, as well as the main chemical components groups used to characterize the cooking particles, include PAHs, fatty acids, dicarboxylic acids, n-alkanes, sterols, monosaccharide anhydrides, metals and ions. Using an appropriate ventilation system and some auxiliary measures can effectively reduce cooking oil fumes pollution.