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Cleaning burned LeCreuset

Burned onions making soup. Having a very hard time getting the dark residue off the bottom of the pan. Help!

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  1. Before considering more "nuclear" options, I would try the following:

    1. Fill with warm water containing some mild detergent and let it sit overnight.
    2. Scrape with a wooden spatula.
    3. Scrub with Le Creuset Pot and Pan Cleaner (a thick orange liquid cleanser made by LC).

    1 Reply
    1. re: tanuki soup

      I would also throw some vinegar into the soak ...

    2. if you have powdered dishwasher detergent, try using it as a scrub. It will not harm the enamel coating. Even if your detergent comes in little blocks, you can break them down into granules.

      1. Bring some water to a boil in the pan, add some baking soda, a couple tablespoons or so, and let it simmer. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the residue. It should come clean eventually. I once scorched the bottom of an LC making jam, and eventually with multiple boilings and scrubbing I succeeded in getting the burned sugar off the bottom with no harm to the finish.

        1 Reply
        1. re: janniecooks

          Thanks again for the tip! I caramelized onions for french onion soup and had really faint light brown/tan spots (nothing black or burnt on). I did a soapy boil a few times and scraped with a wooden spoon to no avail. The baking soda worked perfectly. I was worried it wouldn't bring it back to just like new but it did and the enamel is still nice and shiny.

        2. Alternating between boiling baking soda solution and boiling vinegar solution. Some resiude dissolve well in basic solution and some in acidic solution, thus the alternation.

          1. Thanks, trying the multiple boiling methods with baking powder alternating w/ vinegar. Will report back!

            1. First boil w/ baking soda, about 2/3 of black stuff gone. Thanks!!

              1 Reply
              1. I did exactly this--caramelized the onions into incredibly adhesive charcoal. I soaked and scraped and soaked and scraped, but nothing, literally nothing was letting go.

                I found this thread in a search and tried the boiling baking soda method. I did it 3 times and it got rid of about 2/3rds after scraping with a wooden spoon. I didn't have any cheap vinegar that I wanted to boil away, so I gave it to the husband and he used the pressure washer on it. Voila! I think the baking soda loosened it enough that it all came off. Thanks for all the suggestions.

                1. Bless your souls! I just burnt apricot jam all over the bottom of my pretty red Le Creuset Dutch oven. I thought that I had ruined my favorite piece of kitchen equipment forever. But no! I just employed the boiling water-baking soda method twice, and it came off! My Dutch oven will live to see another batch of jam. Thank you.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: s marie

                    My mom made me some veggie soup in her little orange La Creuset and we forgot about it and burned the whole thing, after 2 weeks of scrubbing, I finally found this page, and 3 minutes boiling with the baking soda and scrubbing with the spoon, it looks like new. Thank goodness! She would not have been happy!!!

                  2. I usually just boil the majority of it off, but a paste of kosher salt works well for me, too. A little tedious, though.

                    I regret buying the 5 quart dutch oven in White. The outside looks like crap and I don't have the patience to scrub it out. I may have to look into that LC cleaner.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Azizeh

                      I've had 3 Le Creuset pots for at least 4 years that I use regularly, and they still look brand new. When I'm done cooking and the pan is still warm, I pour water in it with some dish soap, heat it till the water is hot, and then clean the big stuff out with a kitchen sponge. If there is any discoloration or stains, they wipe out easily with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. I never use a scrubber on it because it can scratch the clear coating over the enamel, and once that is gone the cookware looks all dull and stains easily. Because I don't want to scratch the clear coat, I also make sure to only use silcone utensils. Another factor in keeping LC looking new is properly preparing the surface before you cook, it makes cleanup a lot easier. Before adding any food to my LC cookware, I heat the cookware over no more than medium heat until the pan is hot (if a drop of water dances on the surface, it is ready), then I put some oil on a paper towel and wipe down the interior of the pan with it. I've never had a problem with food sticking to the cookware, and like I said, my cookware looks shiny and brand new even though it gets used regularly.

