How to Get the Burnt Smell & Taste Out of Overcooked Food

Updated April 17, 2017

Leaving food on the stove, in the oven or on the grill unattended, or cooking at too high temperatures is a sure-fire way to burn your foods and make them bitter and unpleasant. Although no one intends for this to happen, it occurs all the time - particularly with a novice in the kitchen. But if your dish turns out burnt, all is not lost. You can get the burnt smell and taste out of overcooked foods by using the right culinary techniques and ideas so you can save dinner, and the day.

Cool the food down. Turn off the heat. Using heat pads, immediately remove the food from its heat source to stop it from cooking.

Remove the burnt sections. Firmly scrap off or cut off the burnt particles from the food with a sharp knife, salvaging with can still be used. For soup, chilli or stew, spoon out the burnt sections.

Add water. Wash the food off under a heavy stream of cold water to remove any remaining burnt food particles. Add more water to soup, chilli or stew.

Dry the food. Pat dry wet meats and vegetables thoroughly with heavy and clean paper towels.

Add sauce and seasoning. Cook and pour over a generous portion of sauce over your food that complements it. Pair chicken with spaghetti sauce, beef with gravy, or fish with butter sauce. Season the food with salt, pepper and other spices. Add smoked meats, liquid smoke or Cajun spices to soup, chilli or stew to hide the burnt smell and taste.

Sample the saved food. Taste your rescued dish to make sure the unpleasant smell and taste has been removed. You might need to add more seasoning to your dish before serving it.


Wash your hands and wear gloves when cooking so that you don't contaminant the food you're handling. Use a timer when simmering sauces or resuming cooking. You don't want to burn these ingredients too. Don't use the same pots, pans or cooking sheets that the food originally burnt in. Left over burnt oil, grease and food residue can transfer over to the food.


Handle food when it's cold, or you'll burn your hands. If you don't remove all of the water from the food during the drying phase, it could ruin the taste of your sauces and seasonings.

Things You'll Need

  • Stove
  • Oven
  • Heat pads
  • Cooking spoon
  • Knives
  • Gloves
  • Water
  • Paper Towels
  • Sauces
  • Spices
  • Smoked meats
  • Timer
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About the Author

Eric Ervin has more than 10 years of experience as a print journalist, having worked at newspapers and magazines in Alabama, Texas and Georgia. His work has been published in the "Houston Press," "Houston Chronicle" and "Mobile Press Register." Ervin received a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of South Alabama.