How to Clean a Burnt Pan

How to Clean a Burnt Pan

If you are anything like me you love a good trick that means spending less time on dish duty.  I LOVE crafting new recipes and cooking for a crowd, but I HATE doing the dishes.  Like, I’ll pack the dishwasher to the brim and pile the rest next to the sink hoping my husband will offer to do them, hate doing the dishes.  And nothing is worse than spending way too long scrubbing a burnt pan.

Well, friends, I have found a new trick. While it does not make the dirty dishes magically disappear, it will reduce your time spent scrubbing those nastily burnt pans.

burnt pan
Burnt pan before.
clean burnt pan
Same pan after.

 Let’s face it, sometimes no matter how careful you are, food burns in your precious pans. I say precious because pans are generally one of the greatest investments when it comes to stocking a kitchen. My in-laws bought us our pans as a wedding gift.  They are a beautiful ceramic coated set and I cringe every time a cooking mishap makes them less than perfect.

For instance, last week I was experimenting with one of my favorite summer side dishes: Mexican Street Corn, and making it into a grilled pizza topping. (Super delicious here’s the recipe: Mexican Street Corn Grilled Pizza.) But creating the recipe required scorching corn in a pan, which ultimately led to the unsightly burnt pan you see at the top of this post. My husband had tackled dish duty that evening but one look at that burnt pan and he threw in the towel.

So I did some research, tested a few methods out, and provided you with the easiest ways to clean a burnt pan.

Far and away the best method I found for removing the burnt residue was baking soda.  First I coated the bottom of the pan with baking soda, then added approximately a quarter cup of white vinegar.  I let this set for a few minutes and then scrubbed out the mixture with a dishcloth. This worked well to remove the larger chunks of burnt corn, but the stains remained on the bottom of the pan.

Again I coated the bottom of the pan with baking soda, added 1-2 cups of water (enough to cover the entire bottom of the pan). Then heated the mixture on the stove to a low boil and allowed the mixture to boil for about 10 minutes.  I dumped the solution in the sink (let the pan cool slightly first) and wiped out the pan with a dishcloth.  Again, more residue was removed from the burnt pan, but some unsightly stains remained.

So here is the oddest suggestion that seemed to work the best.  I sprinkled salt on the damp bottom of the pan.  Then using a slightly damp cloth I gently scrubbed the pan to remove the last of the residue.  This worked! The burnt pan was finally clean! I know this sounds more complicated than I originally promised but with some additional research and experimenting with some other burn stained pans here’s a recap of what to do with a burnt pan:

Burnt Pan Cleaning Recap:

  1. Sprinkle several tablespoons of baking soda on the bottom of the pan.  Add enough white vinegar to cover the baking soda.  Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes.  Wipe out burned scraps.
  2. If residue remains sprinkle bottom of pan with more baking soda. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan.  Heat on medium heat to a low boil.  Let boil for approximately 10-15 minutes.  Wipe out the pan with a dish cloth.
  3. If residue remains sprinkle salt on the bottom of the pan while still damp.  Gently scrub with a dish cloth to remove the remaining stain. (While this method worked really well, I was concerned that too much scrubbing with the salt could eventually scratch the ceramic coating on my pans. For this reason I think it’s best to go the baking soda route first.)

Do you have any tricks for cleaning stubborn messes in the kitchen? If so let me know in the comments!



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