Cooking spray is by far a handy kitchen companion. We usually reach out for the cooking spray for easy frying, healthy cooking, and no-grease baking,
It’s an all-in-one product that prevents food from sticking to pots and pans (to the annoyance of whoever’s doing the dishes) and is even healthier than most cooking oil counterparts. When you reach for that spray, you’re guaranteed a mess-free day.
Of course, the day may come that you’ve exhausted your beloved spray’s finite content. That last spritz on your morning eggs signaled its end. Now you’re worried about your menu for lunch that involves a lot of frying. No worries, here are some cooking spray substitutes you can use:
- Lard or shortening
- Bacon fat
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Canola oil
- Vegetable oil
Cooking spray may not be everyone’s oil of choice for environmental, budget, or health reasons, and we respect that. Plus, it can leave a nasty dark residue that can discolor pans. Whatever your reason is for ditching the cooking spray, get to know the 12 alternatives you can try:
13 Best Substitute For Cooking Spray
Butter is a time-tested no-stick technique that you probably saw your mom doing when you were a kid. Weren’t we all amazed that the butter wrapper could be used to wipe or rub the baking pans and cookware with butter? It was smart, resourceful, and inexpensive.
There are other tricks like saving an extra wrapper so that you wouldn’t need to use the one storing your butter. You could also use a paper napkin or a baking sheet to wipe the butter with your fingers for better control and coverage. If you’re just in a hurry, you can always resort to rubbing the butter directly on the pan.
If you’re going for this time-saving method, better use the stick or cut the bricks into smaller portions.
We all know that when cooking or frying, butter gives off that fresh and appetizing aroma that can also enhance the flavor of your food. It’s solid at room temperature so it’s easier to manage its portion control when frying or sautÃ©ing. Just be careful not to cook at a very high temperature because burnt butter will cause buildup that is difficult to clean.
Margarine is another consideration as a cooking spray substitute. It’s almost similar to butter in terms of flavor, form, and performance, minus the dairy.
Both butter and margarine are high in saturated fats. If you’re health conscious, either you tone down how much you use or choose other healthier alternatives.
Lard or shortening
The main difference between lard and shortening is their fat composition. Lard is made of animal fat, while shortening is mainly composed of plant fat. Shortening is also known for its brand name, Crisco, and is available in the United Statesâ€”in All-Vegetable shortening or Butter Flavor.
Other than their fat content and branding, the characteristics of lard and shortening are similar in terms of how they can replace cooking spray. Both have a slightly solid yet spreadable texture at room temperature that makes them easy to rub on your cookware. This form makes it easier to crease rounded surfaces or the edges of baking pans.
Since they are flavorless (unless you buy a flavored variant), they are ideal for frying, baking, and grilling since they won’t alter the flavor of your dishes.
Can’t decide between butter or lard? Choose butter for baking and lard for the savory dishes.
Here’s a lip-smacking cooking spray substitute for meat-loversâ€”and it’s cost-effective too. Bacon fat is the residue (oil) you get after cooking bacon and has versatile uses in the kitchen.
You can re-use this oil by wiping it (using a paper towel) on pans that you intend to do some more frying. Remember that this method will impart a slight bacon flavor on your food so use it to complement eggs, rice, similar meats, or vegetables. Use it to fry or to drizzle on vegetables or dressings.
That’s not the end of the bacon fat’s use! If you’re keen on using this regularly to replace cooking spray, you can strain the bacon bits and store the remaining oil in a glass jar and keep it in the fridge. It’s like keeping homemade bacon-flavored lardâ€”with the same near-solid texture that makes it easier to rub on cookware.
Not all recipes may benefit from the bacon flavor (like cookies or vegetarian dishes), but this is still handy for most of your cooking spray needs.
We move to a cooking spray alternative that is solid and fine. That’s right, flour is an effective no-stick substitute for your baking needs. Dusting the inside of the pans is the easy way to do this. Bread dough can manifest that stubborn stickiness that only flour can seamlessly keep stick-free.
If the flour does not stick to the pans, another method is to lightly rub a greasier substance (like butter, shortening, olive oil, or lard) inside the pans before sprinkling with flour. This method will be useful for runnier batters that need a stronger no-stick layer.
Buy a basting brush to make spreading your pans easier and more even.
Flour is an impeccable cooking spray replacement for baked goods because it does a fine job of keeping your batter intact, and it doesn’t alter the flavor of your recipe.
While flour finds a niche for the non-stick application for baked goods, it does a fine job in doing so.
