Last Updated on September 24, 2022
What can I use to grease a pan? You’d be surprised to learn how many options you already have at home! Today, we will discuss them all!
We have created an in-depth guide for the best items you can use to grease your pans at home. We included a variety so you can choose an option you likely already have or that is most accessible to you in a pinch. And of course, we included a range of options that caters to different dietary requirements and budgets.
Why Do You Need To Grease A Pan?
What can I use to grease a pan? You may first want to figure out why you need to grease it in the first place. You’d be surprised to learn how many ingredients don’t even need a greased pan.
The main function of greasing a pan is to add a layer of fat between the material and the mixture of ingredients. This layer will ultimately help prevent the baked item from tearing, breaking, and most importantly, sticking.
Without this layer, your food may stick which can even lead to them burning. Another unique (lesser known) function of this layer of grease is to promote even cooking and even browning.
Because the layer of fat will heat up evenly, it will help distribute the heat evenly to the food. And, many fats darken as they are heated. So, if they touch the entire surface of the item, the surface will brown evenly.
Now, the only items that don’t require a greased pan are those with a high-fat ratio. Something like a cheesecake crust (which contains a ton of melted butter) won’t need more grease to help prevent it from sticking. The same goes for puff pastry or bread and butter pudding.
Factors to consider before choosing a grease
Now, you may be excited to start seeing all your easy options, but there are some considerations you have to make.
The most important one is how the greasy ingredients’ flavor is going to affect the overall flavor of the dish.
For example, butter is often used as a greasing ingredient because it adds a rich buttery flavor and a golden brown color. If you were to use rendered bacon fat to grease a cupcake pan, the cupcakes will end up with a meaty flavor. Bacon fat would be better suited to make mini meat quiches or savory loaves of bread.
Then, you can also consider the difficulty of applying the fat. For example, butter has to first be melted to easily apply. But, oil can simply be brushed on the surface. But, coconut oil requires more prep than olive oil.
And finally, consider the price of the item. You can use ingredients like ghee (a type of clarified butter), but the cost won’t necessarily be worth it. And, buying expensive coconut oil that will barely make a difference in flavor may be better substituted by vegetable oil.
What Can I Use To Grease A Pan? A Multitude Of Methods
So, without further or do, here is our list of the best ingredients and items you can use to grease your pans with.
Some of them are animal-based, plant-based, and entirely manufactured products. As always, we tried to include something for everyone that will guarantee you find an option that works for you.
1. Butter or shortening
Butter or shortening is one of the best options for greasing your pans. It will add a deliciously rich and buttery flavor to your product while browning it beautifully. Butter can brown quickly as well. This means that it works great for quick-based items.
You can use these types of fats in two ways; melted or whole. When melted, you can brush the butter into all corners of your pan. And, if you use it whole, you will add a very thick layer of fat that won’t easily melt away.
The biggest downside is that butter is expensive and shortening is often packed with artificial ingredients.
2. Cooking oil
Next, you can use any type of food-safe cooking oil. And when we say anything, we truly mean anything. From avocado oil, coconut oil, and almond oil, to simple vegetable oil blends – there is no end to your options.
This makes it easy to cater to your budget and what’s easily available to you. And, you can even match the flavor of the oil to the flavor of the item.
The downside is that oil isn’t healthy, no matter how “little” you use. It doesn’t take much to have even the tiniest effect on your health. That’s why butter is often considered a healthier choice.
3. Cooking spray
We cannot write an article on “What can I use to grease a pan?” without talking about cooking sprays. Essentially, these sprays are cooking oils in an aerosol can.
They are convenient to use, quick, and don’t require any other tools. And, they add an evenly thick layer of grease over the entire pan. It will get into the tightest corners and will truly cover the surface well.
The downside is that these non-stick cooking and baking sprays are pricey and don’t last very long. And, because the layer is much thinner compared to the other options, it doesn’t brown the items as well.
4. Meat fat
Last, but certainly not least, you can use any type of rendered meat fat. Often pork fat (from bacon especially) is the most common. This is mainly because it is very accessible. Duck fat is another common animal fat you can buy at many stores.
These fats are extremely flavorful and packed with savory umami flavors. So, be careful where you use them. Preferably they should only be used with savory baked goods.
You can also easily brush them onto the fat once they are in their melted forms.
Now, you never have to wonder “What can I use to grease a pan?” There are loads of very easy (and even logical) fatty ingredients that you can use which all will work incredibly well. The different types have their benefits, but all remain easy to use.
Let us know what you think about these in the comments below. And, feel free to share this educational article with someone that is getting into baking and cooking.
What can I use instead of oil to grease a pan?
There are a ton of alternative non-stick fats you can use that will act as a lubricant in your pans. Some easy and common examples include melted butter or shortening and non-stick cooking or baking spray. Then, you can also look at a non-greasy alternative like non-stick baking paper or a silicone mat cut to size.
What can you use instead of butter to grease a pan?
If your recipe calls for butter as the greasing ingredient, you can always use vegetable shortening. You may even be able to get away with using bacon fat (or another type of meat fat) depending on what you are baking. Ghee and clarified butter are two other ingredients derived from butter. However, you can also use olive oil, non-stick cooking spray, and baking paper.
What can I use for non-stick?
Any ingredient or product that is high in fat will work well as a non-stick ingredient. This includes virtually any type of oil, animal fat (in many different forms), and oil-based sprays. But, none of these are one-size-fits-all options. You have to consider what you are baking and how the non-stick ingredient will affect the flavor.
Can I use coconut oil instead of non-stick spray?
Even though both of these ingredients are applied in different ways, they are still both a type of oil. This means that they will both still work great as non-stick ingredients. You can also use any other type of oil that you'd like.
Lindy Van Schalkwyk is a culinary specialist with a background in Advanced Cooking, Advanced Pâtisserie, Media Communications and Nutrition. She has gained invaluable experience in the culinary industry having worked in some of the top restaurants in Africa in 2016 and 2017. Her expertise in nutrition has enabled her to develop recipes for special dietary needs. In 2018, Lindy began working in the Food Media industry, focusing on recipe development, recipe writing, food writing and food styling.