How to Remove Burnt Food from Pots and Pans

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Burnt food often plagues pots and pans, for both novice and professional cooks alike! A burnt pan or a burnt pot forms a rough layer on the surface of your cookware, making food stick, and leaving charred bits suspended in your scrambled eggs.

It is unhealthy to eat food cooked in a burnt pan. Burnt-on food is also detrimental to the pan as it can be difficult to remove. Tackle those burnt bits before they harden up on your pan with our walkthrough guide on removing burnt bits and pieces from your cookware!

What You'll Need

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar or Lemon juice
  • Dish soap
  • Hot water
  • Scouring pad
  • Sponge
  • Aluminum foil - only on stainless steel and cast iron pans

How to Remove Burnt Food from Pans and Pots: 3 Methods that Work

Using Baking Soda and Vinegar Method

Step 1: Mix Your Cleaning Paste

Mix together enough baking soda and vinegar to create a paste. Baking soda lifts food particles off the pan, while vinegar breaks down any oil and grease residue. Together, this baking soda paste will soften food bits, and make it easier to clean your burnt pan.

Step 2: Apply the Paste and Let it Sit

Apply a thick layer of the paste onto your pans, focusing on the burnt areas. Let the solution sit for about 10-20 minutes, or longer depending on the amount of burnt bits present on your cookware. This method works on a non-stick, cast iron, and burnt stainless steel pot or pan.

Step 3: Scrub Clean, Rinse, and Dry

Use a soft sponge to wipe away the now-softened and lifted burnt bits, and wash the cookware as you normally would. Rinse your pots and pans, and leave them to air dry or dry them with a kitchen towel.

Using Hot Water

Step 1: Place Water and Baking Soda in Pot

Place water in your pots and pans, making sure the water covers the burnt food. Add a teaspoon of baking soda into the water, and stir to dissolve. Make sure all the baking soda is dissolved before proceeding to the next step.

Step 2: Boil the Water Over the Stove

Place your cookware over the stove, and allow the water to boil. Let the water boil for a minimum of 5 minutes, making sure the burnt bits stay completely submerged in the water, then remove the pan from the stove.

Step 3: Let the Water Cool

Let the water cool until you are able to safely touch the pan. Dump out the warm water, straining out the burnt bits with a kitchen sieve. Toss the solid bits into your garbage can, and take a soft sponge.

Step 4: Scrub Clean, Rinse, and Dry

Use the scouring pad to scrub out the loosened bits of burnt food. Wash the pots and pans as you normally would, rinse, and dry. Repeat the process if there are any remaining bits, adding more baking soda to the mix, and keep scrubbing until all the burnt bits are removed.

Using Aluminum Foil

Step 1: Fill Pot with Hot Water and Dish Soap

This method uses a bit of elbow grease, but is great for removing exceptionally tough stains on stainless steel, aluminum, and cast iron cookware. Do not use this method on non-stick pans. Fill a pot with hot water and swirl in some dish soap or a dishwasher tablet.

Step 2: Let Pan Cool

Let the hot water do its thing, and allow the pan to cool completely. The hot, soapy water solution should soften the burnt bits, lifting them out of your dirty pot. Use a scrub brush to help brush out any gunk.

Step 3: Use Balled Up Aluminum Foil to Scrub Clean

Drain the water, and crumple up some foil into a loose ball. Use this foil ball to clean a burnt pan, using a bit of pressure to get rid of particularly tough stains. Begin scrubbing the softened gunk, then work your way to the tough, hardened bits until you remove all the stains.

Step 4: Rinse and Dry

Rinse your pots and pans, wash them as you normally would, and allow them to air dry or use a kitchen towel to dry them manually before placing them into your kitchen cabinets for storage. You can also use the stove to evaporate the water, but this is unnecessary.

Empty iron grill pan on table Free Photo

Seasoning Your Pans

For cast iron, stainless steel, and aluminum pans, it is a good idea to season your pan every now and then to create a nonstick layer on top, preventing burnt bits from sticking onto your pans. You can do this on cookware and on baking pans, and all you'll need is some neutral oil like flaxseed oil or olive oil.

Start with a freshly-scrubbed, clean pan. Place a small amount of oil in the pan, and use paper towels to remove any excess oil. Remove as much oil as you can, then place the pan over a hot stove or in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the pan heat up for 15-30 minutes, then allow the pan to cool in the oven.

When done right, your pans should have a pleasantly glassy sheen that will act as a non-stick coating to prevent food and sauces from sticking onto your pans. Season your pans after every deep cleaning session to renew the layer. You can now cook food without worrying about it sticking!

Clean Your Cookware

Taking care of your cookware means to clean them properly, and maintain your kitchen. Make cleaning an easy chore with Luce Home cleaning services! Our experienced cleaners will surely get the grime out of your pots and out of your kitchen.

Contact us today, and let's see what we can do to give you a clean home throughout!

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