I have been using oil for frying since I was a child, and it is the only way that I know how to cook food. However, as you may or may not be aware, there are many health issues associated with cooking in oil.
These include heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and more. So what can we do? Well, there are many alternatives to traditional oil, but which one should we choose? In this article, I will go over some of these options and give my opinion on each one.
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Why fry without oil?
It’s true that some oils are promoted as healthy options. However, even the healthiest oils like coconut oil, flaxseed oil, and olive oil still have their flaws. Oil, being composed entirely of fat (after being refined to remove all other substances), has the highest caloric density of any meal.
Substitutes of Oil for frying
Butter and margarine
The addition of butter or margarine to dishes instead of oil is a terrific way to boost their flavor, make them more visually appealing, and increase their nutritional value. But be wary of their decreased smoking threshold. Unlike a flavorless oil like vegetable, corn, or sunflower, these substances brown and burn at considerably lower temperatures.
You can try South Asian Ghee, a clarified butter. Since it contains more fat, it can withstand higher cooking temperatures (it has a greater smoke point). Its nutty, strong flavor is perfect for cooking fiery, flavorful, and earthy dishes like curries and stir-fries.
Vegetable shortening is a vegetarian-friendly oil that is great for preparing deep-fried chicken, tender pastry, and pan-seared lamb chops, while vegan margarine (such as Flora Plant Butter and Trex) is also a good alternative for frying and baking.
Natural animal fat found in lardons, pancetta, and streaky bacon can be used in place of vegetable oil for cooking. Put in a hot, nonstick pan and cook slowly to render the fat, then use the bacon oil to quickly sauté the rest of your ingredients.
It can also be stored in the fridge for later use if you pour it into a jar once it has cooled.
Bacon grease adds a savory saltiness to slow-cooked dishes like bolognese and casseroles, and it is also fantastic for frying eggs, making griddled paninis, and crisping potatoes.
Schmaltz, or “chicken butter,” is a form of extracted chicken fat. Very flavorful and simple to prepare, it is a staple in Jewish and Eastern European cuisines.
Chicken schmaltz is made by slowly simmering chicken skin with enough water to cover it until the water evaporates, exposing the skin’s natural fat. The rendered schmaltz can be used for frying a wide variety of foods, including vegetables, latkes, seasoned chicken thighs, onions, and more.
It can be used in place of butter in recipes like dumplings and pastries. The strained schmaltz has crunchy, crackly fragments that can be eaten as a snack after being salted (these bits are called gribenes).
Yogurt can be used in place of vegetable oil in baking for a similar richness, wetness, and slightly sour flavor. For variety, you can use vanilla-flavored yogurt. Learn how to use this method by making our crowd-pleasing Greek Yogurt Pancakes.
Bananas mashed with apple sauce
Oil can be replaced with other wet ingredients such as apple sauce, mashed bananas, pureed prunes, or even mayonnaise in baked products. Other acceptable ingredients include sour cream, yogurt, and canned pumpkin.
Your cake’s texture may vary and its shelf life may be shortened due to these changes, but you won’t even be able to tell the difference.
Dressings with a zesty lemon or cold yogurt base are good alternatives if you’re out of oil for your salad. A velvety emulsion can be achieved by substituting oil with ground cashews, silken tofu, or tahini.
Add your vegetables and potatoes to the pan after the fat has rendered out of your Sunday roast to make crispy roasties without using any oil. If you put a layer of streaky bacon over your joint before cooking it, the bacon will produce a lot of fat that you may use to baste your vegetables.
You could also use an air fryer to make a meal out of jacket potatoes, vegetables, and fixings without having to coat the potatoes in oil.
Jam & Marmalade
Chicken breasts and fish fillets can be glazed with jam, marmalade, ketchup, spicy honey, or maple syrup before being grilled or baked to add flavor and simulate the caramelized, crispy surface and feel of something that has been seared if you don’t have oil for your chicken. Flavoring agents like brines, rubs, and marinades are also useful.
Sausage and burger patties can be cooked in a pan with just a splash of water until they brown in their own fat, while veggies’ flavor can be enhanced with some herbs, spices, soy sauce, or broth.
Condiments in a jar
Sun-dried tomatoes, tuna, roasted peppers, and chili crisp are just a few of the canned foods that typically come in oil that can be used. It’s not a good financial move, but feel free to rummage through your pantry for bottled seasonings.
While indulging in fried meals is a sin of gluttony, there is a way to fry them without oil or fat so that you can enjoy them without feeling guilty. In fact, glucose powder can be used in place of oil, and newer models of fryers can reduce the quantity of fat used for frying by as much as 80%, using just one tablespoon of oil.
Meet our air fryer recipe expert, Jenny J. Brown. Jenny is a culinary enthusiast with a passion for creating healthy, delicious meals using the latest kitchen appliances. As an experienced home cook and food blogger, Jenny has spent years experimenting with air fryer recipes and perfecting her techniques to create meals that are both nutritious and satisfying.