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I imagine this depends on what the food is. With spaghetti, you can add water or change water if you detect it on time. But what about grilled meat? Or a tomato sauce?

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12 Answers 12

up vote 28 down vote accepted
  1. Determine correct ratio of food to salt.
  2. Add more food until proper ratio is achieved.

Or just serve extra beer with it.

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Serving extra beer with a meal can cover a multitude of errors. :) – Bryant Jul 9 '10 at 21:57
That would work for tomato sauce or spaghetti, but it's hard to grow a chunk of meat :-), especially while cooking it. – Vinko Vrsalovic Jul 9 '10 at 21:59
@Vinko: well, you could always switch up and make hamburger... – Shog9 Jul 9 '10 at 21:59
Is this general "beer makes you notice less overall" advice, or does beer actually have some specific quality that diminishes salt flavour? – DVK Sep 7 '14 at 13:10

I sometimes add a bit of lemon juice... works to a degree.

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Yes, acid reduces the perception of how salty (or sweet, for that matter) something is. – daniel Aug 1 '10 at 21:13
Orange juice helps also. (Same principle as lemon juice, I assume.) – Neil Fein Aug 15 '10 at 4:05
agreed. you're offsetting salt with tang and/or sweetness, which changes the nature of the flavor, but I've done it many times – zanlok Dec 3 '10 at 0:06

Slice a raw potato and add it to the over-salted sauce. As it cooks it'll draw in the salty liquid.

You may need to add more liquids to keep the sauce from drying out.

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Yes, the potato trick. Works! +1 – Stefano Borini Aug 1 '10 at 19:38
The potato trick has never worked for me. I think it is a myth, as I said in a similar thread. – daniel Aug 1 '10 at 21:14
I've never tried this trick, but am now inspired to over-salt something this week just to try it out. – stephennmcdonald Aug 2 '10 at 15:40
This didn't work for me with chili. My wife says it doesn't work with soup either. – Neil Fein Aug 15 '10 at 0:53
The potato thing is a myth. Google "potato salt myth" and you will find many references. – SAJ14SAJ Dec 3 '12 at 0:50

Good practice is to under-season food when cooking and adjust the seasoning at the end if necessary. It's very difficult to fix over-seasoned food at the end of cooking, and excess salt is also bad for your health.

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"...excess salt is also bad for your health." = unproven nutritional claim. – Mrs. Garden Dec 2 '10 at 15:00
bad advice -- flavor from herb seasonings in some (most?) recipes only properly develop if you cook them a while, especially when you're working with dried stuff like the general home kitchen populace. while that doesn't apply to salt, it's still way better to let it absorb into things like elements of soups. ps: agreed @Garden – zanlok Dec 3 '10 at 0:04
@zanlok - true, but it will be pretty difficult to reduce the saltiness of food if you over-season to begin with. Much easier to add more in the end if necessary, even if it won't necessarily taste as good as if you put it in at the start. – LeopardSkinPillBoxHat Dec 3 '10 at 2:29
Discussion on salt and health: – s_hewitt Feb 16 '12 at 17:59

Spice it generously with pepper, curry and/or hot chili! When's very hot and spicy you don't taste the salt as much any more. But you will be very thirsty.

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Yes: cayenne is my favorite method, especially after a touch of sugar and/or lemon/vinegar hasn't fully worked :) – zanlok Dec 3 '10 at 0:07

Parsley, or other very leafy stuff. Specifically, I've noticed that adding parsley to a dish that's too salty works wonders. It's good for almost any sauce you're making, as well as pasta or casserole. Probably won't work so well with over-salted meat though. Perhaps a parsley and mint sauce for the meat?

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That's interesting, because I find parsley to have a natural salty taste (though I might be biased from traditional meals where it was served in salt-water). – Ocaasi Jul 30 '10 at 0:21
Fresh herbs and greens such as parsley add more bitterness than saltiness. Increasing the bitterness will distract the palate from any of the other four primary tastes - which means your food won't taste as salty. – vincebowdren May 2 '13 at 9:27

I made a potato lentil soup and used some ham base..... Wow... Too salty.... Added a couple of packets of spllenda and two TAB of balsamic vinegar.... Really helped... Slightly worried about it as it gets used up... Wondering g if the salty flavor will return as some evaps....!???? Thinking about adding more potato to help that??

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on the contrary.. as the mix dries, add water before you reheat.. saltiness and flavor should return. I do this for just about everything I nuke. – zanlok Dec 3 '10 at 0:08

If the curry gets too salty, adding 2 to 3 wheat flour dough rolls helps a lot. It just absorbs salt the same way as raw potato does. And for dry cooked food (i.e. food without curry) adding lemon juice works perfectly for me.

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Well, rinsing the pulled pork worked wonders! No problem bc we wanted to add sauce to it anyway.

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If there is liquid in the dish (soup, sauce, etc) you can add peeled carrots to help absorb the salt. Pre-cut and peeled baby carrots work best. They aren't as easy to pick out at the end as a potato is, but you don't risk having the potato break down and over-starch/thicken your dish.

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The potato thing is a myth; why would carrots work? – SAJ14SAJ Jan 17 '13 at 0:16

You can't remove salt from a dish once it's added, so Shog9 has the only correct answer to this question: add more ingredients to dilute the salt.

The commonly suggested "remedy" of adding potato in various forms is only really attempting to mask the salt flavor. It does nothing to actually remove the salt from the dish.

Any starch will lessen your perception of saltiness, hence why so many starchy dishes (think baked potato) require higher levels of salt to taste good.

Adding starch to the dish (potato starch, cornstarch, etc.) or serving the dish with a starch (bread, pasta, potato, etc.) can lower the perceived saltiness of the dish.

Do keep in mind that starch is not a panacea, as parts of the dish may still taste salty. Also, while starch does mask our perception of saltiness, it also masks other flavors as well, so your dish will taste blander overall.

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I add a large, peeled potato or several peeled carrots to the soup or stock as it cools. Cooking the desalinating root vegetable interferes with the osmotic process. As the salty soup cools, the starchy root vegetable(s) absorb the excess salt. This is not a quick fix and requires several hours or overnight refrigeration. Remove the root vegetable(s) and reheat. PS: Peanut butter (one big tablespoon) is a wonder for over salted, burned, or otherwise "ruined" dishes. Bon appetit!

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protected by Aaronut Jan 18 '13 at 1:07

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