                      1. re: gloryah

                        That's good advice. The discoloration on my white piece is on the outside. Namely on the bottom and the lower parts of the side.

                        If I do a kosher salt scrub or use the Barkeeper's Friend, it comes out. I just don't have the interest in doing that often. My red piece looks brand new, it's just the white that shows everything.

                        1. re: gloryah

                          Gloryah--thank you for that advise. I started a new post before I saw this having had a stickiness issue with my LeCreuset. Your advice is very valuable.

                          1. re: gloryah

                            Those Mr Clean Magic Erasers are pretty amazing.

                        2. The boiling baking soda method worked to remove the burnt on residue, but there were still stains. I used Oxiclean, one scoop in a few inches of water, then boiled for about half an hour. ALL the stains were gone . . . even the ones that had been there for years. My big dutch oven looks brand new inside and out. I hadn't seen Oxiclean mentioned anywhere, but use it for other stain removal, so gave it a try. I used it in the same way others suggested for baking soda, just substituted the Oxiclean for baking soda..

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: cbayly

                            Oxiclean! Pure genius!!! Thank you!! Oxiclean method worked the first time. Went searching for a fix after I burned two LC dutch ovens during a snowstorm cooking spree. Pots which I treasure as they were inherited from my beloved late uncle. One actually burned in the oven with nothing in it... preheating it to bake bread. Actually joined Chow Hound just so I could post a reply and thank you! Pots look brand new!! Awesome idea!

                            1. re: Mcm080203

                              Oxiclean it is! I've used a little bleach and that works but don't leave it in the pot for over night. It will remove the shine if you leave it in a long time. Somebody mentioned pressure washer which should work. 3000 psi should get it down to the pot in a flash. Problem is you need to be in your bathing suit.
                              Btw if you're going to do the bake bread in pot just leave that one for bread baking and let it get brown.

                              1. re: surfereddie

                                You know on second thought, while the pots look brand new again I think the oxiclean did alter the clear coating. Things are sticking and the bottom doesn't feel smooth anymore. Was so excited but I think I've messed up my treasured pots!! Maybe stick with the baking soda!

                                1. re: Mcm080203

                                  Oxiclean is a mild acid, so it's possible, although I would think unlikely, that you may have lightly etched the surface.

                                  1. re: Mcm080203

                                    Mcm080203, try wiping out the pot with white vinegar. It's what LC recommends to to shine the pot up. You might just have a residue left on the pot from the OxiClean. The vinegar should remove it and restore the shine. Let us know if it works.

                            2. FWIW, I've had great luck getting scorched fondue cheese out of enamel-cast iron pans by using a TBSP of Cream of Tartar in water (enough to cover the stained part of the pan)-- bring to a simmer, then turn off heat, and let it sit until water is just warm. A simple soapy dishrag removes any remaining brown residue bits. I don't know if scorched cheese burned onto enamel is similar to burned onions, but it worked great for me.

                              1. Thanks to everyone for the baking soda recommendation. Did it twice and the Farina that burned into my Cousances pot lifted right off. A word of warning though - adding baking soda to the boiling water will create a science experiment on your stove. On the plus side the boiled over baking soda and water made it easy to clean the stovetop.

                                1. Dark residue accumulated since this post. And I'm getting rid of it slowly by adding about 1/2 inch of hydrogen peroxide with about 4-5 T baking soda. Bring to boil, it'll fizz a whole lot, and simmer so it's bubbling, scraping with wooden spoon. I've done about three to four rounds of this (quart and a half of peroxide) and It's almost there. Won't be perfect but way better than this morning.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: berkleybabe

                                    Hi, berkleybabe:

                                    You've been cleaning this pan since 2010?

                                    Seriously, don't be too hard on yourself--caramelizing onions in cast iron on the stovetop is a fool's errand. They burn if you stop stirring; disintegrate if you don't. Been there done that. You need a better pan for this application. Or a hella diffuser. Why people think cast iron is not going to hotspot just boggles my mind.

                                    How'd Big Game turn out last year? Cal got a 2012 team? Give 'Em the Axe!

