Close-up on male hands slicing charred onion

Burnt food is not always ruined. Foods burned while cooking on the stove can often be fixed so they still look edible and taste good. The sooner you recognize a dish is burning, the better chance you have of salvaging it. Burnt liquid foods, such as soups, are the easiest to save. Burnt baked or fried foods can be tougher to save because these burns usually have more smoke involved.

How to Fix Burnt Food

Remove the pot containing the burnt food from the heat source as quickly and safely as possible using the hot pads. This will help keep the burnt taste from permeating the entire dish. Turn off the heat source.

Plug the kitchen sink, and turn on the cold water so that it fills up enough water to coat the sides of the dish.

Place the pot in the cold water in the sink. This will cool down the exterior of the pot and halt the cooking process. Be careful not to let any of the water get inside the pot. If there is no risk of spilling the contents of the pot, you can also turn on the faucet and run cold water on the sides. Be sure to at least get the cold water on the bottom of the pot.

Assess the amount of food that is stuck or burned to the cooking surface. Do not stir or scrape anything out of the pan. Without disturbing the burnt sections of the food, transfer the remaining food to a serving dish with a ladle.

Taste the food that has been transferred to the serving dish. If there is still a smoky or burnt flavor, cover it with a damp cloth for 30 minutes. Taste it again, and determine from this point if the flavor is palatable or beyond repair.


Try adding the heel of a loaf of bread to the top of a pot of burnt rice after it has been removed from the heat source and cooled. Cover the pot and wait five minutes for the bread to absorb the smoky flavor.


Take precautions when using heat to prepare food. Never cook or bake without the assistance of an adult.