Dry Heat Cooking Methods Without Fat [What to Use]

CRYSTAL H.  | ,   |   Updated
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Are you wanting to reduce the amount of fat you use in cooking? Dry heat cooking often depends on fat or oil to cook the food. Here I go over the methods that require little to no added fat or oil as well as the best kitchen appliance or cookware suited for these.

dry heat cooking methods without fat

What is dry heat cooking?

Dry heat cooking doesn’t rely on moisture to transfer the heat that cooks the food. Moisture can be by way of steam, water, or broth. To better understand what is dry heat cooking, the following are common examples…

11 Dry heat cooking methods

  • Air frying
  • Baking
  • Broiling
  • Deep frying
  • Grilling
  • Pan frying
  • Roasting
  • Rotisserie
  • Sautéing
  • Shallow frying
  • Sweating

(If you’re not sure what these methods involve, see my A-Z of cooking terms.) Dry heat cooking requires either direct contact (alone or with fat or oil) or circulation of hot air to transfer the heat required to cook the food.

The following covers the dry cooking methods using direct heat or air — where fat is not the primary source of heat-transfer.

Methods of dry heat cooking without Extra fat

The following are six ways of dry heat cooking where you can reduce fat in cooking meals.

What most of these methods have in common, is… hot air!

Air frying

Air frying cooks food you might normally deep fry — but without the fat – by circulating hot air. You can use an air fryer appliance for cooking a variety of crispy crumbed foods (serving them without the fat content from deep frying). Air fryers are also popular for reheating food and cooking frozen foodstuffs. You can even cook rice in an air fryer (but there’s a trick to it).

An air fryer has a heating element and a fan to circulate heat around the food. It is a time saving method of cooking and cost effective in regard to electricity use. One drawback is the rotating fan creates a hum, and as I answered elsewhere, some air fryers are louder than others. You can get quiet units, click here for great examples.

With the Ninja model shown below, you can also roast and dehydrate food. Homemade fries come out crispy and golden. The trick: a light coating of oil on the food before air frying. What I love about it is that the nonstick coating, that makes for easier cleaning of air fryers, is ceramic.


Most baking is done in an oven by indirect heat – hot air. Food types for this dry heat method: breads, cakes, cookies, pizza, pies, quiches, flans, and pastries, which are placed in a baking dish or pan on a shelf in the oven. It is similar to roasting, except roasting uses fat or oil (or moisture e.g. when using an oven bag) for foods such as meat and vegetables.


The direct heat from the top oven elements is used in broiling. There is no need to add fat as the heat is intense, seals the food, and cooks it in it’s own juices, while the fat drips away into the broiler pan.

The foods brown and become flavorsome with temperatures of 300ºF or above. Food types for this dry heat method includes fish, vegetables, tender cuts of meats, poultry, and fruits.


Grilling is similar to broiling and another way of preparing meats. Grilling is usually done over an open grate with a flame or heat source (check out my guide on charcoal grills). Best foods for this type of cooking are meats with a high fat content (so they don’t dry out), corn on the cob, potatoes, and poultry (e.g. turkey).

Pan frying (nonstick)

Pan frying with nonstick cookware uses dry heat that requires little to no added fat for frying foods such as eggs, bacon, pancakes, etc. This method relies on direct heat contact. With this type of frying, food is flipped half way through cooking (versus the deep frying method). Ceramic nonstick offers a non-toxic option in this range of cookware.

Brands that offer ceramic nonstick cookware for pan frying include:


The food continually moves in a rotisserie for even cooking. Meats are done this way without adding extra fat and the fat on the meat drips off the food. You might think of a rotisserie as an appliance used outdoors, but there are also the compact types for inside.

An appliance with 4 dry cooking methods in One

What if you could get multiple methods rolled into one appliance? The Instant Vortex Plus offers four dry cooking methods without adding fat or (only a little) to cook the food.

As an air fryer, it will use far less fat than other cookers and is a time saver in cooking meals. This particular air fryer allows you to air fry, bake, fry, and broil. As a bonus, you can use it to dehydrate food, e.g. make beef jerky.

It’s a great product for a place with limited space for cooking. Things to cook: chicken wings, shish kebabs, cookies, potato chips, meats, and fish.

What else is good about this product? Convenience. The door comes off for easy cleaning.

What you might not like about this product: Needs test run before first use. First couple of runs it emits an odor.

Something to be aware of: The trays are nonstick – PTFE vs ceramic coating. The seller advises “The coating materials for the cooking trays and drip tray contain PFOA-free PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene). Instant Brands’ products comply with all applicable industry standards.” 

Bottom line

The convenience and versatility offered by air fryers (along with the reduction in fat) make them an item worth buying to have in your kitchen. My preference always goes to ceramic coatings when it comes to nonstick. If you are the same, the Ninja air fryer offers this option over PTFE — scroll back to check it out.

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