The stovetop is cooled, the food has been wolfed down, and it’s time for a vodka tonic and new issue of Bon Appétit. But wait, in that steel pan of seasoning and oil, a colony of burnt scraps is taunting you. If you wait until tomorrow, your fingernails and pan could be ruined. If you clean it tonight, you might miss a new episode of Game of Thrones

Scraping off crispy leftovers isn’t the ideal way to spend an evening, so follow these simple steps on how to clean a burnt pan flawlessly and hassle-free. 

How To Clean A Burnt Pan

  • Prep Time:3 hrs
  • Cook Time:10 mins
  • Total Time:3 hrs 10 mins
  • Servings:1
  • Easy


  • Burnt pan
  • Dawn dishwashing soap
  • Old and unused credit cards/gift cards
cream, sweet, chocolate, cake
Mackenzie Patel
  • Step 1

    Take your cooked food out of the pan and let it cool down for 1 to 2 minutes. If you put water in the pan immediately, it could sizzle up and burn you.

    Mackenzie Patel
  • Step 2

    Add water, a pump of Dawn soap, and let soak for 3 hours to overnight. Leave the spatula (or whatever utensil) in the water as well to let the burnt parts soak.

    coffee, chocolate
    Mackenzie Patel
  • Step 3

    Empty the water and pull out the credit cards.

    coffee, tea
    Mackenzie Patel
  • Step 4

    If your pan is nonstick (i.e. coated in Teflon), use the plastic credit card to scrape off the burnt parts. Any other material could scratch the pan. If your pan isn't nonstick (i.e. stainless steel with no coating), use steel wool to clean it.
    #SpoonTip: Reliable brands for steel wool include Brillo and SOS.

    Mackenzie Patel
  • Step 5

    Use your fingers to clean any excess crisp off, especially in the curved edges of the pan.

    sausage, pork, fish, meat
    Mackenzie Patel
  • Step 6

    Wash the pieces out of the pan and clean normally with a sponge and soap.

    Mackenzie Patel

Your nails are saved and Jon Snow wasn’t missed: success. Your pans are basking in their cleanliness and shine – and you learned how to clean a burnt pan without the sudsy filth and charred slime. Happy cleaning!