How to Cook with Less Oil (Guide + Oil-Free Recipes)

Applesauce, coconut aminos, avocado, bananas, tahini, and more ingredients for low oil cooking

Recently, I’ve been experimenting with cooking with less oil. Not no oil, per say, but certainly less. Mainly because it’s somewhat of an experiment and challenge for me, but also because there may be health benefits to reducing consumption of oils.

Why No Oil?

I’m well aware that a decent portion of our audience adheres to a whole foods plant-based diet, which generally does not advocate for the use of oils in cooking. Why?

The primary argument is that oil is not a “whole food.” It’s a processed byproduct of a whole food. Avocado oil, for instance, is extracted from avocado, and olive oil is extracted from olives. While those are whole foods that contain fats, when eaten in extracted form (oil) they are no longer considered a whole food. Is that a problem?

What do the Experts Say?

While there are mixed perspectives on whether or not oils have a place in a healthy diet, one of the more influential voices on this topic in the plant-based world is Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study.

Campbell’s primary argument in the oil-free debate is that plant oils have experimentally been shown to promote cancer much more than saturated fats. “In my opinion, this is a primary reason for avoiding consumption of added oils,” says Campbell, adding, “another reason for avoiding these oils is their contribution to total calorie intake which displaces, in effect, the consumption of calorie containing whole, plant foods”. (source)

In other words, oils are calorie dense, with 1 Tbsp of olive oil containing 119 calories and 13.5 grams of fat (source), versus 10 medium olives, which contain about 49 calories and 5.2 g fat (source). From a whole foods plant-based perspective, there’s more nutritional benefit to eating the olives — which contain more iron, copper, calcium, and fiber – than consuming olive oil.

However, there are many points of view on the subject of oil in our diet. Dr. Mark Hyman, for instance, discusses the importance of moving away from inflammatory fats and achieving a more balanced intake of omega-6 vs. omega 3 fatty acids.

It’s also important to recognize that a low- or no-oil diet may not be suitable for everyone. While it could result in consuming more of certain vitamins and minerals from whole food sources, it could also lead to not consuming enough calories or other nutrients. This is especially relevant for those who have a tendency to under-eat or who are experiencing food insecurity.

I’m personally not siding with any one expert in particular. However, I have found it a fun challenge to cook with less oil and something worth trying as our readership does ask for oil-free options regularly.

Bottles of our favorite high-quality olive oil

Is Olive Oil Healthy?

By the way, isn’t olive oil supposed to be the one oil that’s indisputably good for us? It is a part of the health-promoting Mediterranean diet after all.

I found this alternative perspective from Dr. Michael Greger interesting, which suggests the perceived benefits of olive oil may not be as clear cut as we think. There’s also this article arguing for olive oil from Healthline.

My Approach

Personally, I choose to consume some oil in my diet (avoiding it altogether seems nearly impossible, especially considering I travel and eat at restaurants). But when I do consume oil, I always try to select the highest quality oils possible and use them in limited quantities.

For instance, I’ve been using Brightland olive oil, which is incredibly flavorful and high quality (not sponsored, just love). I use it to dress my salads, and the best part is you don’t need much because the flavor is so fresh and potent. And when I need a little oil for sautéing or roasting, I generally opt for avocado oil.

How to Cook with Less Oil

So, maybe you’re curious and want to start experimenting with cooking with less oil but don’t know where to start. Are we really supposed to give up our vinaigrettes on salads, forgo caramelized onions, and have dried out baked goods? Fortunately, the answer is no.

In this guide I’ll walk you through what I’ve found to be some great hacks for cooking with low/no oil without sacrificing flavor or texture, as well as share some of our favorite oil-free recipes! Let’s get started!


