How to Fix a Recipe That's Too Salty

Don't Waste Food That's Too Salty, There's a Quick Fix!

Salt shaker on checked tablecloth
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Oops! That pinch of salt turned into a small pile, and now your dinner is too salty to eat. What can you do? Don't panic or toss the entire dish. This problem is easy enough to remedy.

How to Fix Food That's Too Salty

There are actually several ways to fix salty food. Which you choose is going to depend on the recipe. Here are some options to consider:

Water to the Rescue!

Rescue too-salty soups and sauces by adding a bit of water.

Start with a small amount; taste the results; and add more until you get it right.

  • You might need to add more solid foods to get the soup or sauce back to the desired consistency. Toss in more pasta, rice or non-salty vegetables. It'll increase the amount of food you're making, but it's better to have leftovers than to throw away an entire meal.
  • Sodium-free broth can also be used to dilute the saltiness.

To fix over-salted meats, just give them a quick rinse under running water. Pat dry with a paper towel when you're done.

You can also leech the salt out of salted pork or bacon that you find too salty by soaking it in water for at least two hours.

Just Add Acid

Use an acidic ingredient, like white vinegar or lemon juice, to cut the saltiness of soups and sauces. Just a splash should be all it takes to remedy the situation.

Counteract it with Sweetness

Counteract all of that saltiness by stirring a pinch of sugar into soups, sauces or other liquids.

Consider brown sugar for darker sauces.

Transform too-salty tomato sauces into a cream sauce by adding a splash of cream.

Add Bulk to the Dish

Toss in extra veggies, noodles, rice or other grains to bulk out a recipe, so it no longer tastes too salty to eat. Again, you'll have extra food, but you won't be wasting money.

The Potato Fix: Fact or Fiction

Adding a single potato to a dish has long been touted as a way to remove excess salt. It may or may not work, and there is some debate in the cooking community about its effectiveness. In the least, it may remove a bit of the salty flavor, but it's not likely to fix a salt catastrophe.

The potato trick is worth trying if all else fails. Simply place a whole potato - skin and all - into your soup and cook as normal. Remove it before serving.

Tips for Preventing Food From Getting Too Salty

It's always easier to prevent overly salty foods, than it is to fix them. Keep these tips in mind when cooking, and you may be able to avoid the problem in the future.

  • Never measure salt (or any spice) directly over pots, pans or bowls that you're cooking in. It's too easy to accidentally spill too much directly into the main dish.
  • Check the salt shaker lid every time! Call it paranoia or diligence, but it's a good idea to make sure that lid is tight before each use. After awhile it becomes a habit and it just might save you from an unfortunate accident.
  • Watch for ingredients that contain sodium. Many canned and commercial foods already have a sufficient (or too much) salt in them, and despite what the recipe says, you may not need to add more salt. This includes soup stocks, cream soups, casserole ingredients from the freezer and store-bought spice mixes.
  • Under season while cooking, and perfect it at the end. Good cooks quickly realize that it's best to add seasonings slowly. Salt intensifies in soups and other dishes as it heats up, so wait until the end to taste your dish and add any finishing touches.
  • Taste, adjust; taste, adjust. It's perfectly fine to keep adjusting your recipe as it cooks. Be sure your sample is cool, so it doesn't burn your tongue. The tip of your tongue is the least sensitive part, so sample enough of the dish to cover your entire tongue.
  • Quite simply, stop adding salt. Doctors are constantly warning us to reduce the amount of salt we consume because we often unknowingly exceed the daily recommendation. Avoid adding extra salt to your food, and your taste buds will adapt over time. It's healthier and your food will actually taste better in the end.

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