Broilers are a secret weapon of many home chefs as they can quickly cook, char, caramelize, and brown foods for an added blast of flavor.
But does every oven have one, and where is yours? This, it seems depends on which type of fuel powers your oven.
Broilers use direct, high heat, so experts advise that you’ll need to pay more attention to what you’re cooking than if you were baking something in a traditional manner.
That doesn’t mean broilers are only for expert cooks, though. Once you understand the basics, putting your broiler to work will be a breeze.
What is a broiler?
'A broiler is a way to cook your food at high heat with direct impact,' she explains. 'Broilers are particularly great to use at the very end of a slow cook in the oven to give your food color or crisp up dishes (potatoes are a favorite) in a flash.'
Unlike baking or roasting, cooking processes that surround your food with heat, broiling hits your food with direct heat on one side.
Where can you find the broiler in an oven?
While each oven is different, there are only two spots where you’ll find a broiler. If you’re working with an electric oven, your broiler is almost certainly inside the oven itself. To confirm, open the oven door (while the oven is off, of course) and check to see if there are coils on the top of the oven. If the answer is yes, you’ve found your broiler.
On the other hand, most gas ovens have a broiler located in a separate drawer at the very bottom of the oven itself. To confirm if the drawer at the bottom of your oven is the broiler, simply open the drawer (once again, making sure the heat is off) and check to see if there is a broiler pan present.
'Either way, the broiler will always heat your food from the top,' Lepore Hagan says. Think of your broiler like an upside down grill, instead of cooking with direct heat from below like a grill does, it cooks with direct heat from above.
Do I need a broiler pan?
Ideally, you should cook with a broiler pan, which is designed to drain off fat and oil as your meat cooks so that the meat doesn't sit in it. The top Amazon broiler pan buy is the Genuine OEM Broiler Pan (see below). Alternatively, you can line a flat metal pan with aluminum foil, then sit the meat on a rack above it.
What to know before using a broiler
Broilers can reach heats up to 500℉ (or 260℃) so it’s important to keep a close eye on what you’re cooking. Because of the high heat, avoiding glass bakeware is imperative. Consider using broiler pans or metal baking pans that are approved for use up to 500℉.
Once you’re ready to broil, set your oven to broil and let it heat up for about five minutes. And make sure there’s about 3 to 5in of space between the top of your dish and the broiler itself.
But most importantly, know that broilers can cook faster than you anticipate and over-broiling by just a few moments can take your dish from perfectly crispy to burnt beyond repair. So, sticking close to oven and checking frequently is suggested.
'Always be very mindful when using a broiler,' Lepore Hagan advises. 'You can go from perfectly cooked to burnt in an instant. My biggest tip is to keep your eye on your food while it’s broiling to help you figure out the sweet spot for perfectly crisped veggies, a beautifully browned roast, or crunchy potatoes.'
Is the broiler on the top or bottom of the oven?
The broiler of a gas oven is usually at the bottom in a separate drawer. The broiler in an electric oven will be within the main body of the oven, at the top.
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Bridget Mallon is an experienced design and lifestyle editor with over a decade of experience in the field. She was previously the Editorial Director at The Spruce and MyDomaine and has held positions at Apartment Therapy, HGTV, Elle Decor, and Veranda. Her work can also be found on sites like Cosmopolitan, Esquire, The Huffington Post, and House Beautiful. Bridget studied journalism through the Honors Tutorial College at Ohio University. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2013. Bridget writes about all things home for Homes & Gardens.
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