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Most of us use vegetable oil for cooking and baking. We sauté, fry, and roast with it or use it as a salad dressing.

So, eliminating oil from the kitchen can be hard to imagine. Yet, doing so can provide various health benefits, as oil is highly processed.

And as strange as it may seem, oil-free cooking and baking does not have to be complicated or leave your food without flavor.

This post will guide you through the basics of cooking and baking without oil to help you get started. 

The basics of oil-free cooking: 

A person cooking vegetables in a pan as an example of oil-free cooking and baking

Learning to cook without oil is easy and doesn’t require a lot of practice to be a success. 

Moreover, you don’t need a lot to get started on your oil-free cooking journey. In fact, you can probably use what you already have, although using specific tools makes it easier. 

Recommended tools for oil-free cooking:

  • Non-stick-coated pots and pans can make your oil-free life a lot simpler. If possible, avoid Teflon-coated cookware as it may negatively impact your health and the environment. Alternatives options are ceramic or titanium pans. 
  • Silicone oven mat – make sure it is 100% silicone, with no fillers and food-grade
  • Air fryer 

[su_highlight]Summary: Helpful tools for successful oil-free cooking are non-stick pots and pans, a silicone baking mat, and an air-fryer.[/su_highlight]

Oil-free cooking guide

When frying or sautéing in a pan/pot, replace the oil with vegetable broth (better taste) or water. Start with heating up a small amount of water/vegetable broth (1-2 tbsp) and add more as necessary. Stir regularly.

To deep-fry food without oil, use an air fryer. This appliance is perfect for reducing oil consumption while providing you with almost the same crispy and tasty result.

While air frying is healthier than deep-frying, fried foods, in general, are associated with possible adverse health consequences when consumed in large quantities. So, use it moderately. 

For roasting in the oven, use a silicone oven mat to get a crispy result without oil.

Further, oil is a common ingredient in salad dressings. Some delicious oil-free dressings are balsamic vinegar/lemon + Tahini + garlic powder + ground pepper + salt or vegan yogurt with fresh herbs and some lemon juice. Or try this Vegan Oil-Free Creamy Italian Dressing or one of these 3 Oil-Free Vegan Dressings

Flavorful meals without oil

One of the reasons why cooking with oil is so popular is because it enhances the flavor. Still, you can make your dishes taste fantastic without it by using a variety of spices and herbs. These make your food more delicious and also add valuable nutrients. 

Here is a great post full of fabulous homemade spice mix ideas that you can incorporate into your dishes: Homemade spice mixes

[su_highlight]Summary: For frying or sautéing in a pot or pan use vegetable broth instead of oil. A better alternative for deep-frying is air frying. For oil-free roasting in the oven, use a silicone oven mat for a crispy result. You can also make homemade oil-free salad dressing instead of buying store-bought ones. To make oil-free food more flavorful, use a variety of spices and herbs.[/su_highlight]

The basics of oil-free baking

A women making heart-shaped cookies as an example of oil-free cooking and baking

In contrast to oil-free cooking, baking without oil can be a bit more challenging in the beginning. This is especially true when you try to substitute oil.

Figuring out which substitute works best for a recipe can require a bit of trial and error. However, you can make it easy for yourself by picking recipes that are already oil-free. 😉

Helpful tools for oil-free baking 

  • Silicone molds: these are awesome because you can easily remove baked goods without prior greasing – again make sure it’s 100% silicone and food-grade
  • Alternatively, you can use non-stick coated baking pans and line them with 
  • Reusable parchment paper

[su_highlight]Summary: Helpful tools for oil-free baking are silicone molds, non-stock coated baking pans, and reusable parchment paper.[/su_highlight]

Healthy oil replacements for baking

One of the most popular oil substitutes is apple sauce. Important to note here is that you need roughly ¼ less applesauce than oil. So if a recipe calls for 100 ml oil, use 75 ml of applesauce instead.

Another great substitute is aquafaba, which can replace oil on a 1:1 ratio. Aquafaba is the liquid in canned chickpeas. Great about Aquafaba is that it does not affect the taste of the baked goods.

Natural nut butter can also replace oil on a 1:1 ratio. However, it matters which kind you use. The most neutral in taste is Cashew butter. If a bit of a nutty flavor might enhance the recipe, then feel free to use peanut or almond butter.

Another alternative is vegan yogurt, which you can use to replace oil on a 1:1 ratio.

Further, mashed avocados or bananas are a great alternative as well. They can replace oil on a 1:1 ratio. The mashed avocado is neutral in taste, while the bananas leave a hint of banana flavor. 

[su_highlight]Summary:[/su_highlight]

SubstituteRatioNote
Apple sauce1/4 less apple sauce than oilneutral flavor
Aquafaba1:1neutral flavor
Natural nut butter1:1Cashew = neutral flavor, peanut or almond = nutty flavor
Vegan yogurt1:1neutral flavor
Mashed avocados or banana1:1Avocado = neutral in taste, Bananas = hint of banana flavor

Final notes

Alright, now you are all set to start your oil-free cooking and baking journey. 

Be patient if it takes you some time to get used to it. You’ll soon discover how easy oil-free cooking and baking can be and how amazing food can taste without oil.

If eliminating all oil from your diet seems overwhelming, you can work on reducing your consumption.

You can start by using one healthier oil alternative. So, you may decide to always use vegetable broth for sautéing from now on. Once you are used to that, you can begin replacing oil in other areas as well. 

Summary: Beginner’s guide to oil-free cooking and baking 

Infographic summarizing the most important tips for oil-free cooking and baking

Have you tried baking without oil before? What was your experience?

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