I was improvising with some scrambled eggs, and decided to put a spoonful of white sugar in while cooking them. The recipe was good, but the subsequent coating of egg on the teflon pan was very difficult to scrub off. I suspect that the sugar made it "stickier," perhaps, or maybe was more inclined to burn onto the pan.

The food was good, is there a way I can avoid making the pan so difficult to clean?

  • 3
    Did you try soaking first?
    – moscafj
    Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 22:01
  • @moscafj i didn't
    – Phoenix
    Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 22:05
  • 1
    Strange that you have this problem with a non-stick pan. I regularly make Kaiserschmarrn which requires camarelized sugar and if the drops of sugar stick I can just scrape them off with my fingernails (or soak, as others have recommended).
    – Michael
    Commented Nov 24, 2019 at 8:55
  • @Michael but Kaiserschmarrn usually does not feature any caramel ...
    – user75265
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 5:50
  • Wow, thanks for the responses everyone! This received way more reception than I was expecting. I'll accept an answer once discussion stabilizes.
    – Phoenix
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 5:53

3 Answers 3


Melted and re-hardened sugar (including caramel) is very difficult to remove through mechanical action, but trivial to remove by soaking. Just pour in enough hot water to cover the sugar and wait an hour or so. (If oil was used, add some dish soap.) For a quicker turnaround, you can simmer the pot with the water on the stove; 10 minutes should be enough to remove even a thick coating.

  • 1
    This trick also works for quite extreme cases. I once thought I ruined a pot by forgetting it on the stove until a sugary liquid inside had evaporated completely. The brown, sugary mess inside was hard as rock and centimeters thick. It was possible to clean it by reheating it with water inside.
    – Nobody
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 14:33
  • to my knowledge one of our "TV cooks" showed a method where you reheat the contents including hardened sugar / caramel . then add some jar to it - the acid in the jar helps to clear the pan's surface and keeps the sugar from sticking on it again.
    – eagle275
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 15:36
  • 1
    @eagle275 What is 'jar'?
    – J...
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 17:01
  • 1
    did I misspell ? .. vinegar sorry mate, smelly sour stuff .. in concentrated form even used for cleaning purposes
    – eagle275
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 17:39
  • 1
    @eagle275 Yeah, that's a completely different word. I understand vinegar, lol. I guess we can blame autocorrect.
    – J...
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 20:46

Add the sugar at the very end.

When heated the sugar turns into sticky caramel that then cooks onto the bottom of the pot. If you wait until the very end to add the sugar there is no time for this to happen. One the food is ready add the sugar, give it a quick stir to incorporate, and serve.

Note: Usually the residual steam coming off the food will dissolve the sugar so there is no gritty texture. For food like eggs where there is little steam you should dissolve the sugar in a little hot water before adding.


If sugar starts caramelizing, it'll get stickier and harder to clean. (especially once it cools down.)

Have you tried deglazing the pan before you're done cooking? You just need a little bit of booze to throw in there to dissolve the sugar into some semblance of a sauce.

Honestly, throwing a bit of wine on the bottom of a pan that's stained all different shades of brown hiding behind some frying onions to clear it up is like magic the first time you see it.

Find something that works for you if wine doesn't go with the flavor you're looking for.

  • 2
    The reason booze (of moderate alcohol) - or wine, or juice, or simply water - works is largely due to the water content in it, not the alcohol, as the wording of this answer implies. It's the water used in deglazing that the solids dissolve or loosen into, moreso than the alcohol. Water by itself works fine but booze is reduced in volume more quickly and adds flavor.
    – Suncat2000
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 17:33
  • 1
    It's my understanding that the ability of ethanol to dissolve non-polar things is also a big part of the reason it works so well at deglazing.
    – eps
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 18:48
  • @Suncat2000 You got a source for that? I did limited testing when trying to clean a pan a while ago and came to a different conclusion. (I assume you imply water would work just as well, and %ABV doesn't matter)
    – bobsburner
    Commented Nov 26, 2019 at 9:24

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