My wife has recently decreed that we are to use low-calorie sprays instead of oil. For the most part, these seem fine.

However, I have been through several different types and not found one that is suitable for frying sausages in. No matter which type or how little spray I use, I end up with little black burned bits in the pan and on the sausages. It's not the sausages burning, the black bits can be scraped off to reveal a nicely cooked sausage. This happens no matter what type of sausage I use.

I could always grill the sausages instead, but I prefer to fry them as I can keep an eye on them while I'm doing other things.

Is there anything low in calories that I can properly fry sausages in without it burning?

Edit: The question is not about low-fat ways of cooking sausages, it's about avoiding having two lots of oil. My wife has decided to use these low-calorie sprays instead of proper oil. It is not her that is eating the sausages, it's me and the kids. Of course, I could just buy some regular oil and use that for the sausages, but I thought I'd ask and see if there was another way

  • 6
    Considering the fat content of sausages, I'd say fry them as usual, then blot on kitchen paper. They don't soak up fat like other foods do.
    – Stephie
    Feb 6, 2015 at 13:29
  • 3
    I don't think I know what means "low calorie oil" -- oil is fat, and fat is 37 kJ/g == 8.8 kcal/g. What sprays have you tried? What kind of pan? Some cooking sprays are "low calorie" only in the sense that they deposit smaller quantities of oil than would otherwise be used. Are these "cooking sprays" only oil, or do they contain other ingredients? Other ingredients could explain the burning. E.g., so-called "baking spray" sometimes contains starches or flour (in addition to oil), which could certainly burn if heated in a skillet.
    – hoc_age
    Feb 6, 2015 at 13:32
  • @Stephie - excellent point! With sausages being 20-30% fat themselves, is a teaspoon of cooking oil relevant? Blotting will remove more fat than was used for frying in the skillet in the first place. A non-stick skillet and a bit of water might obviate skillet oil altogether.
    – hoc_age
    Feb 6, 2015 at 13:40
  • 3
    @hoc_age: From what I understand, most "low calorie" cooking sprays, or even "calorie free" sprays, are just regular cooking sprays with a smaller serving size. In the US, if the amount of fat per serving is less than 0.5g, then it is allowed to be rounded down to zero. So if they say that the serving size is something ridiculously small like a 1/3 second spray, then they can legally advertise that it is a zero-calorie spray. They might also be able to do some trickery by increasing the ratio of propellant to oil, or using other calorie-free additives.
    – ESultanik
    Feb 6, 2015 at 19:10
  • The current spray is called "One Cal". One spray of it is one calorie, and thus you can control exactly how many calories you use. However, it does not appear to be just regular oil in a controlled dispenser.
    – Carl H
    Feb 6, 2015 at 19:43

5 Answers 5


This is going to sound strange, but the 'low calorie oil' that you're looking for is water.

What you do is you start the sausages cooking in a little bit of water (about 1 cm; 3/8"). The water will prevent the sauages from getting too hot too quickly, and the fat in them will start to render and leak out into the water. Once the water evaporates, you're then cooking the sausages in their own fat, avoiding the need to add any additional.

The water acts as a conduit for the heat, while also moderating it, so you cook sufficiently up the side of the sausages, rather than it just being really hot where it touches the pan and burns in those spots.

  • 2
    Yep, that's what I was going to say too. That is the way to cook link sausages.
    – Jolenealaska
    Feb 6, 2015 at 18:11

Oils are fats and there's no such thing as "diet fat". The only way you can get less calories from fat is to eat less of it. The oils used in cooking sprays are the same as those in your bottles, sprays use pressure and chemical additives to create a mist that evenly deposits on a pan, coating it in a thin layer. A thin layer means you eat less, so lower calories.

Sausages are generally high in fat to begin with, so saying you want to fry them in a lower calorie fat is like saying you won't put sprinkles on your four-scoop ice cream sundae to reduce your sugar intake. It's a drop in the bucket.

If reducing fat in your diet is a goal then definitely grill (ie broil) them as it will allow some of the fat to drain out, however the question to ask is whether you should be eating sausages at all.

  • 1
    My wife has decided to use these low-calorie sprays instead of proper oil. It is not her that is eating the sausages, it's me and the kids. Of course, I could just buy some regular oil and use that for the sausages, but I thought I'd ask and see if there was another way.
    – Carl H
    Feb 6, 2015 at 18:35
  • Actually there is such a thing as diet fat: Olestra. However, it wasn't a commercial success, probably because it gained a somewhat unjust reputation for giving people diarrhoea. (Essentially, it's a fat that the body can't break down, so it passes straight through you. If you eat it in normal quantities, this isn't a problem; if you compensate for the lack of calories by eating a lot more fatty food, then you'd have a problem.) Feb 7, 2015 at 14:27
  • The lower-calorie-than-oil sprays (including emulsifiers and water in the ingredients) by forming a thin layer, are always going to burn easily when cooking something that makes poor contact with the surface of the pan, such as sausages (cylinders). I found the same with meatballs but squashing the meatballs to make baby burgers made them fry nicely.
    – Chris H
    Feb 7, 2015 at 21:21
  • Olestra isn't actually fat @DavidRicherby, it's a fat substitute that's chemically similar.
    – GdD
    Mar 31, 2020 at 11:04

An alternative to Joe's method is to use no frying medium at all, just start the sausages by themselves over lower heat. Once enough of their fat has rendered out into the pan, your can turn it up a bit. This will take longer but also give you a bit more fond to work with once the sausages are cooked, if for example you're making tomato sauce in the pan afterwards.

  • If you keep them moving in the early stages it doesn't even take much longer - an you can always pour off (most of) the fat when they're nearly done to maximise removal.
    – Chris H
    Feb 7, 2015 at 21:27

Sausages have enough fat in them to cook without any additional fat. Drain the excess fat that comes from the sausages and then you will have healthier sausages, if that's possible.


Sausages taste really good if you slow down their cooking. Cooking on med-low, turning occasionally, may help with the burning. Grilling might make a decent alternative, too.

That said, sausages are 25% lard. Using a low-calorie oil is difficult to justify in this case.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.