Alternatives to deep-frying

Deep-frying is a popular and quick cooking method that creates crispy results in no time.  However, this method has plenty of drawbacks. The most significant being health concerns. The cooked foods absorb the oil, increasing calorie and fat intake. In addition, deep-fried foods are associated with chronic diseases and certain types of cancer With this article, we want to show you healthier alternatives to deep-frying, because tasty food does not have to always be covered in oil.

Alternative #1: Steaming

Using a steam oven, combi oven, steam basket, or steamer. Pros:
  • No oil or fat is required.
  • More retention of nutrients (vitamins and minerals).
  • Natural flavor and aroma are better preserved.
  • Less water and energy are used compared to boiling.
  • Not all kitchens or galleys are equipped with a combi or steam oven. However, colanders or cooling racks can be used as make-shift steamers.
  • Not possible to get an outside crust.
  • Don’t steam for too long. Most bite-sized vegetables need just a few minutes.
  • When steaming multiple foods, time accordingly: root vegetables take longer than most vegetables.

Alternative #2: Boiling, blanching, poaching

With these three techniques, food is submerged in water. 
  • Boiling: Cook at boiling temperature (100°C or 212°F).
  • Blanching: Briefly boil, then shock in ice-cold water.
  • Poaching: Cook in liquid at a lower temperature (70-80ºC or 160-180°F).
  • Accessible in every galley or kitchen.
  • No oil or fat is required.
  • Less retention of nutrients than steaming, with some loss of vitamins and minerals
  • Does not offer a crunchy exterior.
  • Keep a lid on the pot to reduce cooking time and save energy.
  • Add herbs or spices to your water for extra flavor.

Alternative 3: Pan-frying and stir-frying

Using a pan or wok with minimal oil compared to deep-frying. Pros
  • Requires less oil or fat than deep-frying.
  • Faster cooking time than boiling.
  • Can create a crispy texture and rich flavor.
  • Uses some fat.
  • Requires attention to avoid burning.
  • Not effective for evenly cooking large pieces.
  • Use oils with a high smoke point like canola, peanut, or avocado oil.
  • Use no more than one tablespoon of fat per serving.

Alternative #4: Roasting

Using dry heat in an oven. Pros
  • Enhances flavor through browning.
  • Requires less supervision.
  • Good for large cuts of meat.
  • Not all foods are suitable for roasting and may dry out.
  • Pre-heating adds to cooking time and energy use.
  • Keep the oven door closed to maintain a consistent temperature.
  • Use a roasting rack for even heat circulation.

Alternative #5: Grilling

Using direct heat from grates. Pros
  • Adds a smoky flavor.
  • Creates appealing grill marks and a crispy exterior.
  • Uses less fat or oil than frying.
  • Requires constant attention to avoid burning or overcooking.
  • Generates a lot of smoke.
  • Always preheat your grill to ensure the right temperature.
  • Grilling is not just for meats. Many vegetables taste great when grilled.
  • Create even more flavor by marinating your food.

Endless alternatives

As you can see, the alternatives to deep-frying are endless. In this article, we just listed a few common cooking methods. But maybe next time, you could try out one of the many other techniques like sous-vide, en papillote, pressure-cooking, or curing.  Most offer a flavorful and nutritious way to prepare food. They show that great taste and texture do not require heaps of oil. By exploring healthier alternatives, you don’t just expand your skills as a cook but also contribute to a healthier lifestyle for the ones you feed. So next time you think about switching on the deep-fryer, consider the endless alternatives.