Spices, maple syrup, avocado oil spray, and oil mister
  1. Low Oil: My go-to technique when cooking with less oil while roasting is to spritz my veggies with a little avocado oil (either a store-bought can, or this spray bottle from Amazon) instead of tossing with tablespoons of oil. Right away, this means you’re evenly coating your ingredients — but with far less oil.
  2. Low Oil: My second tip is to use a spritz of oil along with maple syrup, which helps your ingredients (especially vegetables) caramelize. I also add in spices to taste (such as sea salt and our go-to curry powder or shawarma spice blend) for more flavor. This creates a tender texture with slightly crisp edges and plenty of balanced flavor!
  3. Oil-Free: If you’re looking to roast completely oil-free, your friend will be steaming or boiling your ingredients prior to roasting (see photo below), which adds moisture on the front end of cooking, and also cooks your ingredients mostly or all the way through so they won’t get dried out over-baking in the oven. Then, all that’s left to do is add your seasonings of choice and roast on a high temperature (375-425F or 190-218 C). Also, rely on the convection setting if you have it to get your ingredients browned with crispy edges. See this recipe for oil-free roasted vegetables for the full guide.
Steaming potatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrots


Avocado oil, oil mister, coconut aminos, and water
  1. Low-Oil: Again, a spritz of oil in your pan will go a long way — and you’re using far less than you would when pouring oil in from a bottle. This technique can also be accompanied by adding a little water as you continue cooking to keep the ingredients from sticking. This can also be done with broth or coconut aminos (or soy sauce). Just know that broth and coconut aminos do add flavor.
  2. No Oil: Rely on water or broth to sauté ingredients like diced vegetables, onions, and garlic. You’ll need to continue adding a little broth or water at a time to keep the ingredients from sticking to the pan, but it does work (see photo below)! A perfect example of this technique is our 1-Pot Smoky Lentil Vegan Taco “Meat”!
  3. No Oil: A technique I learned from Thai cooking is to use the fat in coconut milk to sauté your vegetables. Find a great example of that in our 1-Pot Vegetable Green Curry, which I adapted from Hot Thai Kitchen.
  4. No/Low Oil: Non-stick cookware also allows for oil-free / reduced-oil cooking due to its slick nature, which naturally doesn’t allow foods to adhere to the surface. Although it may not get food quite as crispy and caramelized, it is another good option if looking to reduce or remove oil from your diet. I admittedly haven’t found a durable non-stick, non-toxic pan that I wholeheartedly recommend yet (currently testing the Always Pan, which is non-toxic). So if you have one you love and use, let us know in the comments!
Sautéing vegetables with no oil

Stews, Soups, and Curries

Cooking an oil-free green curry recipe

  1. No Oil: Perhaps the easiest of all the categories! Simply sauté your ingredients in water or broth (for soups and stews), or coconut milk (for curries) before adding your other ingredients. This works because you’ll be adding additional liquid to cook your ingredients later anyway, namely water, broth, or coconut milk. A perfect example of this is our Creamy Curried Cauliflower Lentil Soup, which easily utilizes water in place of oil for sautéing!


Banana, nut butter, applesauce, avocado, and tahini for oil-free baking

In baking you do still generally need some fat, otherwise your cookies may lack crisp, golden brown texture, and cakes and quick breads may turn out dry and crumbly. Here are some great alternatives to oil in baking:

  1. Mashed avocado – adds moisture and fat; ideal for quick breads and cakes.
  2. Dairy-free yogurt – adds moisture and fat; ideal for heavier cakes and quick breads.
  3. Nut or seed butter – adds moisture, fat, and can help crisp; ideal for quick breads, muffins, cookies, and granola.
  4. Mashed ripe banana – adds moisture and helps bind; ideal for quick breads, cakes, and even granola.
  5. Applesauce – adds moisture; ideal for cakes, quick breads, and muffins.
  6. Less Oil: Sub 1/4-1/2 of the oil in your recipe with one of the above mentioned ingredients for some of that familiar taste and texture oil provides without going completely oil-free!

TIP: When in doubt, a combination of two oil-free substitutes is usually a good idea so one ingredient isn’t shouldering the burden of the substitution. For instance, in place of 1/4 cup olive oil, you may sub 2 Tbsp mashed banana and 2 Tbsp mashed avocado. Or in place of 1/4 cup vegan butter, you may sub 2 Tbsp nut butter and 2 Tbsp applesauce or mashed banana.

