How to Get Burnt Sugar off a Cooking Pan (9 Effective Methods)

Out of all the foods and liquids that are burnt and stuck on a pan, getting rid of burnt sugar is the most difficult.

This is because the sugar melts and caramelizes and changes from solid to liquid on high heat.

Once it is stuck and the pan cools down, the burnt sugar solidifies again and almost glues itself to the pan.

This burnt sugar can be a nightmare to wash off. What is worse is that soaking it in warm water does not work.

Additionally, it is not a good idea to get some steel wool and start scouring the pan.

There is a high tendency that you will damage the pan. Not to mention that steel wool can be rather rough on your hands too.

How to Get Burnt Sugar off Cooking Pans

Luckily, you can make use of different substances to get rid of burnt sugar.

We’re mentioning more than one because, given the nature of the incident, the burnt sugar might be a huge issue or a minor one.

In any scenario, you can use the following ingredients to remove burnt sugar from a pan.

Using the Boiling Water Method

In most cases, you can easily get rid of burnt hardened sugar or caramel by boiling water in the same pan and repeating the process several times.

When you boil water, it will slowly dissolve the burnt sugar or burnt caramel, and after a few minutes of boiling, you can throw away the hot water.

Depending on how much and how hard the sugar is stuck to your pan, you may have to repeat this process a couple of times.

Below is a video that shows how to do this:

Sometimes, you won’t be able to get rid of the burnt sugar just by boiling water. In such cases, you can use the methods covered next to remove burnt sugar off your pots and pans.

Using Baking Soda

Known for being abrasive and extremely multi-purpose, baking soda is a great cleaning product for dealing with burnt sugar in pans.

It is very easy to find in any pantry, and even if you do not have any, you can head to a nearby shop to buy some.

ArmHammer Baking Soda, 13-1-2 Lb Bag, Original Scent

Additionally, one of the best qualities of baking soda is that a little goes a long way.

So, even if you have one or two teaspoons, you can still use them to clean a pan.

This inexpensive and flexible ingredient is also perfect for getting stubborn stains and burnt food out of pans.

How to Use It

For burnt sugar, you can use baking soda to clean the pan in the following manner:

  • Baking soda – 2 cups
  • Water – enough to cover the bottom of the pan

Take the burnt pan and sprinkle the baking soda on the bottom of it.

Now, add the water and make sure it is enough to cover the baking soda mixture. Place the pan on top of the stove and allow it to simmer on low heat for 15 minutes.

For large burns, leave it on the stove for 30 to 40 minutes.

Once it is cool, wash the pan like normal. The burnt bits will fall off and you will have a shiny clean pan. If you can’t find baking soda, you can substitute it with ordinary table salt.

Also read: How to Prevent Your Cookware From Ruining When Cooking With Honey or Syrup?

Using Bar Keeper’s Friend (BKF)

Bar Keeper’s Friend, also known as BKF, is a surface cleanser and polisher for use on countertops made with ceramic, stainless steel, chrome, fiberglass, porcelain, tile, and other materials.

Bar Keepers Friend Powder Cleanser 12 Oz - Multipurpose Cleaner & Stain Remover - Bathroom, Kitchen & Outdoor Use - for Stainless Steel, Aluminum, Brass, Ceramic, Porcelain, Bronze and More (2 Pack)

However, it is also very effective when used for getting rid of burnt food from your pan.

The high-strength powder is a great way to get rid of burnt sugar.

As long as the pan’s material matches the ones that BKF is compatible with, there is no issue with causing any damage to the pan.

How to Use It

If you want to use BKF to clean your pan, you should try the following:

  • BKF – As needed (Powder form)
  • Cleaning sponge

Sprinkle the BKF powder on the pan and set it aside for 2 to 3 minutes. Take a wet cleaning sponge and use circular motions to loosen up the burnt bits.

You won’t have to scrub because the cleaner should help loosen things quickly. If you’re dealing with a particularly difficult burn, add some water and turn the BKF powder into a paste.

Leave the paste on the spot for 2 to 3 minutes before using the cleaning sponge on it.

Once all the burnt bits are removed, wash the pan thoroughly with warm soapy water and rinse well. Make sure no residue from the cleaner is left behind.

Get Burnt Sugar off a Cooking Pan using Bar Keepers friend

Using Vinegar

Whether you use white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or more, you can easily get almost any stain out with ease.

Vinegar is also a favorite as a cleaner because it is multi-purpose, very easy to find, effective, and inexpensive.

For burnt pans, it works really well and it can have it looking shiny and as good as new in next to no time.

How to Use It

Using vinegar to clean burnt pans is very easy and simple.

For this, you can try the following method:

  • Vinegar – 1 cup (as needed)
  • Cleaning sponge

Add 1 cup of vinegar or as much as you need to cover the bottom of the pan. For the fast method, you can place the pan on the stove and let the vinegar simmer gently for 15 minutes.

Then, set the pan aside and allow it to cool. Once it is cooled, use a sponge to scrub the pan and get the stain removed.

If you do not want to heat up vinegar in the pan, you can leave it overnight.

Simply add enough vinegar to the pan and then set it aside. The next day, scrub the pan, and not only will the stain come out but the pan will be shiny as well.

However, for tough stains, you may have to use heat to get the burnt bits off.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is also a great cleaner and is often used in homes for cleaning.

This is a potent substance and a little goes a long way. It is perfect for removing tough stains like the ones you get from burnt sugar.

