When we think of pan-greasing, we often think of butter or vegetable shortening. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t any other equally effective ways to grease pans.
So, how can you grease your pan without using shortening or butter? The easiest alternative is cooking oil. You can use either olive oil, canola oil, or avocado oil. If you’re baking mildly flavored foods, look for neutral-tasting vegetable oils that won’t interfere with your taste preferences. Other pan-greasing options include bacon grease, lard, flour, etc.
Most people avoid greasing with butter or shortening because of health, financial, or environmental concerns. Read on for other better alternatives.
Four Ways to Grease A Pan Without Butter or Shortening
1. Bacon Grease
Bacon grease is a perfect replacement for butter in basically any type of recipe.
- Plop bacon grease into the pan.
- Put the pan in an oven and heat it until the bacon melts.
- Remove the pan and give it a good stir until the grease covers the whole cooking surface.
You should note that bacon grease will also add some pork flavor to your food. So, if you’re preparing burgers, for example, it can double up as a flavoring. For mild-flavored foods, you may want to use more neutral-tasting greasing alternatives like olive oil.
2. Give Flour A Try
At one point, you must have come across a recipe that instructed you to dust your pan with flour. Well, that’s because flour is also an effective non-stick solution.
Here’s how it works:
- First, you need to turn the flour into a spreadable mixture: Mix all-purpose flour, vegetable shortening, and vegetable oil in equal proportion.
- Coat the cooking surface with the blended product until it’s fully covered. You can use your hands or a basting brush.
3. Use Lard
Lard is pork fat. It’s similar to butter but has several properties that make it a better greaser. First, the lard’s melting point is lower than that of butter. So, it allows for more steam and air to be released when baking, making the end-products more leavened and flakier in texture. Again, lard’s fat crystals are larger, creating more open spaces when they melt.
4. Vegetable Oil
Most commercial cooking sprays have vegetable oil as one of their main components. So, using vegetable oil instead of butter or shortening to grease your pans is a no-brainer:
- Pour a little vegetable oil on a paper towel.
- Grease the pan by rubbing the oiled paper towel along its sides until it’s fully coated.
Apart from vegetable oil, studies show that you can also use other regular oils like olive oil, canola oil, or even sunflower oil. Many people prefer olive oil to vegetable oil because it tends to work better, especially if you want to increase your non-stick pan’s life. Besides, some vegetable oils can be quite unforgiving on the pan’s surface. For example, soy oil is immensely challenging to clean.
Is It Better to Grease With Butter or Oil?
A widespread notion is that butter is the best solution for greasing pans. To some extent, this is true. Butter is more flavourful than vegetable oil or shortening. It’s also solid at room temperature and liquid when heated, a property that makes it produce flaky and tender baking results.
However, when it comes to preventing sticking (which is the primary purpose of greasing), butter is not the best choice. While vegetable oil and shortening may not give your cakes that extra flavor, they work much better in preventing sticking.
Here’s why. According to research, butter comprises 80% fat and 20% water. So, when you use butter for greasing, the chances are that 20% of the pan’s surface will be covered by water, which can barely prevent sticking. On the other hand, research shows vegetable oils and shortening are 100% fat, which means they can theoretically help avoid sticking by 100%.
How to Grease and Flour Cake Pans
The last thing you want is to bake a beautiful cake, and then it sticks to the pan when you try to turn it out. The sad reality is that this happens quite often.
To prevent this, you should adequately grease and flour your cake pans before embarking on baking:
- Ensure that the baking pan is clean and dry. Unless specified otherwise, metal pans are the best for baking.
- Using a folded paper, pastry brush, or fingertips, spread the greasing material on the pan’s surface. Don’t leave any bare spots.
- Sprinkle a tablespoon (varies based on your cake’s size) of all-purpose/instant flour into the greased baking pan.
- Shake, tilt, and tap the pan gently until the flour’s dusting is evenly distributed over the greasing layer.
- Finally, invert the pan over the sink to get rid of any excess flour.
Should You Grease Nonstick Pans?
As we highlighted before, the primary reason for greasing pans is to prevent sticking. Non-stick pans do this on their own. However, they are not foolproof. As a precaution, you should grease non-stick pans as though they were any other pans.
- Can I spray your olive oil using a regular spray bottle? Yes, you can. However, you’ll need to add a little water to the olive oil to cut it.
- Why grease only the pan’s bottom first? Because if your kitchen is warm, the fat may drip from the sides to the bottom and leave some bare spots.
- Can I grease a baking pan using coconut oil? Yes. Coconut oil has a high smoking point, making it an excellent greasing solution even for muffin tins.
- Is using parchment a substitute for greasing a pan? Parchment has a non-stick silicone surface, making it an excellent replacement for fats. However, most people prefer complementing parchment with greasing.
- Which side of parchment paper faces down? It doesn’t matter; both sides are the same.