How to fix burnt rice : the smell, the taste, the burnt pan.

Last updated Jun 18, 2019 at 11:42AM | Published on Nov 17, 2018

And make sure you it never happens again !

Agh, you got distracted… again… and the rice has boiled over and burned.

rescue a burned dinner

We’ve all done it. Well I (Aoibheann) have. So, I know all the hacks to salvage a dinner, and maybe even improve the taste of it. But read on to find my new secret weapon to save the pan too!  Something you probably have it in the cupboard already.

DON’T panic.


Follow the 4 STEPS below.



Jump down the page to get yourself one of these sweet TREATS to make sure it never happens again.

We did… and it was worth it to save time, stress, and money in the end too. No more panic in our house ! We even now deliberately burn our leftover rice to get …well read on to see.

How to stop the rice burning


You’ll only mix burnt with good rice!

If the top rice isn’t cooked yet at this point, then ladle the good rice into a new pan, add some more water, and cook a bit longer with the lid on.


Take it off the heat as soon as you smell burning.

Start filling the sink with cool water and plunge the pan into it (up to just above where it has burned) to stop it cooking further.


Pop a slice of white bread on top. Keep the lid on for 5-10mins.

This should  absorb the burned odours and flavours. Any pale bread will do, not the end (crust) piece.


Bin the bread, and ladle out the good rice into a new pot.

Carefully leave any burned pieces at the bottom, and we’ll deal with those later !

In a hurry… here’s our simple little solution to make sure it doesn’t happen again !

Before we go on and explain the palava of having to add more costs and time and stress and hard work to fix the rice, and the pan, have a quick look at our new solution !  It makes the fluffiest rice in a better hands off way –  only costs a couple of coffees out and is so worth having for rice and more. If you want want something a little more stylish as well as practical you’ll find that also at the end of this page ( for probably the cost of a couple of coffees and cakes !) In the end, it’s a money saver so a win win solution and you won’t ever burn the rice again.

Jump to How to get rid of the burnt odour section

Jump to What can you do with burnt rice section

Jump to How to clean the pan section

Jump to The science behind perfect rice cooking section

Jump to The Solution section

Jump to Product comparison section

 How to get rid of the burnt smell

Now you’ve burnt the rice, or something else, the acrid smell of that burned food lingers. So, even if you get rid of the evidence, you will have to still get rid of the lingering odours. By the way, don’t forget to double bag any burnt offerings that you bin. Better still, take it straight to the outside bin.


3 Quick Actions that can get rid of the initial odour.


Get the air moving so it can take the smell outside.   

Open windows to get some fresh air inside, turn on extractor fans or even use portable fans ( turn up high ! ).  That should mix the fresh air with the smoke. Point the fan out to a place where it can dissipate – in a direction far away from your dinner guests ! This should take about 10 minutes.


Put out a bowl of water and vinegar.

It’s best to heat the vinegar ( 2 cups in a pan of water, boil then simmer for 15mins) .
Wet a small towel in the vinegar solution, and whirl it around in the air to absorb odours quickly. Move it around the main cooking area especially.
Dip a piece of bread in the vinegar water and leave the bread on a plate to absorb the burnt smell.


Spritz a simple lemon water mix

Put equal parts of water and lemon juice into a simple spray bottle. If the smell is really bad,  you can also use the solution to wash the surfaces around the cooking area. You might even wash the walls and floor too if the smell was really strong.


Actions to take to absorb the odour.

Discreetly absorb the odour with strong citrus, onion, or spice. Afterwards, if the smell was particularly acrid or strong, make sure you also wash all textiles in the kitchen ( tea-towels, towels, table cloths and even curtains if possible. Cardboard can also retain strong odours, so if you find that any have become a little damp and smelly, you will need to get rid of them too.


Overnight solutions

Place bowls or water, with cut up onion in it,  in strategic areas. Keep them out overnight to continue to absorb the smell..

Baking soda is also excellent for absorbing odours. This solution is particularly good at absorbing unwanted smells in a fridge too. Dilute about one tablespoon of baking soda in a bowl of warm water and leave all day and night.


