It’s one of the fastest cooking methods, too.

By Betty Gold
August 05, 2020

Want to achieve that perfect char on meat, veggies, or homemade pizza? The broiler setting on your oven is a great way to add a crispy finish to your favorite foods, but it’s often either misused or unused, thanks to a bad rap and an unnecessary intimidation factor.

Think of your broiler like an upside-down grill—broiling is a method of cooking that directly exposes your food to super high heat, only (typically) from the top rather than the bottom. This makes it perfect for browning or quick-cooking dishes, but one misstep and you’ll be left with a dried-out steak or a completely burnt pizza crust.

Whether you’re hoping to brown potatoes into crispy perfection, cook juicy snapper or salmon, or nail the perfect nacho cheese pull, here’s the proper way to utilize your broiler, according to Kait Capone, Whirlpool brand manager.

While it's typically near the top of the oven cavity, some ovens have separate broiler drawers located under the main oven.

If you don’t have a broiling pan, use a shallow metal baking pan and your baking rack to hold your food. Avoid using glass cookware, as the intense heat can cause it to crack or shatter.

RELATEDThis Simple—and Very Common—Mistake Is Ruining Your Cookware

In general, aim to have a 3- to 5-inch gap between your broiler and the top of your meat. Thinner cuts and foods that benefit from heavy browning and caramelization should be placed closer to the broil element. Thicker cuts and bone-in meats take longer to reach their required cooking temperature, and will benefit from being located farther from the broil element. This allows them to cook to the center and reduce the chance of burning. Overall, the closer you place your food to the broiler, the faster it will cook. Check your recipe to find the right rack placement for your particular dish.

Also, be sure to check your oven's manual to see if the door should remain open or closed when using the broiler.

Preheating times can vary based on your oven, so check your user guide to see how much time you’ll need. While most broilers operate using an on/off switch, some ovens do have a low/high function or allow you to set a particular temperature.

Since broiling uses such a high heat, it’s important to stay close to your food and monitor. Use your oven light or open the door to frequently check on your food's progress.