Tips & Tricks

Broil vs. Bake: What's Broil For, Anyway?

Published on

3.18.2022

by

While you probably use the bake feature the most often, your oven probably has a range of functions that you can make use of in the kitchen. One of the most common is broiling, but there’s a lot of confusion about the difference between these two methods of cooking and what exactly they’re good for.

What’s Broiling?

While broiling can seem mysterious to fledgling at-home cooks, this method of preparing meat, vegetables, and other foods is simpler than you think! 


Broiling is a cooking method that exposes the top of a pan to very high heat. For most ovens, the broiling setting uses 500 degrees of heat, which is way higher than your average baking temperature.


Using this super high temperature to cook can give your dishes great flavor and a distinct seared texture. The closest comparison to how broiled food tastes is anything grilled – smoky, crisp, tender, and absolutely delicious!


The biggest difference between broiling and grilling is where the heat is coming from. When you grill, you’re getting up to 650 degrees of heat from underneath the food. When you broil, you’re getting direct heat onto the top of your pan, which then cooks the food through from the top-down. 


When you broil, it’s always smart to treat your oven like it’s a grill. What does this mean? It means stay on standby in case things start to get a little… smoky. Cooking with high heat is a blast, but you’ll have way more fun knowing that your mitts are nearby just in case you need to give your broiled dish a speedy exit from the oven!


What About Baking?

Baking is a timeless method of preparing food in the oven. It’s commonly used for foods that cook slower, including vegetables, potatoes and sweet potatoes, oven-made pasta dishes, and, of course, desserts. Cookies, pies, muffins, and more all come to life in the oven thanks to the power of baking!


While broiling exposes a dish to very high heat from the top-down, baking uses significantly lower temperatures and heat from all directions. When you bake, your oven fills up with hot air, surrounding the food inside and cooking it slowly. 


What Should I Bake and Not Broil?

While there are plenty of dishes that you can get away with either broiling or baking, this isn’t always the case. Desserts, in particular, need lower heat to cook slower; otherwise, they’ll get burned. And unless you were planning on eating charred blueberry muffins for dessert tonight, we figure that’s not what you had in mind for your baking endeavors.


Why Broil?

While summertime is perfect for pulling out the grill and having a good old cookout, even the most skilled cooks tend to put away that grill when the weather starts getting cold. When it’s freezing out, it’s no fun to stand and keep an eye on those sizzling steaks, chicken breasts, brats, or veggies.


Because of the challenges that come with trying to grill outside in the colder months of the year, many home chefs use broiling as an indoor alternative. It’s not quite the same as grilling, but it’ll get you similar flavors and texture from your food! And, best of all, you don’t have to stand outside in a parka in subzero weather with a pair of tongs in your hands.


Broiling isn’t just a great alternative to grilling, though – it’s got its own perks as a method of cooking. Overall, it’s especially great for thinner cuts of meat, including:


Fish

If you’re preparing trout, salmon, tuna steak, tilapia, halibut, or other tasty fish, broiling is a fantastic method to try! Fish is thin, which allows the 550-degree heat of an oven set to broil to cook it thoroughly. However, you don’t have to worry about losing that perfect texture. When you broil for just the right amount of time, you’ll end up with fish that is delectably seared on the outside and tender on the inside.


If you’re broiling a thin cut of fish, you usually don’t need to flip it to get it completely cooked!


Chicken Breasts

Grilled chicken tastes amazing, but broiling your chicken breasts is a great alternative in our book. Because chicken, like fish, is usually served in thinner cuts, it’ll respond very well to broiling. Get ready for some great-tasting poultry!


Burgers

Hamburgers are traditionally cooked up on a grill, but broiling works just fine, too. However, it’s probably best to stick to pan-frying or grilling when making steak – broiling can leave your T-bone a little too well done in many cases. 


Okay, But Can I Broil my Veggies?

Grilled vegetables taste incredible, and they’re known just as much for their texture as their flavor. But when you need to stay inside and still want that delicious seared texture, broiling is a great way to get it! 


Because broiling exposes veggies to very high heat, it’s always a great idea to keep a close eye on your dishes as they cook. In many cases, broiled vegetables will need much less time before they come out of the oven and are ready to eat. Sometimes, all you need is five minutes on broil to get quick-roasted vegetables that taste incredible!


Why We Love Baking

At JOW, we love using the oven. That’s why so many of our recipes involve baking! While broiling can be a great technique for quickly preparing meat, vegetables, and other foods, we tend to lean towards baking instead.


Why is this? Overall, we think baking works great for the majority of recipes that you’ll make in your kitchen at home. Broiling can be helpful when you need to make fish in a pinch or get some vegetables crispy as fast as possible, but you’ll typically find yourself baking more often than broiling!


Ready to Get Baking? Try These Recipes from Jow

At Jow, we’ve got a massive list of recipes for you to try for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert – and lots of them are baked! Here are a few quick recommendations for baked recipes to try out:




Want more recipes and cooking tips? Check out jow.com/cooking.

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