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Cooking Sprays - Yea or Nay

I can't use these (Pam, etal.). I hate the fumes, the residues, the taste. Sister is a big fan and uses it on all of her non-stick pans, baking sheets, etc.

How do you measure in? I never buy it, but I can see the benefits. Food doesn't stick but I can't get past the rest of what's noted above. I just really don't like any of them so far. A lot of recipes call for it, even going so far as to "spray the loaf with" instructions.

How do you get around this? Mostly, I use butter or olive oil, even putting those ingredients on a paper towel to wipe them on the cooking utensil or food product.

Where do other 'hounds weigh in on this "must have" product?

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  1. I love them; there are olive oil & butter flavored sprays on the market..do you have an aversion to those too?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cherylptw

      Cherylptw - I have not tried the olive oil but I did try the butter and ugh - I only tried it a couple times and gave it away.

      I know I'm not a "super taster" but really, I could taste the product on the finished food. I'll check out the olive oil, maybe.

    2. Except for the possibility of adding flavor to the foods being prepared, I can't see any reason to use a cooking spray in a "non'stick" pan or baking sheet.
      I prefer olive oil or vegetable oil, sometimes butter, but I do use cooking sprays. I buy only those that are pure vegetable oil products, avoiding things that are flavored. In addition to it's primary use as a frying agent, I've used it for oiling breads prior to baking (where it's called for) and I haven't detected any "off" flavors for having used them. Except for the propellant, there shouldn't be anything in the vegetable oil formula to affect the taste.
      I haven't gone to the trouble yet, but a friend of mine has a small spray bottle (one of those you find at the dollar store) filled with olive oil and uses that when she needs to use a sprayed oil.

      2 Replies
      1. re: todao

        Todao - My sis swears that it prevents the food from sticking even on the non-stick and when the baking sheets call for "greased" she uses the food spray. I've witnessed that nothing sticks, I just didn't like the end result. I thot maybe I was missing the point.

        Thanks for the input. I'll try this again and check for the pure vegetable oil only.

        1. re: todao

          Although nobody likes the idea of propellants in the cooking sprays, I'd by equally concerned about using a cheap plastic spray bottle unless I knew it didn't have bisphenol A or other suspect chemical makeup.

          When making something with phyllo, I alternate melted butter and butter-flavored Pam between the layers. This cuts the total butter amount while preserving the flavor, and using the spray makes assembly neater and faster than brusking melted butter.

        2. I do use the olive oil or regular Pam for spraying pan before baking, or sometimes for cooking. Just easier than oiling/greasing the pan, for me. Not crazy about the fumes, but too lazy to care that much. I would not spray my food, I don't think.
          However, if I remember correctly, you are not supposed to spray non-stick surfaces with these kinds of sprays because of the potential for damaging the surface.

          1 Reply
          1. re: elfcook

            Elfcook - Thanks for the feedback. I'll try this again.
            I've seen recipes for bread, mostly, that say "spray before covering w/ plastic wrap, to rise". I've always used butter or oil, instead.

            Things seem to stick even on "non-stick" which is when she taught me to use it, and I gave it up years ago, not happy with the results.

          2. From Querencia (on another thread)

            I do oven-fried catfish filets at 450*, rolling them in crumbs and laying them on a foil-covered cookie sheet that I have sprayed with PAM. Works out fine. Original recipe I followed (that I think was in that book on low-fat cooking by Oprah Winfrey's cook) said to spray the fish with PAM too (before crumbing) but I don't do that. The edges of the fish do get nice and crispy. Make sure the oven is pre-heated to that temperature before you put the fish in. I do not think this would hold together on a rack.

            See! I really need to embrace / figure out the whole cooking spray thing!

            1 Reply
            1. re: JerryMe


              You can purchase an non-aerosol spray can/pump, fill it with your oil of choice and spray/mist whatever it is you want to coat.....a pan, a muffin tray or actual food like roasts or oven baked fried chicken.


            2. never noticed any fumes to any great extent. they have their useful applications.

              1. http://www.spectrumorganics.com/?id=89

                JerryMe, I use this brand from Whole Foods and love the product.

                1. Well, to get around it, just use butter, oil, either vegetable or olive, as you have been doing, rather than the sprays.
                  There are sprays on the market that contain only vegetable oil, as todao mentioned. Perhaps you could try one of those.
                  I have used the sprays for greasing baking equipment only, never as a frying agent. I still use Crisco on a paper towel for greasing cookie baking sheets, for God's sake, as a throwback to my childhood and don't care that it contains hydrogenated oils, since I use so little and never use it for anything else (well, pie crust sometimes.) Crisco's cheaper, too.
                  My point is is that there are many oils that can be used to lubricate or coat cookware to create a non-stick environment and if you don't like the sprays, you have many other options.

                  1. Brand new to Chowhound, but had a sudden epiphany while reading the post. Why not buy a metal spray bottle and just fill it up with oil or melted butter? The reason everyone uses the sprays is because they quickly spread a thin layer of lubricant on a surface, giving you the non stick without loads of fat.

                    If you had a spray bottle, you'd know exactly what was in the bottle and you could even make flavored oils / butters to use for special occasions!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: newbiehippie

                      Melted butter doesn't work, it congeals when cold, and you have to have a spray bottle specifically for the task, with a wider nozzle, so the oil won't clog it. There are special misters on the market, just for this purpose. Paper toweling works very well and you can get a very thin coat with the towel.
                      Like your non de plume BTW, I'm an oldbiehippie.;-)

                      1. re: newbiehippie

                        have you tried keeping a spray bottle filled with oil from clogging?

