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How to Fix Too Much Salt in a Dish: Easy Lemon Hack Works in 5 Seconds

Salvage your go-to savory meals by adding a touch of citrus zing!

At some point, we’ve all oversalted a dish and wondered how to salvage it quickly. Well, it turns out this common cooking mistake can be easily solved with a squeeze of lemon. The acid from the citrus juice helps neutralize the dish’s saltiness, so you’re not left with that bitter aftertaste with each bite. On top of this, this trick works for a range of dishes like creamy sauces, roasted fish and crispy potatoes. Keep reading for tips on how to fix a dish that contains too much salt using fresh lemon juice!

What is salt?

Although salt is viewed as a basic seasoning, it’s a mineral that’s sourced through the evaporation of seawater, mining or other methods. There are various types of salt such as Kosher, table and Himalayan pink — each of which have a distinct texture and taste. Using the perfect amount of salt to season a dish is key as too much overpowers any other flavors and makes your meal inedible. (Click through for in-depth guides on the different types of salt and brilliant uses for salt.) 

Adding too much salt to a dish

If you’re someone who follows a recipe to the T, 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 to fix too much salt in a dish with lemon juice

This lemon juice tip comes from Epicurious contributor Tommy Werner, who notes that this citrus addition can be “your saving grace.” He says that because lemon juice is acidic, it helps 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.) To do: Taste the dish as it’s finished cooking. If it’s too salty, Werner suggests starting out with ½ tablespoon of lemon juice. Then, taste the dish to see if the saltiness has balanced out. From there, you can add another ½ tablespoon if it’s still too salty, or prepare it for serving.

The best types of dishes this trick works for

This trick is excellent for crispy potatoes if you’ve added too much salt prior to cooking. The lemony kick will give your spuds a fresh and bright flavor. This has a similar effect on cream-based sauces to ensure that the dish isn’t too rich or salty. Cooked fish or poultry that’s been oversalted can also use a squeeze of lemon, as citrus and those proteins are a match made in flavor heaven. These are a few ways to use this trick, but try it on other dishes as cooking involves trial and error!

2 delicious recipes to make soon

Our two recipes below are perfect for adding a dash of lemon juice if you were a little heavy-handed with the salt. (Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us.) It’s best to squeeze in the juice right before serving the fries or saucy meatballs as the saltiness will mellow out in seconds.

Garlic Potato Fries

A recipe for Garlic Fries as part of a guide on how to fix too much salt in a dish

A dash of cumin sprinkled into the coating adds just the right amount of spice to these crispy oven-baked bites.


  • 1½ lbs. Yukon gold potatoes
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • ½ cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ½ tsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. chopped parlsey


  • Active: 25 mins
  • Total time: 45 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Coat large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Peel potatoes; cut into ½-inch-thick sticks. In large bowl, toss potatoes with oil, garlic powder, salt, cumin and pepper. Transfer potato mixture to baking sheet; spread out in single layer.
  3. Bake until potatoes are tender and golden brown, flipping halfway through baking time, about 20 minutes. Transfer to bowl.
  4. In small bowl, mix mayonnaise, ketchup and chili powder. Sprinkle fries with parsley. Serve with dipping sauce.

Swedish Meatballs With Cucumber Salad

A recipe for Swedish Meatballs as part of a guide on how to fix too much salt in a dish

Make it even heartier — add an 8-oz. package of sliced mushrooms to the skillet when cooking the onions.

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1  Tbs. white vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh dill + additional sprigs
  • ⅛ tsp. salt
  • ⅛ tsp. pepper
  • 1 (12 oz.) seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
  • ⅓ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 (12 oz.) pkg. refrigerated fully cooked Italian-style turkey meatballs
  • 2  Tbs. butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can lower-sodium beef broth 
  • ½ cup light cream
  • 2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce


  • Active: 20 mins
  • Total time: 40 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
  1. In medium bowl, combine oil, vinegar, 2 Tbs. chopped dill, salt and pepper; add cucumber and red onion. Toss until combined; cover and chill until ready to serve.
  2. Coat large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Add meatballs; cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes; transfer to plate.
  3. In same skillet, heat butter over medium-low until melted. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add flour; cook 1 min. Stir in broth then cream and Worcestershire; add meatballs. Over medium, bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover; cook, stirring occasionally, until flavors blend, 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Garnish with dill sprigs. Serve with cucumber salad.

Continue reading for more easy cooking tips!

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The Secret to Green Beans That Snap Deliciously When You Bite Into Them? Shocking Them *This* Way

This Baking Staple Makes Tasty Caramelized Onions in Half the Time — Chef’s Top Trick

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