Way too salty, any quick fix?

I guess we have all experienced this, a dish that was nearly perfectly cooked, except too heavy handed with salt (or fish sauce or cheese). For soup, we could fix relatively easily by adding liquid.

I have recently cooked some orzo with over salted water and you could imagine with the extra blue cheese sauce! I added some unsalted butter and some balsamic vinegar, still salty but more eatable.

Do you have any tricks? What have you done in the past to save the dish?

for liquids (soups, stews, broth, etc) , I add a large starchy potato (baking type) that I’ve cut into thick slices. Drop into the liquid and keep it at a low simmer for 10-15 minutes. The potato will absorb some of the excess salt.

I told this to a chef years ago – he comped the meal for me and my companions because I’d helped him salvage the huge pot of soup he’d made for the lunch crowd.


Lemon often helps tame a dish that has had too much finishing salt added. This works well for fish.


For your blue cheese orzo, I’d mix in or serve with some plainly cooked vegetables - steamed broccoli or cauliflower, peas, asparagus, spinach etc. Gorgonzola orzo primavera!

1 Like

I’d have cooked more orzo, in unsalted water, to add to the original batch. Give the blended dish ten minutes or so, to meld the flavor.


Basically increase the volume of the dish so the salt dissapates.
Or you could just add enough hot chilies you can’t taste much else!
+1 for the potato in salty soup trick, or i have dried potato flakes in the cupboard that I usually use to thicken soups but they also work


Cook’s Illustrated recipes sometimes add unroasted pine nut paste to a salty sauce. Theoretically the sweet nut knocks the salt back. For instance in a tapenade.

1 Like

Potato is a long disproven kitchen myth. A potato doesn’t magically absorb only salt. The only thing it does is add some starch to the liquid.

You would achieve the same effect by dropping a kitchen sponge into the liquid. Or ladling some liquid out.

1 Like

Was that the only orzo you had? Because when I oversalted orzo once, I threw it out and started a new batch. It cooks fairly quickly.

1 Like

Actually, potatoes absorb quite a bit of salt, which anyone that’s ever boiled potatoes would know.


we can quote studies and anoraky anecdotes all we want, but the reality is that I’ve seen and tasted it work enough times to know that… it works.


Potatoes absorb liquid. So do sponges. They don’t magically extract salt.

Wolke on the subject: https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/food/2001/04/18/can-you-save-a-salty-soup/72da6abd-defa-406a-8370-7e66f03719f4/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.b1c4398b05ec

"… Did the potatoes really reduce the concentrations of salt? … No. All it means is that the potatoes soaked up some salt water; they didn’t selectively extract salt out of the water. Would you be surprised if a sponge placed in salt water came out tasting salty? Of course not. But the concentration of salt in the water – the amount of salt per quart – would not be affected. So the salty taste of the potatoes proved nothing, except that for more flavor we should always boil our potatoes, and our pasta for that matter, in salted water, rather than in plain water.

Okay, now, what were the results of the conductivity measurements?
Are you ready? There was no detectable difference whatsoever in the salt water before and after being simmered with potato. That is, the potato did not lower the concentration of salt at all, either in the one-teaspoon-per-quart sample or in the one-tablespoon-per quart sample. The potato treatment just doesn’t work. Period."

1 Like

If they soak up salty water, then if I replace the absorbed salty water with unsalty water, then the saltiness goes down .

You just said so.

Yes. But why bother with a potato? Just ladle some salty liquid out and replace it with unsalty liquid. Its faster, less complicated and more reliable than using a potato as a sponge.

My point was that people mistakenly think that a potato selectively absorbs salt, which is does not. It absorbs the liquid, as a sponge would. If all it does is remove liquid, you might as well bust use mechanical means to do that.


No - potatoes don’t absorp salt (otherwise they were able to do reverse osmosis which is not the case) they absorp water with salt in it and so you eliminate some salt water and can afterwards add unsalted water - effectively it is just another way to dilute the salty soup. But potatoes itself can’t absorp salt in itself which is many times debunked bad science.

And then you have a delicious salty potato, instead of just a ladleful of salty water.:slight_smile: I’m still going to go with the potato.


I’m using a sponge next time.


I think this solution has been thoroughly debunked by Kenji or someone similar. Doesn’t work.

1 Like

Thank you. This myth needs to die.

1 Like

The insisting that it has to die when it’s not being done in your kitchen and not to your food…

Needs to stop.