How to cook the food such that Maillard reaction doesn't form acrylamide?


When food is cooked quickly at a high temperature, the Maillard reaction takes place within the food.


There's a downside to the Maillard reaction in cooking, too. In certain circumstances, the reaction produces cancer-causing substances, like acrylamide and furans.

Which type of cooking can prevent or minimize Maillard reaction's production of acrylamide?

  • Source www.cancer.org Since acrylamide was first found in certain foods in 2002, dozens of studies have looked at whether people who eat more of these foods might be at higher risk for certain cancers. Most of the studies done so far have not found an increased risk of cancer in humans. For some types of cancer, such as kidney, endometrial, and ovarian cancer, the results have been mixed, but there are currently no cancer types for which there is clearly an increased risk related to acrylamide intake.(cont.)
    – Chef_Code
    Apr 21, 2015 at 5:40
  • (cont.) The studies that have been done so far have had some important limits. For example, many of the studies relied on food questionnaires that people filled out every couple of years. These questionnaires may not have accounted for all dietary sources of acrylamide. In addition, people may not accurately remember what they have eaten when asked in personal interviews or through questionnaires. (cont.)
    – Chef_Code
    Apr 21, 2015 at 5:42
  • (cont.) While the evidence from human studies so far is somewhat reassuring, more studies are needed to determine if acrylamide raises cancer risk in people. The American Cancer Society supports the call by federal and international agencies for continued evaluation of how acrylamide is formed, its health risks, and how its presence in food can be reduced or removed.
    – Chef_Code
    Apr 21, 2015 at 5:42
  • 2
    I hesitate to write it as an answer but with the big Acrylamide Scare in the early 2000s came the following rule for starchy foods (roughly translated from German): "Gild, don't char". So don't exceed temperatures of 175°C / 350°F, keep cooking times short and don't let the food get too dark. Note that Acrylamide is fpound in starchy foods, so searing your steak is considered safe, as far as acrylamide is concerned.
    – Stephie
    Apr 21, 2015 at 7:48
  • Hello! I considered closing the question because this is actually not about food safety (which answers: is there a risk to get food poisoning?) but about the healthiness of food, which is usually very vague and unanswerable. But I think we can make an exception here, because you asked about the emergence of a known substance, and this is answerable without having to delve into muddy medical questions of cause and effect.
    – rumtscho
    Apr 21, 2015 at 8:45

4 Answers 4


Salt your food well.

See for example this article (paywall, but the abstract is sufficient). You are unlikely to have calcium chloride in your kitchen, so you probably can't use the divalent cations route. But "monovalent cations, such as Na+, almost halved the acrylamide formed in the model system". Now, a model system is not a pan, but they at least found that the calcium example transfers well to frying, so (wet) salt is likely to work too.

Acid also seems to help, as shown in another paper. But note that they had to lower the surface pH of the potatoes to 4.0, which you may not want to do.

Note that the literature seems to concentrate on frying potatoes. We can hope that the methods are applicable to other foods, but I have seen no evidence for it yet.

  • If you live in an area that experiences snow, you may have calcium chloride in your garage. It's used to melt ice and snow on walkways and roads. It's also easier on concrete than sodium chloride. From my experience, it does a great job killing evergreens. The easy way to reduce acrylamide, reduce your heat.
    – user36802
    Sep 18, 2015 at 17:33
  • 3
    @user36802 never ever advise people to use technical/industrial/household grade chemicals in food, moreso if they are metal salts of any description - the manufacturer does not have to care (and won't) if there are impurities in it unless they make the intended usage unsafe or unreliable. There have been food scandals about industrial-grade salt, sometimes with poisonous contaminants, being sold or used as table salt. Nov 18, 2015 at 14:42
  • It's worth noting that although food-grade calcium chloride isn't an everyday ingredient, it's not hard to obtain (e.g. Modernist Pantry sells it on Amazon) because it's part of the standard basic spherification reaction. It is, of course, up to each individual to do their own cost/benefit analysis as to whether it's worth it. Jan 17, 2016 at 17:30

One thing to note -- it's incorrect to assume that 120C (~248F) is the temperature at which acrylamide "begins" forming. Acrylamide does form at lower temperatures, and the rate and amount that is formed depends on the environment in which it is heated (e.g. dry/wet or open/closed vessel), as well the contents of the food itself (the sugars and amino acids in particular).

