Accidentally scorch your nonstick pan or stainless steel stockpot? There's no need to worry; even the most experienced chef accidentally burns their pots and pans from time to time.
After forgetting something bubbling away on the stovetop or baking in the oven for too long, you're left with burnt food and glued-on grime that no dishwasher can defeat. While you could go to town with a scorched pot with a scouring pad, there are many ways to save a burnt pot that doesn't require nearly as much effort.
To save you the elbow grease, we're offering step-by-step instructions on how to clean a burnt pot.
Can A Burnt Pan Be Saved?
Yes! With the right cleaning methods, tools, and scrubbing, you can save a burnt pan and remove the burnt area. The method used to clean the burned-on food varies depending on the type of pot or pan and the material used to make it.
The How To Clean A Burnt Pan and Pot- With Step-By-Step Instructions
Remove as much charred food as possible from the bottom of the pan, regardless of which cleaning method you choose. To avoid damaging your cookware, be sure to use cleaning products and tools that are compatible with the pan's material. When in doubt, stick with a non-stick-safe scrub brush, a durable sponge, and a plastic spatula.
Best Way to Clean Burnt Non Stick Pans
It's amazing what a little boiling water can do. Boiling your burnt pan to death is undoubtedly the easiest method for removing baked-on food. Plus, the boiling water method works particularly well for nonstick pans that can't be scrubbed with scouring pads or used with metal utensils.
After loosening as much of the burnt-on food as possible with a spatula or wooden spoon:
- After allowing the burnt pot to cool down, fill the pan or pot with an adequate amount of water to cover the burnt areas.
- Place the pot on the stove and bring the water to a rolling boil. Let it boil for a few minutes. After the water reaches a boiling point, switch off the heat and allow the pot to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly.
- Gently scrape the burnt residue from the pot's bottom and sides using a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Carefully pour out the hot water and residue from the pot. Be cautious to avoid any splashing or burns.
- Once the water has been emptied, gently scrub away any remaining burnt spots with a non-abrasive sponge or brush. You can optionally apply a small amount of dish soap for added cleaning power.
- Thoroughly rinse the pot with warm water to ensure the removal of any dish soap or residue. Inspect the pot to ensure all burnt spots are removed.
Soak with Dishwashing Liquid Or Dishwasher Tablet
Best Way to Clean a Moderately Dirty Pot
Let time and dishwasher liquid/tablet do the work for you, as the dishwashing liquid and tablet will help break down the burnt residue and grease. While this isn't the best method for serious messes, it'll do just fine for most cooking messes.
- Once the burnt pot has cooled down, proceed by filling it with warm water. Ensure that the burnt areas are fully submerged.
- You have two options for enhancing the cleaning power. First, add a generous amount of dishwashing liquid to the water. Alternatively, you can add a dishwasher tablet to the water.
- Stir the water and dishwashing liquid mixture to create suds. Let the pot soak for several hours or overnight, allowing the dishwashing liquid to penetrate and loosen the burnt-on food.
- Following the soaking period, gently scrub the pot using a non-abrasive sponge or brush. Focus on the burnt areas and apply gentle pressure to remove the residue.
- Make sure to rinse it thoroughly with warm water to remove any remaining residue or cleaning agents. Ensure that all the dishwashing liquid and residue are completely removed.
- Check the pot for any remaining burnt spots. If there are still stubborn areas, you may need to repeat the soaking and scrubbing process or use baking soda or vinegar for additional cleaning power.
Best Way to Clean a Burnt Cast Iron Pan
Unlike other nonstick or stainless steel pans, a cast iron pan can't be left to soak in water. Cleaning a burnt cast iron pan using salt is a popular method that helps remove residue without damaging the seasoning. Here is how:
- Let the pan cool off, and sprinkle a generous amount of coarse salt onto the burnt areas of the pan. Ensure that the salt covers the entire affected surface.
- Take a damp cloth or sponge and use it to scrub the pan vigorously, focusing on the burnt spots. The salt functions as an abrasive, aiding in lifting off the burnt food particles from the surface of the pot.
- After scrubbing the pan, be sure to rinse it thoroughly with warm water. It is advisable to avoid using hot water as it may potentially strip away the pan's seasoning.
- After rinsing, carefully dry the pan with a towel, ensuring it is completely dry. Moisture can lead to cast iron rusting, so removing all traces of water is crucial.
- If the cleaning process has removed some of the pan's seasoning, it may need to be reseasoned.
Baking Soda Paste
Best for Stain Removal
Baking soda is a highly effective natural cleaner for removing burnt residue from pans. Baking soda can help neutralize odors and loosen stubborn bits, making it one of the best ways to clean a burnt pot. Because baking soda won't react to most materials, the paste can remove burnt-on food from baking pans, roasting pans, and enamel-coated cast iron.
Here is how to clean your burned pan and pot with baking soda paste:
- Create a thick paste by mixing baking soda with a small amount of water in a small bowl. Start with a 1:1 ratio of baking soda mixed with water and adjust as needed to achieve the desired consistency.
- Using a spoon or your fingers, apply the baking soda paste directly onto the burnt spots in the pan. Ensure that the burnt areas are fully covered with the paste.
- Let the baking soda paste sit on the burnt areas for at least 30 minutes, allowing it time to work its magic.
