How to Clean a Burnt Stainless Steel Pan

Burning your pan can be a normal part of the cooking process. Here’s how to fix it.

  • Emily Borst
  • Jul 26, 2022
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If you have a Stainless Steel Pan that has been badly burned, you may be wondering if you should attempt to clean it or just throw it away. Luckily, Stainless Steel is incredibly durable and can be cleaned using a few household items and a little elbow grease. Read on to learn how to clean a burnt Stainless Steel Pan so it looks new, no matter how badly you burnt your scrambled eggs or scorched your chicken breast.

Our Favorite: Made In Make It New Cleaner

This cleaner was specifically made for cleaning our Stainless Clad Pans, and does a great job at removing burnt-on food. Similar to the directions above, all you do is wet the surface of the pan, sprinkle some of the powdered cleaner on it, and get to scrubbing. It even removes water stains. We don’t recommend using it on our Non Stick or Carbon Steel Pans.

Best for: Burnt-on food, scorched pans

Runner Up: Bar Keeper’s Friend

This multi-purpose cleaning powder has been around since 1882 and is great for removing burnt food from pots and pans. It was originally designed for use in saloons around the time of prohibition, though we prefer it for our pots and pans.

Sprinkle some of the powder on the burnt surface, and scrub with a sponge, scrub brush, or soap pad. It will remove all traces of the burn without damaging your pan's nonstick coating. This product also works well for cleaning stainless steel sinks, faucets, and other surfaces in your kitchen.

Best for: Burnt-on food, scorched pans

More Suggestions:

Baking Soda

The alkalizing properties of baking soda neutralize acids, which are responsible for most food stains. It is commonly used as a scrubbing agent. In combination with water or another liquid, it forms a mildly abrasive paste that can be used to remove stubborn burnt on food and stains from various surfaces.

With a plastic scouring pad or sponge, scrub some baking soda over the burnt areas of your pan. Rinse out your pan under running water and repeat steps 1 and 2 until all traces of burnt food are gone.

Best for: Burned food, stains


The acidity of vinegar will help cut through any grease or residue on the outside of your pan, as well as neutralize any alkalinity left behind by the food.

Put one part vinegar in a pot with three parts water and let it sit overnight. After 24 hours, add two tablespoons of baking soda and let it sit for another 12 hours before scrubbing the stain away with a sponge or soft cloth.

Best for: Burnt-on food, stains, scorched pans


This is one of the easiest ways to clean burnt pans, and it works great on all types of metal surfaces. Simply sprinkle salt onto the affected area and let it sit for five minutes before scrubbing it off with a sponge or scouring pad. Salt is abrasive and works similar to powdered cleaners.

Best for: Burnt-on stains, scorched pans, etc.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

Scrub the pan with a damp sponge and sprinkle baking soda on the bottom. The baking soda will act as an abrasive agent, helping you remove the burnt food particles.

Add some vinegar to the pan after you've scrubbed for a few minutes. The vinegar will react with the baking soda to create bubbles, which will help loosen any remaining food.

Best for: Burnt-on stains, scorched pans, etc.

Ready to Clean?

Cleaning a burnt Stainless Steel Pan is easier than you might think. You only need a few simple items to get the job done. The most challenging part is to resist the urge to rush the process. It may take some time, but the effort is well worth it to be cooking with a shiny, like-new Stainless Steel Pan.

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