Baking and broiling are both essential cooking techniques and even a few of the most popular used in kitchens today.
While the two methods may seem very similar, they are actually worlds apart. But it seems like we also missed the introductory train on exactly what these methods are, how to do them properly, and what they are best for.
So, what is the actual difference between broiling vs. baking? Broiling uses extremely high heat only from the top broiling element in the oven. This gives food a charred texture and flavor. Baking uses circulated hot air at cooler temperatures.
Today, we will be looking at all the differences between broiling and baking.
We will have a look at what they are, how you can set your oven for each, and when exactly to use one method or the other. We have also included some of the best tips we’ve learned over the years!
What Is Broiling?
Broiling is one of those cooking methods a lot of people get confused about. First things first, broiling is not the same as baking, roasting, or grilling. It is a cooking technique that stands alone, despite seeming similar to others.
Broiling is a method that applies direct radiant heat to food from the upper heating element in your oven. The oven is usually set to a specific broiling setting (or one that only uses the top element) and the temperature is set to its max!
This high heat allows you to quickly cook the surface of the food to get that nice charred look, texture, and flavor.
How To Use The Broiler In Your oven
The first and most important step before beginning to broil food is locating the broiler inside your oven.
The broiling element is usually at the top of the oven and directly in the middle of the “ceiling.” You will also sometimes see the broiling element at the bottom of the oven.
If you are having trouble locating the broiling element, simply look for the metal tubing that turns bright red when it has been heating for a while.
1. Switch On Your Broiler
You can always check your oven manual for specific instructions, but for those of us that constantly lose manuals, here is a general breakdown of how oven broilers can be turned on.
A lot of old ovens or simpler models (you know, those that don’t necessarily have all the fancy buttons) have two knobs to turn.
The first is the function knob. For broiling, it will only show the top heating element working inside the box symbol. Some ovens will also have a specific broiling setting that is represented by a zigzag line at the top of the box.
Then, you have to set the second knob, the temperature dial, all the way to its max.
More technological ovens have a very specific broiling setting and built-in function that makes the oven switch off once it has reached a certain temperature. You can even set a timer that will make the oven turn off.
The broiling element only takes about 5-10 minutes to heat.
2. Choose A Cooking Vessel
To broil food, there is a special pan you can use. Now, you can use your regular old sheet pan, or any of the items on our list of broiling pan substitutes, but a broiler pan is the best of the best.
A broiler pan usually has slightly elevated slats that will allow the air to circulate around the food item, which essentially promotes even cooking.
If you don’t have a broiler pan and don’t plan on buying one, use an oven-safe baking sheet or cast-iron skillet, but make sure to rotate your food while it is cooking.
Materials to avoid include glass, non-stick cooking materials, and aluminum. None of these materials will be durable enough to handle the high heat.
3. Broil Your Food
Place the food inside the broiler pan and place the pan directly under the broiling element on the highest shelf (if the element is at the top of the oven).
If the broiling element is located at the bottom of the oven, slide the shelf to the lowest section and place the pan directly above the element.
Tips For Oven Broiling
Once you have figured out exactly how your oven’s broiler works, you can whip up some deliciously broiled foods in no time! Here are some tricks we have learned over the years.
1. Always Preheat Your Broiling Pan
This is a crucial step that many people skip or simply don’t know about. A hot pan will ensure your food is sealed evenly.
This in turn will help you keep more flavor and ensure your food is nice and juicy! You can preheat the broiling pan while the broiler is preheating.
2. Do Not Overcrowd The Pan
Overcrowding food in a pan will cause it to take much longer to cook and will also cause the food to cook unevenly.
Most importantly, it will prevent the food from charring. Place your food in a single layer inside your broiling pan so all the food is exposed to the heating element or flame from the broiler.
3. Use Oil Or Nonstick Cooking Spray
Remember, you are going to be using extremely high heat, so you don’t want your food sticking to a pan. Lubricate your pan with oil or nonstick spray.
You can also line a pan with aluminum foil before drizzling it with oil. This is a great tip for those who are not too enthusiastic about washing dishes! Do not line your pan with parchment or wax paper, as it will burn under high heat.
4. Use An Oven Thermometer
Ovens and broiling temperatures differ all the time. Make sure your food is cooked to perfection by checking the internal temperatures.
This will help you to make sure the meat is cooked through and that it retains moisture by not overcooking it.
5. Keep An Eye On Your Food
Once again, you are working with high temperatures! Naturally, food cooks (and burns) much faster at higher temperatures, so don’t turn your back for too long or set a timer.
6. Go Heavy On Spices, Easy On Marinades
We know, usually it’s the other way around, but oil-based marinades might increase the chances of fire at such a high temperature.
Dry rubs are a great way to add flavor and texture instead. Use fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, or fresh black pepper for more flavor!
7. Don’t Expect To Broil A Whole Chicken
A broiler might sound like the solution to all your cooking woes, but because the heat is so high, food that needs to be cooked for longer than 10 minutes will simply burn. This goes for basically all large pieces of meat, including chicken.
We recommend starting or finishing large pieces of food with broiling. This will ensure charred, crispy crusts while the food still fully cooks.
For the rest of the cooking time, move your food to the center shelf of the oven at 350-400°F.
