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How to Clean Burnt Pots and Pans

How to Clean Burnt Pots and Pans

When you’re cooking a steak or making paella, those crispy, slightly charred bits of meat and rice that stick to the bottom of the pot or pan can be the best part of the dish … until it’s time to wash up. But don’t let the extra cleanup stop you from cooking those delicious dishes, or anything else that can leave you with a burnt pot or pan. Keep these effective tips on how to clean a burnt pot or pan in your back pocket, and you’ll be set the next time a caked-on mess comes your way.

What’s the Best Method to Clean a Burnt Pot or Pan? Step One: A Smart Soak

Hot water is key to lifting away food and grime; cool temperatures can’t melt grease and gunk nearly as well. If the usual hot water plus dish soap combo isn’t doing the trick, fill the pot or pan—we’re talking about stainless steel pans, by the way; cast-iron pans have their own wants and needs—with water (about halfway is fine), add a spoonful of baking soda or distilled white vinegar, place the pot on the stove, and bring the water to a simmer. Let the mixture bubble away for 5 or 10 minutes, then turn off the heat. When the water is cool enough that you can handle the pot, pour it out.

What’s the Best Method? Step Two: Simple Tools to Finish the Job

At this point, most stuck-on food will have loosened, so a plastic spatula or a nylon scraper might be all you need to remove any stubborn burnt pieces. If stains still remain, sprinkle some baking soda or a store-bought cleansing powder such as Ajax, Bar Keepers Friend, Bon Ami, or Comet into the wet pan and scrub with a sponge. Better yet, use a scouring pad, which is a flat square of fabric, much thinner than a sponge, with a scratchy texture that’s good at removing food. Why powders instead of liquid soap? They all contain some sort of abrasive material (it varies by brand), which creates a paste when mixed with water that works wonders when scrubbing and scouring a burnt pot or pan. Finally, rinse with warm water and dry with a towel.

How to Clean Dishes That Held Reheated Leftovers

Food that’s been warmed twice tends to be even harder to remove. So here’s a trick for cleaning pots, pans, and other dishes that housed leftovers and that have been covered with foil: Just ball up the foil and use it as a scrubber! We love this method for its economy, and it’s great for getting those stuck-on bits off the bottom of burnt pots and pans.

How to Clean Burnt Nonstick Pans

Of course, food isn’t supposed to stick to these pans in the first place, but life—as well as scorched food—happens. You need to tread lightly here, though, since overzealous scrubbing can damage or wear away the pan’s nonstick coating. Follow the directions above, adding enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, plus some vinegar or baking soda, and set on the stove to simmer. After 5 minutes, turn off the heat and let the water cool. Here’s where the methods diverge: Rinse the pan with warm water and wash it with dish soap and a nonabrasive sponge, then rinse with warm water again.

How to Clean the Outside Bottom of a Pot or Pan

Although this issue is cosmetic more than anything else, we get it—it’s nice to have nice-looking pots and pans! The best way to get the outside bottom of a pan sparkling is to use a combination of the methods we describe above. First, flip the pan over and pass a steel wool pad over it. Sprinkle a bit of baking soda (or other powder cleanser) on the pan next, then give it a squirt of dish soap. Use the steel wool pad to mix the baking soda and the soap, and then rinse with warm water.

Dinner Ideas and Recipes From HelloFresh That Put Those Sparkling Pots and Pans to Use

Well, let’s be honest—most of our dinner ideas and dinner recipes involve some type of pot or pan! To minimize cleanup from the start, check out our one-pot/one-pan dinner ideas. A few of our favorites include:

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