Have you ever wondered if you can achieve the perfect charred grill finish on your meats and oven bakes? Yes, you can!
Thanks to the broiler. A broiler is a special oven setting or an element located at the top of your oven that gives direct heat to the food.
Apart from the oven, a broiler drawer can be present at the bottom of your stovetop. Some ovens also have a separate broiler drawer located under the oven cavity.
I remember the first time I came to know I can bake my bread, pizzas, and cake at home!! The word “ Oven” was magical.
When it comes to the oven, you can bake, roast, toast, and broil food so it ends up just like restaurant food.
You can use one, two, or all heating elements including the convection fan for achieving this purpose.
Allow me to tell you the difference between a broiler and an oven.
Difference Between a Broiler and an Oven
Let us go into the details so you understand the workings of your oven and the broiler setting of your stovetop or oven.
All About a Broiler
‘Broiling’ is exposing food to direct heat. This can be achieved by using the broiler setting in your oven or using the broiler drawer at the bottom of your oven/stovetop.
Broiling is like an upside-down grill. It gives you crisped baked bread, crusty steak, charred veggies, and melted cheese.
It can be gas-operated (in stovetop models) or electrically operated (in ovens). The broiler function is carried out at a controlled temperature.
While the broiler drawer has been seen in most stovetops, the broiler function of the oven is a recent addition to ovens.
Allow me to help you figure out more details regarding the two.
A Broiler Drawer
A broiler drawer is located at the bottom of your cooking stove or oven cavity.
It helps to enhance your cooking experience by adding crispiness and crust to your food.
There is no need for preheating the broiler drawer. Just switch it and add your broiler tray five minutes later. Use broiler-safe trays and pans.
As the broiler heats up pretty quickly, keep an eye on the time duration. Use the broiler drawer for the crisp brown surface of the food.
A broiler drawer may not be suitable for elderly and sick patients as they have to bend down and remove the food. An oven broiler is perfect for them.
An Oven Broiler
An oven broiler is on the top shelf of the oven. The heating element on top gets heated up at a high temperature quickly. You need to keep an eye or you might end up with burnt food.
You have to place the broiler rack according to the food you wish to broil. For foods that cook quickly, (thin cuts, fish, fruits) place the rack closer to the broil element.
For foods like meat sticks that need time to cook from inside out, place the oven rack lower.
If your food is cooked and all you need is a brown or caramelized layer, place it closer to the broiling element.
The temperature used for broiling inside the oven is usually around 550F. For best results, follow the instructions in the oven manual. This will prevent unnecessary heating and burning up of food.
The older oven manuals instruct the user to open up the oven door a little bit while broiling to allow the heat to escape.
However, modern ovens have a different design to make sure the oven does not get overheated. They instruct us to keep the oven door closed.
All About Oven Cooking
An oven is a cavity having heating elements on the top and bottom. Depending on the design, the heating elements may be present on the sides.
A convection oven has one or two fans inside.
The heat surrounds the food and cooks it. The hot air revolves fast with the help of an embedded fan all around the food helping in evenly cooked dishes.
The most common cooking method inside the oven is baking. The less common methods are roasting and toasting.
Roasting in an oven uses all heating elements and the convection fan together to achieve a well-roasted food like chicken, turkey, etc. The heating element on the top and bottom all get heated up.
You can toast using a broiler briefly or using both the upper and lower heating element at a low temperature for a long duration.
While baking, the raw food is usually in a batter form that solidifies during baking. Some common examples of baking are bread, cakes, muffins, pizza, etc.
Indirect heat is applied during baking. Food is usually kept in the middle rack at a temperature of 325-375F.
Difference Between Oven cooking and Broiling
Since baking is the most common form of oven cooking, I will be talking about baking.
Here are a few key differences that set baking and broiling apart.
Type of Heat Used (Direct vs Indirect Heat)
Oven baking is done using indirect heat. The food is placed on the middle rack of the oven.
For baking, the lower heating element heats up to maintain the air temperature. The convection fan helps to rotate hot air. The heated air inside the oven cooks the food from the inside out.