- Once the baking soda paste has sufficient time to sit, gently scrub the pan and take a non-abrasive sponge or brush. Apply gentle pressure and use circular motions, paying particular attention to the burnt spots.
- After scrubbing the pan, rinse it thoroughly with warm water, removing any baking soda residue. If there are still stubborn burnt areas, you can repeat the process by adding more baking soda and soaking before scrubbing.
- Once you have finished cleaning, rinse the pan thoroughly with warm water to eliminate any leftover residue or cleaning agents. Dry the pan either by using a towel or allowing it to air dry completely before storing.
Best to clean Burnt Aluminum And Burnt Stainless Steel pan
If plain water alone didn't do the trick, try boiling a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar for five to ten minutes before scrubbing. You can use either white vinegar, and the acidity in either ingredient helps lift stubborn grime and eliminate unsightly stains on your cookware.
Vinegar helps remove burnt food and residue due to its acidic nature. However, it's best to avoid this method for nonstick pans as it can damage the nonstick surface.
Here is how to clean burnt pans using vinegar:
- Allow the burnt pan to cool down completely before starting the cleaning process, and pour a generous amount of white distilled vinegar into the burnt pan, ensuring that it covers the burnt areas.
- Put the pan on the stove and heat it over a low to medium heat setting. Allow the vinegar to reach a gentle simmer. The heat helps activate the vinegar's cleaning properties.
- Allow the vinegar to simmer in the pan for approximately 5-10 minutes. The acidic properties of the vinegar will assist in loosening the burnt food particles. Following the simmering process, employ a non-abrasive sponge or brush to scrub the pan. Focus on the burnt areas and apply gentle pressure.
- After scrubbing the pan, rinse it thoroughly with warm water to ensure the removal of any vinegar residue. Take a moment to assess if any burnt spots remain on the pan's surface. If there are still stubborn burnt areas, you can repeat the process by pouring vinegar into the pan, heating it, and scrubbing again.
- Once the cleaning process is complete, dry the pan using a towel or allow it to air dry completely before storing.
Best for Fast Clean-Up
Don't have time to soak your scorched pan? Try boiling a pot full of water with a few lemon slices or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. The citric acid in lemon juice helps break down burnt food without any of the toxic chemicals or harsh smells of other cleaning products. Plus, it'll leave your kitchen smelling great!
After leaving the pan to boil for five to ten minutes, scrub off any remaining particles with a sponge and a bit of dish detergent. If there is still some stubborn grime or residue remaining, you can sprinkle a few tablespoons of baking soda onto the bottom of the pan to create an abrasive paste.
Aluminum Foil And Baking Soda
Best For Stainless Steel Cookware with light to moderate burnt spots
Using aluminum foil and baking soda provides a gentle abrasive action to help remove burnt-on food from the pot. However, it is not recommended to use nonstick coating cookware as it can scratch the surface. Here is how to clean your burnt pots and pans using aluminum foil and baking soda
- Allow the burnt pot to cool down completely before starting the cleaning process, and fill the pot with warm water, ensuring that the burnt areas are fully submerged.
- Generously sprinkle baking soda directly onto the burnt spots in the pot, ensuring that the entire affected surface is covered.
- Take a sheet of aluminum foil and scrunch it into a ball or pad. This will create a mildly abrasive tool to help scrub the burnt residue.
- Using scrunched aluminum foil to scrub the pot, focusing on the burnt areas. Apply gentle pressure and use circular motions to work the baking soda into the burnt-on food, loosening it from the pot's surface.
- After scrubbing the pot, rinse it thoroughly with warm water to effectively remove any baking soda residue. If there are still stubborn burnt areas, you can repeat the process or create a paste of baking soda and water. Apply the paste to the burnt spots, let it sit for a while, and then scrub the pot again using aluminum foil or a non-abrasive sponge.
- Once you have finished cleaning, rinse the pot thoroughly with warm water, ensuring the removal of any remaining residue or cleaning agents. After rinsing, dry the pot with a towel or let it air dry completely before storing.
Best For Heavily Stained Stainless Steel or metal cookware
Using a ball of stainless steel wool provides a rough surface to help remove burnt-on food from the pot, as the rough surface will help remove any residue. It is best to use for uncoated stainless steel pans, and avoid using it on any nonstick as it can damage the surface. To clean burned and stained stainless steel pans, here are the steps:
- Allow the burnt pot to cool down, and fill the pot with warm water, ensuring that the burnt areas are fully submerged.
- Wet the stainless steel dish scrubber with water and scrub the pot, focusing on the burnt areas. Apply gentle pressure while using circular motions to effectively loosen the burnt-on food from the surface of the pot. The abrasive surface of the scrubber will help remove the residue.
- If desired, you can add a small amount of dish soap to the pot to enhance the cleaning power. Mix the dish soap with the water and continue scrubbing. Continue scrubbing the pot until you have removed the burnt residue.
- After scrubbing the pot, make sure to rinse it thoroughly with warm water to remove any lingering residue or soap. If there are still stubborn burnt areas, you can repeat the process by adding more water and scrubbing with the stainless steel dish scrubber.
- Be sure to dry the pot with a towel or let it air dry completely before storing.