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Cooking Without Oil Tips (with Video)

Choosing a plant-based lifestyle is a huge step toward improving your health. Besides avoiding meat and dairy, eliminating oil is an essential component of a truly healthy diet.

photo collage for cooking without oil

Healthy cooking requires learning some new methods in the kitchen. These oil-free tips will be instrumental in maintaining and regaining health.

I have even included an 8-minute cooking demo of how to saute using vegetable broth. In it, we make a vegetable stir fry with onions, red peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, and brown rice. See for yourself how simple it really is!

Surprising nutritional facts about oil

  • All oil--whether from an animal or a plant– causes insulin resistance.
  • Gram-for-gram oil has the same number of calories as beef fat.
  • Coconut oil is 90% artery-clogging saturated fat, and lard is 40%.
  • One tablespoon of oil has 120 calories and 14 grams of fat.
  • A 130 lb woman would have to jog nearly 2 miles to burn off 1 tablespoon of oil.
  • Within hours of ingesting oil–even plant oil–arteries stiffen and their ability to dilate is impaired.

Keep in mind that a plant-based diet does not mean a fat-free diet. Our bodies need dietary fat to function properly, and plants have all we need. Even broccoli, kale, beans, and quinoa have fat in small but perfect amounts.

Even more nutritional information can be found in our article, Is Olive Oil Good for You?

Learning to cook without oil

At first, it might seem a little crazy or scary to think of cooking without oil. Thankfully, learning to cook delicious oil-free recipes is not difficult. It might take a little practice to get things just right, but soon you’ll wonder how you ever tolerated the greasy taste and texture of oil-drenched foods!

Choose the right cookware

Consider investing in some non-stick cookware. Though there is an initial cost, if taken care of properly, it will last forever. Some good-quality options are heavy-bottomed stainless steel pans, Enamel-coated cast iron, or ceramic titanium pans. Be sure to hand-wash so the coating doesn’t wear off prematurely.

I am often asked about which nonstick pan I use, and my favorite is the 12″ Stone Earth Ozeri Fry Pan. There are actually two of them in my kitchen, and I use them daily.

Silicone ovenware is great for easy release when roasting vegetables or baking preparing oil-free desserts. Parchment paper is also a great option to line baking sheets and casserole dishes.

Here’s how to replace oil depending on the cooking method:

I’ve broken this down into categories to make it more simple to follow and understand.

Sautéing and stir-frying

Believe it or not, when sautéing vegetables, water and broth do just as well as oil. The trick is to use small amounts, adding just 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time.  Do this as often as needed to cook and brown the food. Remember to keep the veggies moving so they don’t burn. Check out our short Sauteing Without Oil video clip that shows how easy it can be. If you are using an ad blocker, it might need to be turned off for a minute to watch this video. YouTube version for sharing available on our channel.

Baking

Making moist and delicious cookies, cakes, and other oil-free baked goods is actually quite easy. Some of my favorite substitutes include applesauce, mashed bananas, and puréed dates or pumpkin. In my Glazed Carrot Cake, I use both applesauce and banana to keep it moist, and the results are deliciously amazing!

vegan carrot cake loaf with 3 pieces sliced carrots and milk in background
Glazed Vegan Carrot Cake. Click the photo to see full recipe.

Roasting

Vegetables will brown on their own in the oven if you cook them low and slow. I like to lightly mist vegetables with water or veggie broth using a bottle sprayer, then sprinkle with spices and herbs for seasoning before roasting. For something super crispy like French fries or Crispy Oven Roasted Zucchini & Squash, finish the last few minutes by popping them under the broiler. Make sure to use parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet to prevent sticking.

sliced brussels sprouts in cast iron pan on wooden table with wooden spoon

These Roasted Brussels Sprouts are absolutely delicious and completely oil-free!

Deep Frying Alternatives

There is a secret weapon for achieving that extra crispy texture without using oil. It’s called an air fryer. Though this is not a required piece of equipment for a plant-based kitchen, I will say that I absolutely love mine. Some of the recipes I have been able to make are Asparagus, Mushroom, and Tofu Tempura, Jo-Jo potatoes, French fries, and more.  I am happy to have all those crispy fried foods back in my life only, this time, they have zero oil and won’t be clogging my arteries or causing inflammation.

vegan air fryer recipes photo collage
Air Fryer Recipes. Click photo to see full recipes.

Once you try out some of these cooking techniques, it will become apparent how easy oil-free cooking can be. The food tastes delicious, and your arteries will thank you!

Healthy Cooking Recipes

oil free french fries in basket with ketchup on wooden table

Other great plant-based cooking tips

Plant-Based Vegan Starter Kits $27

Vegan Plant Based Starter Kit
Click the photo to see Plant-Based Starter Kits available.
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tips for cooking without oil

Linda

Thursday 27th of February 2020

Great video! I coincidentally made a stir fry last night *before* seeing your video, but I put way too much water. So, the vegetables were very mushy and tasted overly steamed. I understand what I did wrong and can’t wait to try again. I think I was attempting to make a flavorful sauce that could drip into the rice, but that was not the outcome. I get it! Thank you.

Terri Edwards

Thursday 27th of February 2020

I love that you had a 'light bulb moment' and now understand how to do it! Thank you for letting me know that the video was helpful, and I'm betting your next attempt will be an awesome success.

Gayle Cole

Wednesday 18th of July 2018

Oh Terri, I would love to show this video to my group, is there a way? I am so thankful for all that you have to share. My group is, Plentiful Plants.

EatPlant-Based.com

Wednesday 18th of July 2018

Hi Gayle, yes, please feel free to share this video with your Plentiful Plants group. This is the YouTube link to it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bH67ybdgNHE Thanks so much!

Denise Rose

Monday 16th of July 2018

Terri, I couldn't make the audio work on your video despite trying to click the audio button. Question for you: If you use parchment paper to line a baking pan, can you put that pan under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp up veggies? I thought the temperature would be too hot at that point for parchment paper. Would love to know if I don't have to worry...

EatPlant-Based.com

Monday 16th of July 2018

Denise, so sorry that the sound wouldn't work for you. I wonder if trying to watch it on a different device might have a better outcome? Not sure. For the parchment paper, you are correct. I believe the temperature limit for cooking with parchment paper is 400 degrees.

Cheri

Sunday 15th of July 2018

I am not seeing the video; am I just missing it?

EatPlant-Based.com

Monday 16th of July 2018

Cheri, the video is down towards the bottom of the article. The paragraph above it says, "Here’s how to replace oil depending on the cooking method: Sautéing and stir-frying–Believe it or not, when sautéing vegetables, water and broth do just as well as oil. The trick is to use small amounts, adding just 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time. Do this as often as needed to cook and brown the food. Remember to keep the veggies moving so they don’t burn. This is a short Sauteing Without Oil video clip shows how easy it can be." If you have an ad pop-up blocker, it might need to be turned off to view it. Hope this helps!