How to Remove Burned-On Food from Your Pots and Pans

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How to Remove Burned on Food


Have you ever been cooking something on the stove and walked away for just a second only to return several minutes later to a completely burned pan?  Well, I have.  I get easily distracted as dinner time can be pretty hectic around here with a busy toddler running around.  I have burned more than my fair share of pans. 

Today I am going to share with you a super easy way to remove that charred, black, cooked-on food from the bottom of your stainless steel or enamel pots and pans.  No more scrubbing and scrapping.

All you need for this method is  water and some baking soda.  That’s it.  I learned this trick from a friend whose house burned down, and her husband used it to salvage her expensive All-Clad stainless cooking set.  I was blown away how amazing they looked after he cleaned them up.


How to Remove Burned-on Food from Pots and Pans


  • Fill the pot or pan with about 2-3 inches of water.  Add 1/4 cup of baking soda.  Bring to a boil and  allow to simmer rapidly for 15 minutes.  Turn off heat and allow to cool for a half hour.
  • After a half hour, wash the pot or pan as usual, gently scrubbing.  The burnt-on food should come off easily.   I find that using a plastic pan scraper makes this job much easier and doesn’t scratch the bottom of the pan.
  • If the burnt residue is stubborn, simply repeat the process.  You can add a 1/4 cup of vinegar for extra serious jobs.


How to Remove Burned On Food from Your Pots and Pan -



That’s it.  Pretty easy, huh?

I have another tip for you that I have learned from personal experience:

ALWAYS set a timer when you are cooking, even if you think you will remember to turn it off.  It has saved me many times.





This post is for stainless steel and enamel pots and pans only.  I cannot recommend this technique for non-stick cookware.  And using this on cast iron would require you to re-season the pan afterwards.

Like household tips?  Check out my 5 Tips for Removing Laundry Stains Naturally.



Shared at Small Footprint Friday Thank Your Body ThursdayThe Mommy Club , Real Food Wednesday , Fat Tuesday.



Katja is the creator, author and chef of Savory Lotus. Food is her passion, and food is also her medicine. Katja believes that good health starts with deeply nourishing foods and that healthy living doesn’t have to be complicated. Join her for easy to prepare recipes made with real food ingredients. Gluten and grain free. Paleo-friendly.

MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: The information included on this website is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions expressed here are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for your own situation or if you have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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  1. Donna says

    I like to use a fresh dryer sheet in whatever type pan fill pan w/water & place dryer sheet into your pan ~ sets over nite & wala – it’s gone, cleans it perfectly!! My long time experience.

    • says

      I have heard of people doing this. I just wonder what is in dryer sheets that eats away at the burned on food? I try to keep my house and kitchen chemical free. The baking soda is totally non-toxic and works really well. Thanks for stopping by!!! :)

  2. Megan says

    Burned on spaghetti sauce. 36 hours of different soaking with water and stuff – nothing. Cooked it again with onion and oil – nothing. Cooked it with just water – nothing. Googled how to removed burned on food and this came up. Tried it (planned on trying everything on the web) expensive pan and OMG!! It worked!! First try! Thank you so much for saving my pan. Btw – I didn’t burn the food. :-) Usually it is me though but not this time. 😉

  3. Clea Lynch says

    I can’t thank you enough! Your advice saved my pan and it looks fantastic once again. Not only did I turn the fire on high with two cups of brown rice and no water but when I threw the burnt rice in the trash, I touched the side of the pan with the plastic bag liner. This was really a mess but I followed your instructions and after ten plus procedures, the pan was shinning once again! It took time but it was well worth the effort. Thank you again!

    • says

      Hi, Peggy! The first thing I would do is to saok it in very hot soapy water. After is has soaked and cooled, scrape out as much of the gunk as you can. Then I would try the method above. Fill pots 1/3 full with water, bring to a boil, add baking soda, and let simmer. You may need to repeat the process if the pan is really bad. Let me know how it goes. Thanks for coming by.

  4. says

    I did this and I had three pans. Two are ceramic coated and the other is coated differently – Green Pan. The Green pan was the easiest to do and I was able to use your method on this pan and I didn’t have to wait the 30 min. for it to cool down to get all the gunk off.

    Whenever we make Colombian Bistec the pans always burn. It’s just how the food is cooked and it’s delicious, but the burned pans are awful. Usually just heating up vinegar works, but the last couple times it didn’t get everything off.

    So I tried your method to fill the pans with some water, adding baking soda and I also added white distilled vinegar, boiled it and then reduced the heat to medium to keep it boiling for 15 minutes. Afterwards, I scraped the Green pan and one of the ceramic coated pans with a wooden spatula and I was able to get all the burned stuff off and then wash the pans like normal. Didn’t scratch anything.

    However, the other ceramic pan still had a lot of really hard stuck on burnt stuff and so I redid the method same way but got very little of the black stuff off. So, the third time, I just put baking soda on the burned stuff and poured some vinegar over it, heated it on medium for about 5 minutes. When I came back, all the vinegar had boiled off and I was left with a powdering film.

    This was still hot so I put some water to it and it totally sizzled. I used the wooden spatula and was able to get the rest of the burnt stuff off, well, maybe about 95%. It was good enough.

    So, for really stubborn, just the baking soda & vinegar heated and then boiled off, then add some water and scrub with something like a wooden spatula to get the hard burned off stuff off.

    • says

      Thanks for the detailed feedback. I will have to try the vinegar next time I have a pan to clean. Good tip! And I’m glad that you got your pans clean. :)

    • Trish says

      Vinegar is an acid and Baking soda is a base. They react and neutralize one another quite well as many of you might be familiar with this reaction from middle school volcano projects. So. after they react there should be little to no acid or base either one left over to do any cleaning work. Adding them together shouldn’t work well at all. However I do have a burnt on pan and hadn’t thought of baking soda so will try this and see how it works.

  5. says

    This works! I am so thankful you shared this tip. It saved my expensive stainless steel sauce pan after I accidentally left the burner on after removing the food! What a mess. But now it’s like new again. Thanks again!!

  6. mia says

    thank you, this worked wonders!! i burned the strawberry jam i made to the bottom of a pot and had scrubbed enough scorch off of pans to know soaking wasnt gonna help…. found this and omg…. ill go straight for the baking soda everytime from now on!!!

    • says

      Did you try to baking soda trick? You may have to do it for a bit longer. I would soak it in a solution of hot water, salt, and dish soap first. Good luck! :)

  7. Jim says

    Just did this on a ceramic pot and the chrome burner pan that had been left about 30 minutes. Total disaster. Cleaned the pot with no residue and put the burner pan in a dutch oven using the same process. It came out looking nearly new. If I hadn’t done it myself, I probably wouldn’t have believed it.

    • says

      Hi, Jim!
      It’s pretty awesome, isn’t it? When my friend told me about it, I almost didn’t believe it either. But it works every time. Since I cook for a living, I have my fair share of pots that need to be cleaned. 😉

  8. Frank says

    Tried this. Marginal success. Unfortunately the water simmering with the baking soda produce a mist as if the baking soda was reconstituting which resulted in the entire kitchen being covered in a white powder. Made an incredible mess on the marble and an even worse mess on the stainless steel. Took another two hours to clean the kitchen.


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