Can you sauté onions without oil?

  • By: Emma
  • Date: May 19, 2022
  • Time to read: 7 min.

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Can you sauté onions without oil?

Can you sauté onions without oil? Today’s blog post will answer this question and suggest a few methods that can be used to cook an onion without using oil. This information is going to help especially those who are looking for ways to cut down on their fat intake.

Coming to our main question, the answer is an absolute yes! You can very easily sauté onions without using oil. In fact, oil is not a healthy option.

There is so much to discuss in this blog post. Let’s get started!

Why would someone want to sauté onions without oil?

Ok- so you’re probably thinking: “Why would someone want to sauté onions without oil?” Well, as it turns out there are plenty of reasons why people might want to do this.

Taste and Color

Using oil when sautéing onions will change the way they taste. This is because, when you cook with oil, some of it ends up floating on top of the cooking food. When the onion is fully cooked in oil, its juices can mix with the oil to create a sauce. This may be good for some people but others may prefer to have all of the flavors stay inside the food. Therefore, sautéing onions without oil can help you retain their original flavor.

If you want your cooked onion to be brown rather than red, you’ll need to sauté them in a certain way. That is to say- if they are being used as an ingredient in a dish that is to be browned in a frying pan, then they should be cooked without oil.

Saving Money

Cooking onions without using oil can actually help you save money in the future. This is because when you cook onion with oil, it absorbs some of this fat and becomes soggy when cooled down. Then you have to throw away the oil when you are finished cooking. This can be a waste of money in the future.

Fewer calories

If you are looking to cut down on your fat intake, sautéing onion without oil can be a good start. You won’t need to use as much fat in the food because the onions will release their own juices to cook them.

Prevents joint and heart diseases

Using oil when cooking is often linked with joint and heart diseases. It can increase cholesterol levels in the body which may lead to joint pains or inflammation of the joints. This happens because, if you use too much oil, it will go into your skin. Then, the fat will accumulate in your joints and gradually work its way up to other organs.

4 Methods to sauté onions without oil you must know!

If you are interested in learning how to sauté onions without oil, here are some methods that can be used:

Method 1

  • Heat up a heavy-bottomed frying pan over high heat.
  • Make sure the pan is hot enough before adding your onions so they won’t stick. Then, add them when the pan is ready. Sauté the onions until they are lightly golden brown. This should take about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper before serving. You can also add any other spices or vegetables that you like.

Method 2

Another method that can be used to sauté onions without oil is the oven method. Heat up your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit before adding the onions. This process will take about 15 minutes to fully sauté your onions.

Method 3

Another method is to heat up a pan that has been lightly greased with butter instead of oil. It’s important not to use too much butter because it can also increase cholesterol levels in the body as oil does. Add your onions and lightly brown them before adding salt and pepper.

Method 4

This method is ideal for those who do not like the taste of onions or who want to add a different flavor to their food. It involves boiling water in a pan and then adding the onions when the water is boiling. After 5 minutes, remove the onions from the hot water using a skimmer and place them in cold water. Then, dry the onions using paper towels before adding salt and pepper to taste.

Alternatives to oil for sautéing the onions

There are a couple of alternatives to oil you can opt for when sautéing the onions. They are inexpensive and include:


Water can be used to sauté onions without oil. The water won’t absorb into the food because it will evaporate while cooking. The only issue with this method is that you have to use very hot water so the onion will cook quickly and not stick.

Vegetable broth

Vegetable broth is made from onions, carrots, celery, and garlic that are added to some water or milk. It can be used instead of oil when you sauté the onions.

A good thing about vegetable broth is that it’s very flavorful and usually doesn’t contain fat like oil does.


Wine will give your dish a different flavor if you sauté the onion with it. White wine is preferred because it is light in color; however red wine is also good. It’s important to cook the wine before using it because this will let some of the alcohol evaporate and reduce burning your food with a lot of alcohol.

Tips to follow while sautéing onions without oil

Choose non-stick pan

Non-stick pan is ideal when you are sautéing onions without oil. It can make cleaning up easier and prevent your food from burning.

Sauté for a short time

Be mindful of the fact that onions when sautéing without oil for too long will lose their nutritional value. So it’s best to sauté them for a short time.

Use low heat

When you sauté the onions without oil, make sure your stove is set to low heat. This will prevent burning your food and ensure they are thoroughly cooked.

Use a small amount of alternative

Whether you’re using water or broth as an alternative, always use less liquid. This will prevent your food from getting soggy.

Use wooden spoon

When you sauté the onions without oil, make sure to use a wooden spoon instead of a metal or plastic one. This will prevent scratching your pan and destroying the non-stick coating.

Toss periodically

You should keep stirring and tossing the onions. This will keep them from sticking and prevent burning your food.

Now you know what tips you need to follow while sautéing onions without oil. Even if you’re new in the kitchen, these tips will make it easy for you to prepare your onions without oil.

It’s to explore some more questions and their answers!

Can you sauté red onions?

Yes. It’s perfectly fine to sauté red onions. The only difference is that you will need to keep the heat low while cooking them.

Red onions are found mostly in Asian cuisines. They are known to be spicier than white onions and can add a lot of flavor to your dish. Another difference between red and yellow onions is that red ones are not as pungent.

In sautéing, red onions will taste the same as yellow ones, but the only difference is that you will need to be careful when adding them to your dish because they might make it spicy.

Are sautéed red onions good?

Red onions have a deep red-purple color and they are really good in taste. When it comes to sautéed red onions, they will taste very close to yellow onions. These are also very healthy because they are rich in carbohydrates, dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, manganese, and many other minerals. It’s best to toss them with fresh chopped parsley before serving.

The only difference between sautéing red and that of the white onions is the temperature of sautéing. Red onions require low heat so that your dish doesn’t turn out spicy. Also, red onions are used in Asian cuisines because they are spicier than white ones.

What happens when you sauté red onions?

When you sauté red onions, they become brown in color with a sweet flavor. They are softer than the yellow ones and have a slightly sweeter taste which makes them perfect for adding to dishes that have cheese or cream in them.

Can you sauté red onion instead of white?

Absolutely Yes! You can sauté red onions instead of white onions. Be careful with the amount you add because they are spicier and can make your dish turn out too spicy.

When it comes to health benefits, both types of onions offer a lot of nutrients and minerals that promote health and keep us fit and fine. However, there is one difference in the nutritional value of red and white onions. Red onions are rich in glutathione which is very helpful in keeping us free from toxins and environmental pollutants.

Final Thoughts

In a nutshell, you can easily sauté onions without using oil since there are many substitutes out there! In addition, red onions are just as good in taste and flavor, but they are spicier than the white ones.

So what are you waiting for? Try changing up your usual sautéing methods by using alternative ingredients that promote health benefits!

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