Oven broiling is done using direct heat. Only the top heating element gets turned on and the food is placed 3-5 inches (depending on the food recipe) below the top heating element.
As there is direct heat exposure, food gets cooked from the outside and then inside. Constant exposure at high temperatures creates a brown crusty layer on the top of the food.
The difference in Temperature and Time Settings
Baking is done at low to medium temperatures depending on the recipe requirements.
Most of the baking takes place at 325-375° F for a long duration of time.
You can bake food at other temperature ranges as well. Roasting uses medium to high temperatures depending on the recipe.
Broiling is done at high temperatures. For broiling, the ideal temperature is 550° F.
The time duration is usually short as the exposure to heat is direct. The temperature remains constant during broiling. You cannot change the temperature.
The Difference in the Handling of Food
You can cover the batter for baking. The food is usually liquid or semi-solid. Example- cake, muffins, etc. You cannot flip the baking batter halfway.
Solid food is used in roasting, unlike baking. The toasting feature of the oven is used for cooked food like bread or nuts.
Toasting is just basically adding a brown layer to crisp the cooked food. You can flip the toasted bread halfway for a crisp result on all sides.
You cannot cover the food for broiling. The food is solid and has to be exposed. Examples include veggies, fruits, and meat.
You can flip it halfway for the best results. This way both the sides get an equal broiled look and feel.
The Difference in Retention of nutrients
Baking food in an oven minimizes the loss of nutrients. One such example of loss of nutrients is Tuna. When we fry tuna, 85% of its nutrients are lost.
If you bake tuna in the oven, there is minimal loss of nutrients.
When we broil meat, up to 40% of vitamin B and other minerals get lost as the juice full of nutrients drips away from the meat. The same thing happens when we roast food at high temperatures. Vitamin B gets depleted from the meat.
Broiling also releases polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) from the meat when its melted fat drips down. These are Cancer-causing substances.
According to a study, PAH can decrease from 40 to 80% if the drippings and smoke are minimized.
To reduce the nutrient content, collect the dripped juices in a pan underneath and add back the juices to the meat while serving.
Broil your food in the shortest broiling time needed. It is best to broil cooked food for safe consumption.
Cut food after broiling or roasting. Whole foods get less exposed to intense heat compared to cut food pieces.
Remove the excess fat from raw meat to reduce the smoke.
The Difference in Types of Food
Some meals are best baked while others taste best when broiled.
Baking gives you a rich flavor, and texture without compromising on the nutrients scale. It helps to solidify liquid and semi-liquid food and cooks it inside out.
Foods that are best baked include cakes, pastries, casseroles, pizzas, bread, cookies, muffins, pies, lasagna, croissants, quiches, stuffed vegetables, etc.
Broiling is just like grilling. It helps to give you a brown crust, caramelize your desserts, and gives a charred texture and flavor to meat and vegetables.
Foods that are best broiled include thin cuts of meat, ground patties, kababs, chops, fish fillets, seafood, fruits, and vegetables like tomato, mushrooms, asparagus, onions, capsicums, eggplants, etc.
I hope the difference between broiling and oven cooking is now clear. Both the techniques use dry heat.
An oven is mostly used for baking food and less often for roasting or toasting.
A broiler is used to enhance your cooking experience. It helps to put a brown crusty layer on top of your food. It is more like a grill placed upside down.
A broiler can be found on the top part of your oven or as a broiler drawer beneath the oven cavity or stovetop.
The heat used is intense and direct for a short duration. You get to enjoy the grilling results in the comfort of your kitchen inside the oven or the broiler drawer. A broiler helps to crisp meats, fruits, and veggies.
When it comes to oven cooking, namely baking, the heat is indirect, less, and for a long duration of time.
Baking is mostly done to solidify the batter. Some examples are cakes, cookies, all kinds of bread, pizza, etc. you can also bake one-pot dishes like casseroles, lasagna, quiches, pies, etc
You can enjoy a variety of dishes when baking or broiling in your oven.
Create your whole-hearted meals using both an oven and a broiler. Let me know which function you use often for your meal prep. Good luck!
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