Don’t believe oil-free baking is possible? Feast your eyes on the chocolate cake of our dreams. Try our Vegan Gluten-Free (Oil-Free) Chocolate Cake and let us know what you think!

Triple layer Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake on a cake stand

Salad Dressings & Sauces

Oil-free alternatives for salad dressing and sauces
  1. Less Oil: Sub half the amount of oil you normally add with water or citrus, depending on the flavor profile you’re going for. For instance, a vinaigrette might look like 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 Tbsp water, 2 Tbsp olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Recently, I’ve found an even more simple approach: Tossing my salads with lemon juice and seasonings such as za’atar adds more than enough flavor, and then I only need a drizzle of good olive oil for a little flavor and creaminess. No mixing or emulsion required.
  2. No Oil: Ditch the dressing altogether in favor of the simplest salad seasoning: Massage kale or toss romaine with a little maple syrup, citrus (lemon or lime), and seasonings of choice such as chili powder or curry powder and a bit of salt. My go-to recently has been lime, maple syrup, chili powder, and salt (photo below)!
  3. No Oil: Mash avocado or use guacamole as a dressing! Avocado is perfect for dicing and massaging into kale for a creamy dressing substitute.
  4. No Oil: Dress your salads with salsa or hot sauce. Add a dash of maple syrup and lime to balance out the heat!
  5. No Oil: When in doubt, tahini dressing. Use tahini or cashew butter in place of oil for a creamier, whole food dressing. You can also use a bit more tahini in place of olive oil when making dips like hummus and baba ganoush!
  6. No Oil: Omit the oil in our green curry paste and use it as a dressing! It’s also perfect for mixing with a little tahini, lime juice, and maple syrup for a creamy option, such as in this Curried Cauliflower Grape & Lentil Salad!
  7. No Oil: Another creamy oil-free dressing idea? Mix a little miso paste, rice vinegar, and maple syrup for a savory, salty, tangy dressing with serious umami! Inspired by our Miso-Glazed Brussels Sprouts!

Find more oil-free dressing and sauce ideas in the round-up below!

Massaging a platter of kale


Find our favorite oil-free (or oil-optional) recipes below! We’ve included sauces & dressings, entrées, sides, snacks, and desserts. Enjoy!

How to Cook with Less Oil (Guide + Oil-Free Recipes)

