What Is Broiling?

It's like a grill built into every single oven.

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September 23, 2021
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Mozzarella cheese, tomato paste and jalapeno tortilla pizza cooking under the broiler inside the oven in a pizza pan on a metal rack.

Photo by: Serenethos/Getty Images

Serenethos/Getty Images

By Fraya Berg for Food Network Kitchen

Fraya is a chef and a contributing writer at Food Network.

In the past 50 years, broiling has become a bit of a mystery to many home cooks. Maybe because grilling has become so prevalent - and there are a lot of similarities between grilling and broiling. Like grilling, broiling is direct, hot, radiant heat on just one side of what you're cooking. You have to stand around to be sure the food isn’t burning. You get a delicious crust. A big difference with broiling is that the heat comes from the top. When you approach broiling from the perspective that it's similar to grilling, it makes a lot of sense and can be your new kitchen trick - especially in the depths of winter when you don't want to go outside.



Grilled chicken skewers with spices and vegetables in a pan on a wooden background. Top view.

Photo by: NikiLitov/Getty Images

NikiLitov/Getty Images

What Is Broiling?

Broiling is the cooking technique that uses radiant heat from above to cook your food, so it’s like upside-down grilling. Broiling is a good method to use for thinner, leaner cuts of meat like butterflied chicken breasts, pork tenderloin medallions, strip steaks, kabobs and vegetables. Broiling is also a way to add color, crispness and flavor to a baked or roasted food.



Inside view of a used open dirty stained oven and grilled metal tray 2020

Photo by: Octavian Lazar/Getty Images

Octavian Lazar/Getty Images

What Is a Broiler?

A broiler is a source of direct radiant heat in the top of an oven or a bottom broiler drawer. In an electric oven, it is a coil that is attached to the top of the oven. In a gas oven, it is a burner on the top of the oven or in a drawer underneath that slides in and oit. In all cases, broiling is direct radiant heat from the top.



Bread scoring pattern

Photo by: Photographer, Basak Gurbuz Derman/Getty Images

Photographer, Basak Gurbuz Derman/Getty Images

Baking Versus Broiling

When you are baking, the food you are cooking is surrounded by hot air. The source of heat may be from the bottom and the top or only from the bottom. Baking is the gentlest of the cooking methods in an oven because the food isn’t in close contact with heat source. Baking is used for cakes and cookies and breads, which is why when we used the broadest term to describe them, we call them baked goods.

Broiling cooks food by a more direct source of heat, and that heat is on only one side of the food: above it. When broiling, we adjust the oven rack to one of the top two spots, so the food is close to the heat source. The broiler heat can be set at one of two settings: low and high. While baking happens unattended, broiling requires your constant attention to ensure a tasty (and not burnt) outcome.

How to Broil

Learn How to Use Your Broiler

The first thing you should do if you intend to broil in your oven is to be sure you know how your broiler works. It’s a serious safety issue, because there are electric stoves that require you to keep the oven door slightly open when broiling and others that don’t. If your stove is more than 12 years old, chances are you do need to keep the door open. If you don’t, the oven can overheat and cause a fire. Look at the manual if you have it or go online and look it up. If you have a gas oven, you will always keep the door closed when broiling.



Close-up of chicken breast being seasoned with pepper using a wood pepper grinder.

Photo by: Fun4lif3/Getty Images

Fun4lif3/Getty Images

Prep Food for Broiling

Prepping Meat: The steps to take when prepping meat in particular for broiling start with what cuts to use. Lean, thin cuts of meat are the best to use. Chicken breasts, which are by nature a bit of a wedge, should be butterflied or pounded to an even thickness. Flank steaks are a good option, as are skirt steaks, thin, trimmed strip steaks and filet mignon. Fish is always a good option, you just need to be careful with over cooking. Small pieces of meat on skewers like kabobs or satays are great choices. If you’re thinking of using a thick steak, you’ll need to partially cook it in the oven, and then finish it under the broiler to get the crisp, browned crust you’re looking for. The amount of time it would take to cook the steak through would result in a burned crust.

