Cooking Without Oil

Cooking Without Oil (My Ultimate Guide)

I’ve started to see a growing trend of people choosing different methods of cooking without oil. This got me thinking about my own cooking methods, and made me look into different ways that I could cut oil out of my cooking. In this post I’m going to share with you some of the different oil free cooking methods I’ve found.

So what is the answer to cooking without oil? In all honesty there are so many different ways that you can cook without oil, such as:

  • Stir-Frying
  • Sauteing
  • Baking
  • Roasting
  • Air-Frying
  • Steaming
  • Grilling

You can easily use the above cooking methods without the need for oil. Even frying is possible, using more healthy alternatives to oil.

I’ve gone in to much more detail about cooking without oil using each of these methods. If you are interested in trying some of these out then read on to see how to do this.

Cooking Without Oil – How and Why

Cooking Without Oil

I want to say right from the start here that I am not criticising people who cook with oil. Some people like to cook with oil all of the time, and some will do this every now and again.

I also won’t be cutting oil completely out of my diet. After reading tons of posts about the topic of cooking without oil, I really felt like it was something I could and should experiment with.

Why Cook Without Oil?

There really is no getting around this one. We all do it to a certain extent, but using oil for cooking is just not that healthy. Yes in moderation we can get away with it, but all types of oil, even the ones advertised as being more healthy are still pure fat.

Cooking oils don’t have any other nutrients in them, and so when we cook with them we are take onboard unnecessary calories.

The average female should take in approximately 2000 calories per day to maintain her body weight, while the average male should consume around 2500 calories a day to do this. Cooking oil contains a higher calorie to grams ratio than any other food.

One tablespoon of cooking oil generally contains approximately 120 calories. It makes no sense to waste some of these calories on unprocessed oils that are high in fat, when you could be getting these calories in a much more healthy way.

Our bodies cannot process the fats in cooking oil, and therefore cannot break them down to digest them. What this ultimately means is that these fats are then stored somewhere around our bodies. It is for this reason that using cooking oil is one of the highest contributors to obesity throughout the world.

Shortly after consuming cooking oils our arteries harder or stiffen, which reduces their ability to dilate. This inhibits the bodies blood flow, and can and will ultimately lead to high cholesterol and heart disease.

Oil-free Cooking Methods

Ok enough of the scary stuff already. If you read the above and are now thinking how the hell could I ever replace oil in all of the different types of cooking I do, then I say do not fear.

I’ve made the decision to do this myself, and so have found tons of different ways of cooking without oil. I mean who knew it was even possible to fry without oil?

Below I’ve got a ton of different ways to make delicious meals without the need for cooking oils.


I love frying food. Who doesn’t? Probably my favorite meal of all time is a good old fashioned breakfast fry up. I eat too much fried food like this, and as I said above who knows what is happening to my arteries!

So can you fry without oil? Yes, yes yes! Below are a couple of methods you can use to fry food without oil.


It is absolutely possible to stir-fry food without the need for any kind of oil. With stir-frying you are cooking at a very high heat, and so there is a need to keep stirring food constantly.

This is where the name stir-frying comes from. Stir-frying without oil is actually pretty easy. Instead of using cooking oil you can simply use water or vegetable broth instead.

To be able to do this well you are going to need to use some decent non-stick cookware. Below are some simple instructions on how to do this:

  1. Heat your wok or skillet to a medium to high temperature.
  2. Add a small amount of water or vegetable broth and allow this to heat (two tablespoons to begin with should be fine).
  3. Add food making sure that you continuously stir (without this the food will quickly become burnt).
  4. Continue to add water or vegetable broth in small amounts when you feel this is necessary.
  5. Keep cooking food at this heat making sure to toss and stir until it is nicely browned and cooked through thoroughly.
  6. Congratulations. You have stir-fried food without the need to use oil and have saved yourself a ton of calories!


