Can you make waffles without oil?


Author: Tosh Lubek Published: 18th March 2021 is supported by its readers. Please assume links on this site are affiliate links or ads, and that I get commissions for purchases made through these links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you if you use any of the links.

Waffles and baked goods can be high in fat, examples being butter, oil, and the fat in egg yolks. But you can make your baking low-fat or animal-fat-free.

Applesauce can be used instead of ingredients like fat, oil, and eggs in waffles or other baking recipes. The applesauce, like fats, helps to prevent the formation of lots of long strands of gluten, which would otherwise make the waffle, cake, or muffin chewy.

But how does this work?

When mixing the waffle, muffin, or cake ingredients, water activates two proteins in the flour, gliadin and glutenin. As these proteins unravel and combine, they form strands of gluten. If you continue to mix the ingredients the gluten forms long stretchy strands, something that is done in bread making by kneading the dough. These long stretchy strands of gluten provide the internal structure for bread, allowing it to rise and making it chewy.

But when baking cakes, muffins, and waffles you don’t want too much gluten to form, otherwise the baked product won’t be light, airy, and fluffy. To prevent too much gluten formation, we normally add fat or oil to the batter. This acts as a partial barrier between the proteins in the flour and the water, reducing the production of those gluten strands.   

Applesauce can do a similar job to the way that fats work in waffle batter, although it does it in a different way. The pectin in applesauce is responsible for reducing the production of those strands of gluten. The pectin reacts with some of the water in the batter mix, forming a jelly-like structure. In doing so, it reduces the amount of water that is available to activate the flour proteins and so less gluten is formed.

But pectin can also replace the protein in egg whites that also help give the waffle, cake, or muffin some structure. Like the egg proteins, the pectin molecules will form a network when heated, that’s why it is often used in jam making, where it sets the boiled fruit.

Can other ingredients also replace fat or oil in waffle recipes?


Applesauce isn’t the only ingredient you can use to replace fats and oils in your waffle recipe. This is because applesauce is not the only ingredient that contains pectin.

Pectin is found in nearly all fruits and vegetables, where it is concentrated in the plant cell walls, helping to stick them together. The concentration of pectin usually reaches a maximum when the fruit just becomes ripe, after which the amount of pectin gradually declines.

However, some fruits and vegetables contain more pectin than others. Those rich in pectin include Apples, Apricots, Bananas, Blackberries, Carrots, Citrus Fruits, Crab Apples, Cranberries, Elderberries, Gooseberries, Grapes, passionfruit, Plums, Quinces, Rosehips, Sweet Potatoes.

Although all these fruits and vegetables contain high levels of pectin not all of them would necessarily be good in a waffle recipe. For instance, citrus peel contains a lot of pectin but would impart a strong flavor because the peel is where the citrus natural oils are concentrated. Other fruits and vegetables might impart an undesirable color to the waffles, which would be the case with blackberries and Elderberries.

Applesauce, mashed bananas, mashed sweet potato, or pureed passionfruit have the advantage since their flavors are less intense than some of the other options. However, if you are going to serve your waffles with sweet toppings and do not mind the color, most fruit purees will also work.

But what if you want to use oil but want better oils for improved health benefits or to improve your waffle making? We’ll look at that next.

Can you make waffles without vegetable oil?

Although both fats and oils will help make your waffles moist and fluffy, the research mentioned above shows that using solid fats instead of oils will help reduce the likelihood of your waffles sticking. The obvious benefit is that you get perfect waffles for your breakfast or treat. Plus, the subsequent cleaning of your waffle maker will also be easier if there are no stuck batter residues that you need to remove.

Although many people use vegetable oil in waffle batter you can make waffles without oil. According to scientific research, using hard fats, such as butter, lard, or coconut oil instead of standard vegetable oil produces excellent waffles that are lighter in color and less likely to stick in the waffle iron.

Even so, you might not want to completely replace oil with solid fats in your waffle batter for a few reasons.

Adding oil to your batter mix makes the preparation of the batter quick and easy on several levels. You can keep a bottle of oil at room temperature in the cupboard, no need to keep it in the refrigerator. Unlike solid fats, you don’t need to heat and melt the oil before adding it to the mixing bowl. The shelf life of oils is also quite long. And since oil is a liquid at room temperature, it’s easy to handle and incorporate into the waffle batter mix.

What oil to use for waffles

Health: Vegetable oils are said to be healthier than animal fats. Canola or rapeseed oil is a good example of an oil with health benefits. Canola oil has lower levels of saturated fats than any other vegetable oil used in the U.S., which is seen as being beneficial. Eating less saturated fat can cut cholesterol levels, so Canola oil is one of the best oils for heart health.

An alternative oil with plenty of health benefits is coconut oil, like this 2.38Kg tub of Kirkland Organic Virgin Coconut Oil available on Amazon. When kept in the refrigerator coconut oil is a white solid, so let it soften at room temperature or treat it like butter and melt in a pan before adding to the waffle batter mix.