Amazon Basics Hydrogen Peroxide Topical Solution USP, 32 Fl. Oz, Pack of 6

It is also another cleaning ingredient that you can easily find at any store.

How to Use It

This substance is very easy to use and you can use it for your pan by following this method:

  • Hydrogen peroxide – as needed
  • Cleaning sponge

Pour in enough hydrogen peroxide to cover half an inch of the pan.

Now, place the pan on top of the stove and let the solution come up to a boil on medium heat.

Turn down the heat and let it simmer in the pan for 10 minutes more. Wait for the pan to cool before using a cleaning sponge to scrub the pan thoroughly.

While this method is very effective, keep in mind that it is going to create an unpleasant smell. Make sure to turn on the vent. Luckily, it will not harm pans but you should still rinse them thoroughly to avoid any leftover residue.

Fabric Softener Sheets

Yes, the fabric softener sheets you add to your laundry can actually be very useful in getting rid of tough, burnt sugar from your pans.

Snuggle Fabric Softener Dryer Sheets, Blue Sparkle, 200 Count

All you need is one sheet and you are good to go. The chemicals in the sheet do not harm the pan and really help to loosen the burnt bits.

You can find these sheets anywhere. Moreover, if you cannot find the fabric softener sheets, you can also use liquid softener.

It makes a great alternative and does deliver results.

How to Use It

To use fabric softener sheets for removing burnt sugar from your pans, you can try this method:

  • Fabric softener sheet – 1 sheet
  • Fabric softener – 1 tablespoon (liquid, only as an alternative)
  • Water – As needed
  • Cleaning sponge

Fill a quarter of the pan with water. Place it on the stove and low heat and allow it to come to a boil. Take it off the heat and then add the fabric softener sheet to it.

Leave the pan for a few hours or overnight. Now, take the sheet out and then scrub with the cleaning sponge to get the burnt bits out.

If you’re using liquid fabric softener, add it to the water while it is boiling and stir it thoroughly. Leave it for several hours or overnight and clean as you would.

Make sure to rinse the pan thoroughly with warm soapy water to avoid having any residue, whether you use liquid fabric softener or a sheet.

Cream of Tartar

A popular ingredient used in cooking, baking, and wine brewing, cream of tartar also works great as a cleaner.

Cream of Tartar for Baking 1lb, Gluten Free, Premium All Natural Food-grade Cream of tartar bulk, natural choice tartar powder - great for meringues, bath bombs, cream of tarter 1 lb - Made in the USA

It can be very effective against burnt sugar and can be used for cleaning even the most stubborn of stains. Much like baking soda, you only need a little to get things clean and shiny.

It is another ingredient that is found in almost any pantry, is inexpensive, and can be easily bought from any grocery store.

Also read: How to Clean Aluminum Pans with Cream Of Tartar

How to Use It

To use cream of tartar for cleaning a burnt pan, you should do the following:

  • Cream of tartar – 2 tablespoons
  • Water – 1 cup
  • Cleaning sponge

Before adding it to the pan, combine the cream of tartar and the water together. Stir to make sure that it is completely dissolved.

Now, add this mixture to the pan and bring it to a boil on low heat. After this, remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool.

Once the pan is cool, use the sponge and give it a good scrub before rinsing it with warm soapy water. Again, rinse thoroughly to remove all residue.

This will not only remove hardened burnt sugar but also make your pans shiny and look just like new.

Tomato Ketchup

Yes, we’re talking about the condiment here. Tomato ketchup is very good for cleaning pans because of the natural acidity of the tomatoes.

It also contains vinegar which is another ingredient that is great for cleaning. You can use any store-brand tomato ketchup for this purpose.

The good news is that almost every household has a bottle of tomato ketchup in their fridge and it is also easily available from any store.

How to Use It

Cleaning a pan with tomato ketchup is very easy and simple if you do the following:

  • Tomato ketchup – as needed
  • Cleaning sponge

Simply pour a thick layer of tomato ketchup into your pan. It should be thick enough to completely cover the burnt sugar on the bottom of the pan. Leave it as is overnight.

After that, clean it with a sponge. You may need to scrub a little harder but the burnt bits will come off without too much effort.

Rinse thoroughly with warm soapy water to ensure that there is no ketchup residue.


Last but not least, we have Coca-Cola, also known as Coke.

This carbonated sugary beverage is surprisingly good as a cleaner and can be used for getting rid of burnt sugar.

You can find it in any store and it’s very inexpensive as well.

How to Use It

To use Coca-Cola to clean out your pan, you can try the following:

  • Coca-Cola – 1 bottle
  • Plastic scraper
  • Cleaning sponge

All you have to do is fill the pan with a small bottle of Coca-Cola. If you have a large bottle, make sure to add two full cups into the pan.

Now, set the pan aside and let it soak for several hours or overnight. Use the plastic scraper to loosen as much of the hardened sugar burnt bits as possible.

Use the cleaning sponge to wash and clean the pan as usual and rinse thoroughly. Make sure that there is no sugary residue left behind from the Coca-Cola.

With the help of these cleaning tips, you can easily get rid of any burnt sugar from any pan. While you won’t be able to remove burnt caramelized sugar the regular way, you can try these 8 methods I have covered in this article.

Just remember to pay attention to the type of pan you’re using before you pick a cleaner.

This ensures that you don’t end up accidentally damaging the pan while cleaning it.

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