Everyone — and I really mean everyone — has experienced their own kitchen "disaster" or two. But most of the time, they're able to be remedied...or at least they won't wreak havoc on our homes (or bodies). Recently, u/CrankLeaf asked Redditors to share their worst-ever kitchen disasters, and in reading many of the responses, I realized the things that I'll never, ever attempt in my own kitchen. These are some of the wildest stories.
1. "Years ago, I had an old gas stove in my tiny kitchen that was the size of a closet. The stove was so ancient that it did not have an automatic pilot light for the oven or burners. Whenever I baked or cooked, I always turned off the burners and oven, then turned off the gas valve. One day, after using the oven, I was distracted and turned off the gas valve without turning off the oven. The following day, I turned the gas back on and lit one of the burners to heat some pasta water. Just as the water was getting to a boil, I suddenly heard a huge BOOM..."
2. "I decided to cook chickpeas in the Instant Pot with some baking soda, which usually helps to tenderize beans when cooking them from dried. I learned that you really can't do that. The baking soda turned my Instant Pot into a bean fountain, and we ended up with bean goo on the ceiling."
3. "I added way too much butter to my roasting pan while cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving. All of a sudden, I looked over and my oven became a fireplace. Thanksgiving dinner was not great — and I had to buy a new oven."
4. "I poured water into a hot cast iron frying pan. The pan was my mother's great-grandmother's wedding gift. It was over 125 years old. The cold water broke the pan. My mom gave it to me because my sisters got fancy, expensive pans when they were married. I was the only one who wanted this family heirloom. My mom said, 'I knew you would break the pan.' She cried. It's been years, and I still feel bad."
5. "I was pouring the deglazed turkey drippings through a sieve into a bowl when my dog ran through the kitchen, bumped me, and I lost grip of the pan. The pan fell into the bowl, tipped everything over, and poured about a liter of almost-boiling liquid down my front and all over the kitchen floor. I was wearing an apron and shoes, so the burns weren't too bad, but I was missing my turkey gravy big time, though."
6. "I candied some orange peels or at least attempted to. I let it go too long and made a burnt caramel with bits of hard, shriveled orange rinds in it. I poured it down the garbage disposal to get rid of it because it was SO hot, and I knew I couldn't throw it away. Well, of course, it seized as soon as it touched the cold pipes and I had to spend 30 uncomfortable minutes picking it out by hand with hot water running down the garbage disposal to loosen it up."
7. "My oven malfunctioned in a very dangerous way. I popped something in at 350ºF. Went to pee, and 60 seconds later, I came back to the kitchen and saw a fireball in my oven. I turned off the oven and waited for it to put itself out, but it just kept burning more and more. The kitchen was now filling with smoke, so I called 911 and they told me to get out of the house. By the time the fire department got there, the smoke was so thick that I couldn't see inside my house. Luckily, they were able to put it out and they brought in huge fans to clear the smoke."
8. "I poured cold water into a hot knock-off Pyrex roasting dish. The difference in temperatures caused my dish to literally explode. There was a chicken blast zone, and how I didn't end up with glass in my legs, I still have no idea."
9. "I found a bread recipe that took three days from start to finish and had lots and lots of steps. The author promised bread that tasted like it came straight out of the ovens of heaven. On the third day, I was finally ready to bake the bread. The very last step was to spray the bread with water. I grabbed the spray bottle and sprayed away. It was strange — the bread was full of foam. I looked at my hand: 'kitchen spray.' All of the dough went straight into the trash. Never tried the recipe again."
10. "I was feeling like devouring a bunch of hard-boiled eggs one evening. I cooked up a dozen and just as I finished peeling all of them, I sneezed and dropped the bowl holding the eggs. It shattered. But I slipped trying to catch the bowl and ended up stepping on it and crushing the eggs with glass shards mixed up. I had one egg left that was safe, but I just threw it away in disgust. I actually cried like a toddler for a bit. I was pretty stoned."
11. "I was rendering the fat out of 11 pounds of beef, and I dropped it on the floor after cooking it down for about 18 hours. My floor is still slick no matter how many times I mop. Regardless of what I use to clean it, I don't think I'll ever get it up."
12. "I bought a watermelon for my husband and I to enjoy. It was a busy time in our lives, and for whatever reason, the watermelon stayed on the counter in the kitchen. After some time — I think two weeks, maybe — I noticed that the watermelon had a small dent and decided I should probably throw it away. When I touched it, it exploded."
13. "Ugh, this is so embarrassing, but I tried to demonstrate to my friends that the immersion blender can't scratch the bottom of a pot cause it's raised a bit to prevent that. So, I palmed it. I was making tomato sauce and it was still plugged in. Needless to say, I took a chunk of my palm off. And out of pain, I also knocked the pot to the ground. It was a long night..."
14. "It was my boyfriend's (now husband's) birthday and he loves salted caramel, so I decided to make a cake with salted caramel, which I had never done before. I got a phone call while making the caramel and I totally burned it. I then burned myself pretty badly while trying to deal with it, but I wanted to keep going. So while cleaning it up, I thought it was cool enough to put into a plastic container to throw away. I could see the plastic was getting soft, so I threw it in a garbage bag to run it to the garbage chute...and the whole bag disintegrated in my hallway, which was carpeted. I then went to make another batch of caramel, and it also burned."
15. "It was about 15 years or so ago and we had people over for Passover Seder. I'd been cooking all day. Toward the end, I knew I wasn't feeling well. I was feeling queasy and lightheaded and had a terrible headache. But I put it down to not having really eaten all day and having been over a hot stove all day. As we sat down to have the Seder, an alarm upstairs goes off..."
"He goes up and says it's not the smoke detector, it's the carbon monoxide detector, but it's flashing a yellow warning and he thinks it's malfunctioning so he unplugs it. Just as we're getting ready to start again, the downstairs one goes off and this time it's flashing red lights at us. I call 911 and tell dispatch what's going on and he tells me to get everyone out of the house and that they're sending a truck. I ask if I should stay on the line with him and he says "No. I'm hanging up and everyone else get out of the house. Right now!" So we do.
When the firemen get there, they go into the house with handheld CO meters, but they immediately turn around and come right back out and tell us that they need to put on oxygen masks because the CO levels in the house topped out their meters. After about an hour, they finally found the source. It was my stove, which I had turned off as we left the house. One of them turned the stove on and the CO levels immediately shot up. They pulled it, red-tagged it, then used the big extraction fans to clear everything out of the house before we could go back in.
We were really lucky to have the detectors. Our friends that had come to dinner were staying overnight and had their 1-year-old son with them. There would have been a tragedy had we not known."
16. "Years ago I was making egg rolls for the first time. Everything was going great until I lifted one out and tipped the tongs a little too far back. The oil that had been trapped inside the roll poured down the tongs and into the palm of my hand, then down my wrist. I had a massive blister on my palm for more than a week, and I've never used tongs to transfer deep-fried food again."
17. "I tried to make a red velvet cake once. Turns out that 'shortening' is something entirely different in American culture compared to here in the UK, so the cake was a total disaster. But it doesn't end there: I threw the bloody thing out for the birds. A week later, it was still there. Untouched."
What's the worst kitchen disaster you've ever experienced — whether it was simply a meal that you ruined beyond repair or a larger, more hazardous incident? Share your story in the comments below.
Note: Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.