From French fries to wedges, all potato shapes are irresistible.
Don’t you agree that a carb side dish can make all the difference in any meal?
For some people, oil-fried food is out of limits. It might be because of a health concern or just a simple lifestyle choice.
By the end of this post, you’ll know how to fry potatoes without oil in six different ways. So, stick around!
How Oil Fries Food
It’s common knowledge that oil keeps the food from sticking to our cookware, but it does so much more than just that.
Oil-fried food is notoriously crispy. That’s because hot oil, as a liquid, can reach even the smallest cracks in the surface and deliver a large dose of initial heat.
The hardened crust keeps the inside protected from the crisping heat waves. The result is a juicy, tender core under the crust.
Why Cook Without Oil
There’s a lot of reasons why someone might want to cut their intake of oil-fired food.
Hydrogenated cooking oils have a high content of harmful trans-fats. These are often associated with:
- Coronary heart disease due to an increased level of bad cholesterol
- Belly fat
- Insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes
Re-using the frying oil more than once can increase the trans fats even more. So, it might be worthwhile to eliminate or at least reduce your intake of fried food.
How to Fry Potatoes Without Oil
Regardless of the reason, it’s possible to prepare an oil-free meal with potatoes. It’s all about finding the right tools, temperature, and time.
Here are six ways you can fry potatoes without oil:
1 – Air Frying Potatoes
Air fryers are convection ovens that can help you make healthier food with little or no oil, especially potatoes.
Typically, the cooking time for potatoes in an air fryer is around 20 minutes at 400 °F, but you can adjust based on the amount.
As a plus, air fryers reduce the dietary intake of a carcinogenic compound called acrylamide. That’s another benefit to ditching traditional deep frying with cooking oil.
Tips and Tricks
With zero oil frying, the trick is to take the basket out and shake it a few times along the way. This helps you get an even cook.
Increase the air fryer’s temperature in the last couple of minutes to cook the potatoes to an extra crisp.
Spice your potatoes after washing and before putting them in the basket to let seasoning stick to their surface.
2 – Pan Frying Potatoes
You can pan-fry food with or without oil, and it’s a technique that works well for vegetables and potatoes.
You can start by spreading the potatoes on your pan or skillet, then add a tablespoon or two of water. Once the water evaporates, the potatoes start to crisp with the heat of the pan.
Alternatively, some people prefer using broth instead of water for flavor. Try out both and see which works best for you.
Tips and Tricks
Use a non-stick pan to keep the food from clumping. Teflon, ceramic, or cast iron pans are all good options for pan-frying.
Stir the pan frequently on medium heat, not only to prevent sticking but also to make sure the potatoes are cooked evenly on all sides.
Be careful when adding water to the pan. If the water amount increases, you’ll be getting more of a saute than a fry.
3 – Stir-Frying Potatoes
Stir-frying is a lot like pan-flying with slight differences. It’s a solid way to cook food without oil.
Instead of regular and shallow non-stick pans, you’ll need a wok. The curved shape of the wok helps concentrate the frying liquid (usually broth) in a smaller area.
The beauty of stir-frying is how well it works for heating leftovers. So, you can throw in some potatoes with yesterday’s dinner and cook them all at the same time.
Tips and Tricks
The heat on a stir-fryer is usually higher than pan-frying. So, be careful not to burn your food by leaving it sitting for a long time.
French fries aren’t ideal for stir-frying. However, cutting the potato into little roast-like cubes works best.
If you’re heating leftover meat that will drain some of its fat in the wok, there’s no need to add broth. Just a little water is enough.
4 – Steam Frying Potatoes
Steaming is a great way to get roast-like meals without an oven. All you need is an electric steamer, baby potatoes, spices, and some water.
You can either parboil (partial boiling) first and then steam or just steam from the get-go. The second method is better in avoiding sogginess.
The only downside to this method is that it lacks color. If you want a healthy meal and don’t mind a monochromatic plate, go for it!
Tips and Tricks
Use a wooden toothpick or a skewer to check the degree of cooking in the center of whole potatoes. By the end of the steam, the core should be tender but not mushy.
Keep the peel on when you’re cooking small potatoes. It’s better for your health and keeps the potatoes from clumping together.
Add a few herbal leaves like rosemary or mint with the potatoes to give the meal a heavenly aroma.
5 – Pressing Potatoes in a Sandwich Maker
Did you know that you can cook your potatoes in a sandwich maker? We get that it sounds very unconventional, but if it works, it works.
Expect a result that’s more like grilling than frying since you won’t be using any oil or butter to grease the potato.
The best part about this method is that you don’t have to shake or stir at all. Both sides cook evenly at the same time.
Tips and Tricks
Cut the potato into smaller stripes or slices so that it fits nicely in the sandwich press. Fritters and hashbrowns are the best options.
Line the sandwich maker with parchment paper if you’re concerned about sticking. It’ll also make the cleaning job much easier.
Keep in mind that the lid will squish your potato, and it’ll take more space when it’s flat. So, don’t add too much, to begin with, or you might risk over-spillage.
6 – Glucose Powder for Frying Potatoes
While we’re on the topic of unconventional frying liquids, we have to mention glucose powder. It turns out that glucose melts can fry food!
It’s a novel idea that’s still making its way through the cooking world. Maybe it’ll be a future trend in oil-free cooking.
Sure, glucose isn’t exactly a healthy ingredient. However, trans fats are more likely to cause weight gain, even with an equal calorie count of carbohydrates.
Tips and Tricks
You can’t dissolve sugar in water for this method. It needs to be molten glucose, sold in the form of glucose powder.
The key to getting a crispy fry on your potatoes without caramelizing the syrup is to keep the temperature under 374 °F. It’s best to cook at 302-356 °F for best results.
Additionally, you can use the powder for baking and frosting. It’s common for confectionaries and post-workout meals.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about making oil-free potatoes:
Q: Can I use butter for frying fries?
A: No, butter isn’t an efficient frying fat. It has a relatively low smoke point of 302 °F. Meanwhile, cooking oil can go up to 520 °F.
Some people like greasing their pan or ripping butter directly on their food, but that’s more for flavor than it is for a crisp frying effect.
As a general rule, you should pick frying liquids with high smoke points. Otherwise, you risk burning off your food and releasing a nasty scent.
Q: What is the best temperature for cooking potatoes?
A: The ideal temperature for cooking potatoes varies based on the size, amount, and cooking style. However, there are general estimates to consider:
- Baked potatoes require an hour at 400 °F
- An electric steamer cooks potatoes at 212 °F for about 15 minutes
- Air fryers roast potatoes at 400 °F convention temperature for 10-20 minutes
- Cooking oil reaches 350 °F, and it takes around 15 minutes to crisp fries
- Sandwich makers can be set to 15-20 minutes on 375 °F to grill potatoes
- Parboiling fluffs potatoes at 210 °F for an average of 10 minutes
Q: Is lard good for frying potatoes?
A: Lard, unlike butter, has a high smoke point. It also has less saturated fat, making it more resistant to rancidity with exposure to heat and air.
Natural lard has no trans fats. However, most store-bought lard is hydrogenated, which isn’t ideal for your health.
Overall, the physical and chemical properties of lard make it suitable to use as a frying liquid. The keyword here is moderation.
We hope that this guide has helped you figure out how to fry potatoes without oil.
The beauty of potatoes is how versatile they are. Just because they’re oil-free doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them.
You can air fry them, steam them, press them in a sandwich maker, or throw them a stir fry mix.
Switch up your cooking styles, keep your sodium intake low, and enjoy your delicious carbs!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.