Broiling is a delicious and very easy cooking technique that helps food cook in a very short amount of time. The method also gives the food a nicely browned surface, while leaving the inside soft and evenly cooked to perfection.
A broiling pan, in our opinion, is an essential piece of equipment needed for this process. It helps the juices run down into the bottom tray and keeps them from setting alight underneath the extremely hot temperatures.
Unfortunately, not everyone has access to this tool. And sometimes, things just go wrong!
So what are the best substitutes for a broiling pan? The best substitute for a broiling pan is a roasting tray with a wire rack insert. You can use the roasting tray as-is, but the wire rack helps the juice separate from the food. Other useful alternatives include cast-iron griddle pans and sheets, roasting trays, baking sheets, and aluminum trays.
Other great substitutes include a cast-iron griddle pan or sheet, a baking sheet or tray, or an aluminum disposable roasting tray.
In today’s fully-packed article, we will talk about all things broiling!
We will have an in-depth look at the differences between broiling and other oven-based cooking methods to help us choose the best possible substitutes. We will also explain exactly why these methods work, and how you should apply them.
So let’s get cracking!
What is Broiling?
Very few people have actually heard of the broiling cooking method, let alone tried it, and many confuse it with other dry cooking methods like baking or roasting.
It is however a cooking method on its own, and a delicious one at that.
Broiling is a dry heat cooking technique that uses extremely high oven temperatures from a direct heat source. This immense heat is achieved by placing the food item extremely close to the broiling element inside the oven.
This method not only allows food to cook quickly but also gives it a nice char. Depending on the item you are cooking, its thickness, and characteristics, this char can either have a subtle caramelized flavor, or a very deep intense smoky one.
How to Broil Foods
The method is quite simple and straightforward, but the technique is still very important and without applying it properly, you won’t get great results.
- Find your broiler in your oven, turn it on and allow it to preheat. Or set the oven to “broil” if you have an easy option.
- Place your food item into a broiling pan, and place it directly underneath (or above) the heating element.
- Make sure you know how long your food should broil and constantly keep an eye on it to prevent it from burning. Broiling should never exceed 10 minutes.
- Any item that hasn’t finished cooking (this is indicated by internal temperatures) should be placed on the middle rack in the oven and continue cooking at a lower temperature.
Note: The broiler sign is usually the same as the grilling one, which is shown by zig-zag lines either at the top, or bottom of your oven.
Many ovens also have a simple on-off broiling switch. However, for those that don’t, the oven needs to be set to its maximum temperature setting for it to activate – this temperature is usually around 500°F (260°C), possibly higher.
Tips & Tricks
Here are a few tips to achieve the best results when broiling:
- Only use oil or non-stick cooking spray to lubricate the food. Stay away from silicone mats and non-stock baking paper as both tend to burn under such high temperatures.
- Food should be arranged in a single layer to ensure even browning and cooking.
- If using larger food items, you can either use the broiling technique at the start or end of your cooking time. Remember, never exceed 10 minutes of broiling time.
- Only use dry seasoning ingredients like spices, herbs, and rubs. Liquids (like marinades) have a chance to catch on fire under extremely high heat. Marinades (or any liquid and lubricant) can be brushed on after broiling if the item still has to cook.
- To clean your broiling pan much more quickly, add a layer of aluminum foil in the drip tray part. Now you can simply remove it and throw it away without having to scrub for hours.
So, now that we have discussed what broiling is, let’s have a look at the equipment it needs, namely a broiling pan.
This is a two-piece operation that consists of a large pan (that looks like a roasting tray) called the drip tray, and an upper cooking surface called the broiler plate lid.
This lid contains open slits or small holes. The juices that are released from the food during broiling runs through the holes and into the tray beneath.
Because there are only a minimal number of holes, it prevents the drippings from catching on fire and burning the bottom of the food item.
Broiling pans are most commonly made from stainless steel and anodized aluminum, but can also be found in cast iron or enameled steel materials.
Keep in mind: Broiler pans are not (and should not) be made from non-stick materials.