                                    Aloha,
                                    Kaleo

                                    1. re: berkleybabe

                                      Berkleybabe--- I have had my one pan for almost 40 years I think.. anyway it is my go-to pan for everything, and lots of onion soup. It is dark brown to black on the inside bottom now, but that is just a stain left over from hundreds of need-to-boilings with baking soda etc---which always does work eventually. the inside surface gets retreated with oil, and it remains fairly non-stick. I could care less about the looks , obviously. my other pans are still fairly light colored inside. It is the onions... you know they used to use onions to dye things brown.. I think mainly the skins but that might explain the stubbornness of a stain left even when the pan is smooth and clean. Relax about the looks and just enjoy the pan that keeps on giving. Stir those onions.

                                      1. re: jabes

                                        It was onions among other stuff, literally a carbon layer. The backing soda/peroxide did a good job. But I think there's now some pitting, it's not super smooth enamel anymore but maybe it wouldn't be anyhow since I've had this for at least 25 years. Do you oil treat yours-- let me know how you do it. I was at TJ MAXX and saw a couple Le Creuset pans, on discount = $199/ $159, still big bucks. I have several smaller pans from my mom. I never knew what I had!

                                        1. re: berkleybabe

                                          Sorry for the slow reply -- we moved and have been doing the box thing for way too long. Back to the oil treating pans. I oil treat all my older pans as if they were carbon steel or cast iron. This does seem to work pretty well to keep them fairly non-stick. I fear Teflon and all the other coatings, high heat really ruins them. Try it. Even the ones with wooden handles, just keep those on low heat stove top after you wash and wipe with oil. then as soon as they are "non-stick", forever more use just hot water and a rag to clean. No detergent, no abrasives. for the all metal pans you can bake slowly in the oven, best way to keep them in good shape is to do it every time you use them. Good luck.

                                    2. Dawn Power Dissolver also works very well.

                                      1. When my husband scortched the entire interior (up to 1.5 inches from rim) of my le creuset baking beans, I almost grabbed it from him to use it as a murder weapon. He had somehow dulled the shine of the enamel. I scrubbed and scrubbed with dishwashing liquid... heated it up, tried wooden spoon... and gave up, thinking the enamel had actually degraded somehow and would never shine again.

                                        Fast forward 6 months, and i hadn't used the pot again because it was too painful to see it in that state. Husband gets it out and uses it to make onion relish (no really its great, home-made - artifical-preservative free!). Major ingredient: vinegar. Cooking time: forever. Result: shiniest, happiest Le Creuset EVER !!! I could NOT believe my eyes. Lesson: boil a ton of vinegar in there for a few hours. (Bonus: it pretty much fumigates the entire house....open some windows! )

                                        1. WOW...i burned a mess into the bottom of my pot making lobster bisque. Tried everything to get out. thanx to this column tried Oxyclean for a half hour boil and it did the trick, even taking out stains that had been there 20+ years. THANKS!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: moonlitesailor

                                            I have a Lodge Enamed CI Dutch Oven i got at Amazon for a real deal. They recommend baking soda,too but Oxyclaen really doe shte job quickly and easliy. Get the food residue out,put some OC in it and simmer for a while. Super clean.

                                          2. I can also report that the Le Creuset cleaner they now sell works well with presumably little risk. It will get most stuff off with just a paper towel, blackened bits requiring a bit of elbow grease. The only thing it will not easily remove so far are the thick black marks on the exterior of one older inherited piece; but those are 20+ years of accumulated gunk.

                                            1. I had burned tomato sauce in my Le Creuset and thought it was ready for the garbage. Due to this discussion, I am boiling the pot with a scoopful of oxiclean and the burnt part is coming right off! I am so happy, thanks for the info!!

                                              1. I joined Chow just thank you for the tip about OxyClean. My pot looks brand new! It removed not only the new burns but old baked in ones.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: barbarataps

                                                  Does the OxyClean affect the gloss on the enamel? I read that someone said after a treatment their pot was clean but it felt a bit rough and things stuck more than before, and it had affected the gloss. Bleach also hurts the finish. Are you using the powdered OxyClean? What ratio?