Sauces & Dressings

Picking up a spoonful of Avocado Aioli from a glass jar
Easy Avocado Aioli (Oil-Free!)
An incredibly creamy oil-free aioli made with ripe avocado! Just 6 ingredients, 5 minutes, and 1 blender required for this dip or sauce that’s perfect alongside roasted potatoes, veggies, chips, and more!
Make The Recipe
Bowl of green chutney with a small wooden spoon in it
Easy Green Chutney
Creamy Indian-inspired green chutney made with cilantro, lime, and garlic. Just 6 ingredients, 10 minutes, and 1 food processor required!
Make The Recipe
HEALTHY Super Green Vegan Pesto! BIG flavor, 10 minutes, 1 bowl, SO delicious. #vegan #glutenfree #plantbased #sauce #pesto #greens #minimalistbaker #recipe
Super-Green Vegan Kale Pesto
Easy vegan pesto with tons of fresh herbs, nutrient-rich kale, seeds, and nutritional yeast! The perfect 10-minute spread or sauce for Italian night and beyond! Vegan, gluten-free, and oil-free optional.
Make The Recipe
Spoon resting in a bowl of our Lemony Ginger Tahini Sauce
Gingery Lemon Tahini Sauce
A perfectly balanced and gingery tahini sauce PERFECT for salads, dipping, bowl meals, and more. Just 1 bowl, 5 minutes, and 5 ingredients required!
Make The Recipe
Stirring a bowl of bright yellow sauce made from chickpeas, turmeric, nutritional yeast, and more
5-Minute Liquid Gold Sauce (Oil-Free, Plant-Based)
A creamy, dreamy, vibrant sauce that looks like liquid gold. Made with simple ingredients like chickpeas, lemon, garlic, and nutritional yeast, it’s perfect for adding to bowl meals, salads, roasted vegetables, and more! Just 10 minutes and 1 blender required!
Make The Recipe
Bowl of Creamy Vegan Ranch dressing surrounded by fresh chopped vegetables for dipping
Easy Vegan Ranch Dressing (Oil-Free!)
Creamy, oil-free vegan ranch requiring just 10 simple ingredients and 1 bowl with BIG flavor! The perfect dairy-free dressing for salads, vegetables, and more!
Make The Recipe
Using a spoon to drizzle homemade Vegan Sour Cream over a baked sweet potato
Cultured Vegan Sour Cream
Crazy delicious vegan sour cream cultured with live probiotics! Just 5 ingredients and simple methods required, and the result is a creamy, dreamy, tangy sour cream delicious on just about everything!
Make The Recipe
Whisking together homemade peanut sauce in a mixing bowl
5-Ingredient Peanut Sauce
Creamy, savory-sweet peanut sauce made with 5 ingredients! Perfect for spring rolls, salad rolls, Pad Thai, salads, and more!
Make The Recipe
Ceramic dish filled with a batch of our Easy Red Salsa recipe
Easy Red Salsa
Easy, 10-minute red salsa with smoky, fire-roasted tomatoes, onion, cilantro, garlic, and fresh lime juice! Flavorful, fresh, and perfect for Mexican night!
Make The Recipe
Jar filled with a batch of our homemade Red Enchilada Sauce recipe
Easy Red Enchilada Sauce
Smoky, rich, spicy red enchilada sauce made with simple ingredients and ready in 30 minutes. Perfect for taking your enchiladas to the next level.
Make The Recipe
Using a spoon to smooth the top of a bowl of Korean-Inspired homemade Gochujang sauce
Easy Gochujang Sauce (Korean Chili Paste)
Easy-to-make Korean-inspired Gochujang sauce that’s vegan, gluten-free, naturally sweetened, and soy-free! Just 5 minutes, 5 ingredients, and 1 blender required.
Make The Recipe


Using wooden salad spoons to grab a serving of our colorful Mango Salad with Peanut Dressing
Vibrant Mango Salad with Peanut Dressing
A quick and easy Thai-inspired salad with fresh vegetables and mango! Drizzle on a simple peanut dressing for a delicious side, or add a protein of choice to make it an entrée.
Make The Recipe
Platter filled with our healthy Loaded Kale Salad recipe
Loaded Kale Salad
Healthy and delicious loaded kale salad with quinoa, roasted and fresh vegetables, avocado, and a creamy tahini dressing! Just 10 ingredients required.
Make The Recipe
Two plates of Creamy Vegetable Risotto beside a small bowl of vegan parmesan cheese
Creamy Vegetable Risotto (30 minutes!)
A healthier take on risotto without oil or butter, replacing cheese with vegan parmesan cheese. Includes plenty of fresh vegetables for fiber and nutrients. An easy 30-minute, 8-ingredient recipe perfect as an entrée or a side.
Make The Recipe
Blue linen with a spoon and bowl of Vegan Tomato Veggie Mung Bean Soup
Fire-Roasted Tomato & Mung Bean Soup
Easy, 10-ingredient vegetable soup with fire-roasted tomatoes, tons of vegetables, and detoxifying mung beans! A hearty soup for the colder months that’s entirely vegan and gluten-free!
Make The Recipe
Bowls of Everyday Vegan Lentil Soup beside a tray of vegetables
1-Pot Everyday Lentil Soup
An easy, everyday recipe for lentil soup with potatoes, carrots, kale, and simple herbs and seasonings. The perfect plant-based main or side that requires just 10 ingredients, 1 pot, and about 30 minutes to make.
Make The Recipe
Bowl of Vegan Minestrone beside vegetables, vegan parmesan, and gluten-free noodles
1-Pot Vegan Minestrone (Gluten-Free)
Easy, 1-pot vegan and gluten-free Minestrone! Simple, wholesome ingredients, 30 minutes to prepare. SO delicious and perfect for late summer, fall, and winter!
Make The Recipe
Pot and bowl of Thai Green Curry served with rice
1-Pot Vegetable Green Curry
Incredibly delicious, 1-pot vegan green curry loaded with vegetables. Serve over rice or quinoa for the ultimate light comfort meal! Just 30 minutes required.
Make The Recipe
Wooden spoon in a pot of Vegan Yellow Chickpea Curry
1-Pot Yellow Chickpea Cauliflower Curry
Easy, 1-pot Vibrant Yellow Curry with cauliflower and chickpeas! A 30-minute hearty and satisfying entrée or side perfect over greens, cauliflower rice, or grains!
Make The Recipe
Using a spoon to grab a bite of our delicious 1-pot Golden Curried Lentil Soup
1-Pot Golden Curry Lentil Soup
1-pot goodness in the form of curried lentil soup! Rich with flavor, fiber, and protein and incredibly comforting. The perfect 30-minute healthy meal or side!
Make The Recipe
Picking up a taco from a plate
1-Pot Smoky Lentil Vegan Taco “Meat”
Easy vegan taco “meat” made with lentils, carrots, and TONS of smoky spices! Just 30 minutes required for this flavorful, 1-pot dish!
Make The Recipe
Stack of Baked Falafel Burgers with collard green leaves for a bun
Baked Falafel Burgers
Healthy, 7-Ingredient V GF Falafel Burgers! Simple, flavorful, and perfect with pita, greens, or atop a salad!
Make The Recipe
Close up shot of a plate of homemade Vegan Sausages made with quinoa and mushrooms
Easy Vegan Sausage (Soy- & Gluten-Free!)
Easy vegan sausage made with pinto beans, quinoa, nuts, and spices! Flavorful, comforting, and perfect for breakfast, brunch, and beyond!
Make The Recipe


