I made something wrong and the food becomes a but (but not totally) burnt and tasted like smoke, what can I do with it? Are there any spices that can change its flavour?

  • Good question - I think it's equivalent to this older one, though!
    – Cascabel
    Commented May 27, 2013 at 20:59

3 Answers 3


There are a couple of specific cases where you may have some luck rescuing a portion of the dish. THis is not removing the burned flavor, but rather removing the unburned portion:

  • For a large pot of something like chili or spaghetti sauce, if you realize it is burned on the bottom, you may be able to scoop off the unburned portion at the surface. Don't stir and don't scrape the bottom. You want to leave the burned portion on the bottom of the pan.

    It still won't be as good as unburned, as some of the flavors will penetrate, but it may not be totally horrible.

  • For a large cut of meat, like a roast, you may be able to cut off the burned portion, and rescue the remainder.

However, in general, once something is burned, the smoke and acrid flavors will penetrate it pretty thoroughly and there is no real way to remove that. Masking the flavor with additional spices would be extremely difficult, and almost certainly require an unacceptably large quantity of spice (unless you are a fan of Dave's Insanity Sauce, in which case you may not care).

You have to decide if the food is unpalatable enough that you just have to discard it.

  • What about trimming, such as pasta or vegetables? Commented May 25, 2013 at 12:36
  • If you have the patience, and they weren't all just tossed together, go for it.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented May 25, 2013 at 12:37
  • So I have to separate burnt parts from that too? Commented May 25, 2013 at 12:38
  • 1
    Truly burned flavors are very strong and difficult to remove.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented May 25, 2013 at 12:40
  • I see. Well, it must have been obvious for me, just thinking of cigarettes and its strong smell. Thanks! Commented May 25, 2013 at 12:41

At home when we accidentally burn food, say usually the bottom part... what we do is to immerse the dish(with the burnt food in it) halfway in water. let it stay for some 10 min. and we take all de food out except that which is sticking to the dish... It really helps remove the smoky flavour..

We have done this many times with success... but this method is most effective when we remove the dish immediately from heat.

Hope it works for u too !


Burnt... just a little bit.
Sauces- as above, pour off the sauce into another container without stirring or scraping the bottom of the pan. Toast- scrape the burnt edges/crumbs off with a knife Meat- if it is a large piece of meat, cut off the burnt portion. You can try running a bit of hot water over the burnt area but you are more likely to let the water (with it's burnt notes) seep into the meat that wasn't burnt due to gravity Onions- use a little dry white wine & quickly deglaze the pan. I keep a bottle of Pesivino for just that purpose. Helps to counter balance the burnt flavor.

That said- things like toast, onions & some sauces are quick & easy to remake unless you used the last of your ingredients on the said attempt. But burnt to the point of smoke, is much more difficult as smoke, like steam, will permeate the rest of the dish. I don't think of burnt to the point of smoke as being just a little bit burnt. If it really has hit the smoke point, you might want to try changing dishes to something that one usually looks for a smokey flavor like barbeque or a Mexican mole sauce.


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