10 Ways to Save Ruined Recipes

Do you routinely create havoc in the kitchen? Turn that frown upside down! There are a number of food hacks that can help in even the most helpless situations and result in something utterly… well, edible. (See also: Learn to Love Cooking With These 11 Kitchen Tricks)

Here's how to bail yourself out of 10 common (and annoying!) cooking and baking mistakes.

1. Burned Rice

It's easy to get distracted when you're cooking dinner. Then you smell the rice burning on the stove and panic. The fix is easy. Take rice off the heat, place a piece of white sandwich bread on top, and replace the pot cover. Wait several minutes and your rice will taste good as new.

2. Gummy Rice

On the other end of the spectrum, your rice might be too soggy and even gummy. What to do? Well, if it's not too far gone, you can always rinse with some cold water and use your fingers or a fork to separate and fluff the grains. If it's quite glued together, I switch gears and make up veggie burgers, rice cakes, or even rice pudding.

3. Salty Soup

I'm a repeat offender for adding too much salt to my soups and stews. I usually try diluting the salt first by adding more plain water or cooking stock. If that doesn't work (or my soup is already quite thin), I add some noodles or rice to the mix, which help soak up the flavor from the broth and distribute it more evenly. That old potato trick you heard about apparently doesn't work, though I haven't tried it personally.

4. Sticky Pasta

If your pasta is sticking together, the solution is quite simple. Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to the mix and toss. It'll free up those bound-together noodles and also add some light flavor and healthy fats to your dish.

5. Overcooked Veggies

If you boiled or otherwise cooked your vegetables for too long, I suggest pureeing them into a tasty and nutritious vegetable soup. You'll want to add some water or stock while blending to achieve your desired consistency, then put the mix on your stove to simmer with some salt, pepper, and other herbs or spices. This new dish can double as baby food.

6. Too Much Spice

We cook with a lot of heat in our house. However, even I have my limits. If you add too much spice to a dish, there are a few things you can do. You can try adding some sugar in 1/2 teaspoon measurements and keep tasting until you're satisfied. You can bulk up the dish by adding more veggies or meat (this will help dilute it). Or you can serve with some cooling dairy to help neutralize the burn.

7. Overcooked Meat

I'm a vegetarian, so I asked my mom how she rescues tough, overcooked meat for dinner time. She says most often she'll shred the offender and make beef tacos or mix chicken with mayo for salad sandwiches. There are a number of other ways to use overcooked protein, including chopping small pieces of pork and making fried rice or soaking beef in marinade overnight for use in wraps.

8. Soggy Meat, Etc.

Overcrowding your pan can cause a host of problems when cooking dinner dishes. Chief among them is not allowing steam to escape and properly crisp and brown your dish. The result is soggy meat. If you think you have have overcrowded your pan, quickly turn on another one and transfer some meat (or whatever else you're cooking) to it to give some searing room.

9. Dry Cookie Dough

I make a lot of cookies, so I have quite a bit of experience reviving too-dry cookie dough. The key is getting it moistened up again, but not with water. Instead, turn your dough out onto a piece of wax or parchment paper and cover it with a teaspoon of cooking oil. Knead with your hands and add more oil as necessary until it's soft and pliable. Wrap and place in your fridge for 30 minutes before baking as directed.

10. Crumbling Cookies

It can happen to the best of us. We mix cookie dough and bake, but they just don't hold together. One of my favorite dessert recipes — Vegan Ice Cream Pie — uses crumbled cookies as its crust. So, if you find yourself with a batch of crumbled mess, try reimagining it into pie crust by processing with some oil and liquid sweetener (honey, agave, maple syrup, etc.) to bind.

Any recipes you've learned how to rescue? Please share in comments!

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Guest's picture

The #1 idea seems like magic. I kinda want to burn some rice on purpose just to try it. It could be a party trick :)

Guest's picture
Ruby Julian

I recently made a loaf of rye bread from a mix, and the yeast packet included in it must have been exposed to heat at some point because the dough did not rise. I rescued it by mixing a package of rapid-rising yeast with 1/3 of a cup of very warm water. This was poured into the bowl with the dough and mixed into it, and then I added a few fistfuls of flour to soak up the extra water, kneaded it all together and set it to rise again. That time it worked and it made a really delicious loaf of bread.

I bake bread pretty much every week, and this was the first time in years that I'd a loaf just completely fail to rise.