For example, based on the studies I've looked at, dry conditions form significantly more acrylamide than moist ones. Steam-assisted baking will reduce acrylamide production for instance (compared to non-steam-assisted).

You can read about a particular model study here on the formation of acrylamide below 100C in prunes.

The bottom line is that there is no method so far to guarantee that absolutely 0 acrylamide will be formed -- too many variables are at play. However, you can reduce acrylamide formation greatly by taking down some of the biggest players, like high temperatures and low moisture content.


First off here is my source www.cancer.org

Acrylamide does not appear to be in raw foods themselves. It is formed when certain starchy foods are cooked at temperatures above about 250° F. Cooking methods such as frying, baking, broiling, or roasting are more likely to produce acrylamide, while boiling, steaming, and microwaving appear less likely to do so. Cooking at high temperatures causes the Maillard reaction a chemical reaction between certain sugars and an amino acid (asparagine) in the food, which causes acrylamide to form. Longer cooking times and cooking at higher temperatures can increase the amount of acrylamide in foods further.

So according to my source, you would have to eliminate these factors. I don't see how you would be able to caramelize anything without using the Maillard reaction although, let alone use the Maillard reaction in your cooking, these factors are beneficial in successfully and properly performing the Maillard reaction.

Although read my comment above or visit the cancer.org website

  • 1
    Careful: Maillard reaction and caramelization are two different things, albeit with similar results, taste-wise.
    – Stephie
    Apr 21, 2015 at 8:50
  • so are the words caramelization and caramelize. No offense I guess I could of used a better word. I'm referencing a color not a process.
    – Chef_Code
    Apr 22, 2015 at 3:04
  • @Stephie I like your comment below the question below my long comment as an answer to the question.
    – Chef_Code
    Apr 22, 2015 at 17:44
  • "certain starchy foods", "asparagine" - So it needs starch and certain protein components to be present, not just starch. Frying something in a batter made of something having less asparagine might already lower the acrylamide significantly. May 21, 2015 at 10:13

The short answer is acrylamide can form in many foods when heated above 248F for an extended period of time.

If you are a big "griller" you may want to rethink that. Eat golden toast versus burnt toast. Eat golden fries versus brown crispy fries.



  • 2
    The guideline of not covering health and nutrition topics is not an arbitrary one, and is well established. It's not about being "interesting" or having expertise, it's about avoiding answers that provide medical or diet advice. Cooking temperature is an exception only because there are well-defined guidelines from food safety agencies that can be referenced. Regardless, this is the type of question that should be asked on meta (meta.cooking.stackexchange.com) and not embedded in another answer.
    – logophobe
    Sep 18, 2015 at 18:34
  • One of the things that has me stumped is where is the money that's behind stackexchange and why would they not care if the site is uninteresting. Oh well, such is life.
    – user36802
    Sep 18, 2015 at 19:22
  • 1
    This is a question and answer site. We want questions that can be answered definitively. As interesting as disputes over the health benefits of foods can be, they don't make for good answers. Good answers are what drives traffic here, not controversial hot-topic issues.
    – Ross Ridge
    Sep 19, 2015 at 3:57
  • I don't see how health and nutrition excludes good answers. They are not mutually exclusive. But it's not my site and I don't make the rules. So be it. Nobody said anything about disputes. It's all about passing along knowledge, is it not? But as I am beating a dead horse, it's time I dropped this crusade.
    – user36802
    Sep 19, 2015 at 16:34
  • 2
    A question about cooking methods to influence a certain property of the resulting food (minimum possible content of a named chemical compound) seems to be a cooking, not a health question :) Nov 18, 2015 at 14:11

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