Yes, you can use cooling racks in the oven. Just make sure the rack is made up of an oven-friendly material.
Before purchasing a cooling rack for an oven, check for the oven-friendly sign. If you don’t find it, find out the material your cooling rack is made from.
Let us find out more about cooling rack materials and what kind can go in an oven
Different Materials of the Cooling Rack
Pure stainless steel is an ideal rack material for oven use. A 304 stainless steel can safely be used inside an oven up to 575 degrees!
A 304 stainless steel can safely be used inside an oven up to 575 degrees! It is non-reactive and will not wrap/bend/leech/break or chip off.
With proper care, a pure stainless steel cooling rack can be used for years inside an oven.
I wouldn’t recommend cheap-quality cooling racks in an oven. This is because they come with a fragile chrome coating on top that chips away at high temperatures. Once they are into your food, your entire cooking process is wasted.
Do not use cooling racks with non-stick coatings containing PTFE ( poly tetra fluoro ethylene) or Teflon.
PTFE/Teflon wraps and melts under the intense heat of the oven chamber and can make you very sick in case it leeches out into your food.
If your rack is made up of iron and coated with a non-stick, once the coating chips off, the iron becomes susceptible to rusting.
Next, let us see how we can use the cooling rack in the oven
Checklist of Things to Check Before Using Cooling Rack in Oven
- Always have a look at the patterns before purchase. A thick wired grid with a criss-cross shape cooling rack will keep the food sturdy and not allow any food to slip out from beneath the gaps.
Here is an example of a criss-cross shaped thick wired grid cooling rack that can be safely used inside an oven.
Here is another good cooling rack with a lifetime guarantee. The thick wires are helpful to prevent warping or bending of the cooling rack.
- The height of the cooling rack gives it an added advantage of air circulation all around the food. This helps the food to be cooked well, baked well, browned, and smoked well. Choose one with sufficient height according to your requirements
- You also need to make sure the cooling rack fits your sheet pan and oven dimensions. It should stand steadily and firmly on top of the pan or oven tray. The most commonly used are the rectangular racks as they can be used to place a good quantity of food.
Here is an example of a good half sheet pan to be used underneath the cooling rack in an oven
- If you wish to use it individually without a pan beneath. Wrap a baking sheet around it. While the air will continue to circulate and cook your food, the baking sheet will prevent dripping.
- Lastly, you must know the temperature limit of the cooling rack. Read the manufacturing instruction to know how much temperature it can withstand before using your cooling rack in the oven.
Where to Place the Cooling Rack Inside an Oven?
It depends on the results you want once your food is done.
The top rack gives you excellent browning. The top element is also called a broiling element.
This is because when the temperature rises, the bottom element shuts down automatically.
The top element remains on. Due to consistent exposure, browning takes place naturally.
If you have a small oven, a middle rack is a perfect spot for even cooking.
This is because when you place your cooling rack on the middle rack, it gets direct heat from both the top element and the bottom element.
The middle rack is highly recommended for baking.
The bottom rack of your oven is the best place for browning the bottom of bread and pizza.
Remember the browning needs very little time on the bottom rack in a gas oven compared to an electric oven.
For cooking in bulk, you can place two cooling racks with two sheet pans. Place one on top and one immediately below the top rack. Halfway into cooking, swap their position.
For extra browning, once the food is done, take out the sheet pan and place it closer to the top broiling element in an electric oven.
For a gas oven, place it on the bottom rack just above the open flame.
Different Cooking Techniques Using a Cooling Rack in the Oven
A cooling rack can be quite helpful for oven cooking. If you are usually into oven cooking, you must have noticed the part where the bottom of the food is in contact with the flat surface of the pan.
That part does not get exposed to air ending up mushy, soft, and soggy compared to the rest of the food.
Here is where the versatile cooling rack comes as a savior!
A cooling rack can be used to grill, smoke, dehydrate, broil, bake, or roast meat and veggies.
I am listing a few tricks on how to make your cooling rack useful inside an oven
For Soaking Vegetables with Meat Juices
Take a regular oven pan you use for cooking. Place your vegetables on it.
Next, place the cooling rack making sure it sits inside the sheet pan from all corners.
Put your desired meat on top and enjoy watching the juices drip down into your vegetables.
For Evenly Smoked Food
For this, you need to have a smoking option in your oven.
Place your meat on top of the cooling rack and switch the smoking feature on. Let it sit for a few minutes.
As the cooling rack allows good circulation of air, your meat or vegetables will receive smoke evenly.
For Oil-less Cooking
We all grease up our food with oil or butter when cooking inside an oven.
A cooling rack helps you cut down on the oil fat by allowing good air circulation.
This helps to cook food evenly without oil and makes your food crisp.
For Dehydrating your Meat
For this, preheat your oven and keep the temperature around 160F-180F for some time.
Another option is if you have a pre-set for dehydration in your oven, switch it on.
Place the cooling rack on top of the sheet pan and place meat over the rack. Allow it to dehydrate for some hours until you get your perfect consistency.
For Keeping Food Warm and Crispy
In case you wish to delay eating and don’t want your food to lose out on crispiness, just place it on a cooling rack inside an oven at low temperature.
If your oven has a keep warm setting use that function.
For a Natural Basting
A cooling rack is better than a traditional roasting rack as it sits at a small height from the pan giving you excellent basting.
Place beans or salad underneath the meat and watch the basting happen naturally.
For Grilling Meat
Instead of grills or roasting racks, you can easily grill small pieces of meat on a cooling rack.
Mimicking the grilling rods, the heavy-duty and thick rod gives you the same result.
The thick wired grid is welded quite well and will not allow your meat to fall due to its criss-cross pattern design.
Keep the cooling rack on the bottom rack in the gas oven above the open flame. Keep it on the top rack in an electric oven near the broiling element.
For Roasting Vegetables
The thick grid helps to roast the vegetables quite well. Due to good air circulation, your veggies won’t be soggy.
Instead, you will find them crisp and brown.
For extra crispiness, do not cover your veggies with aluminum foil.
Other Uses of a Cooling Rack
- A cooling rack, as the name suggests was made for cooling hot food like freshly baked cookies, cakes, and meat, vegetables, pizza, bread, etc.
- A cooling rack prevents condensation, allows free air circulation, and helps to remove the sogginess from the bottom areas of food.
- You can use it to cool down baking sheet pans and other oven cookware.
- If you need extra space, a cooling rack is a wonderful accessory to help you sort and place kitchen cookware on it.
- Use a cooling rack to place raw fruits and vegetables. As the cooling rack has a little height, your food won’t sit directly on the slab surface.
- If you need to wash vegetables and don’t like to place them on the bottom surface of the sink, use a cooling rack to place them and wash them down.
I would highly recommend you use a 304-grade stainless steel cooling rack inside an oven.
It’s versatile and can be used for different styles of cooking.
You can bake, grill, roast, warm, smoke, roast, dehydrate, broil and cook on a cooling rack.
The cooling rack ensures good air circulation and keeps your food crispy. It gives you delicious basting on your veggies from the meat placed on it.
An oven can become quite hot during cooking depending on your recipe. If your rack isn’t stainless steel, make sure the label says oven safe and food safe.
This assurance is necessary and will prevent you from a lot of physical ailments caused due to metal leaching, wrapping, rusting.
I hope my tricks and techniques of using a cooling rack will give you a wonderful cooking experience and equally delicious food results.
All the best!
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