I love to cook, but getting burnt food from pots and pans can be a tricky task. Tamara asks:

What’s the best way to clean super dirty pots and pans with burnt on food on the bottom?

Melissa Says:

There are a few different approaches to this task—it really depends on what kind of vessel you’re dealing with, and of course, how dirty the pot and/or pan is.

What You Need

  1. Dirty pot/pan/dish
  2. A few drops of dish soap
  3. 2 tablespoons baking soda
  4. Water
  5. Cleaning toothbrush/double-sided sponge

For Stainless Steel Cookware

To start, add a few drops of dish soap to the dirty pan. Next, you’ll need to add 1 tablespoon of baking soda and fill the pan 1/4 of the way with water. Put the pan on high and let it simmer for a while. Once the pot has simmered for a few minutes, pour the hot liquid down the drain. Be careful, the pot will be super hot! Add another tablespoon of baking soda to the pan and use either the cleaning toothbrush or the double-sided sponge to scrape away stuck on grease. Rinse with water and enjoy your sparkly clean pan!

For Copper Cookware

Replace the baking soda with coarse salt and add to an inch of simmering water and soap.

For a Casserole Dish

Put it in the oven for a few minutes until it starts to simmer. The heat will speed up the process of breaking down the soot.

Hope this helps!

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  1. Bar Keepers Friend all the way. Removes the most stuck on burnt gunk even without a super abrasive sponge. Will leave the dullest stainless steel looking like new. A technique that helps before cleaning: fill the pot with only water and bring to a boil, empty the water and clean immediately.

  2. I have a pan that is REALLY BAD!! Years of gunk! They all sort of worked but the best one was a combination of Ketchup and Bar Keepers Friend. Make a paste and scrub with foil….Needed elbow grease but it worked. Maybe if it isnt so bad it might be easier. Good Luck!

  3. So I’m trying this dish soap and baking soda method for a burnt pot, well actually two pots, and I’m waiting on results as we speak. Hopefully the burnt food comes off. The bottom of both pots is completely black from the burnt food.

  4. WOW! This article really useful for me. I confused for choosing the fry pan clean quickly information what would be the best for everything. But review this article my confusion has cleared. Thanks a lot for sharing such an informative article about “Clean Food Off A Burnt Pot Or Pan” and I’m sure most people can take notes from this article. One thing most people lack experience while aware of clean pot or pan. Well, this post will give me much good ideas for clean pan tips. Thanks Melissa and keep it up…….

  5. PLEASE think twice BEFORE pouring it down the sink!!!! If you want to spare your pipes from future issues, pour any liquids, debris, etc. into a jar or can or load paper towels in a couple plastic bags and pour on those. It might seem harmless with hot water but when it cools down that gunk will solidify and lay in the pipes. It may clog near the sink, or it may flow farther in the main line and create a clog years later – which you never know how many other “poured with hot/boiling water” greases have lined the pipes.
    PREVENTION: just as the other comment says, put some water/vinegar/wine/juice into the hot pan moments after use after the burner is off but still hot/warm and use a wooden spoon to rub away the gunk…and pour into trash.

  6. Omg thanks so much Melissa. Darn pan literally been soaking in sink for 5 days. Your method took 5 minutes and a small amount of elbow grease. Why did I google it earlier. Lol. Thanks again.

  7. Well it worked for me. My daughter in law brought a roasted pan down and she burnt the pot roast on the bottom. So of course the pan was burnt so she said I’m gona throw it away there’s no way this will come out its burned to bad. So she left it here for me to throw away. So I looked on here and I put some dishwasher detergent and salt which I used more salt than it called for I put it all on the bottom of pan and put in oven I let it boil I put mabe 4 inches of water. I let it boil for 4 or 5 minutes then turned it down on 170 let it stand for around 20 min. Took it out and threw away the black water and burnt then cleaned it out again and it looks fantastic. Thank you

    • You should thank the daughter in law, she’s the one who gave you a brand new roasting pan lol!! Did you ever tell her you managed to get it fixed?