                      2. I don't use regular cooking sprays, but I have at times used my own olive oil in a Misto sprayer, which uses air pumped in to generate the misting action in place of propellants (there are other brands of refillable spray can available, too). It is not advisable to use a cooking spray with propellants on nonstick pots and pans (stovetop pans, not bakeware), because they cause a tacky,sticky buildup on the pans that doesn't come off and eventually compromises the finish.

                        One commercial product I do use is baking spray, which is an oil-flour combo. It releases like nothing else, and so is perfect for cake pans. These include Baker's Joy, Pam for Baking, and others.

                        I will also note that the Spectrum brand that HillJ cites above, which has various cooking sprays (canola, olive, baking, etc.) uses non-CFC propellants, which aren't environmentally damaging the way CFCs are.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                          I have bought the Misto twice. I know it gets high ratings (CI among them, if memory serves), but both mine were awful. They only managed a brief, weak spritz before repumping was required, and became clogged and ruined within a few weeks.

                            1. re: greygarious

                              Same here, I was excited to get mine and it's been just... meh.

                              On a positive note, it came with a separate pepper/salt grinder and I really like that so it was worth the $15 I spent on it when it was on sale at Costco.

                          1. I think nonstick spray degrades nonstick coating-- my nice nonstick skillet warns against using them. I do use them on uncoated baking sheets/pans though.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Procrastibaker

                              While I do not doubt the manufacturer of your pans may say not to use sprays...frankly, I do not understand the logic. Does the fat emitted from foodstuffs also deteriorate the pan coatings as well?

                              1. re: fourunder

                                The cooking spray warning for use on non-stick cookware is given for high-heat cooking only:

                                "Residues form when the oil component in cooking spray polymerizes as a result of high heat cooking. This polymerization occurs with retail oil products as well. The residue is generally more of a problem with non stick cookware due to the fact that the dark coating causes pans to attain higher temperatures faster. They also cool very quickly when removed from the heat source, which does not allow much time for clean-up of the residue when it is still warm and easier to remove with soap and water.
                                When completely cooled on a pan this residue becomes a hard glaze which is hard to remove without ruining a non-stick surface. We recommend reducing cooking temperatures or cooking times when using non-stick sprays on non stick cookware. The cooking spray should be applied only where it will be in contact with the food i.e. don't spray on the side of the pan."

                                For baking, I'll stick with baker's grease, applied with a brush.

                                1. re: bushwickgirl


                                  Thanks for that thoughtful and informative post. Most kitchens I have ever been associated with do their best not to scratch the surface and reserve the non stick pans for fish fillets and eggs. The pans are never sent to be washed, but instead they are wiped out clean with paper towels. Whenever I go to brunch service that has an omelet station, this is the same procedure I have noticed as well...plus I've noticed they use either a spray or clarified butter. When the pan gets compromised, it is simply replaced.

                                  1. re: fourunder

                                    Agreed, and although I may be risking backlash from other posters, restaurant kitchens have a better grip on proper technique and batterie de cuisine maintenance than home kitchens.
                                    I personally like my omelets make with clarified butter.
                                    I think cooking sprays were initially designed for low fat cooking and are fine for that application, but I don't find them of much value otherwise.

                            2. I am a fan of cooking spray. My go-to is Trader Joe's olive oil spray. It's just olive oil and soy lecithin - no artificial flavors or ingredients.

                              The lecithin is the key - it's an emulsifier, which allows you to lay down a very thin, very even layer of oil. If you pour the same amount of oil into the pan, it will pool in some areas, leaving others bare.

                              TJ's has another spray can that has vegetable oil and very finely-ground flour. Perfect for spraying into muffin tins or loaf pans before putting in a dough or batter.

                              I think the most unusual use I've found for the olive oil spray is for popcorn. Pop the corn, spray mist thoroughly with olive oil, and sprinkle on extra-fine salt. Yum.

                              1. I'm not a fan, it seems too unnatural to me. Plus, I just don't see the point, I never run into anything sticking on anything, except for a few certain baked goods and such, where I can just use a silicon mat.

                                1. i will admit to using the Pam with Flour to avoid having to grease and flour a baking tin or two... let the flogging begin... it works quite well...

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Emme

                                    Baker's Joy is far superior to buttering and flouring a pan, in my opinion. It even negates the need to line with parchment.

                                    I cut out most convenience products, but not that one.

                                  2. I've used the sprays in the past, but became disenchanted with the quality of the oils. I tried a Misto sprayer for a while, but it never stayed working long. I've scrapped both in favor of brushing on oil with either a silicone brush or pastry brush, or just spreading a small amount with a paper towel. This approach is also a heck of a lot more economical and ecological. I was buying those cans with plastic parts several times a month, and the oil just tasted bad, or had no flavor at all. I do sometimes still use Baker's Joy for specific baking, like muffins. But, Baker's Joy stinks terribly, and I usually spray the tins out on the porch. Yes, the smell is that bad. I'm ambivalent about eating something that smells that bad...

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: amyzan

                                      following a recipe i sprayed a pan with kirkland spray oil. i normally just use oil but even with deglazing and scrubbing ss pan has burnt bits left. using the spray oil clean up was easier, i used high heat but did not crank it all the way up. spray pan cold, a hot pan can flame up.

                                    2. My mom used to use Pam. This was a while back when it first came out. Even being a kid I never liked the flavor.I have never bought it.

                                      1. I pretty much only use Pam on the waffle iron since that's what the instructions said to do. Otherwise I do like you do... put on a paper towel to give something a wipe down.