In a Pickle: How to save a dry dish

Jul 17, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. ET

Whether you're serving a weeknight meal to your family or preparing an elegant dinner party, don't freak out if one (or all) of your dishes dries out. It can happen for any number of reasons (cooked for too long, not enough liquid, etc.), but fortunately there are a number of ways to hide this mishap.

Woman cooking for husband

There's nothing so disappointing as a dry chicken breast, fish fillet, pasta dish, or cake. While it's hard to inject moisture back into these foods once the damage is done, there are plenty of ways to make it less noticeable on the plate and save dinner.

Learn how to avoid dry turkey and other meats >>

Get saucy

A sauce is an instant and easy way to save a dry dish, no matter what it is. Toss extra tomato sauce with dry pasta, create a mushroom cream sauce to spoon over chicken or whip up a fruit sauce to drizzle over a dry baked good. For the same reason we pass around gravy to accompany the Thanksgiving turkey, a good sauce can liven up any dish.

Say cheese

Don't think that adding cheese to a dry dish is cheating — it can work wonders! Grated cheese is classic on pasta, but don't forget about those creamy varieties like ricotta and mascarpone, which can take a dish from dreary to decadent in seconds. Melt cheddar or mozzarella on top of dried out chicken breast or burgers to help with the texture and add flavor.


Resurrect dried fruit that's past its prime by soaking it in a little hot water. Raisins, dried apricots and more will be plump and good as fresh in no time!

Butter it up

Butter is one of the oldest tricks in the book for bringing a dry dish to life. Put a pat on steaks, use it to make sauces luxurious and to brighten up breakfast (there's nothing like some butter on a toasted muffin).

Learn how to make a flavorless dish flavorful >>

Whip it

Especially for dry desserts, whipped cream or ice cream can be a savior. These creamy toppings can totally save dry cakes, quick breads, strudels and just about any sweet. Plus, who can resist a dollop of whipped cream?

In another pickle? Find more solutions to common kitchen problems >>

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