How to clean a burnt pan

Even the most experienced home cook can inadvertently burn food in a pot or pan once in a while. Whether you accidentally left the burner on or had the fire too high, scorched-on food might tempt you to toss your cookware in the trash.

Don’t give up on your saucepan, skillet or frying pan just yet. You might be able to salvage it— removing the charred mess and restoring the pan—using materials you likely have on hand. The key is using the right method for the type of cookware you hope to save. You will need to wash the pan by hand, as the dishwasher will not do the job for you this time.

Cleaning A Stainless Steel Pan

To loosen the burnt food, boil water in the pan for 20 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to scrape away loose food. Finish by scrubbing the pan with an abrasive cleanser or baking soda and a mesh cloth or sponge.

stainless steel pan photo
Flickr | Cooks & Kitchens

Cleaning A Non-Stick Pan

Boil three parts water and one part vinegar in the pan for about 10 minutes. Allow the solution to cool and then scrub the pot with warm, soapy water and a soft cloth. Add vinegar to the suds for particularly stubborn stains.

non stick pan photo
Flickr | yourbestdigs

Cleaning A Ceramic Pan

Pour about one-half inch of hydrogen peroxide and 1/4 cup of baking soda in the bottom of the burnt pan. Bring the mixture to a boil until it is foamy, then remove from heat and let it stand for about 10 minutes. Empty the pan, rinse with water and scrub with a “magic” foam eraser cleaning sponge.

enamel cookware photo
Flickr | pbyrne

Cleaning A Cast-Iron Pan

Scrape away any loose burned food particles with a plastic scraper. Coat the burnt pan with a layer of kosher or sea salt. Scrub the pan with a damp, soft washcloth or a few moist paper towels. You may need to season the pan again after cleaning it.

cast iron skillet photo
Flickr | blakewinton