Platter of Oil-Free Roasted Vegetables with a bowl of tahini and a lemon half
Oil-Free Roasted Vegetables
A guide for easy, delicious, oil-free roasted vegetables with tips on starchy and non-starchy vegetables as well as seasoning and garnish recommendations!
Make The Recipe
Baked french fries coated in cajun spices served with ketchup
Crispy Cajun Baked Fries (Oil-Free!)
The BEST way to make perfect french fries that are crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and oil-free! Simple ingredients, BIG flavor, super versatile!
Make The Recipe
Plate of Creamy Vegan Broccoli Salad made with coconut bacon and a cashew butter dressing
Creamy Vegan Broccoli Salad (Mayo-Free!)
An EASY, plant-based take on classic broccoli salad with coconut bacon, sunflower seeds, and a simple cashew dressing! Just 10 simple ingredients and 20 minutes required!
Make The Recipe
SUPER Cleansing Slaw with Rosemary Tahini Dressing! 30 minutes, healthy, SO tasty! #vegan #glutenfree #plantbased #salad #minimalistbaker
Super Cleansing Slaw with Rosemary Dressing
Fresh, delicious vegetable slaw with a garlic rosemary tahini dressing! Packed with nutrient-rich vegetables and fruit with cleansing benefits and tons of nutrients. Just 20 minutes required for this incredibly healthy side, snack, or salad base!
Make The Recipe
Big platter of Mustard Green Cherry Salad with a measuring cup filled with tahini dressing
Mustard Green Cherry Salad with Nut Cheese & Tahini Dressing
Easy, 30-minute, 10-ingredient plant-based salad of mustard greens, cherries, toasted almonds, macadamia nut cheese, and creamy tahini dressing!
Make The Recipe


