Cooking spray is a neutral-tasting, sprayable oil that contains lecithin as an emulsifier, and nitrous oxide or food-grade alcohol as a propellant. The spray is used on pans and baking trays to prevent food particles from sticking to cookware in the stove or oven.
Butter, lard, cooking oil, and flour all make good substitutes for cooking spray because these ingredients prevent sticking and don’t alter the flavor much.
Best Substitute for Cooking Spray: Butter
The best substitute for cooking spray is butter because it’s soft enough to easily spread over pans and baking trays. Butter has a stronger flavor than cooking spray, but the flavor can be beneficial in fried and baked foods.
Use butter as a 1:1 substitute for cooking oil by spreading a thin, even layer over the pan or tray. Spread the butter using a paper towel or parchment paper to easily cover the bottom of the cookware. Butter is best suited for baked goods, roasts, and when lightly frying ingredients in a pan.
Other Cooking Spray Substitutes, Alternatives, and Replacements
Here are other good alternatives to use in place of cooking spray in savory fried or roasted foods, and sweet baked goods.
Substitutes for Cooking Spray With Savory Foods
The following substitutes are best used with savory foods because these ingredients add flavor to the food and prevent food particles from sticking to the cookware.
Lard is a semi-solid product that results from the rendering of white fatty animal tissue — usually pork. Lard makes a good substitute for cooking oil because it melts quickly and is soft enough to spread around the pan or tray.
Use lard as a 1:1 substitute for cooking oil by spreading a thin layer on the bottom of the pan with a paper towel. Lard adds more flavor to the recipe than cooking oil, and it’s suitable for frying and roasting vegetables and meats.
Olive oil is a liquid fat made by pressing whole olives. Olive oil makes a good substitute for cooking spray because it prevents food from sticking to the pan. Olive oil contains healthy fats and antioxidants, and is healthier than cooking spray.
Use olive oil as a 1:1 substitute for cooking spray by pouring a few drops onto a paper towel, then rubbing the towel in the bottom of the pan. Although olive oil has a stronger flavor than cooking spray, a thin layer of olive oil is enough to prevent food from sticking without changing the flavor of the dish much.
Use olive oil when frying ingredients, and add a few extra drops of olive oil when preparing fish or vegetables to enhance the dish with the oil’s rich flavor.
Vegetable oil is a liquid fat made by extracting oils from the seeds and flesh of different plant sources, and it’s higher in calories than cooking spray and olive oil. Vegetable oil varieties include avocado oil, grape seed oil, or a mix of these and other vegetable-based oils. Vegetable oil makes a great substitute for cooking spray because it’s odorless, neutral-tasting, and prevents food from sticking on cookware.
Use vegetable oil as a 1:1 substitute for cooking spray by spreading a thin layer in the pan using a paper towel. This oil’s neutral flavor makes it good for baking and frying meats and vegetables.
Homemade Cooking Spray
A great alternative to cooking spray is to make your own. Homemade cooking spray is made by combining vegetable-based oil and water. This substitute can be used with any spray bottle or salad dressing mister made from food-grade plastic.
Ingredients and Materials:
- 1 ¼ cup filtered water
- ¼ cup cooking oil (canola, sunflower, olive oil, or avocado oil work best)
- A spray bottle or salad dressing mister
Pour the water and oil of choice into the spray bottle. Seal the bottle, and shake the mixture well to combine the ingredients. Shake the bottle before each use, and clean the spray nozzle after every second or third use. Store homemade cooking spray in a cool, dark cupboard, and use the spray within three weeks to avoid using rancid oil.
Use homemade cooking spray as a 1:1 substitute for commercial cooking spray on both frying and baking dishes.
Bacon grease is the fat cooked out of bacon. Bacon grease makes a good substitute for cooking spray because it prevents food particles from sticking to the dish, and adds a strong, smoky flavor to the food.
Collect bacon grease after frying bacon by straining the still-hot fat from the pan into a glass jar. Seal the jar, and once the fat cools, store it in the fridge until needed.
Use bacon grease as a 1:1 ratio to cooking spray by spreading a thin layer of the fat into a frypan with a paper towel before turning on the heat. Alternatively, add 2 teaspoons of fat to a hot pan along with the vegetables or meat, and stir.
Vegetable shortening is the solidified, cooled fat made from a combination of vegetable oils. Vegetable shortening makes a good substitute for cooking spray because it prevents sticking and has a neutral flavor.
Use vegetable shortening as a 1:1 substitute for cooking spray by rubbing it over the slightly heated pan or roasting dish. Vegetable shortening is suitable for fried and baked vegetables and meats. This substitute is also suitable for sweet baked goods with a thin layer of flour added on top of the shortening.
Substitutes for Cooking Spray With Baked Goods
The following substitutes are best used for baked goods because these ingredients don’t add flavor to the foods, and work well with sticky sweet foods like bread, muffins, and cake batter.
Flour made from ground raw grains, nuts, beans, seeds, or roots is a good substitute for cooking spray. This substitute is also helpful when making baked goods because it prevents the food from sticking to the cookware, and doesn’t change the flavor of the food.
Use flour as a 1:1 substitute for cooking spray by sprinkling a thin coating over the baking dish, then shaking out the excess flour that doesn’t stick to the cookware. In cases where the flour doesn’t stick to the cookware at all, add a thin layer of butter, cooking oil, or vegetable shortening before adding the flour. This substitute is best used for cakes, muffins, and bread.
Parchment paper — also known as baking paper — is a grease-proof, silicone-coated paper used in baking and cooking to provide a non-stick surface for food preparation. Parchment paper is a good substitute for cooking spray because it doesn’t add any flavor to the food, and adds a heatproof, non-stick element to the cookware.
Use a sheet of parchment paper as a substitute for cooking spray by cutting the paper to cover the entire area of the baking tray or dish. Parchment paper is suitable for baking cookies, bread, or cake. The paper can also be used for savory foods including roasted vegetables, salmon, and fish, or when reheating leftovers.