How to make tasty pastry without block fats or oil

Ok, so the title’s not so catchy, but says exactly what this post is going to cover ;). It’s a question I get regularly get asked – how do you make tasty pastry without butter, margarine or oil?  Is it even possible?

And of course the answer is……yes!

Before I start to explain though, a bit of a disclaimer. Yes it is possible but it is also different to ‘normal’ pastry, particularly if you are making it gluten free as well. However, if you have to avoid pastry for a health reason (like following the Overcoming MS programme) or following a whole plant diet then you’ll love it. Yes it’s rustic and hard to make ‘posh’ but if you love a bit of pastry from time to time, then who cares?

If you don’t follow a health programme, you may wonder what the issue is with block fats, and feel that plant-based versions like vegan butter, Trex or coconut oil are ok. Of course they are better for the environment and animals (being sourced from plants rather than animals) but the saturated fat level is still an issue. Also, these products are all highly processed (ie all fat and nothing else) plus any fibre and nutrients contained in the original product have all but disappeared.

If you don’t have a health issue and only consume them from time to time whilst eating a fab amount of healthy whole foods the rest of the time, then it might not be an issue for you. You can probably just buy vegan ready-made pastry in the shops and not need a recipe. But if you can’t, then read on!

So what fat do you use I hear you asking? There are too options:

  • Whole nut butter
  • Tahini

Although these are processed foods, they are just one step away from the original product ie: they’ve been broken down but nothing has been taken away or added. So there’s still the same amount of fibre, minerals, fats, proteins etc, just in a different from. And more of them, as once blended, you consume larger amounts that if you were eating them in the whole form.

Image Tetiana Bykovets – Unsplash

There are all sorts of nut butters available in the shops ranging from peanut to cashew to almond to hazelnut – and more. As long as they are made with 100% nuts then it’s down to taste. Once you’ve checked the labels, you might find this a bit more a challenge though! The rule to go by is if it’s cheap, it’s not good, as the amount of nuts have been reduced and oil added in to keep the cost down.

Because of this, choice and availability can be an issue. There are more available online. I highly recommend checking out Kape Foods. They make delicious activated nut butters.

If you avoid nuts due to an allergy or just don’t like them, then tahini may be the right choice for you. Made with sesame seeds, it does have a very distinctive flavour, but works really well with pastry (and cakes!) and might be easier to find in the shops and is slightly cheaper.

Alternatively, you can make your own. It takes a little while but isn’t hard as long as you have a high-powered food processor. I made a video about how to make tahini a couple of years ago for an online retreat – I’ve just added it to my youtube channel so do check it out if you’re interested.


Essentially, the process for making the pastry is the same as with hard fats. You still rub the nut butter or tahini into the flour to create a slight ‘breadcrumb’ texture. Then add the water – chilled is best – but with caution. As I always say in my cooking classes – you can always add but not take away! The pastry needs to be quite dry so too much water is a disaster and you’ll have to start again. The exact amount of water you need will depend on the type of flour you’re using. White flour requires less than whole wheat. Spelt can be different too. So can gluten free flour. Hence the caution!

The recipe below states 5 tablespoons of water. Have more to hand but only add 4 tablespoons to start. Once you’ve blended it into the pastry you’ll be able to tell how much more is needed. It can range from half a tablespoon to another two. Adding a little drizzle at a time is the way to go – trust me on this! I’ve had a few disasters and learnt early on caution is queen (or king).

Resting and chilling the pastry is important even though there’s no hard fat to worry about. Giving the pastry time to settle and firm up makes it easier to roll out. 30 minutes is good. But if you don’t have that to spare, just be aware it will be trickier to work.

When it comes to rolling out, I strongly advise you lay the pastry on non-stick baking paper as it it’s easier to handle. It can get a little stuck if you roll out directly onto the work top and even a silicon mat. As with ‘normal’ pastry, using a sprinkle of flour on top is helpful in preventing the rolling pin from sticking too.

This pastry works best for small, one portion recipes like tarts or individual pies. It also quite happy as a base to a larger tart. Where it struggles is as a large pie lid. Or at least I’ve found that! Maybe it’s my cooking, but I find it collapses too easily. But feel free to give it a go – if you have more luck then I’d love to know 🙂

All the steps are detailed in the recipe below. This is for a standard pastry. If you’re making a sweet pastry, add your sugar of choice. 2 tablespoons is usually enough. I’ve added some photos too – hopefully they are useful. If you have any questions or specific difficulties, please do feel free to post them in the comments below and I’ll try to help.

Happy pastry making!

Nut or tahini based pastry

A useful alternative to standard pastry made without saturated block fats or oil.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Resting time 30 minutes
Servings 1 portion


  • 1 bowl
  • 1 Rolling pin
  • non-stick baking paper


  • 125 grams plain flour of choice wholewheat, spelt, gluten free etc
  • 3 tbspns nut butter or tahini
  • pinch salt
  • 5 tbspns chilled water with extra to hand


  • Add the flour and salt to the bowl. Mix well to combine then measure out the nut butter or tahini into the bowl.
  • Rub the nut butter or tahini into the flour with your finger tips to form light breadcrumb texture. Shake the bowl to bring any lumps to the surface and rub and big lumps into the flour again.
  • Add 4 tablespoons of water and stir into the flour mix first with a spoon, then your fingers, bringing the mix together into a rough dough.
  • The dough will be a little dry still so add more water a little drizzle at a time until the dough comes together and kneads well but is not sticky. Don't rush this bit - it's worth going slowly.
  • Wrap the dough in clingfilm or grease-proof paper and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes or so before rolling out.
  • Lay out a sheet of non-stick baking paper on the kitchen worktop. Take the chilled pastry out of the fridge and remove the clingfilm. Squash the dough slightly and sprinkle a little flour over the top. Roll out to the the size and thickness as indicated in the recipe you're following.
  • If cutting out shapes, carefully peel the pastry away from the non-stick baking paper to the baking tin or tray. If using the pastry as a single piece, you may find it easy to position the pastry upside down over the tin you're using and gently peel the pastry off the paper and manoeuvre into the tin. Bake according to the recipe you are following.
Keyword low fat, nut butter, oil free pastry, OMS friendly, tahini, vegan pastry, wholefood pastry


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2 thoughts on “How to make tasty pastry without block fats or oil

  1. Just the recipe I was looking for! Thank you. I’ve just made your vegan Christmas cake and it smells divine! x

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