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

Last updated Feb 4, 2019 at 6:27PM | Published on Nov 17, 2018

Agh, you got distracted…

rescue a burned dinner

and the rice has boiled over and burned ! 

I’m totally with you. I suppose I always had too many things I could be doing, calls to make, and left the kitchen too easily.

The only solution, Paul used to tell me, was to use timers, stay around the cooker and not wander off. The great thing about simplifying living, and being so foodie focussed, is that I don’t leave the kitchen any more. It’s hard not to be close to the action in a houseboat!

Don’t panic…

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 dinner, you probably have it in the cupboard already.

Do these 4 quick steps immediately


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 !

Now read on if the burning has gone too far… and what to do with the burned pan!

If it still tastes burnt

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!

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.

Now to clean the pan.

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!

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.

If it was just scorched…

by that we mean a nice, golden crispy layer at the bottom… 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.

rescue a burned dinner

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… then let us know in the comments below and we will post on how to cook rice for you too.


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