Salt is one of the most essential ingredients in any recipe (some cooks, like Ina Garten and Chrissy Teigen, even have specific types of salt they use). But when you add too much of it to a dish, it can be hard to figure out how to salvage it. It seems easier to fix a recipe when it’s too spicy or too sweet, but there’s something about the flavor of salt that just permeates every element of a dish. Luckily, our years of binge-watching Food Network and obsessively reading food magazines have come in handy. There are chefs far smarter than us who have strategies for fixing food that’s too salty. These tips will help you save your dinner the next time you’re a little too generous with the fleur de sel.
1. Add yogurt
Chef Marc Maron shared this advice on an episode of Chopped. If you make a sauce that’s too salty, you can add some yogurt. The creamy tanginess will help tame and dilute the salinity.
2. Add more liquid
If a soup or stew is too salty, chef and cookbook author Sarah Moulton recommends adding more water (or unsalted broth or stock) to dilute it.
3. Add puréed white rice
Rachel Ray recommends adding cooked white rice puréed with water to soups or stews that are over-salted, which helps tame the salty flavor without making your dish watery.
4. Double the recipe
Ray also says that one of the best remedies is simply doubling the recipe, omitting the salt on your second go-round.
5. Use low-sodium ingredients
The Pioneer Woman star Ree Drummond says that you should use low-sodium stocks and broths in your recipes, so you can control the level of salt yourself. She also recommends adding unsalted broth to gravy made with drippings from brined turkeys to help make it less salty while still adding big flavor.
6. Add lemon juice
Giada de Laurentiis recommends cutting salt with some tart lemon juice. The acidity helps balance your dish.
7. Make a roux
Cookbook author and New York Times writer Melissa Clark says that if a gravy or sauce is too salty, you can add a roux made from butter and flour to the pan.
8. Pair with something fatty
Gail Simmons, Top Chef judge and food writer, pairs overly salted veggies with a mild cheese like fresh mozzarella or ricotta, and adds more butter or oil to dressings and sauces that are too salty.
9. Add dairy
Cookbook author Ellen Brown adds milk or cream to soups that are too salty — the richness helps balance the salinity.
10. Don’t use potato
You may have heard that adding a potato to an overly salty soup or stew can help “absorb” the sodium, but that’s a myth. In his book What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained, author Robert Wolke conducted several controlled experiments to determine if the technique was successful. The potatoes did absorb the salty liquid, but the liquid that was left over was still just as salty. Instead, use one of the methods above to tame your overly seasoned dishes.
With these tips, you’ll never have to sit through a mouth-shrivelingly salty dish again or *gasp* throw out a meal because you added too much salt.
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