Your Secret Element: The Broiler

The underused broiler delivers sizzling flavor with little added fat. Find tips on how to use your broiler plus delicious broiler-friendly recipes.

Our Best Broiler Tips

Our Best Broiler Tips

The broiler (and its restaurant equivalent, the “salamander”) is a go-to tool for confident cooks. Yet it’s underused because, badly deployed, it can both scorch and undercook food at once.

Here are our best tips and recipes to help you make the most of your broiler.

 

How to Brown in a Broiler

Browing vs. Burning

These things determine whether food browns or burns.

Pick Your Position: Use the top 2 rack positions (3 to 5 inches from the heating element) to brown gratins and cook thin cuts of meat. If you choose the top rack, keep an eagle eye on the food—it can go from browned to scorched in seconds. Middle rack positions are for items like bone-in chicken or thick steaks.

Know Your Temperatures: On high broil, food cooks at 550° on the top rack. The temperature drops about 50° to 75° on each rack level, down to 325° at the bottom position in our Test Kitchen ovens. Your oven may be different, hence the appeal of an instant-read thermometer (see next slide).

Door: Open or Closed? Consult your oven's users' manual. Some manufacturers call for leaving the oven door open a few inches while broiling (set at the "broiler stop") so the heating element remains on and the stove can vent smoke. Others won't even operate with the door open.

Not Cooking with Gas? Gas broilers run a little hotter than electric, cranking up to about 600° (that temperature is the industry standard for gas). But don't fret: The slightly cooler electric broiler distributes its heat more evenly.

Timing is critical: When you set food under the broiler's intense direct heat, timing is critical—a point illustrated here with garlic bread toasted 5 inches from the heating element. (See our Broiler Garlic Bread recipe.)

 

Essential Broiling Tools

Essential Broiling Tools

Equipment that works perfectly well at 350° may not cut it at 550° or 600°. Avoid shattered casserole dishes, burned hands, and scorched suppers: Buy a few broiler-handy items. First up, a digital timer.

Mark the Time

Your first defense against burning is a watchful eye. Your backup is a precise timer. There are many options, but digital is better than mechanical when seconds count.

Price: $20, Oxo

Buy: Bed Bath & Beyond

Essential Broiling Tools: Oxo Good Grips Silicone Oven Mitt

Essential Broiling Tools: Oxo Good Grips Silicone Oven Mitt

Protect Your Hands and Arms

With food just 5 inches from a red-hot element, and timing critical, it's easy to get burned. Don't use a damp towel; don't use a thin or too-short mitt. The Oxo Good Grips Silicone Oven Mitt boasts silicone on the outside and breathable fabric inside, with protection up to 600°. At 13 inches long, it guards your wrists and forearms.

Price: $15

Buy: amazon.com

Essential Broiling Tools: MicroTemp MT-PRO Digital Infrared Thermometer

Essential Broiling Tools: MicroTemp MT-PRO Digital Infrared Thermometer

Check the Temp

Most oven thermometers measure the ambient temperature. What matters with broiling is the surface temperature. Get rid of guesswork with an instant-read thermometer, which takes the surface temperature anywhere—even the bubbling top of a gratin. We loved the MicroTemp MT-PRO Digital Infrared Thermometer. (It's also fun to check the temperature of pretty much anything in the house!)

Price: $30—$70

Buy: Microtemp

Essential Broiling Tools: Range Kleen Porcelain Broiler Pan with Porcelain Grill

Essential Broiling Tools: Range Kleen Porcelain Broiler Pan with Porcelain Grill

Reduce the Smoke

Broiler pans catch liquid that drips from the slotted top into the pan below, which also helps prevent smoke and flares. The stick-free Range Kleen Porcelain Broiler Pan with Porcelain Grill makes cleanup easy.

Price: $20

Buy: Kmart

Essential Broiling Tools: Emile Henry Lasagna Baker

Essential Broiling Tools: Emile Henry Lasagna Baker

Prevent Cracking

Some baking dishes crack at broiler temps, but the durable clay Emile Henry 13 × 10 Lasagna Baker is good for casseroles, steaks, fish fillets, or chicken breasts.

Price: $66

Buy: Emile Henry

Essential Broiling Tools: Lodge 12-Inch Preseasoned Cast-Iron

Essential Broiling Tools: Lodge 12-Inch Preseasoned Cast-Iron

Cook with Iron

Cast-iron can handle high heat forever. Here, a Lodge 12-inch preseasoned model.

Price: $34

Buy: Lodge Cast Iron

Broiled Tenderloin Steaks with Ginger-Hoisin Glaze Recipe

Broiled Tenderloin Steaks with Ginger-Hoisin Glaze

Lean beef tenderloin is a good candidate for broiling because it won't render much fat that could smoke or flare under the broiler.

View Recipe: Broiled Tenderloin Steaks with Ginger-Hoisin Glaze

Broiled Oysters with Garlic-Buttered Breadcrumbs

Broiled Oysters with Garlic-Buttered Breadcrumbs

Just three minutes is enough to brown the topping and perfectly cook the delicate oysters.

View Recipe: Broiled Oysters with Garlic-Buttered Breadcrumbs

Broiled Pineapple with Bourbon Caramel Over Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

Broiled Pineapple with Bourbon Caramel Over Vanilla Ice Cream

Sugar-coated fruit caramelizes beautifully under the broiler, deepening and intensifying its flavor.

View Recipe: Broiled Pineapple with Bourbon Caramel Over Vanilla Ice Cream

Crispy Topped Brussels Sprouts and Cauliflower Gratin Recipe

Crispy Topped Brussels Sprouts and Cauliflower Gratin

This creamy gratin bakes for 20 minutes, then finishes under the broiler to make the top beautifully browned and crunchy. You can also try it with broccoli.

View Recipe: Crispy Topped Brussels Sprouts and Cauliflower Gratin

Lump Crab-Stuffed Trout Recipe

Lump Crab-Stuffed Trout

Sweet crabmeat fills these whole trout and helps keep the fillets moist under high broiler heat.

View Recipe: Lump Crab-Stuffed Trout  

Broiled Herb-Marinated Shrimp Skewers Recipe

Broiled Herb-Marinated Shrimp Skewers

These skewers are a simple, quick, and fresh-tasting entrée. Shrimp cook fast, making them great for the broiler—but watch the time and keep an eye on them so they don't overcook and dry out.

View Recipe: Broiled Herb-Marinated Shrimp Skewers

Broiler Garlic Bread Recipe

Broiler Garlic Bread

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add 2 crushed garlic cloves to pan; cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Arrange 8 (1/2-ounce) slices French bread baguette in a single layer on a baking sheet. Broil bread 5 inches from heat 1 minute or until lightly browned. Turn slices over; brush with melted butter. Discard garlic. Top each bread slice with 1-1/2 teaspoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese is melted and folden brown.

Yeild: 4 Servings

Calories: 118; Fat: 4.1g (sat 2.4g); Sodium: 243mg

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