Using a pita chip to scoop up a bite of homemade Hummus from Scratch
How to Make Hummus From Scratch
How to make hummus from scratch with simple methods and 6 wholesome ingredients. Creamy, garlicky, hearty, and big in flavor! Customizable, easy to make, and a classic recipe to have on hand!
Make The Recipe
Bowl of Cheesy Sunflower Kale Chips
Sunflower-Coated Cheesy Kale Chips
Amazingly cheesy, crispy kale chips baked in a sunflower seed-nutritional yeast coating! Healthy, simple ingredients, BIG flavor and nutrients!
Make The Recipe
Bowls and baking sheet of homemade Vegan Oil-Free Granola topped with fresh fruit
Aquafaba Granola (Oil-Free!)
An easy-to-make vegan, gluten-free granola made oil-free thanks to aquafaba! Just 9 ingredients and simple methods required. A delicious, naturally sweetened breakfast or snack!
Make The Recipe
Raw Carrot Cake Bites resting on a cake platter
No-Bake Carrot Cake Bites
Tender, naturally sweetened carrot cake bites with dates, carrots, walnuts, cinnamon, and coconut flour! So simple, delicious carrot cake flavor, and the perfect healthier snack or dessert! Just 30 minutes, 9 ingredients, and 1 food processor required.
Make The Recipe


Spoon resting in a pie pan of Peach Blackberry Crisp for a simple raw vegan dessert
Raw Fruit Crisp (10 Minutes!)
The perfect dish when you’re craving fruit crisp and want it fast! Ready in 10 minutes, grain- and gluten-free, naturally sweetened, and SO delicious!
Make The Recipe
Spoons in a pan of Cinnamon Baked Apples topped with vegan ice cream
Easy Cinnamon Baked Apples
Easy Cinnamon Baked Apples requiring simple ingredients and 1 bowl, plus naturally sweetened! The perfect grain- and gluten-free plant-based dessert for the holidays and beyond!
Make The Recipe
Parchment-lined baking sheet filled with freshly baked Healthy Vegan Cookies
5-Ingredient Vegan Gluten-Free Cookies
Simple, 5-ingredient V + GF cookies that are healthy, easy, and delicious.
Make The Recipe
No-Bake Lemon Cookie Fruit Tarts in parchment-lined mini tart tins
No-Bake Lemon Cookie Fruit Tarts
Simple no-bake vegan tarts with a date-walnut crust and a creamy, dairy-free filling that tastes just like a lemon cookie!
Make The Recipe
Partially sliced oil free Gluten Free Chocolate Cake on a cake stand
1-Bowl Vegan Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake
The most incredible chocolate cake that happens to be vegan, gluten-free, oil-free, grain-free, and refined sugar-free. Just 1 bowl and simple methods required for this perfectly tender, moist, delectable chocolate cake that’s perfect for special occasions and beyond.
Make The Recipe
Bowl of oil-free chocolate frosting next to cocoa powder, cashew butter, dates, and dairy-free milk
Vegan Chocolate Frosting (Oil-Free)
Incredibly rich vegan chocolate frosting made in a blender with 6 whole food ingredients! Sweetened with dates, made creamy with cashew butter, and plenty of rich chocolate flavor from cacao powder. Perfect for cakes, brownies, quick breads, and more!
Make The Recipe
Bowls of Banana Ice Cream in an assortment of flavors
Easy Banana Ice Cream (Tips + 10 flavors!)
The ultimate guide to making EASY, perfect 1-INGREDIENT banana ice cream every time! We’re sharing our top tips and tricks, plus 10 delicious flavors!
Make The Recipe

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  1. Cara says

    Thank you so much for this guide! I don’t know if you mentioned this, but another idea for oil- free salad dressings/dips is to use fat-free Greek yogurt ( just make sure to thin it out with some kind of liquid) or regular yogurt.

  2. Caroline says

    Thank you for this lovely and educational article! I learned a lot about oils and how to minimise the use of them in my cooking, thank you! The idea of roasting veg in a light spritz of oil and maple syrup + spices sounds divine – I love doing that with my brocoli.

    I would love to make a request – if I may! – for an article (or post, not sure what you call them) about how to bake with less sugar. I am always longing for desserts but I really want to have as little sugar as possible when baking. The thing is, I am CLUELESS 😳 when it comes to cutting down sugar in baking. If I want to reduce the amount of sugar in a cake (i.e 1 cup to 1/2 a cup), do I add more fat like oil or applesauce?