30 minute solution

Boil some water on the stove with either 1 lemon cut up into quarters, or a handful of cloves in it.  Let the solution boil for 10mins then simmer for up to 30mins. Leave in the pan or in bowls around the area.


Actions to disguise the smell

As the smell fades, you can replace it with a warmer sweeter one.

If the smell isn’t too bad, but still lingering ( remember you will be more acutely aware of this than anyone else ! ), then you can trick the brain by providing a different, stronger, and nicer alternative to smell.


Pot Pourri smell

Mix a milder citrus and spice to create a nice room smell. E.g. heat up in water, some orange peel with a stick of cinnamon. Leave it in a bowl all day, so that the room gets that nice sweet spicy warm smell of oranges and cinnamon.


Freshly baked smell

Essentially you are pretending bake some yummy cookies. Preheat the oven to a bout  100°C  / 180°F , then turn it off again. Put some foil or parchment paper on your baking tray and sprinkle sugar ( brown ) and cinnamon ( and any other spice you like to smell ) Put a large knob (1 Tblspn ) of butter in the middle and leave it all baking slowly and gently for a few hours then turn the oven off and you can leave it all in there for several hours more. This is trick estate agents use to make a house feel nice and inviting for potential buyers!


Fresh coffee smell

Also a trick that real estate agents use. Put the coffee on ! Start grinding coffee beans, or percolate coffee to create that fresh coffee smell.


Finally, did you know…

Burnt toast smells can be used to get rid of other cooking smells that are lingering. So, if you have some other smell to get rid of ( e.g. a curry smell), if you burn a slice of toast deliberately then this will cover up and absorb the other smell.  It won’t take too long for the burnt toast smell to disappear afterwards.

How to get rid of the burnt taste ? 

What can you do with burnt rice ? 

We mean if it’s only a teeny bit burned then something light like coconut cream or avocado can help spread the ‘sharpness’. Most cases call for something stronger disguise though, so try adding of something like Soy or Worcestershire sauce, or spices. We prefer the spice route!


If it still tastes burnt after the 4 steps above…

Add a teaspoon of cumin and cinnamon mix, or either spice on its own… or, curry powder. By the way, this has nothing to do with our Moroccan past. We discovered this trick well after we left maison mk!

There are other solutions people tout, but really, go for the Indian curry or Eastern spices twist. It’s a great sweet n earthy combo that is well known and tested for rice or meat dishes that have burned to the bottom of the dish.

We just happen to love the flavours anyway, not to mention the added healthy benefits that cumin and cinnamon bring to any dish.


If it was just scorched…

scorched rice dish, korean nurungji dish

By that we mean, does it have a nice golden crispy layer at the bottom like in the image above? If so, then save it all !  This is what we call a happy accident! One option is to just present it at dinner as ‘scorched Korean rice’ otherwise known as nurungji in Korea. Triy it ! We often now pan fry leftover noodles, spagetti or rice to make a yummy side dish like this.

How to clean the burnt pan.

Tried and tested methods

First, use a wooden spoon to remove any stuck on rice from your pan.

We’ve heard of cleaning it with coke, however, we would stay with the usual vinegar or baking soda tricks.

If you have time to leave it for hours, or overnight there is actually a well known trick with a used clothes softener sheet… read on!

  1. Sprinkle baking soda into bottom of pan and add a few water to make a paste.
  2. Use a wooden spoon to help mix it on the burned parts to lift them a little.
  3. Now add more water to cover burnt parts by about 3cm. (use about 2 tablespoons to 200ml of water).
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and discard water.
  6. Use a non abrasive scrubber to take the burned bits off.

Final magic fix !

If you still have burned bits… add hot water to the pan with a fabric softener sheet … YES really ! That blue link shows some on Amazon but really, it’s about the same price as our solution to make sure it never happens again too.

Use a ‘used’ one.   If it doesn’t work straight away, leave the sheet in it all night and the burns should easily lift off gone by morning.

