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Cooking Tips

The Best Way to Broil Steaks in the Oven

If you love a nice crust on your steaks, you should try broiling them. Here's how to do it.
By Published May 26, 2022

The two most popular ways to cook a steak are grilling and searing in a hot skillet. But one overlooked method is broiling steaks in an oven.

Think of broiling as upside-down grilling—cooking your foods in close proximity to the heating element at the top of your oven. While baking involves cooking with indirect heat (hot air circulating), broiling aims heat directly at the surface of your foods. If you’re a fan of a nice char or crust on your steaks, you’ll want to add broiling steaks to your cooking repertoire.

But broiling steaks requires some know-how. Do you use the high or low setting? Do you flip the steaks when broiling? Read on for everything you need to know about broiling steaks in the oven.

broiled steak with compound butter on top
Our bake-then-broil technique produces the perfect broiled steak.

What are the advantages of broiling steaks in the oven?

  • If you’re cooking for a crowd, broiling is a real time-saver. Depending on the size of your roasting pan, you can cook multiple steaks simultaneously (as opposed to one or two at a time in a skillet).
  • Broiling is faster and more convenient than charcoal grilling—think of the time saved by not having to clean the grates, light the charcoal, and wait for the fire to develop.
  • As we said earlier, broiling promotes exceptional charring on your steaks. If you covet that beefy crustiness created by a Maillard reaction, broiling gets the job done.

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What can go wrong when broiling steaks?

  • It’s harder to control the doneness of your steak, since it’s such a hands-off method of cooking.
  • Not all broilers are made the same. Ovens produce heat at different rates, so good broiling involves understanding your oven. Who wants an overdone steak? As always, a digital thermometer is your best friend.
  • If there’s too much oil splattering, it’ll smoke out the oven.
  • Similarly, if there’s too much moisture on your steaks, they will steam rather than broil—and nobody wants steamed steaks.

Do you broil steaks on high or low?

Set your broiler to "high" when broiling steaks. In our broiling technique, we cook the steaks in a moderate oven before broiling, which ensures the meat cooks evenly. Using your broiler on high after giving them a cooking head start will give you that perfectly seared crust you're after.

Do you have to flip steaks when broiling?

Yes. In order to get the deeply browned, crisp crust on both sides of the steaks, you should flip them every 2 to 4 minutes, until the meat registers 125 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit (for medium-rare). This will take between 6 and 16 minutes, depending on the strength of your broiler.

How to Broil Steaks in the Oven, Step-by-Step

Here at America’s Test Kitchen, we’ve surfaced all that could go wrong with broiling steaks and solved those issues, one-by-one. Watch the video below to see our technique in action and read on for step-by-step instructions:

1. Buy steaks of even thickness. Purchasing steaks of a similar size, shape, and cut will ensure they cook evenly, as you’ll be broiling the steaks all at once. 

2. Trim excess fat. Don’t worry, not all the fat—yes, we know fat is delicious. We're just trimming the unappealing gristly stuff. This step will prevent oil splatters and smoking out your oven.

3. Adjust oven racks. Place your oven racks in the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 375 degrees.

4. Gather a wire rack and a disposable aluminum roasting pan. Standard broiling pans are too shallow. The key to good broiling is to get as close to the heating element as possible—the steak should be no more than 1½ inches from the element. We like to use a 3-inch-deep disposable aluminum roasting pan and place a wire rack on top. This gets the steaks to the proper distance from the broiler. To solve the problem of smoking out the oven, spread 2 cups of salt evenly on the bottom of the roasting pan (either table salt or Kosher salt works). Think of this as a smoke retardant that absorbs oil drippings before they turn into smoke.

5. Dry and season steaks. Pat steaks dry with paper towels, season with salt and pepper, and transfer to wire rack. The goal is to achieve maximum crusty char, and moisture is the roadblock to getting there.

6. Bake steaks on lower-middle rack. Set wire rack with the steaks on top over disposable pan, and transfer to lower-middle oven rack. We’ll cook the steak in two steps. First, we gently bring the internal temperature up by “baking” the steaks for 6 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of your steak and the intensity of your broiler. This helps your steaks avoid the dreaded burned-on-outside, raw-on-inside situation. (If your steak is 1 inch thick, bake for 6 minutes. If your steak is 1½ inches thick, bake for 8 minutes. If your steak is 2 inches thick, bake for 10 minutes.) After this first bake, remove pan from oven, flip steaks, pat dry with paper towels, and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your broiler on high.

7. Broil on upper-middle rack. Transfer pan to upper-middle oven rack and broil steaks, flipping every 2 to 4 minutes, until meat registers 125 to 130 degrees (for medium-rare), 6 to 16 minutes. Just remember: The steaks cook faster than you’d think.

8. Let steaks rest and then it's time to eat! Transfer the broiled steaks to a platter and tent with foil. Let the steaks rest for 5 minutes, then slice against the grain and enjoy. (We like to serve broiled steaks with a compound butter, but use the garnish or sauce of your choice.)