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Cooking Hacks

Too Much Salt in Your Dish? This Kitchen Staple Saves It

Salvage your savory dishes with this staple ingredient.


I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been a little heavy-handed when adding salt to recipes. As a result, I often end up with overly salty potatoes, or sauces that overpower the rest of the meal (ugh). So you can imagine my excitement when I came across this tip that involves using lemon juice to salvage a dish when you’ve added too much salt.

How much salt is too much?

Everyone has their own specific palate, and some people prefer their food with more flavor than others. Tweaking a recipe to your liking by sprinkling in a dash of cinnamon for a warming flavor, or adding an extra pinch of cayenne pepper for a little extra kick is what makes cooking fun, especially during the holidays.

When it comes to salt, however, overdoing it can really ruin the dish. Too much salt can easily overpower any other flavors or seasonings, and even make your meal inedible. If you’re someone who follows a recipe to the letter, then too much salt is anything more than what’s called for. But if you prefer to taste as you go and eyeball your ingredients, the question of how much salt is too much salt can get a little trickier.

In short, how salty you want to make a dish depends on your personal preference. However, for those times when your food is too salty for your taste buds, all you have to do is reach into your fridge and grab a lemon.

How do you counteract adding too much salt to recipes?

This lemon juice tip comes from Epicurious video producer Tommy Werner, who notes that this citrus addition can be “your saving grace.” Because lemon juice is acidic, it can help mask some of the aggressive saltiness in a dish. (And if you don’t have a lemon on hand, he says white wine vinegar will also do the trick.)

Midway through cooking, taste your dish so you can adjust the seasonings as needed. If it’s too salty, Werner suggests starting out with a half tablespoon of lemon juice. Then taste the dish to see if the saltiness has balanced out. From there, you can add another half tablespoon if it’s still too salty, or continue following the rest of the steps in the recipe.

This trick works best on roasted potatoes if you’ve added too much salt after they’ve been boiled. The lemony kick will give your spuds a fresh and bright flavor. This has a similar effect on cream-based pasta sauces, including Alfredo, to ensure that the dish isn’t too rich or salty. Cooked salmon, or halibut that’s been over-salted can also use a squeeze of lemon, as citrus and fish are a match made in heaven.

Although cooking involves trial and error, it’s great to know that we can save pretty much any salty dish with the help of some lemon juice!

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