How to Remove Burnt Food from Aluminum Pots and Pans

Dear Home Ec 101,

Last night, I left an aluminum pot on a burner I thought I had turned off. I served dinner and by the time I came back to it, all I found was a pan full of burnt food. Is my aluminum pot ruined? How do I remove the mess?

Signed,

Tempted to Toss it Out

Heather says:

Don’t worry, your pan is salvageable, it’s just going to take some time and elbow grease. Since the pan is aluminum, I do not recommend using the oven cleaner trick that is plastered all over the web, the caustic chemicals can etch or chemically scratch the metal which ¬†means almost everything will stick to it in the future.

Fill the pan past the burnt on food, add some white vinegar and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 20 minutes. -Try not to forget it this time.-

Pour off the liquid, let the pan cool enough to handle, and use a nylon scraper (like Pampered Chef includes with their stoneware) or wooden spoon to scrape off as much of the burnt mess as possible. If there is still a lot of burnt food, repeat the process.

Once you’ve gotten down to the last thin layer, it’s time to break out our old pal Bar Keepers Friend, which is an oxalic acid compound and safe for food preparation surfaces. Sprinkle it over the bottom of the pot, which should still be damp, allow it to soak for a few moments, then use a rag and rub with the grain.

Rinse the pot well before storing.

Good luck.

Did you enjoy this article?
Share
the
Love
Get Free Updates

Comments

  1. Lots of aluminum pots and pans are not dishwasher safe; they can pit pretty easily. If you're careful the technique you suggest can work, but I'd be very cautious and wouldn't do it if the particular piece is not rated dishwasher safe.

  2. Carol Shive Mirek says:

    When we have burnt pans, we pour some powder dish washing detergent into the pan, with water and boil it, then let it sit, and it comes off no scrubbing necessary. Now, not sure if this is bad for us or the pots, but I am still alive to talk about it, and Mom has been doing it all my life :)

    • I tried this on a pan that had a good 1/4 inch of barbecue chicken & sauce burnt on it. It took 3 go rounds, but it is off and my pressure cooker is clean again! Thanks.

  3. Carol Shive Mirek says:

    Hmmmm, this are very old farberware and revere ware pots, I don't let Mom use my good pots :)

  4. I do the boiling trick but I use baking soda. It will bubble up a lot but it works like magic. I've also heard that if you fill the pan with water, put in a dryer sheet and leave it overnight it will loosen all the gunk, but I haven't tried it.

    • The dryer sheet works best for greasy residue left in pans. Especially for bakeware. it helps to loosen baked on foods like lasagne. I use hot water put in the dryer sheet and let sit for a couple of hours or overnight. I’ve also found the dryer sheets work well to scrub the pan to remove the food.

  5. I do the boiling trick but I use baking soda. It will bubble up a lot but it works like magic. I've also heard that if you fill the pan with water, put in a dryer sheet and leave it overnight it will loosen all the gunk, but I haven't tried it.

  6. Great tip. I routinely put pans back on to simmer with dish wash liquid after using when they get a bit burned.

  7. CJ McD says:

    I use baking soad in boiling water too. Sometimes you have to do it two or three times, giving it a good scrubbing after each time, but it will all come off. Good luck.

  8. This is something that happens to everyone, but I hate it when it happens to me. I boil the vinegar and water trick to clean up my pan. It works pretty good and then I use the SOS pad. Pan is as good as new when I'm done.

  9. Cover bottom of pot with hot water and squirt of dish detergent. Drop a dryer sheet into it making sure dryer sheet get completely wet. Let sit 15 to 30 minutes. Pour off water and use dryer sheet to easily wipe off most of the burnt stuff the follow up with a soapy sponge.

  10. I use a paint stripper on my cordless drill. It takes about 10 seconds, but then everyone agrees I am nuts.

  11. 2sassylady says:

    use wooden spoon and scrape out all the food you can, then cover burnt area with coca cola or pepsi- let sit about an hour and scrub with brillo pad- worked for me!

  12. would this work for enameled cast iron too? (like Le Cruset)

  13. meeeeeeeeeeeeeee says:

    I used water filled 1/2 way in pan, boiled it. Added 2 cups apple cider vinegar, then added about 3 tbsp of liquid dishwasher soap, make sure it doesn’t foam over. Scraped with wooden utensil while boiling. dumped mix into sink after it seemed pretty loose, then put small amount of fresh hot water in pan with a lot of baking soda. The water just covered soda. I mixed the soda water mix, and let it sit for about 20 min. My aluminum pan was quite clean after burning beans

  14. meeeeeeeeeeeeeee says:

    I used water filled 1/2 way in pan, boiled it. Added 2 cups apple cider vinegar, then added about 3 tbsp of liquid dishwasher soap, make sure it doesn’t foam over. Scraped with wooden utensil while boiling. dumped mix into sink after it seemed pretty loose, then put small amount of fresh hot water in pan with a lot of baking soda. The water just covered soda. I mixed the soda water mix, and let it sit for about 20 min. My aluminum pan was quite clean after burning beans

  15. Rachel Ray showed miraculous tricks in the kitchen. Use a crushed up piece of aluminum foil about the size of a fist as a scrubbing brush. Amazing!

  16. bigdeepcreek says:

    the baking soda and vinegar brought to a boil worked great on my stubborn stain(scorched beer wort on an aluminum turkey fryer). Thanks for the tip.

  17. j campbell says:

    If nothing else works………and after getting all of the gunk off that I could, then I took a small, good and strait, hard, putty knife to it, gently, and it raised it right off. Be careful with it and it won’t leave but small scratches that you can rub out with your sos pad or such. Makes it a lot easier that killing your arm or throwing the pot in trash from frustration!

  18. John Plotz says:

    I had deeply burned in carbon on a big aluminum pot. Nothing seemed to work. Then I used pumice plus elbow grease. Lots of elbow grease. That did the job. No chemicals of any sort. (The pumice I used was something called “Jumbo Pumie Scouring Brock” which I bought for $7 at my local Ace hardware — but there must be cheaper brands.)

  19. margaret denzer says:

    Have used CASCADE PELLET in the dishwasher and find that all aluminum handles as well as the pots turn dark gray. They are VERY HARD TO CLEAN. Is it the CASCADE or should the CLUB ALUMINUM never go in the dishwasher?? THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME AND EFFORT.

Speak Your Mind

*