Now that the elements has turned from chilly to cold and the holidays are approaching, it's officially time to use your stockpot and roasting pan. Just the notion of a savory something simmering in the oven or on the stove all day long will do to warm your bones! Unfortunately, it takes merely a little recipe miscalculation or a slightly longer cook time to get a scorched pan — and those caked-on burnt bits are notoriously hard to get off.
Before you use the big guns, keep this in your mind: Depending on which your pan is constructed of (most of the ones available on the market are constructed of stainless, enameled cast iron, or aluminum with or without a nonstick coating), you can damage it if you use a too-scratchy scrubber like steel wool or an ultra-strong cleanser. So start with the gentlest possible fix and work your way up to something stronger only if necessary.
Here are a few methods you can try to remove those burnt bits from the scorched pan.
The simplest 4 methods to truly save a scorched pan without scrubbing
Even the most effective cooks burn their pans sometimes. It can't be helped. You're in the middle of fixing dinner when the device rings or someone knocks on the doorway or a variety of distractions pulls you far from the duty at hand. Next thing you understand, dinner is burning and your pan is all but ruined.
You might allow it soak overnight and then waste time wanting to scrub away all evidence of your burnt meal, but who wants to fool around with that? Instead, try one of these foolproof methods that may restore your pan to its former glory. No scrubbing required.
1. Dish soap and dryer sheet
Probably the most convenient method for cleaning a scorched pan is to use dish soap and a dryer sheet. Simply fill your pan with water, squirt in a little dish soap and drop in a dryer sheet. Be sure you push the dryer sheet on to the underside of the pan and then allow it sit for an hour. When you pour out the water, you can use a report towel to eliminate any residue.
2. Cream of tartar
Full disclosure: this process might require a little scrubbing, but only if your pan is scorched almost beyond recognition. Otherwise, everything should eliminate fairly easily. Begin by filling the pan with enough water that the underside is totally covered. Add 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar and set it on the stove with the heat on low. When it starts to simmer, wait 5-10 minutes longer before turning off the stove and letting the pan cool. Use a sponge to eliminate just as much residue as possible. If there is still some gunk left, rinse the pan and put more cream of tartar directly onto the burnt surface. Use a sponge to scrub anything that's left until the pan is clean again.
3. Vinegar and baking soda
Since it's basically impossible to clean without vinegar, no you ought to be surprised by this method. Just fill the underside of your pan with water, add a pot of vinegar and bring the whole lot to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Pour everything out from the pan and make use of a sponge to eliminate any gunk left behind.
In the event that you enjoy drinking a wonderful, cold bottle of Coke following a long day at work, you might not wish to wreak havoc on this method. Because when you see what Coke does to the burnt-on gunk in your pan, you're never planning to want to place that stuff within your body ever again. For those of you who wish to try this, just pour some Coke into your scorched pan, allow it simmer for a couple minutes and then dump it out. Anything left should easily eliminate with a sponge. (Side note: You need to use other sodas because of this, but Coke appears to be most effective.)