How to Rescue a Burned Pot or Pan

It’s happened to even the best cooks among us: the dreaded burned pot or pan. A cooking accident can mortally wound your cookware, and you can spend a long time at the sink using extreme amounts of elbow grease to drive and revive the fallen soldier, and sometimes you fail. There’s got to be an easier, more effective way, and there is. Actually, there’s at least two. Here are two great methods for rescuing those burned pots and pans.

Method One

This is a relatively simple and effective method that should work for any burned pot or pan, including cast iron.

Step One

Rinse out the pot to remove any burn residue that’s not baked on. Then, drop about a handful of baking soda into the pot.


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Step Two

Fill the pot halfway with water. Put it on high-heat on the stove until it boils. Stay and watch the pan, because it can bubble over quickly.

Step Three

After it boils, turn the heat on low, and let the pot simmer for about 20 minutes. Stay nearby, just in case it begins to bubble over despite the drop in heat.

Step Four

Take the pot off the heat, and let it cool down to room temperature. Once it has cooled, you should be able to rinse away the majority (if not all) of the burn residue without any scrubbing. If you can wait, let the pot sit and soak for a few hours or overnight before rinsing. Wipe out any leftover residue with a damp sponge.

Method Two

This is a slightly more involved, but still simple and effective, method that can also be used for any burned pot or pan.

Step One

After rinsing out as much residue as possible, fill the pot with water and about 1-2 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid.

Step Two

Bring the pot to a boil over high-heat on the stove.

Step Three

Turn the heat on low, and let the pot simmer for about 10 minutes.

Step Four

Remove the pot from the stove, and let it soak for at least 30 minutes, or more if you have time. Afterwards, rinse the pot, and scrape away any remaining burn residue with a wooden spoon.

Step Five

If there is still burn residue in the pot, cover all of the residue with a very generous amount of baking soda, preferably forming a thick layer on top, and drizzling in a little bit of water to give it a paste-like consistency. Let the pot sit for at least four hours, or overnight if possible.

Step Six

Make a mixture of 3 parts water to 1 part distilled white vinegar, and fill the pot a few inches full of water.

Step Seven

Boil the pot over high heat for about 10 minutes.

Step Eight

Remove the pot from the stove, and let it sit overnight, or for at least several hours. In the morning, scrape the residue away with a wooden spoon or wipe it away with a sponge.

Step Nine

If needed, repeat steps one through eight until the pot is clean and all burn residue is removed.

This article was prepared by Stella Brown, a cook kitchen afficionado and interior designer. Stella writes for CHS, if you are remodeling your kitchen purchase your sink faucet here.

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