The non-stick coating for stainless steel cooking equipment is not made to withstand such high cooking temperatures and breaks down extremely quickly, shortening the life of the vessel immediately.
These pans also vary in size anywhere from 6-12 inches (15-30 cm) in width and 10-18 inches (25-45 cm) in length. This makes it very easy to choose the perfect size for a specific piece of food, or a size that will work for most items you want to broil.
If you are looking for a great everyday broiling pan, have a look at this Whirlpool Porcelain Broiler Pan.
But if you need a substitute right now, let’s look at some decent alternatives you may have around the house already.
Broiling Pan Substitutes
Now that you better understand how a broiling pan works better, we can have a look at some substitutions!
Here are some things you can use to save the day – and tonight’s dinner. Chances are, you’ll have one or more of these hiding somewhere in the kitchen anyway.
1. Roasting Trays with Wire Racks
Roasting trays are a great option as a substitution for broiling pans and probably the best one, however, it cannot be used on its own.
When using a roasting tray to broil, you have to place a wire rack on the inside of the pan, ultimately creating a make-shift broiling pan.
The wire rack will help those juices run down into the “drip tray”. The biggest problem you might run into is that those juices can catch on fire in the high heat, but simply monitoring your food will help prevent this from happening.
You can also buy roasting trays that already have wire racks inside.
These trays are meant for roasting to help with the air circulation around the food. However, if they are placed near the broiler (like in the method we mentioned above), they act very similar to true broiling pans.
Recommended: Farberware Nonstick Steel Roaster with Flat Rack
This Farberware roaster is a great option for such a tray. It is made from oven-safe high-heat-proof material and the tray inside will perfectly hold food and allow their juices to run through.
Another great idea to prevent the possibility of a fire is to cover the rack with a layer of foil and poke holes inside. This way the juices can still run through to the roasting tray below, but possible flames won’t be able to come up.
2. Cast-Iron Griddle Pans
We love a good cast-iron pan! There is arguably nothing it cannot do. Its versatile, durable, and makes fantastic foods.
This is mainly due to the material used as cast-iron is a fantastic heat conductor and can handle scorching high temperatures.
When looking at cast-iron pans for broiling specifically, you should look at ones with griddle lines, to act as a substitute for a broiler lid or wire rack. A griddle pan is perfect for the job.
Griddle pans have a long handle and a grab handle to make moving it much easier. Their lines should also be high enough so the food item doesn’t sit inside its juices.
Like we’ve said before, these pans can handle extremely high temperatures, so placing it near the broiling element won’t affect it in any way (unlike the roasting tray that might scorch slightly after each use).
Recommended: Backcountry Cast Iron Square Grill Pan
This griddle pan is perfect for smaller food items and can handle semi-large pieces of meat as well.
3. Cast-Iron Griddle Sheets
Alternatively, a griddle sheet will work just as well for those larger pieces of meat, or just a larger meal.
These griddle sheets differ from the pans in shape only. They are flat and are most often used on a gas stovetop. Again, their griddle lines should be high enough to allow the juices to run down so the food doesn’t sit in it.
These griddle sheets are the ultimate multi-cooking vessels as they can be used on both sides (the one with griddle lines and the other without).
Recommended: LovoIn 1-Piece Cast Iron Griddle Plate
This is one of our favorites because of its shape and design. The lines are spaced perfectly, they’re high enough and the overall size of the pan makes it easy to broil virtually anything!
4. Roasting Trays
We placed roasting trays in a separate category as this option doesn’t have any wire rack inside; it’s only the tray being used as-is.
Virtually any home-cook has a roasting tray, no matter what its shape or size is. When you don’t have any of the previously mentioned options, a plain roasting tray or baking pan is the next best thing.
These differ from baking sheets as their sides are much higher (about 1-2 inches high) which means they are much better adapt to hold liquids.
Roasting trays will be able to hold food items much better, help contain splatter of the food (that usually makes a massive mess inside the oven), and help hold the juices that run down from the food.
