How to save overcooked meats

What To Do When You've Burned Dinner

by Marissa Johnson

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Avoiding Dried Out Slow Cooker Meats

We all have ruined dinner at some point. Sometimes we accidentally turn the oven up too high or we leave something in the oven too long. Other times we have done everything right, and still our food doesn't turn out the way it should.

Before this happens, here are some preventative measures. To avoid drying out the meat, be sure to cover it with foil or an appropriate oven safe lid, and use a meat thermometer to judge readiness.

But, if you think you've already ruined dinner, don't fret or waste money throwing out your food! There's an easy fix. Just keep these staples in your house.

Soy Sauce

Use a bit of soy sauce if you realize your chicken is too dry. It complements the seasonings already used in your chicken and helps to rehydrate the chicken. I once dried out chicken drumsticks before my date showed up for the dinner I'd cooked, and he actually liked the taste.


Always keep lemons in the house. They're great to add to water if you ever feel bloated from having too much salt, but more importantly, you can squeeze the juice of a lemon wedge onto pretty much any meat you've dried out or overcooked to get some of the juices back into your meat. Lemons are also great for marinating meats before you cook them. Also, slightly burnt roasted asparagus is easily remedied with a little lemon juice.

Barbecue Sauce or Teriyaki Marinade

When you overcook some meat, just make tonight barbecue night. Your family will love it. Put a little bit of barbecue sauce on the meat and stick it back in the still-warm but not turned on oven for about 10 minutes, and dinner is saved!


After burning a batch of chicken drumsticks, I simply add about two tablespoons of vinegar to the entire batch, and it's once again edible and tasty.

Cream of Chicken Soup

Pour on top of baked chicken and let it sit for a few minutes in the warm but turned off oven with 1/4 to 1/3 cup of water on top, depending on how moist you'd like it to be.


Any type of broth (chicken, vegetable, beef, etc.) is great for rehydrating overcooked meats. If the meat is severely overcooked, consider pulling the meat off of the bone and added it to a mixture of two parts broth to one part water to create a yummy stew or soup for dinner that night.

Mayonnaise - Chicken Salad

Chicken is just one of those finicky meats that are either done to perfection, undercooked, or too dry. Making it into chicken salad may do the trick. There are plenty of free and easy chicken salad recipes on the web, but usually, you'll need mayonnaise, eggs, sugar and mustard, but the other ingredients on these recipes may vary.

Joseph Peters, owner of a successful catering company, New Orleans Cafe in Meridian, Mississippi, suggests, "If you overcook chicken, you can just turn it into a chicken salad or chicken sandwich for an easy fix. Keep it simple."

Alfredo Sauce, Spaghetti Sauce, or Tomato Paste

For overcooked ravioli, spaghetti and pasta, you can simply add 1/4 cup of water and allow the mixture to simmer on medium to medium-high heat depending on your stove to salvage your meal, or you can add some Alfredo sauce, canned or homemade spaghetti sauce, or tomato paste depending on what you're trying to make.

Next time you're in a bind, try one of these above solutions.

Marissa Johnson is a junior history major at Louisiana State University who plans to go to law school after college. As a broke student, she looks for ways to stretch her money.

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