Plant-Based, Oil-Free Cooking
Oil-free cooking doesn’t need to be difficult! However, it’s important to recognize that you will need slightly different equipment to achieve good results. For example, you can’t simply stop using oil in your favorite cast iron skillet–you will have a big mess on your hands. That’s where this list of recommended kitchen tools comes into play!
Many oil-free recipes rely on non-stick cookware. Non-stick cookware definitely works, and is pretty easy to use. However, since non-stick pots and pans may contain unhealthy coatings, I prefer to use stainless steel cookware, as detailed below.
Cooking oil-free on the stove top is easy in stainless steel pans. You can simply omit the oil that the recipe calls for and use a splash of water or vegetable broth instead. Be sure to keep a close eye on your pan, especially your first few times cooking oil-free. If your food starts to stick, simply add an additional splash of water as/if needed. That’s it!
Cooking without oil is quite easy with the right equipment. In addition to being healthier for us, cooking oil-free encourages us to flavor our meals with antioxidant-packed herbs and spices, rather than oil. For inspiration on what to cook, see all of our delicious, plant-based, oil-free recipes.
About this List of Kitchen Tools
Below are my favorite and highly recommended kitchen tools for whole-food, plant-based eating. These are items that I use all the time. If something isn’t on the list, then it hasn’t yet made it to “favorite” or “proven” status!
I have loosely ranked the below into the items that I use most often and feel mostly strongly about. If you have any questions about my recommended kitchen tools, or if you have recommendations of your own, then please leave me a comment!
A great eating plan, a well-stocked pantry, and a healthy dose of motivation can help you go far. But a well-stocked kitchen with helpful tools can help you go farther, with less effort.
Recommended Kitchen Tools & Products for Every Kitchen
Instant Pot: My favorite kitchen gadget! Since the 6 quart version seems to be the most popular size in cookbooks and on blogs, it is the size I recommend. Having the “standard” size makes it much easier for you to follow recipes successfully!
Note that there are a lot of fancy functions available on higher-end Instant Pots. However, since most recipes use simple “high” and “low” pressure cooking settings, the higher-end models are likely not worth the extra expense. I really love my Instant Pot and use it multiple times per week. It is amazing for oil-free cooking and making large batches of dried beans and whole grains from scratch. For inspiration, see all my Instant Pot recipes.
Multi-purpose Skillet with Lid: This is my kitchen work-horse! I love that it’s 18/10 stainless steel, which is one of the safest materials for cooking. It also handles water-sauteing really well (unlike cast iron) and cleans up super easily. My partner recently claimed that he spends 10% of his life washing this pan, since we use it so often!
Note that stainless steel can streak and become cloudy. If you want to return your pan to its original shine, simply use some white vinegar. (You can do this with your Instant Pot insert as well.)
Staub Baking Dishes: I have a large 13×9 white baking dish, as well as a smaller 10.5×7.5 white baking dish from Staub, and I absolutely love them. They are naturally pretty non-stick, which helps a lot with no-oil baking. They are great for roasting large winter squashes and making lasagna, since they’re fairly deep.
Dishware & Storageware
Corelle Dishware Set: I love these dishes. They are simple, bright white, lightweight, and easily stacked in the cabinet and dishwasher. The winter frost white color is also lead- and cadmium-free, which is surprisingly hard to come by in dishware. I also have a matching set of their pasta bowls, which I can’t recommend highly enough.
Ball Mason Jars: These are a classic for a reason! They are versatile, made in the USA, crafted with safe materials, and freezer safe. I have the 32 ounce size and the 16 ounce size, and use both all the time.
These jars are great for storing nuts, dried or cooked beans, sauces and dips, and almost anything else you can think of. The large jars are also the perfect size for making hibiscus tea. Simply pour cold water over hibiscus flowers (or tea bags) and let the jars sit in the fridge to cold-steep. You can then have an easy, antioxidant-packed, sugar-free drink anytime.
Cuisinart Fine Mesh Strainers: I probably use these strainers every day. The mesh is fine enough to rinse quinoa, they are extremely lightweight, and they nest easily for storage. They’re perfect for rinsing dried grains and beans, emptying and rinsing canned beans, sifting flour and cocoa powder, and even straining tea leaves.
Silpat Baking Mat: I dreamt about getting one of these for a while, but couldn’t justify the cost, because I didn’t think I needed it. Well, let me tell you, you need it. These baking mats are perfect for oil-free baking and roasting and they help you reduce your waste by reducing your parchment paper needs. They also clean up easily. I now have not 1, but 2. If you’re already turning your oven on, why not make 2 trays of roasted vegetables at once? 😊
Stainless Steel Measuring Cups and Spoons: Another stainless steel item. Are you sensing a trend? This is a sturdy 18/8 stainless steel measuring set that’s lightweight and easy to handle. I especially love that the measuring spoons are rectangular with long handles so that I can easily get into my spice jars! This set also includes less frequent measuring sizes, like 1/8 cup and 1/8 teaspoon, as well as milliliter measurements.
Other Recommended Kitchen Tools
Below are some other kitchen items I highly recommend. These items may (or may not) be right for your kitchen, based on your individual needs and kitchen skills. Take a look to see what might be right for you!
Cuisinart Food Processor: It’s a shame it took me so long to really get into using my food processor. Unfortunately, after being overwhelmed the first few times I used it, it was relegated to the back of a too-high kitchen cabinet. After a few years passed, I wanted to try again. I now LOVE my food processor and use it every week.
Things you can make with a food processor: hummus, faux cheese dip, date balls/bars, pudding, pasta sauces, and bean burgers. A food processor is also wonderful for meal prepping since it can do all the slicing and shredding for you!
Lodge Dutch Oven: If you have any plans to make homemade bread, you need this in your kitchen! Baking bread is honestly so much easier than I ever thought it would be, and you control exactly what goes into it. Start with a no-knead recipe or two and go from there. I typically use parchment paper when baking bread and therefore avoid washing/re-seasoning this Dutch Oven as much as I can.
Air Popper: Absolutely perfect for making healthy popcorn. Many store-bought, microwave popcorns contain artificial flavorings, excessive salt and oil, and (likely) cancer-causing chemicals. With this air popper and inexpensive non-GMO popcorn kernels, you can pop your own healthy, whole-grain popcorn for many years to come. I’ve had my popper for more than 6 years already and it’s still going strong!
Basic Hand Mixer: This is an inexpensive, basic kitchen tool that is perfect for bakers. The design is great. I love that the beaters, the whisk, and the cord can all be tucked into the included storage case. I also love that it can stand up on your counter and/or hang over the edge of your mixing bowl. Since everything is self-contained, and it has a flat base, it’s easy to store and great for small spaces.
What do you think?
Whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) cooking doesn’t need to be difficult. Depending on how you like to eat and cook, you can make a WFPB or vegan eating plan as simple or as complicated as you’d like.
The tools that you need for your plant-based kitchen may be different from mine. However, you should be aware that there are definitely tools that can make cooking from scratch and cooking without oil a lot easier!
If this list has given you some ideas about how to make your plant-based cooking more manageable, then please let me know in the comments below!
If you’d like to learn more about a plant-based diet, please see my other guides: How to Start a Plant Based Diet & How to Stock Your Plant-Based Pantry.
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