How To Make Something Less Salty: Emergency Guidelines For Saving Your Over-Salted Dish

You went a little heavy with the salt? This article will help you expand your culinary knowledge and help you learn how to make something less salty.

The secret of every great meal is in balance.

We can all agree that salt is the prime seasoning ingredient in any recipe, but just one extra little pinch can ruin all your effort. There is a thin line between just the right amount of salt and over-salted dish.

Unfortunately we've all been there. So, it's always a way better idea to leave it under seasoned, don't you think? But you over seasoned your food again and now what?

You ask yourself is there a way to rescue a dish that is too salty? Don't panic I am here to save your day! 🙂

These few easy solutions will show you how to make something less salty in no time.

9 Ways To Make Something Less Salty

1. Add Water Or Any Other Liquid Based On Your Recipe

  • Just adding a little water, sodium-free broth or any other liquid based on your recipe will dilute the excess salt. There is only one little problem with this method, it can thin out your soup or stew. You can easily solve that by making a roux or cornstarch slurry and add it to your dish to make it thicker. If you are making chili or marinara sauce add some tomato paste or crushed tomatoes to fix it. Don't be afraid to improvise!

2. Add Sugar

  • It sounds logical to counter too much salt with a bit of sugar. Add any sweet ingredient of your choice to sweeten the pot. You can use honey, maple syrup, white or brown sugar, molasses, literally any sweet ingredient that you prefer.
  • Always add very small amounts at a time and taste, then repeat if needed so that way you will make sure you didn't add too much. One more extra tip, brown sugar is the best for darker sauces.

3. Add Acidic Ingredient

  • Often, people think food might need a bit more salt but the answer is it only needs a little acid to enhance the flavor. A splash of lemon juice or white vinegar, for example, will add a subtle freshness to your meal and mask the saltiness.

4. Add Dairy

  • Fats in dairy are great neutralizers, it contrasts saltiness very well. Adding a creamy dairy component can make your meal's flavor seems milder. Depends on the type of meal you are making you will choose a specific dairy products.
  • For sauces it is always better to use milk or heavy cream, it makes them richer, and it tones down the salt nicely. If you oversalted your mac and cheese, for example, use some low-sodium cheeses like ricotta.
  • Ingredients like sour cream and plain yogurt are great rescue solutions for chili, casserole or some tasty stuffed peppers. Butter mixed with an equal amount of flour will save your over-salted gravy for sure.

5. Double The Recipe

  • When in doubt, this solution is one of the best. If you have enough time and supplies, just double the ingredients from the recipe and don't add salt at all. When a meal is cooked, taste it and season it more if needed. This method is very useful because you will have some leftovers that you can freeze for later.

6. Rinse Or Soak

  • If by any chance you bought pork, ham or maybe bacon that is too salty, soak your meat in water for a couple of hours and let the salt leach out into the water. Sometimes you can even rinse off the excessive seasoning from your salads or steamed vegetables and start over.
  • Just place them in a colander and wash it off with ice-cold water. Don't forget that with rinsing off the salt, you will rinse off whatever other seasonings you' we added, so you will need to re-season it all over again.

7. Add Pureed White Rice

  • We all heard about how putting the whole potato in over-salted soup or stew will absorb the excess salt. Well, unfortunately, that is not true. The potato only absorbs the salty liquid, while the liquid that was left over still taste salty the same as it was before adding the potato.
  • But, adding the extra veggies including the potato will always help. Instead of the potato trick try to add cooked white rice that is pureed with a bit of unsalted water. Rice is a very starchy ingredient and that will help tame the saltiness of your soups and won't make them watery.

8. Serve At Higher Temperature

  • Did you know that cold dish can taste saltier than a hot one? Well, neither did I! Some sources claim that serving a dish on higher temperatures will prevent your dish taste oversalted.

9. Smother It

  • Oversalted main or side dish can be saved with underseasoned sauce of your choice. You can make a simple bechamel sauce or tomato sauce to balance things out.

Tips To Avoid Oversalting

  • Always use the type of salt that is recommended in the recipe. Don't substitute kosher salt that has larger granules with regular table salt. If you don't have kosher salt you can use table salt just measure less much than the recipe is asking for.
  • Try to stay away from buying and using heavily salted ingredients like store-bought stocks. Better use low-or-no-sodium ingredients so you are always able to control the amount of salt you will add.
  • Never forget to taste the ingredients that you will be adding to finish up your meal. Parmesan cheese, olives, pickles, capers, canned fish like anchovies, Worcestershire or soy sauce, all those ingredients have a very high salt content and can easily give your food a salty punch you really want to avoid.
  • It's a good idea to lose the habit of measuring the salt or any other spices directly over the pans or pots that you are cooking in. You can easily pour out too much and sadly it will all end up in your food. Be sure the salt shaker lid is always tight before using it.
  • Possibly the best advice for avoiding oversalting your food is to leave it slightly underseasoned. You can always fix the lack of salt with a salt shaker on the table and allow your family or guests to season food by their own taste.

Final Thoughts

The main ingredient in every kitchen should always be patience. Yes, mishaps can happen to anyone, but they should not discourage you. Try to train yourself to always taste your food while you still cooking so you can stop yourself from using much more spices then you should.

Never be afraid to experiment and don't be shy with your seasoning just because you made some mistakes back in the past. Remember that if it's used correctly, salt is always the savior of bland and boring dishes. 🙂

Barbara Whitney
 

For the last 20 years, I’ve been cooking, preparing, researching, and gathering recipes, tools, and knowledge about food and the way we prepare it. Raising two lively boys and spoiling one great husband later, it’s safe to say that I’ve optimized my kitchen to deliver the best possible meal, no matter the occasion.

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