10 Mistakes You’re Making With Your Broiler

The broiler is the best way to cook and heat food from above, but using it the wrong way could mess up a meal entirely.

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Your oven has a broiler, but when was the last time you used it? It’s time to start using this oven feature more often—and not just for tasty creme brulee. But before you start employing your oven’s high-heat cooking setting (it helps melt and crisp foods perfectly!), you might want to avoid some of these basic mistakes.

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Mistake 1: Placing the rack too close to the heating element

It might not seem like the end of the world, but the way you position the rack underneath a broiler really does matter. Smaller sized pans and dishes should be placed farther away from the heating elements to eliminate the possibility of burning the food. Oppositely, larger pans and dishes can be placed closer.

Do you know which rack is best for cookie baking?

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Mistake 2: Not allowing the broiler to preheat

It might not be a grill, but you still need to turn the broiler on a few minutes prior to cooking to ensure it’s hot and ready to cook your food.

Here’s a guide to help you determine when you should and shouldn’t preheat your oven and skillet.

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Mistake 3: Using the wrong setting or temperature

Upon first glance, the settings of a broiler seem like a no-brainer—but it’s common to use the incorrect setting, which could lead to overcooking or undercooking the food. The high setting of a broiler is meant for foods that need fast heating, like vegetables. The broiler’s low setting is for foods that take a little more time to heat up.

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Mistake 4: Failing to use a broiler-safe dish

Sturdy metal pans, or a simple rimmed sheet pan, are optimal when cooking with a broiler. If you use something else (like a glass pan), it could crack or break under the broiler’s heat. Our Test Kitchen’s favorite sheet pan is always a good bet.

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Mistake 5: Positioning food unevenly

Like when baking anything—like these sheet pan dinners—it’s best to distribute your foods evenly to ensure even cooking and broiling. After all, you don’t want some food burned and other food barely kissed by the heat.

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Mistake 6: Underestimating how fast the broiler works

It may be located in the oven, but broilers work way faster than that. At most, foods are typically ready after 10 minutes in a broiler.

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Mistake 7: Omitting foil

Have you ever tried scrubbing a pan with burnt, caked-on food? It’s terrible. Instead of making this a reality, line each and every pan or dish with foil before cooking with a broiler. Forget this step? We’ve got a handy trick to cleaning even the dirtiest pan.

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Mistake 8: Cooking meats that are cut too thick

Broilers aren’t meant to fully cook meat. Rather, they do a good job of heating them from the outside. Stick with thinner cuts of meats—lean and tender ones are best—when cooking with a broiler. Try your hand at these crispy broiler chicken thighs.

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Sheet-Pan Pineapple Chicken Fajitas
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Mistake 9: Depending on a broiler to fully cook food

Broilers work best when they’re searing a food’s exterior. Instead of relying on the broiler to completely cook your meal, cook the ingredients partially that in the oven or on the stove top instead. For example, this delicious chicken fajita sheet pan dinner requires you to bake ingredients first and then finish them off with a broil. This is a good strategy to employ!

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Mistake 10: Forgetting to leave the broiler compartment door open

An overheated oven could possibly lead to the broiler shutting off. If your oven has a broiler with its own separate compartment, cracking this compartment door slightly while your food is cooking will ensure that the oven won’t become too overheated. Even if your broiler is located at the top of your oven, you can still leave the oven door slightly ajar for the same reason.

Taylor Murphy
Taylor has been working in digital media for 10 years. She started out as an editorial assistant at Good Housekeeping and House Beautiful, and shortly after that, became a full-time freelancer for brands like Taste of Home, Eating Well, Parents and Popsugar. Her coverage spans topics of food news, product roundups, parenting and human interest articles. When she’s not writing, Taylor is on the hunt for the best coffee or having fun in the kitchen taste-testing recipes with her kids.