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

Last updated Mar 11, 2019 at 6:35PM | Published on Nov 17, 2018

First of all, don’t panic…

Follow the steps below, then treat yourself and read all the way to the bottom to find our best solution to never doing this again !

rescue a burned dinner

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

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.

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 !

How burned is it ?

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.

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.

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… we’re with you there. You see, in my book how can you tell when you will get distracted anyway! Also, we cam across this great article explaining that there is also a scientific reason why it’s so difficult to cook rice. 


The science behind perfect rice cooking.


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.

Precision tools

So this got us thinking, maybe we need one of those precision tools like the sous vide tool we have. 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.

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.


Rice cookers

It seems that you can get fancy digital machines from about £30 to £300 but to be honest we don’t cook that much rice ourselves. 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.

Here’s the two most revered models that we love most. They are both available in the UK, Australia and the U.S. so click on through the Amazon links to see the deals you get locally.

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.

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 : £20.00


microwave cookware rice steamer

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



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.

UK live price : £9.00

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About Paul & Aoibheann

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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.

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