  8. WOW! Just WOW!!!!! This technique really works! I had a stainless steel pot with burnt rice on the bottom. I first started scrubbing and scrubbing, then let it soak for an hour. Then I thought (after looking at my still caked-blackened pan) a bet there is a Clean My Space way to get rid of all this crud. Thankfully there was 🙂

  9. This is great, but I have a different problem. I often cook rice and beans, and cannot get rid of the starch residue left behind on my stainless steel pots. Any suggestion?

  10. I never have problems with cleaning the inside of pots & pans…
    How do you clean cooked on spills on the outside of “fry Pan” ?

  11. Ideas r good but mine is a little different. After blanching I had marks inside cause of me using a gas stove top. How do I go about cleaning marks that r in pan? Pan is stainless steel.

  12. In addition to having a little burnt residue remaining, it took me 30-45 minutes and three attempts to loose 95% of the burnt reside.

  13. Help! We’ve got a beautiful copper saute/fry pan that’s immaculate inside, but sadly, the exterior now has a build up of burned on food/grease, etc. I don’t want to use a scouring cleanser or just copper cleaner as the hard rubbing probably required will cause wear and scratches. Is there a solution I could apply and let just sit on the surface to magically dissolve the crud? How about oven cleaner on the copper surface??? thanks. Lynne NYC

    • Nooooo not oven cleaner!!! Do not use a scrubby or anything that will scrub.
      Try a paste made from equal parts dish soap and baking soda. Pat it on, leave for 30 min. Then spray plain white vinegar. It will bubble a bit. Leave for 5 min. Then respray and wipe away. If it need a little polishing after that, use ketchup. Yes, ketchup. Smear it on. Leave it fir 5-10 minutes then rub it in. Rinse and shine.

  14. Wow that was good information but I have a major problem I have scorched burnt on stuff I’m talking bird on as and black you have any ideas for that

  15. Think you have a typo here – What’s the quickest way to clean uber dirty pots and pants? – shouldn’t that be “pans” or have I missed something?


    • You’re GOOD!! I usually catch stuff like that, glad I’m not the only one who has a thing about typos and grammatical errors lol!! <3

  16. I found that filling the pan to the top of the burned level with water and then adding vinegar and letting soak will work………burned stuff comes off clean. add 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar depending on size of pan.

  17. I did this and it scorched my pan! Now how do I get the scorch mark off? It made a ring all around the edge of the side (near the bottom) Help!

  18. what is a good way to sanitize cleaning brushes and sponges w/o a microwave? I don’t have a microwave. IS it true if u boil sponges it sanitizes them?

  19. For stainless steel pans, you can clean them quickly and easily by putting plain hot water in the pan after cooking your dish!! Do this immediately after cooking–do not allow the pan to chill at all!! Then use a green scour pad, and that’s all there is to it!!

    Another tip when using a stainless steel pan is to use wine, water, or oil to help break up the “crunchies” at the bottom at the end of cooking. This is called deglazing and this also helps to clean the pan.

    The trick to stainless is watch what you are cooking, deglaze when necessary–then clean up is a snap. Your baking soda and dish-soap tip is excellent for cleaning the pan and making it shiny!!

  20. My genius boyfriend burned popcorn in my stainless steel pan. And I mean really burnt! I tried to scrub it but it will NOT come off. Its been there for a while now. Is there any way I can still save it?

    • Same thing happened to my stainless popcorn pan! I used oven cleaner at room temperature and let it sit overnight. I then used a scrubbing pad and it was gone. Mine was so bad I had to do it twice but it looks like new now.

  21. This is great! It also works to use a squirt of Cascade dishwasher liquid in the pan with water. Same process. But I think it lifts off crud a little faster. Nice to have two ways to accomplish the yucky task.


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