This article will teach you how to cook without oil when sautéing vegetables, stir frying, frying patties/burgers and making pancakes, baked goods and salad dressings.
All of my recipes are made without added oils in order to reduce the amount of added fat and empty calories, and because of the effect that oil has on our body.
I used to be skeptical that you could cook without oil, but I decided to give it a try and when I did I couldn’t even tell the difference.
Use water instead of oil to sauté onion (or other vegetables). Instead of adding oil, just use 2-3 tablespoons of water in its place. Cook over medium heat, adding more water (1-2 tablespoons at a time) as the pan dries out to prevent sticking. Keep an eye on your vegetables as they can burn if the pan gets too dry. This method works well because vegetables have a high water content, which is released as the vegetables are cooked. I keep a cup of water close to the pan as I cook so I can add water as needed.
When stir frying without oil I don’t use water, as it will cause the vegetables to stew and become soft instead of tender-crisp.
To stir-fry this I use a large non-stick fry pan or wok. Heat your pan over medium to high heat and add your vegetables. Continuously toss and stir your vegetables until cooked. The cooking process should only take 3-5 minutes, depending on your choice of vegetables.
Ensure your vegetables are cut into even-sized pieces to ensure even cooking. Cut quicker cooking vegetables (such as zucchini, mushroom and capsicum) into slightly bigger pieces and longer cooking vegetables (broccoli, carrot, cauliflower) into smaller pieces. Or I like to cook the hard vegetables (such as carrot, cauliflower and broccoli) for 1 minute in boiling water, then drain and add to the pan.
Line your baking tray with non-stick baking paper (parchment paper) before adding your veggies to the pan. Oil free baked veggies will be drier but still tasty.
Or you can toss your vegetables with some vegetable stock. This helps them stay a little more moist. This is also a good method if you want herbs/spices to stick to your veggies. I usually add a quarter cup of vegetable stock to diced baked vegetables (e.g. zucchini, carrot, capsicum, onion, eggplant, sweet potato) before roasting. I roast at 200C for 15 minutes, then add a further quarter cup of vegetable stock and continue roasting (for about 15 minutes) until the vegetables are cooked.
Oven-baked fries and wedges are still delicious baked without oil.
I like to pan fry my patties/burgers in a dry non-stick frying pan (skillet). You will need a good quality non-stick pan in order to do this. Heat your pan over medium heat and cook in the dry pan for 5 minutes on one side, without moving until the five minutes is up. Flip and cook for a further 5 minutes, until lightly browned.
I have a Scanpan Ceramic Titanium fry pan and I love it. I can fry pancakes and burgers in it without them sticking, and I don’t use any oil.
If you don’t have a good quality non-stick pan you can oven bake patties/burgers. To do this, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line a baking tray with baking (parchment) paper and bake the food for 10 minutes. Flip and bake for 10 more minutes. Continue this cycle until the food is cooked and has a crisp outer crust.
To cook pancakes without oil or butter you will either need a good quality non-stick pan (I love Scanpan Ceramic Titanium or Swiss Diamond). Simply heat the non-stick pan over medium heat and add your batter. Cook until bubbles appear and in the surface of the pancake and the underside is becoming brown. Flip and cook the other side until lightly browned.
Add moisture to baked goods with any of the following ingredients. However if you are simply replacing the oil/butter with one of these ingredients your results will probably not be quite the same as the original.
- Apple sauce (pureed stewed apple)
- Mashed banana
- Mashed pumpkin (pumpkin puree)
- Prune puree (to make it, puree in a blender 180g prunes, 1 cup water, and 2 teaspoons vanilla)
- Mashed sweet potato
- Raw zucchini (great for breads, muffins, cakes and brownies)
- Nut butters
A rough estimate for the amount to use is about 3/4 the amount of oil. If you are using mashed banana, sweet potato or pumpkin also add a little soy milk or fruit juice as they are more dense than oil.
My favourite oil-free baked treat to make is moist banana bread, or banana blueberry muffins. The muffins are oil free, so a great option for school lunches. The moist banana bread is a great option for a morning or afternoon tea.
Leave the oil out and use one of the following to create a creamy dressing:
- Peanut butter or other nut butters
- Dijon mustard
- Wholegrain mustard
- Cooked white beans. Use the same amount of white beans as oil called for in the recipe (e.g. 2 tablespoons of cooked beans for 2 tablespoons of oil) and blend the beans with the remaining dressing ingredients.
You will need a good non-stick pan to fry pancakes, burgers and for stir-frying. I have a Scanpan ceramic titanium fry pan and it’s great. I can cook burgers and pancakes without them sticking. Swiss Diamond brand also has an excellent ceramic titanium fry pan. I’ve heard great things about the stone ware fry pans but I haven’t actually used them myself.