Skip to main content

You’re probably not using the broiler setting on your oven, but it’s a game-changer — here’s why

What is a broiler, you ask? Only the best oven setting you're not using.

Mitted hand opening oven
Nenad Stojkovic/Flickr

In the summertime, we talk an awful lot about grilling. And who can blame us? Grilling is a hoot, and grilled foods are spectacularly delicious. But for many reasons, grilling isn’t always an option. Perhaps you haven’t yet been inspired to buy a grill for yourself, or you live in a place that’s especially rainy with no covered patio. Maybe you had a particularly embarrassing experience years ago that involved burning off your eyebrows, and you’ve been too scared to pick up the tongs ever since. Whatever the reason, it’s okay. There is another option. In fact, it’s likely something you already have in your kitchen and may not even be aware of. It’s your broiler setting.

In addition to being a fantastic substitute for a grill, your broiler can also do a multitude of other impressive culinary tasks, from cooking to crisping to browning to brûléeing. So it’s in your best interest to learn how to use this handy tool as soon as possible.

Broilers come standard with almost every oven on the market, be it gas or electric. In most cases, the broiler will be on the inside of your oven, the heat coming directly from the top. You’ll access the broiler’s heat by placing one of your oven racks on the highest setting — usually two to three inches from the broiler. In other cases, the broiler may be located in a drawer at the bottom of the oven and will work similarly, but with less control as to how closely your food can be placed to the heat source. Either way, it should be fairly obvious when you give your oven a quick inspection. So in case you’ve ever wondered what that button is for, or, if you’re just noticing it for the first time since you moved in, this is how to use your broiler.

Pizzas
Narda Yescas/Pexels

Cook

A broiler is, essentially, an upside-down grill inside your oven. If you know your way around a grill and think about it this way, cooking with the broiler will become quite simple. It gives off very high heat, so it’s designed to cook quickly. Anything that cooks well on fast, high heat will do well in the broiler. Things like thin cuts of meat, smaller vegetables, and even pizza all cook beautifully this way. Simply adjust your settings according to your ingredients.

Rosemary potatoes
Clark Douglas/Unsplash

Crisp

Often the broiler is used for finishing a dish, be it to crisp or to brown (more on browning in a moment). For example, potatoes can’t be fully cooked under a broiler. They would burn on the outside far before even thinking about cooking on the inside. However, if you’ve cooked potatoes using another method, but find they just don’t have that deliciously crispy skin we all love, a quick trip to the broiler ought to do the trick. Simply lightly oil or butter them, season accordingly, and broil for a few minutes for crispy perfection.

Lasagna in oven
Kristine Tumanyan/Unsplash

Brown

Have you ever wondered how those picture-perfect lasagnas have those gorgeously golden spots burnt into the top layer of cheese? Wonder no more. The secret is a broiler. If you’ve finished a dish, but it just doesn’t have that bubbly golden crust, pop it under the broiler for a bit. This is a perfect way to add some color to casseroles, cheeses, breads, and even proteins.

Creme brulee
3Msuccess/Pixabay

Brûlée

If you don’t find yourself in possession of a blowtorch, worry not. You can still enjoy the delicate yet naughty crack of a burnt sugared topping. In lieu of torching the tops of these gentle custards, simply place them underneath the broiler for a few minutes for caramelized perfection. Not only will your desserts taste just as good, but you can also prepare more than one at a time, making this preparation perfect for a large group.

Editors' Recommendations

Lindsay Parrill
Lindsay is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco, from where she holds a degree in…
Bourbon snifters: What they’re good for, which bourbon you should drink from them, and more
Why you should have bourbon snifters, and what to drink from them
Snifter

If you’re new to bourbon, you probably pour your favorite whiskey into a rocks glass with or without ice and sip it while you binge-watch the newest show du jour on Netflix and call it good. And while that’s all well and good, as we aren’t here to tell anyone how to imbibe whiskey, you might not be enjoying it as much as you could be. That’s to say that there are whiskey glasses designed to elevate and heighten your whiskey-tasting experience.

Don’t believe us? Just take your classic rocks glass, for example. It’s fairly uniform and unexciting. It’s designed for cocktails. That’s because when you drink an Old Fashioned. Sazerac, or Whiskey Sour the experience is all about the various flavors the ingredients (when combined with whiskey) create.

Read more
It’s been scientifically proven that pasta makes you happier
It's not your imagination. Pasta actually does make you happier.
Raw spaghetti

Is there anything more beautifully comforting, as intensely satisfying, or as incredibly delicious as a big bowl of your favorite pasta dish? From classic spaghetti and meatballs to creamy fettuccine Alfredo to a late-night pasta carbonara, every plate of pasta just feels like a giant hug. Pasta can be as simple as can be, delectable with only a little browned butter and Pecorino Romano, or intricate and sophisticated, accented with fresh seafood and earthy truffles. It's the perfect pantry staple from which to create a million dishes from a thousand global cuisines, and we can't get enough. According to Share The Pasta, the average American consumes approximately 20 pounds of pasta annually, making it the sixth-highest food per capita in the country. As a nation, we consume almost 6 billion pounds of pasta every year. It's also one of the most universally loved and appreciated foods in existence. I fail to recall a time when I've ever heard someone say, "Pasta? Nah. Not my thing."

Everyone loves pasta because pasta is perfection. And now, at long last, science has confirmed what most of us have known since childhood. That this life-giving ingredient actually makes our brains happier.

Read more
Chamomile tea only gets healthier when you add lavender — here’s why
Lavender chamomile tea benefits: What you need to know
single tea bag, white background

Searching the tea aisle at your local grocery store can get overwhelming with so many different varieties and purposes for herbal teas. One of the most popular herbal teas used for a variety of health purposes is chamomile tea. Chamomile tea benefits are quite diverse, supporting important aspects of health like digestive health and heart health.

One specific variety of chamomile tea, lavender chamomile tea, pairs two medicinal plants into one tea to offer more health benefits in each cup. Lavender chamomile tea is described as having a light, floral, and earthy taste and can be enjoyed on its own or with a drop of honey, stevia, or other sweetener. While this tea is more commonly consumed as a warm herbal tea, it can also be steeped in cold water and ice to be enjoyed as a cold tea.

Read more