9 ways to deal with a kitchen disaster

Libby Hakim, Writer and blogger
14 June 2018

It happens to the best of us… and it always seems to happen when you really, really don’t need that extra hassle.

Cooking for a party? A special visitor? The school fete? Or just under time pressure? Yes, these are the things that seem to make KITCHEN DISASTERS strike.

A kitchen disaster must be one of the most frustrating things ever. I’ve cried into my burnt and battered creations quite a few times.

So, apart from crying, what can you do about it? What’s the best way to manage a kitchen disaster?

1. Swear a little

It’s the first thing that many of us do, and science says it can reduce pain and stress (provided you don’t do it too often – that lessens its pain-reducing impact).

So, choose your preferred expletive and go for it. Easy!

2. Get creative

Mel from Living Fundraisers gets creative when things don’t go to plan in her kitchen. She says, “Just last night with a soup I had a disaster. In fact I have a couple of soup stories. This one though… I roasted veggies to blend up with some stock to make a pumpkin soup but it turned out being lumpy and tasting like gravy. I turned it into a stew by adding some cooked pearl barley, chicken, tinned tomatoes, smoked paprika and herbs and it was delish! Gobbled up by my toddler, hubby and myself.”

Be like Mel and turn your disaster into a win.

3. Is it edible? (Find a willing victim)

If someone out there will eat it, is it really a disaster? That’s the question.

Turn your disaster into a reasonable outcome by finding the least food-fussy person you know!

4. Laugh

Michelle Sanchez at Diverse by Michelle Sanchez says sometimes all you can do is laugh:

“I’m actually a food blogger myself which is what makes this story so comical! The kids asked for soft boiled eggs with toast soldiers one morning. One would think, a fairly simple request. I forgot to turn on the timer for the perfect soft boiled eggs and so I “eggstimated” the time. I drained the eggs and cracked one open only to find they weren’t done. The genius in me figured I’d put the other eggs in the microwave for 30 seconds without cracking them first. I put them in the microwave and 30 seconds later, feeling quite pleased with myself, leaned over one of the eggs and gave it a tap with my spoon. The egg literally exploded in my face, lodging a piece of egg shell in my eye. It was in that moment that I asked myself whether I’m qualified to food blog. But I did have a good laugh, so there’s that. And I continue my food blog.”

Yes, sometimes you’ve just gotta laugh! (and do check out Michelle’s lovely blog on Facebook)

5. Cut it out

After spruiking that I’d finally mastered the sponge cake, my next attempt ended less successfully. During cooking, the sponge sank in the middle. Bummer! After testing out option 1 above, I then gave myself a pep talk and remembered my mum’s words: “You can usually rescue a kitchen disaster.”

So I cut that annoying sunken part out and filled it with something lovely. Strawberries and jelly! And renamed it: “Ring Jelly Sponge Cake”.


Be gone, kitchen disaster!
Hello, Lovely Ring Jelly Sponge Cake!

6. Think of a backup plan (real quick)

One of the worst kitchen disaster scenarios is when you’re cooking dinner and you’re tired and hungry. If dinner is a disaster, well, sometimes it’s just easier to go with plan B. Grab something from the freezer or start browsing the options on Uber Eats.

7. Blame the kids

Alison and Amanda both volunteered their kitchen disaster stories over on the Cooking with Nana Ling Facebook page. Alison forgot to put the butter in butter cake batter, while Amanda put a pavlova in an oven that was about 100 degrees too hot. Oh dear! And both put it down to sleep deprivation. Yes, lack of sleep does that to us. So, let’s just blame the usual culprits when it comes to sleep deprivation – our kids.

8. Turn it into a positive

Kerrie also volunteered her kitchen disaster story over on the Cooking with Nana Ling Facebook page: “Forgetting to put sugar in my red velvet cupcakes for a friend’s 40th. Lucky I usually taste test and could make another batch. Let’s just say don’t eat them without the sugar.”

Kitchen disasters = a great excuse for more taste testing. Yes, that’s a good way to handle things. Any excuse for more taste testing of cake batter is a good one in my book.


Miss Y, Chief taste tester in the Cooking with Nana Ling kitchen

9. Consider it a learning experience

After a little of option 1, take a long, deep breath. Switch to calm and logical mode and write the disaster off as a learning experience. Yes, even embrace it. We all make mistakes and unfortunately sometimes it’s the only way to learn.

My worst kitchen disaster involved fire. Luckily, I was able to put it out myself. So, I always think that if a disaster doesn’t end in a call to the fire brigade, it’s not too bad at all.

Happy cooking!

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