So far, I’ve only considered vegetable oil as an ingredient in waffle batter and not as a release agent or something that’ll stop waffles sticking to the waffle maker.

Most of us will coat the grids in a waffle maker with a tiny film of vegetable oil to prevent sticking. However, the non-stick cookware purists would insist that you do not need any oil or fat in non-stick or Teflon cookware.

So, can you make waffles without vegetable oil? Sure, they’ll taste fabulous and you’re more likely to be able to get them out of the waffle maker without any sticking.

Kirkland Organic Virgin Coconut Oil - 2.48 kg Tub
  • Cold pressed, unrefined and chemical-free.
  • Use as a substitute to butter on your favorite baking recipes.
  • Certified USDA Organic by OneCert.
  • Product of the beautiful tropics of the Philippines or Vietnam. Packed in USA.
  • Ingredients: 100% Organic Virgin Coconut Oil.

Why does waffle batter contain oil?

Adding oil to waffle batter produces waffles with a softer and fluffier texture by inhibiting the growth of long strands of gluten, while helping to develop a golden crispy and crunchy outer coating. The oil also creates a release film on the waffle’s surface while baking which helps to prevent the waffle sticking in the waffle iron.

A paper published in Food Science & Nutrition presented research about what are the best ingredients for waffle batter

According to a research paper published in Food Science & Nutrition about the influence of the ingredients in waffle batter, the type of fat or oil used had important consequences.

Fats and oils in the batter make the waffle’s texture softer and provide a thin release layer between the waffle and waffle maker during the baking process. However, the research also indicated that a disadvantage of including fats and oils in the batter was that it left residues of fat waste on the baking plates.

The research team also found that using solid fats rather than liquid oils in the batter reduced the number of waffles that were likely to stick.

So, there’s no argument. It has been shown scientifically that if you want fewer waffles to stick to the grid of your waffle iron you should ditch the oil and use melted solid fats in your waffle batter.

Are Waffles better with oil or butter?


From the research paper published in Food Science & Nutrition, as well as knowing the answer to, “why do you put oil in waffle batter”, we can also answer this question about whether waffles are better with oil or butter.

If you want to know how to make waffles without vegetable oil and still make them wonderful, or even more wonderful switch out the vegetable oil for butter. But remember to use melted butter, that way you won’t have to overwork the batter in the mixing bowl.

By swapping butter for the oil in your batter mix, your waffles are less likely to stick to the waffle iron.

However, taste and appearance also come into play. Let’s first look at the appearance.

The research paper in Food Science & Nutrition also showed that choosing between fats or oils as an ingredient also had implications for the color of the waffle. As the paper stated, “fat source influenced color; after the addition of rapeseed oil, waffles were significantly darker, those with butter and Cocos fat were brighter and less red.” 

So, if you like a lighter shade of waffle be sure to use a solid fat in your batter. Alternatively, if you prefer your waffles to be a darker color, you should opt for rapeseed or Canola oil.

Now, how about taste?

Most people tend to agree that butter tastes better than most oils, especially the neutral flavor of oils like Canola oil. Personally, I prefer the richer taste of butter and think waffles taste a whole lot better with butter.

So, whether it’s about taste or ensuring your waffles don’t stick, you could say, butter batter’s better!

How much oil do you use for waffles?


About ½ Cup of oil, or its equivalent, is used in waffle recipes. However, the oil can be replaced by melted solid fat, like butter, lard, or coconut oil. In Oster’s Classic Waffles recipe ½ Cup of melted butter is used to make 5½ Cup of batter. That represents 9% of the batter by volume.

So, the amount of oil in a waffle recipe is not a fixed quality, although you could say the oil equivalent makes up about 9% of the volume of the batter.

Most waffle recipes tend to include baking powder, eggs, flour, milk, oil, salt, sugar, and vanilla extract. However, the proportions are variable, as is the amount of oil. There may even be no oil at all in the batter mix.

Oster, the kitchen appliance maker, provides recipes in its waffle maker instructions. In each of those recipes, there is no mention of vegetable oil because melted unsalted butter takes the place of the oil. The butter does the same job as the oil but lends a more traditional flavor to the waffle.

You may have noticed that waffle and pancake batter seem identical. However, waffle recipes include either fat or oil whereas pancake batter recipes do not. This is because waffles are baked in a waffle maker and the oil plays a key role in crisping the waffle’s surface and helping to release it from the waffle iron.

At the end of the day, the amount of oil or fat in the batter depends on personal preference and your chosen recipe. But typically, around ½ Cup of oil or fat is used to make 4½ – 5½ Cups of batter.

Tosh learned how to cook while watching his Polish Mom at home. He also worked in a family-owned restaurant while a student and learned much from the chefs. Cooking has always interested him, especially the hearty Polish recipes he learned from his mother. He has helped create and appeared on cookery shows on radio stations in Scotland.

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