In fact, when I was cooking for my parents last week, I burned the onion, carrot, leek mix to the pan and I told my Dad about this fix. He proceeded to give me a better one back !

He sprinkled some washing powder on the bottom and covered with a little water. Left it to soak for a few hours and hey presto! A brand new looking shiny pan bottom. It was a normal steel pan though… I’m not sure if I’d try this on a non stick base.

The science behind perfect rice cooking.


If it was cooking mistakes you want to avoid… i.e. you aren’t sure which method is best for cooking rice in the first place… we’re with you there. You see,  how can you tell when you will get distracted again anyway! Also, we came across this great article explaining that there is also a scientific reason why it’s so difficult to cook rice. 


Apparently, it’s not just about the water to rice ratio

Is it 1:1, 2:1, or does it matter? Have a look at this article (from Business Insider) where it seems that they prove it’s always just 1 cup of water required, nomatter how many cups of rice are being cooked ! Why? It’s because…


It’s all about evaporation

This guy says it all comes down to the chemical reaction from evaporation. This is why the cooking varies so much, because that depends on many things – for instance the size of the pan, and how tight the lid fits;  and how many times you take a peek at the rice which is why so many recipes say don’t ! This is also why so many people have a slightly different way of cooking rice perfectly – because they have discovered how they  do it best, in their kitchen, with their usual quantities and utensils – finally perfect through trial and error.

The simple, easy way to make perfect rice.

Bamix gastro white hand blender featuring wall holder and all four Bamix blades

So this got us thinking, is it precision we need ? Then maybe we need one of those precision kitchen tools like the sous vide machine we have. It’s ironic that people used to think sous vide was just boil in the bag anyway.
After some research it doesn’t look like rice is the most common food cooked sous vide style – but we’ve gathered up some recipes and will give them a try and let you know.

 Rice cookers

Unless you already have a sous vide machine, or just need another excuse to get one, we then moved on to custom made rice cookers.
To be honest we don’t cook that much rice ourselves, so there’s no need to get a fancy digital machine !
What we were looking for was something simpler, like microwave rice cooking. That would free up the stove, save on the pans used, and make the washing easier at the same time.


The simpler the better !

Here’s the two most revered models that we love most. They are both available almost everywhere so click on through the Amazon links to see the deals you get locally. If it’s not available we have found our most favourite alternative.

Product comparison

Joseph Joseph

microwave rice cooker

Perfect for cooking fluffy rice or grains. Users even report cooking pasta in it ! Well designed. Prepare, cook and serve in one stylish dish.

Joseph Box contains:

1 x integrated colander 1 x measuring cup 1 x multi-purpose orange rice paddle with carrying handle that locks the lid closed for cooking Paddle also can be used as a spoon for fluffing and serving cooked rice

dimensions: 22.1cm x 13.5 x 18 cm

capacity: 2 litres

colour: beige / stone with orange rice paddle

weight: 535g

Dishwasher safe. Food safe. BPA free. Designed and made in England.

UK live price : £17.00
Click button below for all countries.


microwave cookware rice steamer

You can cook rice, polenta and couscous with this little steamer.

Sistema box contains:

1 x Rice steamer with side tabs that stay cooler for easy lifting
1 x Pressure chamber plate
1 x Lid with a steam release vent and locking clips
1 x non-stick Rice spoon

dimensions: 21. 6 cm x 19.5 x 16.1 cm.

capacity: 2.6 litre (13cup)

colour: red with clear lid

weight: 309g

Dishwasher safe (top rack), microwave and fridge/freezer safe. Phthalate and BPA free. Designed and made in New Zealand.

For info.. UK live price : £7.99 
Click button below for all countries.

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Paul & Aoibheann

Professional, honest, authentic – we’re here to help you save time, cook better, and live more.

Good food, home cooking, and simplifying life is what we love to do.

We owned the No. 1 restaurant in Marrakech for over 8 years – we understand cooking, and customer satisfaction.

We’re all suffering from information and salesmen overload online!   So… we want to simplify and clarify it,  to help us all make faster and better choices.