How to Clean Burnt on Food in the Oven

If you don’t already know how to clean burnt on food in the oven, chances are you are going to need to know how! Spills will inevitably happen and you won’t get to them right away because the oven is hot. You’ll forget about said spill until you go to use your oven again and smell something burning.

What’s there to do, but use the oven anyway and hope the smell doesn’t affect the taste of the food you’re about to bake? This will happen a few more times before the spill is just burnt to the bottom of your oven and it doesn’t smell anymore.

In that case you just leave that big black blob until you come upon a cleaning tip that seems quite effortless or you break down and run the self-clean option. Ammonia
to the rescue!

How to clean burnt on food in the oven. Ammonia is powerful stuff, take caution!

That colorless, highly irritating gas with a pungent, suffocating odor (ahem, ammonia) works wonders on removing burnt on food from the oven. For more facts about ammonia that might seem alarming, check out this fact sheet by the Department of Health for the State of New York. For all the details on how to clean burnt on food in the oven, keep reading!

So I was casually reading the back of my bottle of ammonia and it advised leaving a dish of ammonia in the oven overnight for easy cleanup of spills in the morning. So I tried it out and it worked pretty well!


  • You don’t need very much ammonia. 1/2 cup is sufficient. More than that and you’re gonna be able to smell it, even with the oven door closed.
  • Hold your breath, plug your nose, do whatever you need to do to not inhale it. It is powerful stuff.
  • Before opening the oven door in the morning, open windows. Air flow is good.
  • When you do open the oven door in the morning, do so (with your nose plugged) and head out of the room for a few minutes.
  • After a few minutes you should be okay to wipe away the burnt on food without irritating your nose or throat. It should wipe up fairly easy. I had a couple of spots about an inch big that didn’t just wipe up that I had to scrape with my fingernail.
  • Never mix ammonia with bleach or any household cleaning products that may contain bleach!It will create a deadly gas.

If you use caution and good sense, this is a pretty effortless way to get your oven clean! If you’d rather not use ammonia, try out this oven cleaner recipe.

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