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How to Clean Burnt Grease from the Bottom of a Frying Pan

Surprise! You once again have burnt grease on the bottom of your frying pan. 

It happens all the time and can seem like such a struggle to get it all off. 

It would be nice if we could avoid burnt grease altogether, but let’s be honest that is neither practical nor realistic. 

Burnt grease happens, so the next best thing is knowing the tips and tricks to clean it up without it being your arm workout for the day. 

Whether you have ceramic, cast iron or stainless steel, I’ve created a guide for cleaning that

how to clean burnt grease from bottom of frying pans
Photo by YourBestDigs.com on Flickr

Natural Sponge

Quality Microfiber

Wooden Scraper

Types of frying pans

Cleaning grease from your pan isn’t a one-size fits all problem and solution. You’ll take a different approach depending on which type of pan you use. Here are some of the top types and ways to clean the grease right off!

  • Ceramic
    Baking soda for the win, again! Put a little water in your pan, just enough to cover the bottom. Then, add baking soda and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. Once you’ve let it sit, scrub the grease away with a non-abrasive scrub brush or wash rag. Another option is to let your pan soak in hot water. Try soaking it in a solution of 4:1, water to vinegar. Allow it to soak for thirty minutes, then scrub it clean.

  • Stainless Steel
    The best way to get grease off stainless steel pans is by using a mild soap such as Ecos Stainless Steel Polish and water. Put some water in your pan with a little soap, let it soak and then use a nylon bristle brush to scrub the grease away. Always make sure to rinse your pan once you’re done cleaning it! Another option is combining equal parts baking soda and water in a bowl, mix together then use your non-abrasive brush and mixture to scrub the grease away. The final option, if you have a very stubborn stain is to pour vinegar right on the grease, let it sit for 10-15 minutes and then use warm water and a scrub brush to scrub it away.

  • Calphalon (Non-stick)
    Cleaning grease from non-stick pans should, in theory, be the easiest since they are designed to not let food “stick”. Despite their non-stick name, grease can get stuck on non-stick pans. The way to remove it is similar to ceramic and stainless steel. First things first, try using soap and water. The quicker you can clean your pan, the less work you will most likely have to put in later. If soap and water don’t work, try using baking soda and water to scrub the grease off. If neither of these options seem to work, fill the pan with a solution of 1:3, vinegar to water and allow it to boil for about five minutes. Once the pan has cooled, you should be able to remove the grease easily.

  • Cast Iron
    Cleaning grease off cast iron is typically as easy as using a stiff-bristled brush and a little water. For tougher stains try filling the bottom of the pan with salt, cutting the end off the end of a potato and using the potato to scrub the grease away. Rinse and season once you’ve cleaned it. (I also have a blog post going into more detail of the cleaning of cast iron as well as how to season it. You can reference it here.)
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Tools for Cleaning your Cookware

We’ve gone through how to clean grease off the most commonly used pans, but I also wanted to tell you about a few tools that could come in handy in the cleaning process and really just great ones to have on hand. Some of these I’ve already linked, but I also wanted to tell you about the ones I specifically recommend.

  • Sponge
    Most of my dishes are done with soap, water and a sponge. This sponge is not synthetic, lasts a really long time and doesn’t start to stink like manufactured sponges do. Another bonus is it will not sit in a landfill but will biodegrade.

  • Microfiber towel
    Having a great microfiber towel in your kitchen is always a good idea. You can use it for cleaning your pots and pans as well as kitchen surfaces. I also like the color options this brand offers.

  • Scraper
    I use a scraper on my cast iron skillet as well as trays and other pots and pans often. It removes a large portion of hard-to-get food off my skillet and doesn’t hurt the surface. I love these specific ones because they are made of wood and last a long time.

  • Dish Soap
    For most of your cleaning, you want a mild dish soap. It will clean effectively while not stripping or wearing down your pots and pans. This is a non-toxic brand and comes in bulk, so you can just refill your soap dispensers without having to buy a bunch of small bottles of soap.

Common Issues

Let’s chat about some of the biggest culprits when it comes to stains and hard-to-get-off foods from your pots and pans. Granted your approach may be slightly different depending on the type of cookware you use, but hopefully these tips and tricks can help in your cleaning process.

  • Bacon grease
    Whenever I cook bacon, I’m always amazed by how the grease seems to overtake the pan. It’s incredible how much grease those little strips of bacon can produce! The biggest thing with bacon grease is to not put it down the sink. Allow your pan to cool, then scrape off as much grease as you can into the trash. By allowing it to cool and harden it’s easier to scrape up. Then, try using a a little dish soap to get the remainder of the grease.

  • Burnt honey
    Honey is hard enough to clean up when it’s not burnt, but dealing with burnt honey in a pan can be a headache. Thankfully, there is a way to clean your pan and deal with that sticky mess. Put a solution of water and vinegar, 3:1, in your pan. Bring it to a boil and then add some baking soda. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes, and you should be able to scrub the honey off with ease.

  • Burnt eggs
    Eggs, one of the most common breakfast foods, can quickly burn and get stuck to your pan. If this is the case, combine a half cup of vinegar with enough hot water to cover the bottom of the pan. Allow it to sit for ten minutes, and then clean your pan as you normally would with soap and water. The vinegar should help loosen the egg from the pan as well as remove any unwelcome scent.

Cleaning Dirty Baking Trays

If you do any type of baking, no doubt you’ve come across burnt food on your baking trays. I find they are one of the most cumbersome items to clean due to their size, and if they aren’t very deep water spills happens quickly and easily. I’ve collected a few ways to help make cleaning your baking trays easier and also some ways to prevent hard to clean spills. With each of these methods the first step will always be to wipe up any excess food with a paper towel.

  • Soap and Water
    Fill your pan with a little soap and hot water. Allow it to sit for thirty minutes or even longer. Often times, I’ll fill my pan, walk away and then tackle it later with other dishes. Once, you’ve allowed it to sit, scrub your pan with a non-abrasive sponge or cloth.

  • Baking Soda and Vinegar
    Sprinkle baking soda over the tray. I try to lightly dust the entire tray. Then, pour vinegar over the pan, just so the bottom is covered and allow it to sit for ten to fifteen minutes. Then, use soap, water and a sponge to clean any residue. Baking soda and vinegar also restore shine.

  • Baking Mats
    These mats line your baking tray and protect it from food that could easily get stuck on. They are silicone and easy to clean in the sink, and it makes cleaning your baking trays a breeze. All you have to do is wipe them down and put them back in the cupboard!

  • Foil or Parchment Paper
    If you don’t want to deal with really any clean up, you can always line your pan with foil or parchment paper before baking. Once you’re done, simply throw it away, wipe down your tray and store it for next time.

Other Resources:

Helpful Links

Wrapping Up:

Cleaning Carbonized Grease From The Bottom of a Pan

Cleaning burnt on grease and food from pans or baking trays can be a real drag, but there are many easy solutions to making the process easier and removing the guesswork.

Most of the time baking soda and vinegar will do the trick, but there are also more high-powered solutions out there as well. Let me know if you use any of these tips or tricks or any I may have missed!

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