What Is Broiling? And How to Broil

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

Updated on January 19, 2024

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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.

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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.

This guide teaches you everything you need to know about how to broil, what to broil and some of our favorite broiling recipes.

What Is Broiling?

Broiling is a cooking technique that uses direct heat from above to cook your food in the oven. It’s a bit like upside-down grilling. Broiling is a good way to cook 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

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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 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 out. Learn more about broilers in our What Is a Broiler? primer.

What Is a Broiler?

It’s your oven’s secret weapon that acts like a grill, only faster.

Broil vs. Bake: What's the Difference?

Baking is the gentlest of the cooking methods in an oven because the food isn’t in close contact with heat source. The heat may come from the bottom and the top of the oven or only from the bottom. 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 with a direct source of heat from above. 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.

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

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

Photo by: NikiLitov/Getty Images

NikiLitov/Getty Images

How to Broil

1. Select the Right Items to Broil

  • 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.
  • Vegetables: Vegetables will get great caramelization under the broiler. Much like prepping meat, you should make sure to chop vegetables into evenly sized pieces.
  • Partially cooked food: You can also 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.

2. Season the Food for Broiling

Your go-to should salt, pepper and a rub for extra flavor. Avoid marinades. Marinating will introduce, oil and that can lead to splatter, smokiness and a possible fire hazard under a broiler.

3. Transfer the Food to the Right Kind of Pan

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 so the heat from the pan cooks the bottom of the meat while the heat from the broiler cooks the top. 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.

4. Adjust the Oven Racks

Generally, there should be three to five inches between the top of your food and the broiler. The closer you put the food, the faster it'll cook.

5. Preheat the Broiler

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.

6. Monitor the Food

Food can go from golden-brown to completely burned in a matter of seconds, so stand nearby and watch it like a hawk. If your food is cooking too quickly, you can turn the broil setting from high to low. Because the broiler gets very hot, it's best to never use the broiler for more than 15 minutes. Foods that take a long time to cook through should be pre-baked.

Broiling Tips for Safety

Do not use 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: Any pan that comes out of the broiler it will be extremely hot. If you leave it on the stovetop or a trivet or cooling rack after 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.

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

FNK_SimpleBroiledFlankSteakWithHerbOil_H

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.

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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.

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

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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