                                                  1. re: blondelle

                                                    This concern was what led me to purchasing the Le Creuset branded cleaner. While expensive, it's cheap relative to what I have into the cookware itself.

                                                2. Before I knew the value I had in LeCreuset, we had it on the woodstove. After the water in the pot boiled away several times, the bottom of the pot appeared to be totally ruined. We tried everything....nothing worked....until we tried CLR. We had to let it sit in the pot for a couple of days, but it worked. It was magic. My pot is as good as new now. Try it. They sell it in Home Depot.

                                                  1. I'm surprised no one has mentioned the products Carbon Off or SokOff. That's what restaurants use. I've picked up used vintage Le Creuset cookware that was nearly black inside and out and these products can restore it to, well, not new, but something close.

                                                    1. Why not just deglaze it? Put that pot on the heat, let it get nice and hot and deglaze with some water? I did the same thing yesterday with a tomato based stew. Didn't stir long enough and noticed black on the bottom. I dumped the contents into a mixing bowl, put the dutch oven back on the heat, poured in a bit of water and scraped everything up.

                                                      Once the gunk was gone, I put the food back into the dutch oven and continued cooking as if nothing happened :)

                                                      1. Back story: I had tomato sauce and meatball parts stuck to the bottom of my Le Creuset braiser.There was a layer of black,and smoke was coming out of the braiser before I opened the lid.The smoke alarm actually doesn't go off this time?! I am not very good in the kitchen,and it didn't help that I increased the heat versus decrease.I should've taken a video! Getting to the point of posting,THANKS to Chowhound posters whose enamel cast iron pots were burnt black,and gave folks like me a fix.I went with the baking soda,simmering on stove.Used a non stick friendly flipper to lift the burnt remnants off.Total of 30 minutes at most before Braiser's good as before!

                                                        1. have to say, many many thanks to all who have offered solutions to what I thought was the end of a much cherished LC cobalt blue pot...thought I was going to have to use as a plant pot due to taking eyes off browning onions as have a new gas cooktop - MUCH hotter and faster than previous glass cooktop...as a last resort, thought I would just Google to see if there was anyone else who had encountered my problem and to my delight, there was...have done two lots of simmering water and two tbsps. of baking powder with some elbow grease and now I have my pot back...fab site with some very clever women 'out there'...keep on cookin and smiling...cheers

                                                          1. These are helpful comments for getting stains off the inside of the pan, but how about the outside of the pan on the bottom?

                                                            1. Many, many, many THANKS to the great advice given in this thread.

                                                              Attempting to fry breaded chicken, I burned breading/egg/chicken on the bottom of my LeCreuset pan.

                                                              A few days later, attempting to clean it, I filled it with water and set it to a boiling temperature. Got distracted, water boiled away, then I REALLY cooked the burnt matter into the pan.

                                                              Was pretty unhappy with myself but did a Google search and found this page.

                                                              So here is what I did:

                                                              1. Fill pan about 3/4 full of water. Bring to boil.
                                                              2. Add 2 heaping TBSP baking soda to the water and reduce heat to simmer.
                                                              3. Simmer for about 30 minutes, let cool, wipe pan with washcloth and warm water in sink.

                                                              The attached photo shows the pan before treatment, followed by what it looked like after the first cleaning. The third image is a closeup of the small specks that didn't come off with the first wiping (I got a few with my fingernail).

                                                              4. No photos, but I repeated steps 1 thru 3 and simmered for 45 minutes. All the rest of the debris came off easily!!!

                                                              Man, am I ever grateful for everyone's advice here.

                                                              NOTE: this was a cool surprise to me: I had no idea what baking soda does and why you'd ever want to put it in the water but when you put the baking soda in the boiling water it fizzes up pretty good! That was cool to watch.

                                                              This thread is an example of how the web can brighten and improve our lives, adding value, and making us better at the things we do. Many, many thanks.