Quick Tip: Non-stick Spray (PAM) Substitute

by Jenn @ Frugal Upstate on September 27, 2008

I hate to spend money on non-stick spray (Pam).

Not only is nonstick spray expensive, but throwing those aerosol cans into the trash just irks me! More fodder for the landfill. . . And how healthy is the stuff anyway? What’s in the “aerosol” part? I’m pretty sure the green/organic folks wouldn’t approve.

So I tried buying a special “oil spray bottle” from one of those home parties (you know which one I’m talking about). After about a month of use it started clogging up. Ditto for the “Mr Misto” that I bought new in the box from a yard sale this summer for $.25.

But I have finally come up with the answer. It’s simple, it’s effective, it’s frugal-and it’s so easy you’ll be thumping yourself on the forehead with the palm of your hand and saying “duh”!

Here we go:

Use a few drops of oil and a basting brush.

That’s it! Just drip a few drops of oil into the cake pan, baking dish, crockpot, bread pan or whatever, then brush it around to coat with a basting brush.

Alternately you can pour a bit of oil into a bowl, dip the brush in and go from there. I always feel like I’m wasting some of the oil when I go to pour it back into the bottle, so I prefer the few drops method.

I particularly like to use the silicon basting brush I got at my local dollar store for this-the ones with the real bristles never really look like they’ve gotten clean. The silicon cleans off like a dream.

Tada! There you go-easy and cheap nonstick properties. Are you saying “Duh!”?

Photo by bourgeoisbee
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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie Jones September 27, 2008 at 9:19 am

I have one of those Oil-O Pumps (similar to the Mr. Misto). I love it and have been using the same one for about 5 years. The only oils I’ve ever used in it are light olive oil or peanut oil. I won’t use canola oil in it because canola is sticky and likely to clog. The same reason I won’t cook with canola or eat it if I can help it. Some studies say it will do the same thing to your arteries.


Anonymous September 27, 2008 at 9:32 am

Thank you for the tips. I have always felt uneasy about the PAM-type sprays and have stuck with using more oil than I’d prefer.

I know the type of party that you mean all too well. Before I started boycotting those parties I paid prices inflated at least 10 times over what they would have been at a Dollar Store for some items. I attended one where the rationale for the outlandlishly overpriced nail polish and related supplies was that we received nail polishing lessons as our entertainment. – Mac


Tara @ Feels like home September 27, 2008 at 9:38 am

I did this almost by accident a few weeks ago. I needed something to smear butter around in a cake pan, and I thought – hey, why don’t I use the silicon brush? I did, and I’ve been using it for oil and butter ever since.

Great idea!


Lynn September 27, 2008 at 9:56 am

I love the silicon basting brush. I have had mine for a while and love it. I have a Mr. Misto style sprayer and I also love that. I have had a few or so over about 10 years. They do get clogged after while but I have found that if you clean them out occacionally with hot water it helps.


Carolyn September 27, 2008 at 10:36 am

I did this for the first time the other day. I say …well, why didn’t I think of that before!

Those brushes are the best aren’t they!


Lib September 27, 2008 at 10:45 am

Great idea, thanks for sharing!:o)
Have a great wk.end!


Rachel R. September 27, 2008 at 12:10 pm

If you mix a little liquid lecithin (from the health food store) into the oil, you get the same thing that’s in the Pam spray (except the propellant that makes it spray), and the oil actually stays on the sides of the pan. :)


topaztook September 27, 2008 at 12:30 pm

My mother always used the extra butter/margarine left on the wrappers of the sticks to grease the pans: (use the butter first), then just apply the butter wrapper to the pan with a little elbow grease.


Kathleen McDade September 27, 2008 at 12:41 pm

My mom used the margarine wrappers, too. I do sometimes, but we usually have tub margarine. I’ve also used oil on the corner of a towel to spread it around. For some reason, I’ve never gotten around to buying a basting brush. I really need to do that!


Mrs. Micah September 27, 2008 at 2:10 pm

My mom always used the butter wrappers before PAM. But we don’t do much with butter. I’m pretty sure that someone gave me one of those basting things at one of my bridal showers. I got a lot of kitchen stuff I don’t use, so I’m not positive I’ve got one. We’ll see!

I don’t actually have PAM either. I was fortunate enough to get all non-stick bakeware! But it’s still good to know, in case.


Your Savings Assistant! September 28, 2008 at 12:52 pm

Great idea. I also remember my mom using the margarine wrappers to grease things. Sometimes the simplest things are the best.

Thank you for sharing.


John Andrews September 28, 2008 at 9:07 pm

I use this on the grill all the time. Coat both the grill and the fish and the fish won’t stick


neimnamarxist September 29, 2008 at 8:35 am

i really like that basting brush! i’m off to find one for myself. what a great idea. i hate that i rely on PAM for nonstick cooking and have just resolved to stop. i think the five extra calories are probably worth the space saved in a landfill.


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate September 29, 2008 at 9:50 am

I’m glad you all found this so useful! I also keep and use the butter wrappers (and since I gave up margarine we go through a bunch)- but sometimes I feel like you need just a little bit more. For some reason the basting brush really feels like better coverage :)

And I checked last time I was at our Dollar Tree-they still had the silicon brushes there. So if you are looking, I’d try there first.


Amanda September 29, 2008 at 2:17 pm

I do this a lot–its great, isn't it! I'll give you another great tip: baker's grease.

You know all those recipes that tell you to grease & flour your cake pans? I find that a nightmare–so I've tried this as recommended by a friend, and it works great. With an electric mixer, beat together equal amounts vegetable oil, shortening and all-purpose flour. Now keep that in a container in the fridge and spread with a basting brush when you need to 'grease & flour' a pan.


Angie October 1, 2008 at 1:42 pm

I’ve found a spray bottle from the dollar store a great thing to keep my oil in. I just squirt once or twice, then I can use the basting brush to get it all over the pan. That way I don’t have a little bowl to wash afterward. Thanks for all your great tips!


lilymarlene November 8, 2008 at 5:19 am

I do exactly what you describe, even down to the silicone brush…mine’s yellow! It stands in a cup alongside the stove. It gets a wash when it gets dry then I start with my second brush whilst the first one goes through the wash….
Much healthier than those sprays. And the fill-em-yourself ones always clog up….so I lit on this method a few years ago.


Nancy June 24, 2014 at 10:15 am

Many thanks for the informative substitution for cooking spray. I live in the Czech Republic where it is almost unheard of except in UK expats stores where it can be $8.00 for one can. I have used your method and IT WORKS! I can now start using the recipes I had given up on when the first instruction would be “spray a cookie sheet with cooking oil”.


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate June 24, 2014 at 10:52 am

I am so glad that this helped you!


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