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.
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 part of the 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, place pan with the food on the top oven rack in a cold oven. 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.
Be sure to check your recipe carefully for broiling time, but you can use our tips below as a general guide if your recipe doesn't specify. Start by preheating the broiler, then place meat on the unheated rack of a broiler pan. For cuts less than 1-1/2 inches thick, broil 3 to 4 inches from the heat. For 1-1/2-inch thick cuts, broil 4 to 5 inches from the heat. Broil for the time listed below or until done, turning meat over after halfway through the total broiling time. For steaks, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
If desired, remove poultry skin; sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Preheat broiler for 5 to 10 minutes. Arrange poultry on the unheated rack of a broiler pan with the bone side(s) up. If desired, brush poultry with vegetable oil. Place pan under broiler so the surface of the poultry is 4 to 5 inches from the heat; chicken and Cornish game hen halves should be 5 to 6 inches from the heat. Turn pieces over when brown on one side, usually after half of the broiling time. Chicken halves and quarters and meaty pieces should be turned after 20 minutes. Brush again with oil. The poultry is done when the meat is no longer pink and the juices run clear (180 degrees F for thighs and drumsticks; 170 degrees F for breast meat; 160 degrees F for duck breast). If desired, brush with a sauce the last 5 minutes of cooking. Follow your recipe or use our guide below to help you determine broiling time.
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.
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-inch pan instead of a broiler pan for veggies that need to be stirred while broiling. Line the pan with aluminum foil for easy cleanup.
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.