Over-Salted? Too Spicy? Here’s How You Can Save Your Dinner! April 26, 2021
Wondering what to do when your dinner is tasting too salty, too sweet, or too spicy? We’ve got plenty of easy tips and tricks to help you mellow out the flavours and fix those seasoning mistakes.
Whether you accidentally grabbed cayenne pepper instead of chili powder or you got a little (or a lot) heavy-handed with the salt — it’s happened to all of us at one time or another: your soup, sauce, or whatever-dish-you-just-made is completely over-seasoned.
Before you panic or think about tossing the whole thing in the trash, try the simple hacks we’ve listed here — they’ll help you strike the right balance and bring back virtually any dish that’s on the brink of an over-seasoned disaster.
Salvage a Meal That’s Too Salty
Dilute your dish with liquid
A quick fix for over-salted broths or liquid dishes is to add cold water and then bring it back up to a simmer. If you’re worried about diluting other flavours in the dish, grab some unsalted broth or stock instead.
Stir in something acidic
Lemon juice, vinegar, or any other acidic ingredients will cut the saltiness and bring back some balance, making them a saving grace for any over-salted dishes. Start with a dash and taste as you go, or you might end up with a dish that’s too salty and too sour.
…Or any other fatty ingredient — like coconut milk, sour cream, or heavy cream — to help tame the salinity and make the flavours milder.
Double the recipe
Try making more of your recipe to even the salty score. If you have enough ingredients on hand, double the recipe (but don’t add any salt the second time around).
Add pureed white rice
Cooked white rice pureed with water can help mask salty flavours without diluting soups and stews. If you’re making a curry, you can also try tossing in chunks of raw potato for a dose of starch to soak up extra salt as they cook.
Dial Down a Dish That’s Too Spicy
Cool it down with dairy
Dairy is a great ingredient for counteracting spiciness and the intense heat of capsaicin (the active component that gives chili peppers their burn). Try adding sour cream, milk, or even a dollop of plain yogurt. Dairy-free alternatives like rich coconut milk can do the trick as well.
Add some acid
Reach for acidic liquids like lemon or lime juice, vinegar, or even chopped tomatoes and pineapple to reduce flaming-hot flavours.
Sweeten it up
Much like acid, sweeteners like sugar or honey can tame spiciness and bring back some balance.
Add more ingredients
Whether it’s extra veggies, broth, or protein, try adding more of whatever ingredients are in your dish to soak up some of the spice. If you don’t have enough of the main ingredients on hand, you can improvise with grated carrots, celery, onions, or potatoes.
Try nut butter
If the flavours work — like in Pad Thai or a stir-fry, for example — try stirring in some peanut butter, tahini, or almond butter. The fat content in nut butters can help to diffuse some of the heat.
Balance a Dish That’s Too Sweet
Add something sour
Adding a squeeze of lime juice is an easy way to balance out the sweetness stat. You can also reach for white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar as well.
Dial up the spice
This hack is best for dishes like curries, soups, and sauces. Just add a pinch of something spicy to even out the flavours of the dish — be it hot sauce, chili flakes, cayenne pepper, or chili powder. (Just remember not to go overboard with spicy ingredients, either.)
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