How to Broil in an Electric Stove

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Broiling requires some special preparation.
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You've probably used the Bake function on your electric stove many times. But what about that neighboring button — Broil? Using an electric oven's broiler isn't quite as simple as pushing the function and start buttons. Instead, broiling requires some special preparation and safety precautions.

What Is Broiling?

Broiling involves exposing food to high temperatures for a short amount of time. This high heat comes only from the oven's top heating element, and the food sits as close to the heat as possible. Many ovens — like a GE oven broiler — have preset the broiler function to around 500 to 550 degrees Fahrenheit. This extreme heat is not suitable for all kinds of food, however.

Thick foods are often baked first to warm them all the way through and then broiled to add a crispy texture. However, some ovens allow you to broil at a slightly lower temperature to cook these thicker foods without burning them. Thinly sliced foods — like bacon — can be broiled from the get-go. Meats and vegetables are often broiled, but baked goods like cakes and breads aren't typically broiled because they can't handle the high heat.

Note that broiling is not the same as roasting, which uses the oven's Bake function, requires a lower temperature than broiling, keeps the food centered in the oven and takes a longer time to thoroughly cook the food.

Using an Electric Oven Broiler

While the oven is cool, move one of the racks to a higher position so that your pan will sit directly under the upper heating element. Your oven's owner's manual or the specific recipe you're following may have additional recommendations for rack placement. Because oven settings may vary from brand to brand, be sure to read your owner's manual before pressing any buttons.

To preheat the oven in broiler mode, press the Broil button. Your oven may display a recommended preset temperature, which you can adjust up or down depending on your recipe. Or, your oven may display the words "Hi" with one press of the Broil function and "Lo" with two presses. "Hi" refers to a high-heat broil setting, and "Lo" refers to the lower-heat broil setting.

Watch the food closely to ensure it doesn't burn. If necessary, flip the food over for more even cooking.

Broiling Safety Considerations

It's crucial to vent the oven when it operates in the broil setting. Most oven doors have a "broil stop position" that allows them to stay cracked open without slamming shut or opening up all the way. Vent the oven the entire time the Broil function is activated, even when it's preheating.

Do not leave a broiling oven unattended. The high heat paired with the close proximity of the food to the heating element makes an oven fire more likely than when using the bake function. According to the Samsung oven broiler instructions, you should smother such a fire by closing the oven door and turning off the oven. Throw baking soda over the flames or use a foaming extinguisher to put out a persistent fire if it seems safe to do so. Otherwise, evacuate the area and call the fire department.

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Cathy Habas enjoys distilling even the most complicated home improvement tasks into bite-sized pieces. She believes in empowering homeowners one article at a time.

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