Cooking smells you don't like?

@Saregama @Vecchiouomo


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Popcorn - sweet, sickly, nasty.

I do not care for the smell of old fry when it hangs in the air.


The lingering smoky smell after something spills/leaks/explodes in the oven

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I used to make fish stock from salmon, back when my neighbor was a commercial fisherman and would reserve the carcasses for me. Simmering them produced a pleasant aroma. But recently I got some halibut bones from a fishmonger, and the smell while simmering was terrible. I had to open windows.

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Sweet? I make stovetop popcorn using peanut oil.

I will say I generally dislike the smell of frying oil - it seems to linger longer than other cooking smells.


A few years ago I made jook with a salmon head, and the smell was overpowering. I was prepared to dump the entire pot, but it was actually some of the best tasting jook I’ve ever made. I won’t ever make it again, though. I couldn’t take the smell.

Mrs. ricepad nearly gags on the smell of rehydrating shiitake mushrooms. She loves the taste, but can’t stand the smell.


Also not too crazy about the smell of kraut, and most cabbages (B sprouts, broccoli, cauli, etc) … make the whole house smell like farts.


Organ meat of any kind. Not in the house please!


Poke, the weed that’s poisonous if not cooked properly. I haven’t smelled it since I was a child, but I hated the odor of it cooking.

I ran 8 people out of the house once when I was making beef fajitas, using a mix of serrano, jalapeno, and habanero and got it hot enough to smoke and vaporize the peppers/capsaicin. I didn’t have an over-stove exhaust fan at the time.

Not sure if this counts as a “smell” or an “attack”, but we had to open a draft front-to-back of the house and set up a Vornado fan to draw it.

Other than that, I love the smell when I’ve made 3 pounds of bacon. Except I don’t love the same smell the same on the next morning when getting up, which is basically the same smell lingering, but it means I can smell the stuff that I don’t have any more of.


Oven cleaner… spraying that stuff on a warm oven for a quick cleanup.

Organ Meats

Once when I was a child living on Cape Cod, my mother (Italian, born in Connecticut) decided to cook squid in tomato sauce. The smell killed me; I wanted nothing to do with that sauce, was so bad I had to leave the house and go on a long bike ride. I’ve forever stayed far away from squid.


Stir frying niboshi (either dried sardines or anchovies).


I’m sure there might be other smells I can’t abide, but I distinctly remember walking in and then turning around and walking back out of my stepfather’s house when I came home from work one summer afternoon in 1980 to find (and SMELL!) my mom sautéing liver for dinner because my stepfather wanted it. I said “Nope! I’m out. I’m going to McDonald’s” and my youngest stepbrother yelled “I’m coming with you!” and came running to squeeze his 6’4" body into my little Fiat. :rofl:


Top all-time worst smell has got to be frying dried bombil / bombay duck (fish). Tastes delicious, smells worse than death.

Any fish pan-frying isn’t pleasant, and the lingering smell is even worse.

Also agree on the lingering smell of deep frying in the air.

Meat frying / meatballs / cutlets etc. Same issue with lingering smell.

Agree with others on liver. A splash of vinegar helps, but does not eliminate the issue.

In Indian cooking, the meat smells have a common word (I assume it translates to “gaminess”) and the way to combat it is vinegar or yogurt. Not done sauteeing the meat till that smell is gone.


Liver. Kippers. Stale frying oil.


I use to think fried onions and cabbage/sprouts stunk up the house. Then my husband picked up a couple packages of Maple bacon on sale. Talk about a smell permeating the house for days. One package in the freezer and hopefully it will go in the trash one of these day.,



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Your list is very close to my wife’s list. She’s okay with fast/hot sautéed cabbage in a skillet (preferably with a dash of balsamic), but she definitely doesn’t like long-boiled cabbage smell. But I don’t mind it.

For lamb, I either have to cook it when she’s traveling, or I have to cook it outside. And she’d prefer I not bring it in until it cools down a bit and stops putting off that lovely scent.

Same for liver or other organ meats.

Squid, I’m not so sure about. I’ve only ever cooked it as pre-prepped frozen breaded stuff, so that probably doesn’t count, and it didn’t have much of an odor. But she definitely doesn’t like the smell of me boiling octopus to make takoyaki, that’s for sure.

Oh, that reminds me. I agree about that “mapley” smell. I haven’t had the bacon but have bought (once, and once only) maple flavored Bob Evans breakfast sausage. We all liked the flavor “ok” (liked plain better) but darn, that smell was monstrously persistent.