Because of the high heat, these juices will evaporate quickly and only leave a crispy mess, so it’s best to line your roasting tray with a layer of aluminum foil.
Roasting trays are also great for very large pieces of meat that need to cook further after the 10 minutes initial broiling time is over. After the item has finished, a marinade or sauce can be added and the food item can continue cooking for the rest of the time.
Recommended: Copper Kitchen Roasting Tray and Cookie Sheet Set
This exceptionally fine set from Copper Kitchen has a gorgeous copper roasting tray as well as two high-quality copper cookie/baking sheets (just in case your bakeware needed an upgrade!).
All three are non-stick, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly to boot. Copper is a durable material so your tray and sheet set will last years.
5. Baking Sheets
Moving on to substitutes that will do in a pinch, our first one is a baking sheet or tray. These are flat sheets with a small edge that prevents small amounts of liquids from running off the tray.
The food makes direct contact with the tray, so will sit in the juices, luckily, because of the high heat, the juices will evaporate relatively quickly.
These baking sheets are by no means close to a broiling tray in design, however as we’ve said, in a pinch, it will get the job done satisfactorily.
Baking sheets are made from the same materials that broiling pans and roasting pans are made of, so they will be able to withstand the high heat of the broiling element.
To use a baking sheet as a substitute, simply line it with a layer of aluminum foil (for easy clean up) and place the food item on top. Add the tray as close to the broiling element as possible and continue the cooking method as per usual.
Make sure to keep an eye on the food in case the juices catch fire. It is always important to reduce the amount of moisture in the food item by not adding any marinades or sauces.
At most, you can lubricate by brushing on oil with a high smoking point, like vegetable oil blends that are used for deep-frying.
We have a whole article devoted to the best baking sheets for roasting vegetables, so check it out if you’re in the market for one.
Recommended: Best Baking Sheets for Roasting Vegetables
6. Aluminum Foil Trays
These are a last-resort kind of substitute. We don’t love using single-use equipment. However, this one makes for very easy clean up that will save you a ton of time and effort.
Aluminum trays are very easy to come by, and their wide variety of sizes and shapes makes it easy to choose one that fits the food perfectly.
It can also withstand the extremely high heat required for broiling. As with baking sheets, the food makes direct contact with the tray, but luckily, no lubrication is necessary as it reacts with the food in the same way aluminum foil does.
You can, however, just for safety, extra flavor, and color, brush the food with oil anyway.
Recommended: DOBI Disposable 9×13 Aluminum Pans
When looking at which trays to buy, make sure to get ones labeled “heavy-duty” as not all versions are.
We love this bulk-pack from DOBI! They’re the perfect size for almost any type of food and good to have on hand at any time – for more than just broiling in a pinch!
Related – Broiling Vs Baking, Roasting, and Toasting
Yes, there is a massive difference between these four cooking methods. Although they are all done in the oven, they’re done in different ways.
Baking uses much lower temperatures and applies indirect hot air to the food item to allow it to bake evenly and fully. You would use it to make cakes, cookies, pastries, and breads – all items that require evenly spread temperatures.
Roasting, although it does use high temperatures, uses lower temperatures that don’t cause instant browning. It also uses indirect heat (via circulated air) to cook the food, therefore the process takes much longer.
Toasting is a method used to merely crisp the surface of the food item and not have it cook all the way through. Think about nuts and a slice of toast as an example; it crisps the outside, while the inside of the nut is still raw, and the inside of the bread is still soft and fluffy.
|500 – 600°F (260 – 315°C)
|320 – 375°F (160 – 190°C)
|360 – 430°F (180 – 220°C)
|320 – 375°F (160 – 190°C)
|10 minutes maximum. Finish cooking at a lower temperature until cooked through
|Depends on the item; anywhere between 12 minutes to 60 minutes (average).
|At least 30 minutes.
|Averages around 5 minutes.
|Direct radiant (oven) heat.
|Indirect heat (air circulation).
|Indirect heat (air circulation).
|Direct radiant (oven) heat.
|Baking pan or sheet