It can happen to anyone.
You step away from the stove for just a few minutes, and you find your lovely dish has ruined your pan. Not only is your meal not as tasty now, but you are also left with the task of removing that gorgeous stain from the actual pan.
Depending on the level of burn, you may be able to salvage the situation with very little effort. On the other hand, you may find yourself faced with what is in your mind endless scrubbing.
However, you don’t actually have to use all that much elbow grease to remove that burned food from your pan. There are simpler, and more effective methods you can employ.
Here are my suggestions, ranked from “this is what I do 99% of the time” to “I’ve tried it and it works, but it’s not the method I use most often”.
How to clean a burnt pan?
One of the best ways to clean a burnt pan is to use white vinegar and salt. Not at the same time, mind you!
Add equal parts water and vinegar to the pan and bring it to the boil. Leave to simmer for a minute or so, then dispose of the water and vinegar and add a tablespoon of baking soda to the bottom of the pan.
You can also add a bit more water again, to turn the baking soda into a paste, and let it sit over the stain for a couple of minutes, or longer if you need to.
Scrub the pan clean with your regular scrubbing brush and dishwashing liquid.
Your pan should now be burnt food-free!
How to clean a burnt pan with salt?
Another great way to clean a burnt pan is to use salt. Kosher salt works especially well.
You can rub it into the burnt part with some lemon, and leave it to do its magic.
You can also pair it with a dishwashing liquid, and just scrub away the remnants of your burnt meal.
How to clean a burnt pan with lemon?
As you probably already know, lemon is the other great natural cleaning agent, alongside the white vinegar and baking soda combination.
This method requires you to quarter two or three lemons, add them to your burnt pan and fill it with a couple of inches of water. Bring your lemony water to the boil and leave it to simmer for 5-10 minutes. Afterwards just get rid of the lemon and water and use a scrubbing brush to get rid of the stain.
How to clean a burnt pan with aluminium foil?
This method actually relies more on the baking soda you are adding to the pan than the actual aluminium foil, but it works brilliantly.
Add a bit of baking soda to the bottom of your pan, then turn it into a paste by adding water. Coat your stain and then use crumpled up aluminium foil to scrub it away.
Since the foil is much firmer than your usual scrubbing brush, is also dry and can get into the little nooks and crannies of the stain, it is guaranteed to remove it with much less effort.
How to clean a burnt pan with a dryer sheet?
You can also use a dryer sheet in combination with some dish soap and water to remove stains from a burnt pan.
Add a few drops of dish soap to a bit of water, coating the stain at the bottom of the pan. Throw in the dryer sheet and let the combination sit for an hour or so. The dryer sheet will dissolve the stain, and you can then just scrub it away with your usual brush and a bit more soap.
How to clean a burnt pan with a dishwasher tablet?
If you have some dishwasher tablets on hand, you can also use them to clean your burnt pan.
Add a bit of water to the pan and throw in the dishwasher tablet. Place on the hob and bring to the boil, and then leave to simmer for 10-15 minutes. The tablet should work its magic and the burnt bits of food should simply lift away from the bottom of the pan.
Don’t forget that you also need to wash your pan with soap and water thoroughly after using any of these methods!
While the actual burnt bits of food will already be removed, you still need to get rid of any residue of baking soda, lemon or vinegar.
What is the best way to clean a burnt pan?
All of the methods I’ve listed above will work well, but their effectiveness will likely depend on the kind of stain you are dealing with, how scorched the mess actually is, and what the pan itself is made of.
Try out different methods and figure out what works best for your pans – then report back and share your knowledge with us!
Can I use a burnt pan?
If you have removed the actual burnt food from the bottom of your pan, and all that you are left with is a bit of an unsightly stain at the bottom, the pan is still safe for use.
You will probably never be able to restore the pan to what it once was, and it won’t be as shinny and pretty – but don’t throw it away just because it’s lost some of its lustre. It’s still usable and can help you whip up some delicious meals.
Is a burnt pan ruined?
Unless you really have done it and left an empty pan on the hob for hours (and perhaps caused a small fire), your burnt pan is most likely not ruined.
If you notice it’s altering the way your food tastes, you might want to replace it, but otherwise, the burnt stain itself should not cause you any headaches and you don’t need to give yourself a hard time for having burned a pan.
After all, it truly happens to everyone.
To sum it all up
I hope at least one of these methods will help you remove the remnants of last night’s dinner from your burnt pan.
Let me know which one you try and how it fares, and do share any other methods you may employ too, I’d love to test them out!