How Do I Remove Burned On Grease From A Pan?

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Mary asks:

"Can you tell me the quickest way to remove years of burned on grease on the bottom of my flat pan."

"I’ve used Awesome, Scrub Free, and Dawn Dish Detergent (the one used for cleaning oil from the birds during Valdez oil tanker that ran aground in Alaska)."

"With the combination of the three, some has come off with hard elbow grease, but would like to use one product that would make it easier."


Tawra: I am the queen of burning things. One time I even melted the tea kettle to the burner! No kidding, Mike and mom still tease me about it. I have tried over the years many things to save my pots and pans. Here’s what I do.

I wasn’t clear if you meant the bottom of the inside of a pan or the outside, so I’ll address both.

If you mean the inside of the pan, these two things work the best:

  • Place a generous amount of baking soda (about 1/2 cup) in the bottom of your pan. Make sure it covers the bottom of your pan. Fill with water and then simmer for an hour or so. Most of the burned of stuff should come right off. You can do this more than once if needed.

  • If it doesn’t all come off with the first method then I take a razor blade and scrape off the last of the burned on food. I scrub with an SOS pad and after that the pans are usually good as new!

If the burned on grease is on the outside bottom of the pan, then go straight to the SOS pad and scrub hard. Unfortunately, the only easier way we have found to deal with this is to buy a new pan, which was the first thing Mike recommended when he noticed "quickest" and "easy" in your question ;-).


photo by: normanack



  1. Kathy says

    I used to use iron skillets a lot and over time they would get baked on grease also. When we camped I would take a skillet with me and when we went to bed at night I would put the skillet on top of the campfire. In the morning all of the burned on junk would be gone. I would only have to reseason the skillet (rub bacon grease or Crisco on the inside of the skillet and put in a 200 degree oven for 2 hours) and it was as good as new.

  2. Carmelle says

    This works beautifully for me every time .Place your grease burned pan in a garbage bag with a cup of ammonia beside it then blow in the bag to trap the air. Close with a twist tie and lay the bag on the grass overnight. The next morning you’ll be amaze how easily the burned on grease will come off. works great for me everytime.

  3. joyce says

    For greasy pan,use dry salt to remove greasy foods and oils. Then wash with hot soap dish water.
    the salt makes easy clean up,works for me.

  4. Valerie Harris says

    If you have a self-cleaning oven and you are dealing with a cast iron pan, put it in the oven and set the oven to “clean”. About an hour. Cast iron pan comes out like brand new! Reseason. I learned this one by accident and have used it ever since.

    And Carmelle, do you mean to put the ammonia BESIDE the bag or INSIDE the bag?

  5. Becky S says

    For stubborn stuck on or burnt food on pans, after soaking in hot water and dawn, dump the water. With the pan still wet sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda in the pan. With a scrub pad, scrub the pan, using the paste of the baking soda.

    • says

      After all the teasing I do to my daughter about her cooking I burnt a pan royal the other night. ((Isn’t there something in the Bible about pride going before a fall? HA!HA!)Any way I don’t have a dryer so no dryer sheets on hand but I did grab my Downy fabric softener. Coated the pan. Let it sit over night and it wiped off really nice the next day. So far the fabric softener sheet (or in my case fabric softener) seems to be one of the best ways to clean a burnt pan.

  6. Diane says

    I have always used vinegar and it really works but I have heard about the dryer sheets and if I every burn a pan again I am going to try that.

  7. Linda Cabler says

    The way I remove burned grease froma flat pan is by placing a fabric softener (dryer) sheet in teh bottom of it and letting it sit overnight. Usually it will wash right off.

  8. Linda Cabler says

    I had a cast on my fingers when I posted the comment above. Didnt realize I could make so many typos. LOL

    The method of putting the dryer sheets in a pan to remove burned food from it still works better than anything else I have tried so far.

    I have learned that one of my friends uses liquid fabric softener when she burns food onto her pans. She puts about 1 tablespoon fabric softener in the pan with hot water.

  9. Grandma says

    If you have pans that can go into the oven you can put them in on the self cleaning setting when you do clean your oven. It takes the marks off with no fuss for you.
    One friend uses oven cleaner on her burned pots and she has pans so nice they look new.

  10. Sue says

    If you do put your pot or pan in the oven on the self clean cycle, be sure they don’t have plastic handles. The temperature goes up to 500*. That would cause a whole new problem.

  11. Grizzly Bear Mom says

    Consider unscrewing the plastic handles and only then using the self cleaning function to wash your pans. Can I clean grease-grossed cookies sheets like this?

  12. Tony says

    If it is a cast iron pan just put it in the oven when self cleaning the oven, will look like new when you are done, just reseason it. This also works on a dirty pizza stone.

  13. Kris says

    I have a pan that has some kind of food baked on that nothing I’ve tried helps. It is an enameled cast iron frying pan with the griddle bars in the bottom. I’m not sure what was cooked in it anymore, but we were able to get the grease out. Now there is some truly baked on, dried SOMETHING still in the grooves at the bottom. I don’t want to use a razor blade or anything like that because I don’t want to ruin the enamel. Anybody have any suggestions?

    • says

      That sounds like a tough one Kris.I might try soaking it with hot water and a little dish detergent for a couple of days. Then scrub with a scrubby pad and some baking soda. It is amazing how much will come off after soaking if for a very long time.


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