How to Broil All Types of Foods for Fast, Flavorful Meals
In cooking, the definition of 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. And unlike grilling foods, the weather is not an issue. Oh, and prep and cleanup are simple. Broiling is often used for steak, chicken, and fish, but creative cooks know that broiling does wonders for many fruits and veggies, too. There are several advantages to knowing how to broil, but the fact most foods only take about 15 minutes to cook might be the most tempting reason to make broiled food. Here are our best tips and tricks to broiling steak, fish, and more in your kitchen.
Best Foods for Broiling
If you haven't tried many broiling recipes yet, here are more broiling food examples to spark your culinary imagination.
- Meats: Generally, meats less than 1½ 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 and 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 and Shellfish: Broiling is one of the easiest cooking methods for fresh or frozen fish fillets. Scallops and shrimp are also good candidates for broiling.
- Kabobs: Skewers of cubed beef, pork, poultry, shrimp, or scallops (along with vegetables) are a favorite broiled entree and perfect for an easy, prep-ahead company dinner. Try these Greek-inspired chicken kabobs.
- 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, bell pepper strips, tomato halves, and onion wedges.
How to Prepare the Broiler Pan and Oven Rack
Before you can learn how to broil, it's important to know how to set up your oven for broiled food success. If you have a broiler pan ($35, Bed Bath & Beyond), use it! The two-piece shallow roaster-like pan has a drip tray that will catch any oils. Baking pans will also work. Just make sure the baking pan is sturdy so it doesn't warp under the high heat. 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 pastry brush dipped in softened butter or shortening.
To make sure your oven rack is at the right height, place the 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.
How to Broil Steak and Other Meats
Check your recipe for broiling time, but you can use our tips below as a general guide for broiling steak in the oven 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 1½ inches thick, broil 3 to 4 inches from the heat. For 1½-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.
To achieve a medium rare doneness on the following cuts of beef, cook to a safe internal temperature of 145°F. For medium, cook to 160°F. Determine doneness with an instant-read thermometer ($15, Target).
- Boneless steak (chuck eye, shoulder center, ribeye, flat-iron, tenderloin, top loin): For 1-inch thickness, broil 12 to 14 minutes for medium rare 15 to 18 minutes for medium doneness; for 1½-inch thickness, broil for 18 to 21 minutes for medium rare, or 22 to 27 minutes for medium doneness.
- Boneless top sirloin steak: For 1-inch thickness, broil 15 to 17 minutes for medium rare, or 20 to 22 minutes for medium doneness. For 1½-inch-thick steaks, broil 25 to 27 minutes for medium rare, or 30 to 32 minutes for medium doneness.
- Boneless tri-tip steak (bottom sirloin): For ¾-inch thickness, broil 6 to 7 minutes for medium rare or 8 to 9 minutes for medium doneness. For 1-inch steaks, broil 9 to 10 minutes for medium rare or 11 to 12 minutes for medium doneness.
- Flank steak: For flank steaks weighing 1¼ to 1¾ pounds, broil 17 to 21 minutes for medium doneness.
- Steak with bone (porterhouse, rib, T-bone): For 1-inch thick steaks, broil 12 to 15 minutes for medium rare, or 15 to 20 minutes for medium doneness. For 1½-inch thickness, broil 20 to 25 minutes for medium rare or 25 to 30 minutes for medium.
Ground Meat patties (beef, lamb, pork, or veal): For ½-inch-thick patties, broil 10 to 12 minutes. For ¾-inch patties, broil 12 to 14 minutes.
Cook to an internal temperature of 160°F for medium.
- Chop (loin or rib): For 1-inch thickness, broil for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Chop (sirloin): For 1-inch thick chops, broil for 12 to 15 minutes.
Cook pork to 145°F (medium) on these cuts of pork.
- Chop (boneless top loin): For ¾-inch and 1-inch chops, broil 9 to 11 minutes. For 1¼-inch to 1½-inch thick chops, broil 16 to 20 minutes.
- Chop with bone (loin or rib): For ¾-inch and 1-inch chops, broil for 9 to 12 minutes. For 1¼-inch and 1½-inch chops, broil for 16 to 20 minutes.
- Chop with bone (sirloin): For ¾-inch and 1-inch chops, broil for 10 to 13 minutes.
- Ham steak, cooked: For 1-inch thickness, broil for 12 to 15 minutes.
Already cooked meats such as sausage should be heated through to a safe internal temperature of 140°F. Veal should cook to 160°F for a medium center.
Frankfurters and sausage links, cooked: Broil for 3 to 7 minutes or until heated through.
Veal chop (loin or rib): For ¾-inch to 1-inch thickness, broil for 14 to 16 minutes. For 1-1/2-inch chops, broil for 21 to 25 minutes.
How to Broil Chicken and Poultry
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. 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.
Doneness should be determined with an instant-read thermometer. Although chicken is considered safe when it reaches 165°F, our Test Kitchen prefers slightly higher temps for some. See below:
- Broiler-fryer and meaty chicken pieces (175°F): Breast halves, drumsticks, and thighs with bone, 2½ to 3 pounds, 25 to 35 minutes
- Kabobs (165°F): Boneless breasts, cut into 2½-inch strips and threaded loosely on skewers, 8 to 10 minutes
- Skinless, boneless breast halves (165°F): 6 to 8 ounces, 15 to 18 minutes
These should reach a safe internal temperature of 165°F.
- Cornish game hen, half: For 10 to 12 ounces, broil 25 to 35 minutes.
- Boneless duck breast, skin removed: For 6 to 8 ounces, broil 14 to 16 minutes
These should reach a safe internal temperature of 165°F.
- Breast cutlet: For 2-ounce turkey cutlets, broil 6 to 8 minutes
- Breast tenderloin steaks (to make ½-inch thick steaks, cut turkey tenderloin in half horizontally): For 4 to 6 ounce steaks, broil 8 to 10 minutes
How to Broil Fish
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 ½-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. Bell 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.
- Peppers: To broil bell peppers and chile peppers, place peppers on a pan 6 to 8 inches below the broiler element. Broil until lightly charred, turning peppers occasionally with tongs ($10, Target) 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 a 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 or try this make-it-mine salsa.
- Asparagus and Zucchini: The cooking method is the same for both of these vegetables. For asparagus, break or cut off tough ends. For zucchini, cut into ¼-inch slices. Place on a foil-lined baking pan. Toss with 1 to 3 Tbsp. 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
- 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 and 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 ¼- to ⅜-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. Try it in our broiled pineapple chicken salad recipe.
- 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.
Now that you know what broiling means, you can make all sorts of delicious dishes for quick and easy meals. Make some herbed steaks or a hearty meat-and-potatoes meal. Enjoy broiled chicken in a tangy lemon sauce. Skewer tender scallops with fennel. Finish your night with a slice of delicious broiled grapefruit tart for dessert.