Whether you are a seasoned chef or rarely go in the kitchen to cook, you probably already know that cooking involves various tools and utensils.
Most kitchens are stocked with a variety of cooking equipment. While most people are familiar with the ordinary pans and pots, such as saucepans, skillets, sauté pans, and frying pans, a lot of people find it hard to use broiler pans.
What are broiler pans? What are they used for? How can you use a broiler pan?
Find answers to all your questions in this guide!
What is a Broiler Pan?
In simple words, a broiler pan is a pan that is used for broiling food. Broiling is a method of cooking in which food is cooked by being exposed to heat directly.
Many people confuse broiling with roasting. However, it must be noted that broiling is not the same as roasting.
The main difference lies in the design of the pans. Broiling pans are generally shallower than roasting pans and have a slotted base.
Most broiler pans come as a set of two pieces – the upper pan and the lower pan.
- The upper pan is the one on which the food cooks. It has a slotted base, which allows the dripping from food to drain onto the lower pan.
- The lower pan is placed beneath the upper pan to collect drippings of the meat. On the other hand, roasting pans do not drain the drippings, cooking the meat in its own juices.
The heat distribution method of broiler pans and roasting pans also varies. Both pans are designed to cook foods at very high temperatures. However, the way in which the heat reaches the food differs.
When using a broiler pan, heat is distributed from the top of the oven. On the other hand, heat is distributed from the bottom of the oven when the roasting pan is used.
As a result, food is cooked much more quickly in broiler pans as compared to roasting pans. Unlike roasting pans, broiler pans may require you to flip the food as it broils. So, you need to vigilant when cooking food in a broiler.
Just like roasting pans, broiler pans are also available in different materials. Stainless steel and anodized aluminum broiler pans are the most common.
However, cast iron and enameled steel broiler pans are also available. In case, you want a broiler pan for one-time use, you can purchase a disposable aluminum broiler pan.
When to Use a Broiler Pan?
Broiler pan can be used to cook various cuts of meat, vegetables, poultry, and seafood.
It is an excellent option for cooking meat if you want to drain the excess fat. This is why most people use the broiler to prepare roast and steaks.
If you want to cook food that must baste in its own juices, then opt for a roasting pan. Meat cooked in roasting pan is also more juicy and tender than meat cooked in a broiler pan.
How to Use a Broiler Pan?
Many people avoid cooking in broiler pans simply because it seems too daunting.
The reality is cooking in broiler pans is extremely easy and simple.
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to use your broiler pan at home.
Step 1 – Find the Oven Broiler
Broilers are generally located below the burners or the stovetop, right above the oven racks.
When activated, broilers typically resemble bright orange strips. Your broiler may also be located at the bottom of the oven in a separate drawer.
Step 2 – Position Your Oven Rack
Once you have located the broiler, position the oven rack accordingly to cook the food properly. If the broiler is located on top of the oven, move your oven rack to the highest possible position.
In this position, the oven rack is generally 3 to 4 inches away from the heating element of the broiler.
If the broiler is located at the bottom of the oven, move the oven rack to the lowest possible position.
There’s less flexibility to choose the proximity of food to the heating elements in ovens that come with broilers in a drawer. If your broiler is located in a drawer, it is probably designed to be 4 to 5 inches away from the oven rack.
It is advisable to position the rack further away from the heating element if you are cooking thick or dense foods. This is important because these foods take time to cook properly.
If you place the oven rack too close to the heating element, the outer layer of the food may burn before it is cooked all the way to the middle.
Step 3 – Turn on the Broiler
Typically, broilers take around 5 to 10 minutes to heat up. Different ovens come with different broiler settings.
However, most ovens feature a simple on/off setting mode for broilers. In case your oven does not have a setting for broiler, simply turn the heat high to around 500° F.
It is advisable to leave the door of the oven slightly ajar when you set it on temperature. Doing so will ensure that the oven doesn’t overheat and turn off automatically.
Step 4 – Broil!
Remove the rack from the oven and place your food on it. Slide it back in the oven under or above the broiler as per your oven’s design.
Keep in mind that broiling is not one of the set-and-forget cooking methods. You must keep an eye on your food at all times.
Since broilers work at extremely high temperatures, most food will be prepared in around 10 to 12 minutes.
Once the food is ready, it can burn within a few minutes. Therefore, make sure you remove it as soon as it is done.
Depending on what you are cooking, you may have to flip the food to ensure it cooks properly on both sides.
Turning the sides is generally required in foods that are too thick or dense. You won’t have to do this for thinner food.
Tips and Tricks for Using Broiler Pans
Now that you are ready to use your broiler, let’s take a look at some tips and tricks that will simplify cooking in a broiler and help you broil like a pro!
Broiler pans are not nonstick because nonstick materials are not designed to withstand the high heat of the broiler.
This means that cleaning a broiler pan, especially the bottom pan, can be a lot of hard work. An easy way to speed up the cleaning process is to line the broiler pan with aluminum foil.
If you decide to line the upper pan as well, make sure you cut it in slits between the bars to allow fat and juices to drain into the lower pan.
Use a Brush to Apply Sugary Sauces
Sugary sauces and condiments like ketchup or barbeque sauce can caramelize within seconds in a broiler.
To make sure they don’t leave a burnt taste on your food, it is best to apply them over the food using a brush just a few minutes before the food is ready.
This will ensure that your broiled food looks and tastes great!
Position the Food Evenly
One of the most common mistakes that many people make is that they don’t position the food evenly before getting it in the broiler.
As a result, some of the food may get overcooked while the rest is hardly cooked at all.
Bake Broiled Food
If you put your food too close to the heating source and now it’s cooked on the outside but raw on the inside, you can’t leave it under the broiler as that will burn the food.
What you can do is remove it from the broiler and place it in the oven. Cook the food in the oven as usual at low heat to ensure it is cooked all the way through.
You can do the opposite as well – roast or bake the food first and then place it under the broiler for about 2 to 3 minutes to give it a nice sear.
Preheat the Broiler
Regardless of what you are cooking in the broiler, it is advisable to always preheat the broiler.
You want the broiler to be hot and ready so that your food cooks as soon as you place the loaded broiler pan in!
Broiler Pan Substitutes
Want to broil your food but don’t have a broiling pan? No worries – there are various broiler pan substitutes that you can use.
While they may not broil the food like a broiler, these substitutes will still get the job done. Broiler pan substitutes that you can consider include cast iron pans, baking trays, aluminum foil trays, and grill pans.
Also read: How to Broil without a Broiler Pan
Broiling is an excellent yet underrated method of cooking.
Now that you know what a broiler pan is and how you can use it, making your favorite dishes will only be a matter of seconds.
So, bring out your broiler pan and broil your favorite foods today!
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