America's Test Kitchen LogoCook's Country LogoCook's Illustrated Logo
Equipment

Scared of Your Broiler? Here's How to Use It.

Broilers can be intimidating. We’re here to help you face your fears.
By

Published Feb. 15, 2023.

Does the thought of using your broiler send a shiver down your spine?

I get it. They’re hot. As in 500 to 550 degrees hot. They shine a fiery red light directly onto your food.

And when using them, you must never walk away.

Don’t worry. I’m here to help you face your broiler fears. 

Sign up for the Notes from the Test Kitchen newsletter

Our favorite tips and recipes, enjoyed by 2 million+ subscribers!

Why should you use your broiler, anyway?

When broiling, the cooking is accomplished through direct heat from above. And because the broiler’s heat is generally more intense than that circulating in the oven, it cooks foods faster, particularly on the exterior.

The results are charred, bubbly, and delicious.

Level 1 Broiler: Cheese

For a first time broiler, I’d start with cheese. It’s near impossible to mess up. The bubblier the better! Try our French onion soup, broiled feta, Baked Goat Cheese, or Hot Cheddar Crab Dip.

Level 2 Broiler: Meat

Once you get comfortable, level up to steak. Yes, steak. Broiled steak gives you an intensely charred exterior and a tender, juicy interior. Click here for more on why you should broil steaks in the oven.

It doesn’t stop there: shrimp, chicken, salmon, lasagna! The broiled possibilities are endless!

OK. Ready to broil? Here are three final tips to keep in mind:

1. When in doubt, go for “high.” In our recipes, we don’t specify broiler settings, but since the point of broiling is usually to expose food to intense heat, turn it up!

2. Measure the distance between the heating element and the oven rack; our broiling recipes specify this measurement rather than a rack position such as “middle” or “top.”

3. When broiling on a rimmed baking sheet, set a wire rack inside it to elevate your food and prevent the bottom from steaming.

This is a members' feature.