Broiling Pros And Cons
Here are a few pros and cons of broiling food:
- Faster cooking times – Broilers use high heat to cook food in a shorter period of time.
- Charred textures and flavors -Sometimes achieving charred surfaces can be hard. Broiling is an easy and low-labor method that gets the food evenly charred.
- It’s a low-fat cooking method – Due to the high heat used, most of the fat drips from the food being broiled. This is also made possible by the broiling tray which allows the food to not sit inside the oil.
- Overcooking – When cooking at high temperatures, there’s always the possibility of overcooking food, especially when using dry heat.
- Loss of nutrients – Cooking at such a high heat has the possibility of destroying valuable nutrients and minerals present in the food.
- Risk of injury – With broiling, there’s always a risk because of the immense heat, whether it’s burning your hands on the pan or the oil catching alight. Be sure to take the necessary precautions when using this method (like choosing a high flash-point oil and using thick oven mitts).
What Is Baking?
Just like broiling, baking is a cooking method that involves cooking with dry heat inside an oven. Where it differs though is that during baking, the food is surrounded by hot circulated air.
Baking is done at much lower temperatures ranging between 320-375°F, depending on the recipe and what is being baked. Food is usually baked on the middle shelf of the oven to ensure even heat is applied.
Baking does not char food in any way, but it can cause food to simply burn – and no, that isn’t the type of charring you want!
To bake food, all you have to do is place the oven in a setting that allows the heat to come from both the top and bottom heating element, and if possible, put the fan on so that the air can be evenly distributed.
Tips For Oven Baking
So now that you can broil like a pro, here are a few tips for baking like one too!
- Avoid Opening The Oven Door – While you might want to take a quick peek at your beautiful cookies, opening the oven door will lower the internal temperature, resulting in an uneven baked product. With items that need to rise (like cakes and soufflés) opening the door can actually cause the items to fall flat (deflate).
- Use The Oven Light And Window – Instead of opening the door, use the oven light and window to check on your items that are baking. That’s what they are there for!
- Don’t Overcrowd The Oven – In the oven, the heat needs to circulate evenly. If you place too many items in the oven, it won’t circulate well enough to help evenly cook all of the items – some will be over-baked while others will be under-baked.
- Place Your Food In The Right Spot – The center of the oven will bake your item evenly and completely throughout. But, if you want slightly crispier goods, then place the items on the top rack.
- Don’t Line Your Oven With Aluminum Foil – While it might be tempting to simply line your oven with foil to reduce clean up, aluminum foil actually reflects heat which means your items will bake faster and unevenly, possibly causing it to burn.
- Make Sure Your Oven Is Clean – While this might seem obvious, little drippings or pieces of food that are left behind in the oven will burn and cause smoke or even a fire. This will affect the flavor of whatever is currently baking, and not in a good way!
Baking Pros And Cons
Like all cooking methods, baking is also not all good or all bad. While it works great for cakes, it doesn’t work great for meats!
Here is a list of pros and cons that will essentially help you decide when it’s best to bake an item, or if you should be looking at a different method.
- Nutrients are retained – Because baking is done at a much lower temperature, vitamins and minerals are not lost as easily compared to broiling and other high heat methods.
- Potentially lower in fat – Baking does not require much oil to prepare foods and the pans simply need to be lubricated – even if that is only with non-stick baking paper.
- Foods are cooked at an even temperature – Unlike broiling or grilling, baking provides an even temperature throughout the oven, meaning your entire piece of food will evenly cook and use only one method (even for large pieces).
- Lengthy process – Baking can be a lengthy process because it uses lower heat.
- Not the desired outcome – Although baking will cook your items through, it will not necessarily crisp up your food. Luckily, there’s a broiler for that!
Broiling Or Baking – Which Is Healthier?
Broiling and baking are actually both considered fairly healthy cooking methods since they don’t use a lot of oil or additives to cook with.
When it comes down to nutrient loss, however, baking is the better option since the high heat of broiling causes more nutrients to be lost.
When baking or broiling, always make sure to trim the fat off of fatty meat cuts to lower the possible fat content of the food. Fat, however, does help retain moisture and adds juiciness, so don’t cut away all of it!
Always cook vegetables for the shortest possible time to make sure they keep the most nutrients and minerals.
1. What’s The Difference Between Roasting And Baking?
Although both are cooking methods that use dry heat, roasting uses slightly higher cooking temperatures than baking, but less than broiling.
2. What Is The Best Way To Clean A Dirty Oven?
Store-bought oven cleaner works like magic. Simply spray the oven cleaner in the oven and allow it to sit for 20 minutes before washing the oven out with hot soapy water.
Be sure to use gloves and keep your mouth covered, as these chemicals can be dangerous.
3. How Do You Find The Hot Spots In An Oven?
Usually, after baking or roasting for a couple of months in your oven, you’ll figure out where the hot spots are. Hot spots basically refer to an area where the heat is much higher compared to other areas.
You will notice this when some parts of your dish are darker than others. For a quick test though, you can toss a cup or two of white granulated sugar or desiccated coconut into a large sheet pan.
Bake it inside the oven. The darker sugar or coconut will show you where your hot spots are.
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