10 Tricks That Cut the Fat in Your Food

Reducing some of the fat in your food doesn't mean you're stuck with lettuce and carrot sticks from now on. Here are a few easy tricks for removing excess fat from your favorite foods to help you eat lean.

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french fries
Shutterstock / K321


If you’re lucky enough to have an air fryer, you’ve already solved the problem of frying french fries in oil. If you don’t, instead of hauling out the deep fryer the next time you want crispy spuds, use seasoning as a substitute. Shake an equal amount of salt and chili powder over the fries on a baking sheet, then bake in a hot oven instead of frying. The seasoning will add flavor and give the appearance of crispy fries without all the fat.

You can make these faves in your air fryer, too!

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Two jars of vegetable broth
Taste of Home


The easiest way to strain the fat from cooking meat or poultry broth is to use a fat separator. But if you don’t have that handy kitchen gadget, try these techniques.

If you don’t need to use the broth immediately, let it cool, then pour it into a glass jar with a secure lid. Place the jar in the refrigerator upside down. The fat will harden and remain in the jar when you pour out the liquid to use in recipes.

To use the broth right away, let it cool slightly and pour it into a resealable plastic bag. Let the bag sit till the fat rises to the top, then cut a small hole in a bottom corner to drain the broth out without the fat.

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Fresh Ground Beef at the butcher.
Shutterstock / Th1nk

Ground Beef

When I first heard about rinsing cooked ground beef, I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding!” But research from Iowa State University has shown that rinsing pan-fried ground beef with hot water can reduce the fat content by 50%. To save on your budget and reduce fat, try using the more economical 80% lean ground beef with recipes where draining, blotting and rinsing is practical, but use 90% lean ground beef in recipes such as meat loaf or stuffed peppers where blotting and rinsing isn’t possible. Find out if you can reduce the fat content by draining and rinsing meat.

Or, cook ground beef in a microwave-safe strainer placed in a microwave-safe bowl. Break up the ground beef with a fork and stir it frequently as it’s cooking until it’s no longer pink. The fat will collect at the bottom of the bowl.

Try it when you make some of these easy ground beef dinners.

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generic cooking oil bottles in kitchen enviro
TMB studio


Did you know that you can replace some of the oil with applesauce in many baked goods? For every ½ cup of oil replaced with applesauce, you’ll save 900 calories and 110 grams of fat.

Replacing the same amount of butter with applesauce reduces the calories by 850 and the fat by 91 grams.

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A gravy boat with make-ahead maple sage gravy
Taste of Home


Before making gravy from meat drippings, add a few ice cubes to the juices. In a few minutes, the fat cools and solidifies, making it easy to remove. It’s quicker than waiting for it to cool and separate on its own.

If you can make the gravy ahead of time, pour the juices in a bowl and put it in the refrigerator overnight. The fat will harden on the surface and can easily be lifted off with a spoon.

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Vegetables. Potatoes, carrot and red pepper. Garlic and onion. Natural organic bio food.
Shutterstock / Tanyastock


When cooking your favorite vegetables, spritz the pan with nonstick cooking spray rather then using butter or oil. As the veggies cook, add boiling water or hot vegetable broth to the pan a little at a time if needed until the vegetables are tender.

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Creamy peanut butter on wood table

Peanut Butter

Instead of reaching for the full-fat version next time you’re craving a PB&J, buy reduced-fat, natural-style peanut butter and blend it in your food processor with an equal amount of low-fat silken tofu. The mixture is very smooth and creamy, yet has enough peanutty taste to satisfy peanut butter lovers.

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Bowl of fresh popcorn on white wooden background


It’s easy to reach for handful after handful of buttered popcorn when you’re engrossed in a movie, and before you know it, you’ve eaten several tablespoonfuls of butter. To reduce your fat consumption, pop the kernels in an air-popper. Then spray the popcorn with butter-flavored cooking spray and sprinkle with your favorite powdered popcorn seasonings. The topping will adhere to the popcorn and you’ll have a tasty snack with no fat—just flavor and crunch.

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A bowl full of meatballs in honey buffalo sauce
Taste of Home


Chances are if you’re making homemade meatballs you’ll be smothering them in a tasty sauce. So, instead of frying them in a pan, bake the meatballs in a 400-degree oven for 20 minutes on the rack of a broiler pan. The grease will drip away, leaving you with a reduced-fat version that tastes just as good.

Put this technique to work when you make some of these marvelous meatball recipes.

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Very vanilla slow cooker cheesecake
Taste of Home


I admit it, I could probably eat an entire cheesecake. So I use reduced-fat cream cheese instead of regular cream cheese and save myself 310 calories and 37 grams of fat.

You can also use fat-free cream cheese, but the consistency will be different. To help firm up the cheesecake when using fat-free cream cheese, add one envelope of unflavored gelatin for every 8 ounces of fat-free cream cheese. It doesn’t change the flavor but will improve the consistency.

Dana Meredith
Dana is an editor and writer who shares her passion for travel, food and the beauty of American landscapes. When she's not wielding her red pen, she can be found tending her flower gardens, remodeling her house, creating one-of-a-kind jewelry or dancing to "Uptown Funk."