Easy Tips for Cooking Without Oils

Looking to reduce or eliminate your oil intake? We’ve got you covered! If you want to learn more about why people go oil-free and the potential benefits, read our article on How To Go Oil-Free and Why It Can Be Amazing for Your Health.

An oil-free diet removes any liquid oils, butter or butter-like products, and any foods that contain these items. But we’re taught to layer our pans, baking sheets, and cooking dishes with oil or butter, so how do you cook without oil? These easy tips include alternative ways to cook and bake without oil, plus a few recipe ideas. 


nonstick pans

Though most people use oil as a non-stick agent on cooking pans and pots, it’s actually not necessary. Liquids, even water, can be used to keep food from burning in a hot pan. Let’s look at some easy tips to cook without oils.

  • Steam vegetables or saute in a liquid like water or broth
  • Use broth, soy sauce, or vinegar to add flavor during the cooking process
  • Utilize seasonings and herbs for flavor
  • Use an air fryer or a silicone mat in the oven for baked/fried preparations
  • Invest in a good non-stick pan
  • Poach or boil things like meat and eggs

In addition to greasing pans, baked goods rely on oil for moisture and texture. It may seem like you have to give up baking, but there’s hope! There are lots of alternative solutions to these problems.


  • In baked goods, replace oil with a liquid such as applesauce, yogurt, tahini, or nut butter
  • Use silicone instead of metal for things like cupcake tins and cake pans
  • Or, line metal pans with parchment paper
  • For a lighter texture, use carbonated water instead of tap water 
  • Cool baked goods before loosening from tins or pans

How to brown vegetables without oil: step-by-step

If you’re worried about losing flavor when you get rid of oil in your diet, browned onions and vegetables can add so much flavor to a dish without needing oil. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to achieve perfect browned vegetables without using any oil.

Place 1 1/2 cups of chopped onions in a large nonstick frying pan with 1 cup of water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the liquid evaporates and the onions begin to stick to the bottom of the pan.  

Continue to stir for a minute, then add another 1/2 cup of water, loosening the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the liquid evaporates again.  

Repeat this procedure 1 or 2 more times, until the onions (or mixed vegetables) are as browned as you like. 

Oil-Free Recipes

Vegan Dan Dan Noodles

Vegan Dan Dan Noodles

We turned our Spicy Kung Pao noodles into the ultimate summer feast with a twist. We incorporate a savory sauce with some fresh spinach, celery, mushroom and lime.

Our noodles are steamed instead of fried, so no need to worry about excess oil in our noodle cups. This recipe utilizes the veggie browning method above!

Vegan Spanish Rice Chili Tacos by Jasmine Briones

Vegan Spanish Rice Chili Tacos by Jasmine Briones

Spanish rice, beans, veggies, and creamy avocado create the perfect balance of flavors in this vegan taco dish. This recipe brings a filling, flavorful, and healthy meal to your table.

We partnered with Jasmine Briones of Sweet Simple Vegan to bring you this tasty recipe.

We’re sauteeing veggies in water instead of oil, steaming kale, and heating the tortillas directly over a flame. No oil necessary!

Black Bean Power Bowl

Black Bean Power Bowl

Pump up your day with this kickin' take on a burrito bowl. We used our black bean and lime soup as a killer filler and paired it with some of our favorite savory veggies and topped it with a creamy coconut avocado mix.

Start by preparing the black bean and lime soup cup according to the package. Then, to make the avocado topping, mash an avocado with coconut milk until you get your desired texture. Set aside. Chop your veggies and assemble your bowl: black bean mixture, veggies, avocado mash, cilantro, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Final Thoughts

Even if going oil-free might be daunting and seem difficult, there are so many ways to cook flavorful food without needing to use oil. You can still cook and bake all your favorite things by tweaking your cookware, methods, and the ingredients you use.

Need some cooking inspiration? Here are some more easy oil-free vegan recipes.