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A Complete Guide to Cooking and Baking Oil-Free

Updated: Sep 16, 2019

So you may be thinking what's the deal with Oil-Free? Honestly, I have thought the same thing and have even eaten oil-free for about 2 years.

Since then, I have learned quite a bit on how to substitute oil for a slightly healthier option.

In this Complete Guide to Cooking and Baking Oil-Free, I am going to share:

  • Why people are choosing to say BYE to oil

  • Easy alternatives when cooking without oil

  • How to bake without oil and still get a POPPIN recipe

Over the years, I’ve created numerous recipes that are Oil-Free on the blog, including some of my favorites like this Oil-Free Basil & Kale Pesto and these Fudgy Cashew Butter Brownies.

... Seriously if you haven't tried those yet, you are hardcore missing out!

Although I don’t eat an entirely Oil-Free diet now, these tips & ideas are perfect for even the most beginner-level chefs!

Let's jump right into this. Here are just two of the many reasons why people are wanting to eliminate or reduce their oil consumption.

  1. It can be addictive. Oil contains no water or fiber, this is what tells us our body is full, so we can eat WAY more than we intended to or needed to. I think a perfect example of this, is traditionally made fries.

  2. Oil can also slow our circulation, build up in our arteries, and damage our blood vessels (1).

These reasons along with many others have led people to say bye bye oil and have many trying an Oil-Free Diet.

Embarking on this new way of eating can be difficult and confusing on what to substitute in cooking and especially baking. Make sure to grab the free cheat sheet for Oil-Free Cooking and Baking!

Let’s start off with the easiest of the two, which is cooking!

Cooking Without Oil.

1. Sauteing Veggies

I’m sure you are used to sauteing onion and garlic in oil, doing this can enrich and bring out the flavors, but I am here to assure you substituting with water or vegetable broth is just as good!

Simply substitute the amount of oil with water or vegetable broth. TA DA, you did it!

Psst... You may need to use more water or broth to help it not stick!

2. Roasting Veggies, Fries, the Like

Roasting veggies or homemade fries, the traditional way to do so is by coating the cut-up vegetables in oil and seasonings. This creates a crispy and sometimes caramelized end product.

You can get a similar result by using reusable parchment paper or just plain old parchment paper.

I like using reusable because it is better for the environment and is less expensive in the long run. I have had mine for over two years now and they work like a dream! I like to use these.

Simply place your veggies, potatoes or whatever on the sheet and bake at a higher temperature until browned. If you are planning on using seasonings don’t worry! Place the veggies, fries, whatever you are roasting into a bowl. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water, or more depending on how much you are making, the seasonings, stir until well-combined and you are all set. Doing this helps the seasonings stick to the vegetables. You don’t necessarily have to do this for regular baking potatoes because they already are quite moist and full of juices after you cut them.

3. Bye Bye Deep Fry

And Hello Air Frying. If you really are a person who enjoys a well-fried donut, you are in luck! With recent technology, you can get a very similar result with an air-fryer. If you don’t want to purchase one or don’t see the point, I’m right there with you. I tend to just bake them instead. For instance, these Baked Vegan Onion Rings.

The real game-changer I have found in creating crispiness and deep golden colors is through cooking at higher temperatures AND most importantly broiling. This is what I used to achieve the golden color in the onion rings. Doing this for even a few minutes can alter the look and taste of your recipe.

My only warning is to be careful of doing this too long or you can run into burning it

I may or may not have done that plenty of times.

Baking Without Oil.

Baking without oil is a more complex subject than cooking without oil. There are many properties that have to be thought of whilst comprising a recipe or baking. The good news is that there are many ways you can substitute oils and spreads in baking. However, it is important to know the role that oils and spreads play in baking.

They add:

  • Moisture

  • Richness

  • Tenderness

  • Leavening

These functions can be reduced or eliminated when cooking without oils and butter spreads. For example, using a non-dairy butter spread will achieve all of these because of the water and fat properties that are similar to dairy butter. So now when we go to substitute these, some methods are better than others. For example, you wouldn’t want to substitute banana puree for butter in brownies. That just seems wrong and odd… I did this and it was a bad decision on all levels. I’m saving you now.

1. Easy Substitutions

If you don’t plan on creating your own recipes or dabbling in the crazy world of baking. The easiest option is to take whatever recipe you are using and directly substitute it with one of the following. Note: these are just some of the many options in substitutions. These just happen to be my favorite.

  • Applesauce → Half the amount of butter or oil.

  • Pumpkin → ¾ Cup for every 1 Cup

  • Banana Puree or Other Fruit Purees → 1:1 Ratio

  • Avocado → 1:1 Ratio**

  • Nut or Seed Butters → 1:1 Ratio**

** Nut and Seed Butters, as well as Avocado, tend to be very high in fat, that means you will have to adjust the liquids in the recipe!

The only tricky substitutions come when making any pastries because of the higher fat content, the flakiness, and airiness of the dough. The only healthier substitute I would offer to you would be coconut oil.

If you put all of these tips together, you’ll be well on your way to creating delicious Oil-Free recipes. Make sure to download the Oil-Free Cooking & Baking Cheat Sheet to get all of these tips and more in one easy location!

There is an Amazon affiliate link in this post.

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Hey there! I'm Elizabeth

I originally created this as a vegan food blog in 2018 and has since grown into a place of connection to not only our bodies but ourselves.

Here you will find tasty vegan recipes, personal growth tips, spiritual healing, and more!

xx Elizabeth 

Vegan Recipe Developer, Akashic Records Reader, Spiritual Teacher

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