Prepping Vegetables: Don’t forget vegetables: you’ll get great caramelization under the broiler. Much like prepping meat, you should make sure to chop vegetables into evenly-sized pieces.

Prepping Partially Cooked Food: A final option is to use the broiler to brown food that has just been baked or shallow braised in the oven, meaning it's cooked all the way through but needs to crisp up or turn golden brown. Broil it for a minute or two, and you'll achieve both the advantages of the oven and the broiler.

Season Food for Broiling

When seasoning the meat or vegetables you’re going to broil, your go-to should be a rub. Marinating will introduce, oil and that can lead to splatter, smokiness and a possible fire hazard under a broiler.



Marinated skirt stake in a spicy sauce ready for cooking, view from above

Photo by: fortyforks/Getty Images

fortyforks/Getty Images

Use the Right Pan for Broiling

Using a broiler pan can be very beneficial, as the top part is a grid that allows air to circulate around the food you’re broiling. They’re part of the package when you buy a new stove.

In some cases, you’ll use a sheet pan lined with foil that you'll preheat before putting, say, meat on it. This sets up the situation where the heat from the pan cooks the bottom of a steak while the heat from the broiler gives you the crust you’re looking for. It’s a great technique to use when you’re making London broil or flank steaks, because you don’t have to flip the steak.

Safe Broiling

A few safety tips to always follow when broiling:

  • Preheat your broiler for three to four minutes before you start cooking. This is especially important for a gas broiler. The heat plate that spreads out around the actual burner needs a few minutes to heat up so you get even heat across the broiler pan.
  • Don’t use the broiler for more than 15 minutes. It just gets too hot. Foods that take a long time to cook through should be pre-baked.
  • Never leave food in the broiler unattended. Food can go from golden-brown to completely burned in a matter of seconds.
  • Do not use any glass or nonstick cookware. Glass, even Pyrex, can easily shatter. With nonstick cookware, you run the risk of dangerous fumes when it gets as hot as the broiler.
  • Use oven mitts or a towel to remove the pan. Moreover, when it comes out of the oven, drape the handle or side of the pan with a towel - the universal chef's signal for hot pan, be careful.

What Temperature Is Broiling?

The temperature at which an oven broils is around 500 to 550 degrees F, and this goes for both gas and electric ovens. Because you are cooking close to the heat source at such a high temperature, you need to stay at the stove to be sure you aren’t burning the food. If your food is cooking too quickly, you can turn the broil setting from high to low.

Broiling Recipes



Chef Name: Food Network Kitchen Full Recipe Name: Simple Broiled Flank Steak with Herb Oil Talent Recipe: FNK Recipe: Food Networks Kitchen’s Simple Broiled Flank Steak with Herb Oil, as seen on Foodnetwork.com Project: Foodnetwork.com, FN Essentials/Weeknights/Fall/Holidays Show Name: Food Network / Cooking Channel: Food Network

Photo by: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Renee Comet, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

This recipe uses the “get the pan really hot first” method of cooking a steak that you won’t need to flip.

In just a few minutes, asparagus goes from raw to cooked with some great caramelization. The drizzle of vinegar and oil brings out its shine.



Photo by: Johnny Miller

Johnny Miller

This broiled salmon gets a crust that is perfectly balanced by the creamy tomato sauce you can make while the salmon cooks.

Food Network Kitchen’s Crispy Sheet Pan Gnocchi with Sausage and Peppers.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

Another bake-then-broil combo, sausage, peppers and tomatoes are baked and then gnocchi are broiled straight out of the package, no boiling required.

Food Network Kitchen - Fall Off The Bone Chicken

Photo by: Teri Lyn Fisher

Teri Lyn Fisher

This chicken dish is a classic example of bake first, broil last. The chicken falls off the bone because it was baked, and the skin gets the crisping treatment under the broiler.

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