Sauteing without oil is really pretty similar to the above process. The main difference between sauteing and stir-frying is the amount of heat used to cook. While stir-frying you will be cooking at a pretty high heat, whereas with sauteing you want to set the temperature to a medium heat. This means less need for stirring, although you will still want to stir or toss your food occasionally to stop it from burning. To saute without cooking oil follow the instructions below:

  1. Heat your wok or skillet to a medium temperature.
  2. Add a small amount of water or vegetable broth and allow this to heat (two tablespoons to begin with should be fine).
  3. Add food making sure that you occasionally stir with a wooden spoon or toss food.
  4. Continue to add water or vegetable broth in small amounts when you feel this is necessary.
  5. Keep cooking food at this heat making sure to toss and stir until it is nicely browned and cooked through thoroughly.
  6. You should find this this takes a little longer than stir-frying.


When most people bake they choose to add either oil or butter to their ingredients. Nowadays more and more people tend to add olive oil rather than butter.

This is because the fat content is lower in olive oil. However, most people will also tell you that cakes made with butter rather than oil tend to have a fuller flavor.

It is also true that because of the ingredients in butter, cakes made with these tend to have a thicker texture and are more moist (butter has approximately 15% water).

I’m not going to go into a huge amount of detail about the structural integrity of cakes, as I’ll save this for another day!

If we want to be able to bake without oil or butter, and still preserve both the texture and flavor then we should look at some alternatives to these two to add to our baking.

Below are just some of the substitutes I’ve found while researching that will work well instead of oil or butter when baking.


Cooking without oil apple sauce

Applesauce is an excellent alternative to using butter or oil in baking. It adds fibre to your diet, while taking away the calories in oil or butter. The added fibre also helps to maintain moisture in your baking too.

To use this in baking, add half the amount of applesauce in comparison to the recommended amount of butter in your recipe. This is a good substitution for baking cakes, muffins and breads such as banana bread. If you want to really cut the calories down then use an unsweetened applesauce.

Avocado Puree

Cut avocado

I’m going to be honest, I love avocados. I wrote a whole post just about using avocado oil for cooking which you can read here. Avocado’s are pretty versatile. As well as complimenting a ton of different foods you can use them for cooking oil, and more importantly here as a substitute in baking.

Avocados are high in fibre, full of omega-3s and high in vitamin E. When using avocado puree you want to add roughly the same amount of this to your ingredients as the amount of butter recommended in the recipe. To be honest this should work well in just about any baking recipe.

Drop me a comment in the comments section below if you have tried this out in any of your baking recipes.

Mashed Bananas

Bananas are also an excellent substitute to use when baking. Not only can you use these instead of oil or butter, but they can also be used as a substitute for eggs. If you are a vegan, or simply don’t want to use eggs in baking you can simply substitute one whole banana for every egg recommended in the baking recipe.

Substituting bananas for oil or butter in baking is just as simple. In replacing oil you should add 3/4 of a cup of mashed banana for every recommended cup of oil. In replacing butter I would start with roughly half of the recommended amount of butter.

You will know if you need to add a little more when stirring your ingredients. This is ideal when baking more dense foods such as muffins and cakes, but as the banana is thick, it won’t work so well when you are needing to bake something with a light and fluffy consistency.

In any case, I would recommend looking for a flour that is low in gluten, and lower your oven temperature by 25-30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a super healthy substitute to use for both oil and butter in your baking. This dairy-based ingredient is high in protein and reasonably low in fat, although you can also get non-fat greek yogurt if you are being super healthy. I prefer the whole milk version as it gives a much better consistency when baking. You should use half the amount of greek yogurt as the recommended amount of butter in your recipes. Greek yogurt will add moisture to your baking, allowing your baking to stay light and fluffy.


There is misconception that you need to use oil when your roasting vegetables. I have been doing this for years as I thought it was necessary to cook them correctly this way. This is simply not true, and it is perfectly fine to roast things like vegetables without adding oil to them.

The best way to do this and allow for maximum flavor is to simply add  seasoning to them before you place them in the oven. Adding any types of spices and herbs will do this nicely, and if you are worried about your vegetables becoming dry while roasting, add a little liquid based flavoring such as lemon juice or balsamic vinegar.




