Have you got a pot with burnt-on food and not sure how best to deal with it? There are a few ways, but here’s what I find is the simplest – my how to clean a burnt pot stainless steel saucepan example with pictures. It’s so easy and takes little effort or time.
So, you don’t have to throw the pan away. You can try the following, which involves a stainless steel pot, but I’ve used it on solid ceramic ware and enamel and cast iron cookware with similar success.
This is my stainless steel pot with baked on food. I burnt the leftovers I was reheating at the bottom of the pan and no amount of soaking was going to remove the stuff. How’d I manage to do this? Well with all the holiday busy-ness, I admit I got distracted and heated a pot of leftovers, straight from the refrigerator, on medium to high setting on the stovetop without stirring or allowing the contents warm first. This is a definite no-no.
This photo was taken after I tried to clean it with soaking and then regular scrubbing in dishwater.
Can a burnt pot be saved?
Yes, a burnt pot can be saved. You especially don’t want to throw away quality stainless steel pans that perform well and can last you for eons or premium 100% ceramic cookware just because you’ve burnt the bottom. Rather than considering how to throw the pan out, try rescuing it with this simple cleaning trick that I’ve used again and again and share with you here.
It’s my go-to for cleaning pots with burnt-on food. If you’re looking for a simple hack or how to clean a burnt pot without vinegar, this is for you to try.
Regarding vinegar, some manufacturers warn against using it because it’s acidic nature can compromise the stainless steel, especially if left to soak undiluted.1
Also, you definitely need to avoid cleaners that contain chloride, which include disinfectants and bleach products to reduce the possibility of pitting and rust forming from the break down of the layer to prevent such. Soaking with salt is another, apparently.1
How to clean a burnt pot with baking soda
The good thing about baking soda is that it is non-toxic, inexpensive, and widely available.
My step-by-step simple approach using baking soda starts with removing the bits of loose food as you would with normal washing. Then sprinkle baking soda over the crud while it’s moist. Leave this to sit for an hour or so.
- Sprinkle baking soda over the burnt-on mess and leave to sit
(Put your feet up or go and do something special or that thing you’ve been putting off.)
While you’re away the baking powder will go to work and adsorb the moisture to loosen the hold between the thick baked-on residue and the pot.
Showing baking soda layered over the burnt on food at the bottom of the stainless steel pan
- Loosen the baking soda and the burnt-on residue with it
On returning to the pan you’ll find the burnt residue will easily come away from the pan. I used a knife (not a sharp knife like those I wrote about for fine work) to remove it.
I wasn’t too concerned about leaving cosmetic marks in this case, but if you are, or have fully ceramic or an enamel pot, I highly recommend you use a non-abrasive utensil for this. Try a small plastic or bamboo spoon or spatula or a wooden ice-cream stick.
Here’s what it looks like. This picture shows half of the pan where I’ve loosened the burnt on residue with the baking soda that’s done its job.
Stainless steel pot showing half with the burnt residue coming off with the baking soda
- Rinse out, give final clean with non-abrasive scourer and then dry
Once all the burnt residue is loosened with the baking soda, I rinse it off and then clean it as normal. To complete the process, I simply remove any small amounts of lingering residue with a non-abrasive scourer and then dry to bring my stainless steel pot back to a brilliant clean.
Here’s a picture of the final result. My saucepan is once again squeaky shiny clean and ready for use.
Final result of using baking soda to clean burnt on food from stainless steel pot
How to clean a burnt pot without vinegar
The above is an easy method of cleaning the cookware without vinegar. There are methods online, using vinegar and boiling the pot on the stove or other versions of using vinegar, but I find using baking soda as I explained above always does the trick and works to my liking, the simplest. Let me know what you think and if you have a favorite way that works best for you.
- Monarch Metal Manufacturers: Cleaning and maintaining stainless steel.