Tallow is quite similar to lard because they both are sourced from animal fat and have a solid-malleable form at room temperature.
The main difference is that lard comes from pig fat, while tallow is rendered beef fat. Now that we’ve made that distinction, it’s easy to understand why tallow would be a cooking spray substitute.
Tallow is age-old cooking oil and has many uses. Frying is its number one skill because it can be used at very high temperatureâ€”giving you that extra crispy chicken or seared steak. It can also be used in baking and sautÃ©ing.
Tallow may give off a subtle beef flavor, but adding pepper, garlic, and other spices would enhance your cooking.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or just olive oil)
If you’re looking for a healthier fat alternative, you can reach out to extra virgin olive oil to replace cooking spray. It’s still a no-stick substitute that can add that distinct flavor to your dishesâ€”like meat, seafood, pasta, eggs, and vegetables.
If you’re just after the no-stick function, a few drops of olive oil on the pan should do the trick. Extra virgin olive oil may be the go-to oil of the health conscious, but remember that it also has a low smoke point. Foods that require high heat (like fried chicken or bacon) will not achieve your desired crispy output with olive oil.
Canola oil is another popular option for those conscious of the oil’s fat content. Like olive oil, canola oil has more â€œhealthy fatsâ€ and is cheaper than olive oilâ€”so it’s a win-win substitute for cooking spray.
Canola oil will not alter the flavor of your food, so that’s another plus. If you’re planning to cook foods on medium to high heat, canola oil would be a likely optionâ€”but other oil options can also withstand higher temperature. Frying, sautÃ©ing, and lining baking pans are possible with canola oil.
Another oil worthy of mentioning is vegetable oil. Vegetable oil is a common kitchen oil, so if you run out of cooking spray, this should be something you already have at home.
Since vegetable oil has no taste (plain), it’s a great cooking or baking oil that can withstand very high temperatures.
Of course, the key to healthy cooking is still keeping it in moderation. If cooking spray can regulate the oil dispensed, you can also adjust the amount of vegetable oil poured to prevent an oily disaster.
Fat-free dairy products
If you are looking after your diet, you can opt for a fat-free dairy product to replace your cooking spray needs. Mixing this with water gives you the same benefit as a cooking spray.
It may be tedious to mix 3 parts water with 1 part fat-free dairy product, but you can store this for future use. If avoiding trans fats is your main concern, this substitute would be perfect for you.
Parchment paper is an inexpensive and efficient baking alternative to cooking spray. With its wax coating, parchment paper is another time-tested method of ensuring that your food and cakes don’t stick to the pan.
It’s conveniently mess-free since you won’t have a hard time cleaning up after. It’s also healthier since you won’t be adding oil or butter to your food. Whoever invented parchment paper deserves a giant cake for this kitchen-saver.
Other cooking oil types can also replace cooking spray. The key is to regulate the oil dosage. Dab a few drops of oil if you are rubbing it on your cookware and use the paper towel method to get even coverage, or just pour a dollop on your pan if you’re not cooking a fried chicken feast.
Here are other oils you can use:
- Avocado oil â€“ Expensive but the health benefits, and creamy, delicious flavor are worth it. Plus, it can withstand higher temperatures.
- Sunflower oil â€“ Another healthy alternative that is accommodating to high-temperature frying.
- Peanut oil â€“ Same properties as sunflower oil but more pricey
- Almond oil â€“ Another good sunflower oil substitute, but just like peanut oil, almond oil comes with a much higher price tag.
- Palm oil â€“ Derived from vegetable oil, palm oil has a high smoke point so it can replicate tallow in deep frying and searing meats.
- Coconut oil â€“ Versatile oil with a mild coconut taste that is solid at room temperature (which makes it easy to rub on pans).
Make Your Own Healthy Cooking Spray
You don’t need to be a scientist to make your own cooking spray at home. Cooking sprays may have a propellant to help blast that oil and lecithin as an emulsifierâ€”but you don’t really need them for this home project.
All you need is a spray bottle, water, and your choice of oil.
For the spray bottle, you can buy food-grade plastic, glass, or stainless steel. If you can find an actual oil misting or spraying bottle, then that’s the best option.
For the mixture, it will be 5 parts water and 1 part oil. Your oil of choice will depend on what you have at home or your health preference. It could be olive oil, avocado oil, or sunflower oil. Remember to shake the bottle every time you use it to mix the oil evenly. Spray away!
Coconut oil might not be favored in this home project because it is solid at room temperature.