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

Last updated Oct 9, 2019 at 4:49PM | Published on Nov 17, 2018

5 STEPS… and make sure it never happens again !

You got distracted and the rice has boiled over and burned… again. Don”t worry, we’ve all been there, but not any more!

So, we can tell you now how to salvage a dinner, maybe even improve the taste of it, and how to avoid doing it ever again so you won’t even need to know the hacks next time !

Affiliate Disclosure : As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I may earn a commission.


  • Take it off the heat as soon as you smell burning.
  • Start filling the sink with cool water. Plunge the pan into it (to just above where it has burned) to stop it cooking further.


  • 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.


  • 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.
  • If this isn’t enough, follow our foodie suggestions for burnt rice food further down the page.

5-10 MINS WAIT : while the bread absorbs burnt flavours.

Before we go on and explain all the palava. The costs,  time, stress and hard work to fix the rice, and the pan ! Have a quick look at our new solution –   & your chance to stop the rice burning ever again !

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how to cook rice, quinoa, and porridge perfectly.

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  • 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 !
  • WHOOPS ! Now the acrid smell of that burned food lingers so the game will be given away if you don’t take the last step.
  • Weird how our minds work but If people smell the burn they will subliminally taste it too ! So, even if you get rid of the evidence, you will have to still get rid of the lingering odours.


  • Double bag any burnt offerings that you bin. Better still, take it straight to the outside bin.
  • 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.



2 more quick actions to get rid of the initial odour.


  • 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.


Next time, save time, stress, and money in the end too.

This is so worth it.  No more panic in our house !

* Makes the fluffiest rice ( in a hands off way )

* Makes perfect rice… and porridge, quinoa, couscous, veggies and more.

* BPA free, dishwasher and freezer proof.

and comes in many colours. 

So, do yourself a big favour and get one – comes in many colours. In the end, it’s a money saver so a win win solution,  and you won’t ever burn the rice again.

More actions you can take to absorb the odour.

Discreetly absorb the odour with strong citrus, onion, or spice.


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.


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.


Final check on all textiles

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.


Actions to disguise the ongoing 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.

More great things to do with burnt rice

 If it still tastes burnt after following the 5 steps above…


  • 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!


  • For a stronger disquise, 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…we mean, does it have a nice golden crispy layer at the bottom ?


scorched rice dish, korean nurungji dish  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. Try it ! We often now pan fry leftover noodles, spagetti or rice to make a yummy side dish like this.



But read on to find my new secret weapon to save the pan too!  Something you probably have it in the cupboard already.

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. They can cost you a pretty though.

If you are more like us, and don’t cook that much rice ourselves, the  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.

BONUS: We also found you can cook much more in these litte boxes… so it’s a bit like a steamer. Quinoa, couscous, barley, oats, even veggies or steamed fish ! So you can cook the whole dinner in it.


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 will show you our most favourite alternative.

Product comparison: simple microwave rice cookers

Joseph Joseph

microwave rice cooker

UK live price : £21.94
Click image or button below for all countries.

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.


microwave cookware rice steamer

For info.. UK live price : £6.49

Click image or button below for all countries.

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.

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affiliate disclosure

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I may earn a commission.

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Paul & Aoibheann

We love great food & cooking… & simplifying life.

We want to help you find the right tools to cook better. But we’re all suffering from information and salesmen overload online!  So… we want to simplify and clarify it,  so you can make faster and better choices.

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

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