    I’d love an article covering all this. That would be amazing. If you can’t, no worries! 🤗

    Caroline xo

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad it was helpful, Caroline! Thank you for the suggestion! We’ll add it to our ideas list!

  3. nvrm says

    I find the recommendations to use coconut fat or nut butter or tahini misleading, they’re still mostly oils and still very high in calories.

  4. Laura Swain says

    Such an incredibly helpful article and guide. Love your centrist approach that is relatable for everyone! Thank you for compiling all of this in one place! I tend to have a heavy hand with my oils and this is a great reminder that there are easy and effective substitutes to keep an eye on fat/caloric intake!

  5. Kelly Powers says

    Very informative post with lots of tips – my favorite being the miso paste salad dressing. I also can’t wait to try your 5-minute liquid gold sauce. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Sophie K. says

    I regularly use tahini to roast vegetables in the oven. Just mix with a bit of water, salt, and spices to make a thinner paste, toss, and bake! It adds baking-enhancing fat with a whole food. Plus, the flavor is divine.

  7. Sarah Moore says

    Thank you for this. I follow the Overcoming MS programme. The diet is low in saturated fat and oil is not used for cooking.

    And I can definitely still make caramelised onions! I put sliced onions in a pan with a pinch of salt. The salt helps them to release their moisture. You can cook them like this for several minutes – then add a little water when it starts to stick. The Maillard reaction turns the sugars in the onions brown without needing any oil.

  8. DJ says

    Thank you for this post!!! I try to eat oil-free but fall off the wagon a lot, so this is very motivating. Plus I like that you emphasize options so it’s not all-or-nothing. P.S. I have experimented with chilled avocado in place of butter or vegan butter when baking biscuits and scones. It works. Might be something for you to try if you’re curious!

  9. Teri K says

    Thank you for this post. I find it very helpful, as my husband and I are on a low/no oil diet due to health concerns (heart disease and cancer). Your vegan sloppy joes and Shepard’s Pie are some of our favorites.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      We’re so glad you found it helpful and enjoy those recipes, Teri! Thanks so much for sharing! xo

  10. mary beth says

    Thank you for the great informative article. We are a WFPB family and I occasionally use a little carefully chosen oil in our diet for many reasons also. Really loved this post and your recipes!

  11. Charlotte says

    Get this. Table spoon of cornstarch, cup of water in sauce pan, stir, boil till creamy. Allow to cool. I use all the time in place of the oil in Good Season’s vinaigrette. Not the whole cup of course. Only what recipe call for. You’ll never miss the mouth feel of the oil. I’ve also tried it in other dressings. Surprising.

  12. Hannah says

    This is super informative and interesting! However, I think it’s important to note (specifically with the salads) that your body needs some fat to absorb all those nutrients you’re eating! It wouldn’t be nearly as beneficial to eat all those vibrant colors without a little fat in the mix.

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Thanks for sharing, Hannah! That’s a good point. Keep in mind this approach does not reduce whole food sources of fat (such as nuts, seeds, avocado, etc.).

  13. Cora says

    This is an INCREDIBLE post. I’ve been a fan for a long time and love your recipes, but this is such an informative, thorough and generous collection of information, ideas and resources. Thank you!!

    • Molly says

      Love this post! I have been cooking with low oil for a couple years now. It is totally doable! Don’t know why so many recipes, especially those for sautéing and such call for so much oil. My oil mister, nonstick pan and water help me cook successfully with very little oil. I use spices and vinegars and mustard to add flavor. Thanks for addressing this. Made your oil free black bean falafel the other day. Loved your tip about drying the beans first to make them crispy. Thanks!!

  14. Hanusia says

    Thanks for this guide and for your thoughtful approach, Dana. I really appreciate that you are not trying to fearmonger about ingredients, but acknowledging that there is not a scientific consensus and presenting multiple perspectives. More people should take that approach!

    I am probably not going to eliminate oil from my diet anytime soon, but it certainly seems healthy to cut back on it a bit, so I will definitely be using some of these tips/recipes. Thank you!