The Everyday Ingredient That Can Salvage Overly-Salty Dishes

The Everyday Ingredient That Can Salvage Overly-Salty Dishes
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Cooking novices and kitchen queens alike, listen up because we’re tackling an important topic today. Let’s talk about what to do when you accidentally over-salt your food. We’ve all done it.

Tasting (overly) salty food is a sucky experience. That moment where you feel your throat dry up because you’ve tasted a mouthful that resembles the ocean is one of the most unpleasant things you can go through in a kitchen. (Save for like, injuries of course.)

A common reaction when realising your dish is too salty is attempting to add more of everything else to it. More rice; more pepper; more cumin… more whatever. The end result is a dish three times the original size – that’s probably still a little too salty.

Recently, however, I’ve come across a better alternative: plain old lemon juice.

lemon for salty dish

The hot tip was passed onto me by a former housemate, and I’ve got to say: it works every time. I’m not alone in this thinking, either.

Why lemon helps salty food

According to chef Giada de Laurentiis, who spoke with Brit + Co, lemon juice works a treat in this setting because it cuts through the saltiness. Apparently, “the acidity helps balance your [salty] dish”.

Other options I’ve come across during my search for salt saviours include adding dairy (cheese, cream or milk will all work) or if you’d like to stick with the acidic vibe, white vinegar is also an option.

Ellen Brown told Oprah Magazine that introducing more liquid to the mix is a good start, as is upping the number of veggies in the dish. The Kitchn, alternatively, puts its money behind using more grains or noodles to absorb the salty flavour in food.

Personally, I still think lemon is the way to go, but hey – it’s nice to see there are so many ways to calm down a dish that tastes like a salt slab.

What you don’t want to do is just toss out an overly salty dish before really attempting to revive it first. And remember going forward: salt is your friend, but use it with caution.

This article has been updated since its original publish date.


  • F.A.S.S. – Fats, Acids, Salts, Sugars. If you find you have added too much of a particular element, add more from one of the previous elements.

    Too much Sugar? Add some salt. Too salty? Add some lemon juice or Vinegar. Too acidic? Add some butter or Duck fat.

    Just remember F.A.S.S. – next time, you will be able to fix almost any meal you thought unsalvageable.

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