Using a good air-fryer is a great way of cooking all different kinds of foods without the need for oil. I always find the name of this appliance a little misleading, as it is not actually frying your food.

An air-fryer works by circulating very hot air around the food inside, much like a convection oven does. Technically speaking you are baking your food rather than frying, just at a very high heat, which gives the taste and texture of food that has been fried.

Air fryers are great for small kitchens where you don’t have much room for a ton of appliances, as they are small and easy to store away. They also cook your food really quickly, and because of the cooking method your food retains a lot of the moisture, so it’s a great replacement for frying or cooking with oil.

Although it is possible to cook a lot of things in an air fryer without oil, most people will tell you that you still need to add a small amount for making things like french fries.



If you are cooking vegetables, then steaming is an excellent way to do this. You can pick up a fairly cheap steamer on Amazon these days that won’t break the bank or take up much space. However if you don’t have or want to buy one of these, it is possible to steam vegetables without a steamer. To do this you really only need a simple flat-bottomed pan. To do this simply:

  1. Add a small amount of either water or vegetable broth to the pan and bring it to the boil (just enough to cover the bottom should be fine).
  2. Add vegetables and cover the pan (make sure it os covered well to stop steam from escaping).
  3. Cook vegetables at a medium to high heat for 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and keep covered allowing vegetables to steam for 5 minutes.
  5. If you want to add flavors or spices do this once the vegetables have steamed.


OK so I’ve added grilling to this list for a very good reason. I never fry any of my meat these days, and always cook this using a grill. I use a large George Foreman grill and have been for a while now.

This allows me to cook my meats quickly and easily, and it’s also great to see how much fat actually comes out of the meat. So it’s win win, as you are cooking without oil, and also a lot of the fat is released from the meat and rolls down and out of the grill.

This way your meat is not being cooked in oil, and not sitting in the fat that is released. I actually sometimes use my George Foreman to grill things like peppers and onions to go with steaks.


If you are thinking about using a frying pan to essentially cook food in a traditional frying way but without the oil, you need to make sure you are using the right kind of frying pan. I talked above above stir-frying and pan frying without oil, using water or vegetable broth substitute instead. This is going to work best for you if you are using suitable cookware, weather it’s a frying pan or a wok.

This non-stick copper frying pan by Almond is a really great option for all kinds of cooking without oil. I love it because of it’s versatility. The 12 inch pan is made from durable nonstick copper, with a ceramic coating that is PTFE and PTOA free.

It is oven safe to 420 degrees Fahrenheit and can be used on gas, induction and electric cooktops, and can also be used in the grill. I love the fact that this frying pan/skillet comes with a lid, so you can use it to steam vegetables as mentioned above.

It’s also really great for keeping your food warm until you are ready to serve. This pan can also be used in your oven as it is safe up to such high temperatures.

If you are serious about cooking without oil, and want to try your hand at stir-frying using the method above, you are really going to need a good non stick wok. Cooking at such high heats for stir frying is going to be next to impossible without oil if you don;t have one. There are loads of good non-stick woks available on the market, and you don’t have to pay a lot for one.

This 4-piece set by Joyce Chen is a reasonably cheap option and is built to last. Made of carbon steel, this wok will ensure even heating on its non stick surface. It also comes with a 12-inch bamboo spatula and recipe booklet. The wok has two birch-wood stay-cool handles. One handle is long with an opposite helper handle.

Related Questions

Can you fry eggs without oil? Yes you can make an egg in a frying pan without using oil.  If you have a really good non-stick pan, you simply heat up and add a little water to this before cracking your egg into the pan. Cook as you would with oil. You won’t get the kind of taste you would using oil, but you also wont get the calories.

If I want to cook with oil which is the most healthy one to use? Some oils are really high in good fats and some in bad fats. Some are goof for cooking at much higher heat than others. I prefer using avocado oil, or sometimes coconut oil depending on the food I’m cooking as I find the latter does affect the flavor.

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