15 Healthy Alternatives to Fried Foods for a Guilt-Free Diet

15 Healthy Alternatives to Fried Foods for a Tasty, Guilt-Free Diet

01 Dec 2023


The call of crispy, golden deep-fried foods can be hard to resist, especially if you've grown accustomed to eating them. However, finding healthy alternatives can make a meaningful difference in your life. Deep-fried foods are often high in trans fats, so eating them can elevate your cholesterol and increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

If you're ready to find some better options, here's a list of 15 fried food alternatives. These delicious substitutes will appease your cravings without compromising your resolve to eat healthier.

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How can you cook food instead of frying it?

There are several methods you can use to prepare food without soaking it in a pool of sizzling oil. These healthier alternatives reduce your consumption of unhealthy fats and introduce some new culinary techniques into your routine.

  • Oven-roasting. From vegetables to chicken and fish, there's just about no limit to the types of foods you can roast in the oven. You barely need any oil, and, because oven-roasting sometimes requires lower temperatures, your food might not lose as many nutrients as with deep frying.

  • Oven-frying. This method involves coating food in a light layer of oil and breadcrumbs and cooking the food at a high temperature in the oven. It results in a lower calorie count than with deep-frying while still allowing you to achieve a golden-brown crust.

  • Sauteing. You'll toss food in a shallow pan with a small amount of oil or butter over high heat. It can give your food a lightly browned exterior without using a large amount of oil.

  • Stir-frying. To stir-fry food, quickly cook it in very hot oil while frequently stirring the ingredients, thereby adding tons of flavor. It's nearly the same as sauteing, but it involves less oil and requires less cooking time.

  • Pan-frying. When cooking with this method, you'll need a relatively modest amount of oil compared to deep frying. You'll use just enough oil to coat a pan and, unlike sauteing or stir-frying, minimally stirring or moving the ingredients.

  • Air-frying. This cooking method has boomed in popularity over the past few years, largely due to its convenience and quick cooking time. It circulates hot air around your food to cook it while giving it a crunchy texture. Depending on the food you're air-frying, little to no oil is necessary, making this method a much healthier alternative to deep frying.

  • Steaming. Deep-frying foods, especially vegetables, can cause them to lose nutrients. Steaming, on the other hand, gently cooks foods and renders them tender, vibrant, and packed with flavor. This method allows your food to retain at most a touch of crunch while preserving the majority of its health benefits.

15 alternatives to your favorite fried foods

Check out these 15 foods that are great alternatives to fried dishes for those days when you're craving something crispy.

  1. Baked "fried" chicken
    With the perfect mix of herbs and spices, this baked chicken closely mimics the taste and crunch of fast-food fried chicken.

  2. Air-fried chicken wings
    There's no oil needed for these chicken wings. Let the air fryer work its magic and deliver some extra crispiness.

  3. Baked "fried" pickles
    These oven-fried pickles are an excellent alternative to the fried version of this snack. Plus, they're ready in under 30 minutes.

  4. Air-fried French fries
    Are fries that aren't fried still called "fries?" These air-fryer French fries are seasoned with garlic powder, salt, and pepper and coated in minimal oil.

  5. Oven-baked jalapeño poppers
    Give a classic appetizer a twist with these oven-baked jalapeño poppers. They're stuffed with cheddar and cream cheese and coated in breadcrumbs for that irresistible crunch.

  6. Baked mozzarella sticks
    These baked mozzarella sticks are a great alternative to those classic fried cheesy sticks. You'll taste these and wonder how they aren't fried.

  7. Baked sweet potato fries
    Switch out your regular fries for these baked sweet potato fries. Bake them until they're as brown as you like for perfect crispiness.

  8. Pan-fried spring rolls
    Cut back on the oil with this alternative to deep-fried spring rolls. These pan-fried spring rolls still give you a crunchy outer layer.

  9. Cheesy roasted cauliflower
    Whether as a snack or a side dish, this vegan cheesy cauliflower uses a spiced marinade to give it a light crust during baking.

  10. Zucchini chips
    Who said chips are only made from potatoes? These baked zucchini chips have a crispy crust seasoned so well you'll almost forget you're eating a vegetable.

  11. Sweet potato chips
    If you're a fan of potato chips, here's another baked version of this classic snack. These baked sweet potato chips are healthier and give you a slight hint of sweetness.

  12. Sauteed vegetables
    These crisp sauteed veggies give you the crunch you're craving, and they're coated in just two tablespoons of olive oil.

  13. Baked asparagus with chipotle sauce
    Satisfy your fried-food craving with these baked asparagus fries - the perfect balance of crispy, salty, and healthy, served with a creamy, spicy dip.

  14. Garlicky steamed vegetables
    If you're after the crunch of fried foods, this vegetable medley is steamed just enough that the veggies maintain their crunch. It's served with a side of garlic sauce.

  15. Baked churros
    When you're ready for dessert, these baked churros are nearly indistinguishable from the fried originals.

The easy solution to solving your crispy cravings

If you want to incorporate alternatives to fried foods in your diet without the hassle of preparing and cooking them, Meal Village has you covered. With access to a menu of more than 130 options every week, you'll find low- or oil-free meals that perfectly suit your fancy. There's no subscription or commitment required, so check out the menu and place your order today - it's both low-hassle and low-fat.

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