How To Dry-Sauté

The fat you eat is the fat you wear. That’s according to physician and nutrition expert, Dr. John McDougall, and he’s right. All oils are 100 percent fat. Like other forms of fat, olive oil has 9 calories per gram; sugar has four. That means that olive oil has more than twice the calories per serving than sugar, making it one, if not the most calorically dense food available. Calorie density (or calories per gram) is the amount of calories (energy) in a specific amount of food. A high calorically dense food gives you a lot of calories in a small amount of food, while a low calorically dense food has less calories for the same amount of food. Basically that means you can eat a larger portion of a lower calorically dense food than a higher one for the same amount of calories. Practically speaking, one tablespoon of oil can contain more than 100 calories without filling you up. Compare that to a large plate/bowl of steamed broccoli, tomatoes, or strawberries, for the same amount of calories. Plant food can fill you up more than the same amount of calories in processed foods or animal products. Have you ever tried losing weight on a relatively “healthy” diet, but just could not make the progress you wanted? If so, check your intake of processed oil and find ways to reduce or eliminate it all together! That goes for coconut oil too!

For today’s Tech Tuesday, the culinary technique that I’d like to share is how to dry-sauté, to sauté without using oil (or butter). Cooking onions, garlic and other aromatics without oil is an essential culinary technique used to build flavor into a dish.

How To Dry-Sauté

But first, I’m not trying to lecture you here because it’s only recently that I had my own ah-ha moment. I’ve always though olive oil, especially extra-virgin olive oil, was THE thing to eat, but I recently was enlightened. You see, when olive oil is made—similar to fruit juice—most of its nutrients have been removed. Although it still has some nutrients in it, the calories you get from it are relatively empty compared to the whole fruit (the olive). But then olive oil producers go another step further by throwing away the olive wastewater that contains the water-soluble nutrients. By the time the olive oil is packaged and on a shelf, the nutrients inside are minimal, if any, compared to the original fruit. Non-virgin (refined) olive oil is even worse. Physician and New York Times bestselling author Dr. Michael Greger of considers oil as the table sugar of the fat kingdom.

How to Dry-Sauté
Needless to say, the more I’ve been reading about the negative health effects of consuming oil, the more I’ve tried to look at ways to keep it out of my cooking. As many of you know, most recipes often start with oil as a prominent ingredient. To sauté implies the use of oil or butter. However, it is surprisingly not that difficult to cook without oil. I’ve been making a lot of soups and lentil dishes using the dry-sauté technique that I’m sharing today. To keep foods from sticking you can use water, broth/stock, wine, vinegar, etc. It’s been great to cook with less fat, without sacrificing flavor. Great for the arteries.

I tried doing a short video presentation on Snapchat (ptworldcitizen). It was a bit of a challenge to take video and photos, type descriptions, send each Snap out, and keep an eye on my curious three-year-old (who was quite intrigued with the process) while working quickly to make sure my onions and garlic didn’t burn. Whew! I made it, but there might be some gaps in the Snaps. This post gives a bit more information. If you have any questions about cooking without oil and/or would like more explantation about the dry-sauté technique, please don’t hesitate to leave your questions in a comment below. Also, if you have any requests for culinary techniques you’d like for me to feature on Tech Tuesday, I would love to hear from you!

How To Dry-Sauté

How to Dry-Sauté
To dry-sauté—meaning to sauté using no oil—heat a pan/pot over medium-high heat.


You will know the pan is at the right temperature when added drops of water form mercury-like balls on the surface of the pan. These balls of water slide about and are actually pretty cool to see the first or second time. My three-year-old giggles saying the balls are funny.

At this point, add your onions, stirring constantly to make sure the onions don’t burn. As the onions cook, you’ll notice they and the pan will start to brown. That’s absolutely fine.

Continue to cook until the onions turn somewhat translucent. At that time, delicate aromatics, like garlic, can be added and allow to cook for only a few seconds to prevent burning.

Then, immediately add liquid—stock, wine, vinegar and even water can be used, it depends on what you’re making. Continue to cook the onions until most of the liquid has evaporated. At this point, you can proceed with whatever you plan to make.

Any comments or questions? I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions.

6 thoughts on “Tech Tuesday: How to Dry-Sauté

  1. I find your post could not come at a better time. I have
    Been struggling with minimizing my use of fats. This is a
    Great tutorial as I am very visual. Any ideas for

    1. Hi Melanie,

      Great! Glad it helped! I hope to be discussion more about minimizing fats in the future. As for desserts, do you mean a special occasion dessert or something to have on an ordinary weekday? I serve dessert after dinner on very rare (special) occasions. To keep the fat down, if you really feel the need to have a dessert, I’d recommend fresh (not dried) fruit. With a little time you can make fruit sorbets, fruit salads, or just simply eat your choice of fruit available. I know, a bowl of strawberries may not sound as appealing than a slice of chocolate cake with strawberries, but it will definitely have less fat and will be better for the waist line and heart! 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s