I sometimes burn the bottom of the pan due to carelessness, or not stirring enough. The burnt smell tends to persist even after I separate out the unburnt bits.

Is there any way to fix this?

5 Answers 5


Well, if the aroma is truly in the food then there's not much you can do. However, you can take steps to make sure that the aroma is subdued as much as possible. It's quite possible that a large portion of the burnt aroma is merely in the air.

  • Turn exhaust fans on to get the aroma out of your kitchen asap
  • Submerge the burnt surface in water as soon as possible to prevent the aroma from spreading
  • Be very careful "separating" the unburnt from the burnt
  • Inhale something very strongly scented. Why? It's quite likely that a significant portion of the burnt smell is merely stuck in your nose. If you can somehow nullify that source of the burning aroma, you can perhaps more accurately gauge if the food itself actually has it.
  • Possibly you could overpower it by adding something very fragrant to your dish that fits. If your dish would work with lemon or lime this could help. If it's a desert maybe cinnamon or cloves might be useful.

The best thing though is prevention. Use lower heat when possible if you find yourself being regularly careless. Using a better pot/pan may help also depending on what you are currently using. Also, don't turn down help if your guests offer. Make them stir! :D

P.S. Don't inhale something dangerous like bleach or ammonia.

  • 1
    Apparently you can 'reset' you sense of smell by smelling yourself. if you sniff your arm then this should make the next thing you smell less affected by the last thing you smelled. A tip from a wine taster.
    – Sam Holder
    Commented Aug 2, 2010 at 11:42
  • Or coffee beans, which are typically used at perfume counters, candle stores, etc.
    – senschen
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 12:13

It really depends on what you're cooking. Something firm, like meat or bread, you can probably just cut off the burned part. Anything with a liquid component, the burnt flavor is probably infused throughout.

Others may have better suggestions on how to mask the flavor, but again this will depend on exactly what it is.


If the bottom of the soup or sauce starts to burn:

Move pan away from heat.
Try to quickly move the upper parts into another pan by gently ladling off the top.
Don't stir and don't scrape the bottom.
This will minimize the burnt flavor in the food (which is what matters most).

If this happens regularly, try cooking with lower heat, and setting a timer to remind yourself to stir.


Some home remedies:


If you burn rice while steaming it - a slice of soft white bread placed on top in the pan really helps.

For sauces, if you know you burned it before stirring it, carefully spoon the top layer into a new pan. At least that way you won't be mixing in burnt chunks throughout the dish.

One more thing, try using heavier bottom pans as they will tend not to burn as much. You might also try a heat spreader which is a little thing you can buy that sits between your burner and the base of the pan. These work great for anything that is supposed to cook slowly for a long time.

  • yep this is right, to avoid burning use a thick bottom vessel and cook over a low flame for a longer period. A good trick if you dont have a thick bottom pan is to stack up a frying pan between the vessel and the flame +1
    – Reno
    Commented Nov 30, 2010 at 5:03
  • @Revo: does the suggestion about pan cover pans that have two-layered design where the in-between part has water? I like to cook in such thing because I need to stir only once or very few times, good lazy solution and leaves me time to do other things. Used it for porridge and such things and works great.
    – user2954
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 14:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.