How to Broil
Discover how this classic oven method can be used to quick-cook meats, poultry, seafood, and, even more surprising, vegetables and fruits.
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Broiling means to cook food using the direct, dry heat from your oven broiler. Some people think of broiling as grilling's cousin because broiled foods brown on the surface and have a caramelized taste. Broiling is often used for meat, poultry, and fish, but creative cooks know that broiling does wonders for many fruits and veggies, too. There are several advantages to broiling: Most foods take only about 15 minutes to cook and, unlike grilling, weather is not an issue, and prep and cleanup are simple.
Best Foods for Broiling
- Meats. Generally, meats less than 1-1/2 inches thick, such as steaks and pork chops, are good candidates for broiling. Also, because broiling is a dry-heat method of cookery, you will want to use tender beef cuts or steaks, including ribeye, tenderloin, top loin, top sirloin, tri-tip (bottom sirloin), flank, porterhouse, rib, and T-bone. Ground meat patties are also suitable for broiling.
- Chicken & Turkey. A variety of chicken parts work for broiling, including chicken quarters, legs, bone-in breasts, chicken halves, and skinless, boneless breast halves. Turkey breast cutlets and tenderloin steaks also work.
- Fish & Shellfish. Broiling is one of the easiest cooking methods for fish fillets and steaks. Shrimp and scallops are also good candidates for broiling.
- Kabobs. Skewers of cubed meat or poultry, shrimp, or scallops, along with vegetables are a favorite broiled entree and perfect for an easy, prep-ahead company dinner.
- Fruits. What's good on the grill is equally good on the broiler, including peaches, nectarines, pineapple, plums, and mango. Grapefruit and bananas can also be broiled.
- Veggies. Popular choices include asparagus spears, sweet pepper strips, tomato halves, and onion wedges.
How to Prepare the Broiler Pan & Oven Rack
Spray nonstick pans with nonstick cooking spray. If you don't have a nonstick pan or you are cooking messy foods, you can line the top and bottom parts of the broiler pan with regular or nonstick aluminum foil. For the top broiler pan, be sure to cut slits through the foil so fat can drain. Another option is to grease the broiler pan with a brush dipped in softened butter or shortening.
To make sure your oven rack is at the right height, in a cold oven place pan with the food on the top oven rack. Adjust rack until the surface of the food to be broiled is at the recommended distance from the broiler element. See individual foods and recipes below for guidelines.
How to Broil Meat, Chicken & Fish
For details and time charts on broiling meat, steaks, and poultry, click on the following links: broiling meat, broiling steaks, and broiling poultry. For fish fillets or steaks, place fish on the greased rack of a broiler pan, adjusting so the fish is about 4 inches from the heat source. For fillets, tuck under any thin edges. Brush fish with olive oil or melted butter. Broil 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness. If fish is thicker than 1 inch, turn once halfway through broiling time. Minutes count when it comes to fish, so keep a close eye on it. Properly cooked white-flesh fish is opaque and it flakes when tested with a fork. Juices should be milky white. For darker-flesh fish, such as salmon, simply use the fork test -- the flesh should flake easily.
How to Broil Vegetables
Broiling vegetables gives them caramelized edges and boosts flavor while keeping them crisp-tender. Sweet peppers and chile peppers are often broiled for a charred flavor and to help loosen the skin for peeling. Use a 15x10x1 pan instead of a broiler pan for veggies that need to be stirred while broiling. Line the pan with aluminum foil for easy cleanup.
- Peppers. To broil and peel sweet peppers and chile peppers, such as poblanos, place peppers on a pan 6 to 8 inches below the broiler element. Broil until lightly charred, turning peppers occasionally with tongs until they are charred on all sides. Place charred peppers in a sealed clean paper bag. When peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the skins and seeds. Use gloves if you are handling chile peppers.
- Tomatoes. Any full-size tomato can be used for broiling, but plum tomatoes are the perfect size. If you have large tomatoes, you may want to cut them into smaller pieces. Core and cut tomatoes in half from top to bottom. Place halves, cut side up, in a baking pan. Sprinkle with salt and ground black pepper and, if desired, a little shredded cheese or blue cheese crumbles. Broil for 3 to 4 minutes. Let cool; serve with your favorite vinaigrette dressing.
- Asparagus & Zucchini. The cooking method is the same for both of these vegetables. For asparagus, break or cut off tough ends. For zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices. Place in a 15x10x1-inch foil-lined baking pan. Toss with 1 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season as desired with salt and ground black pepper or a seasoning blend. Make sure the veggies are arranged in a single layer. Broil about 5 inches from the broiler element, turning halfway though broiling. Broil asparagus about 6 to 8 minutes and zucchini about 5 to 6 minutes. If desired, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
How to Broil Fruit
Grilled fruit is a popular addition to toss into salads, chop in salsas, or serve as a dessert. Use a foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan for these fruits.
- Bananas. Peel and cut bananas into 2-inch chunks. Toss bananas with lemon juice, then sprinkle with brown sugar until evenly coated. Broil 4 inches from heat, about 2 minutes per side until golden. If desired, serve with a sauce made with yogurt and a little honey.
- Peaches & Nectarines. Peel and cut in half, removing pits. Toss halves with honey, coating evenly. Or toss halves with lemon juice, then toss with brown sugar. Place on pan; broil about 6 inches from heat, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Mangos. Peel and slice mangos; place in pan. Broil about 6 inches from heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. If desired, squeeze fresh lime juice over slices.
- Pineapple. Cut and core pineapple. Cut into 1/4- to 3/8-inch-thick slices; broil 4 to 5 inches from heat for 6 to 9 minutes, turning once. If desired, serve with tropical-flavor yogurt or ice cream.
- Grapefruit. Cut grapefruit in half crosswise. Place halves, cut side up, in pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar; broil 6 to 8 inches from heat until lightly browned.