For The Best Broil, Try Keeping The Oven Door Open

Ovens are actually quite versatile in their ability to roast, bake, broil, proof, and more. It's all about understanding an oven's settings — how temperature affects cooking time, and the impact of airflow, among other things.

Food Network compares broiling, a common form of oven cooking, to "upside down grilling" because the concept uses an extreme heat source above the food to cook it, whereas grilling is the opposite. In the broiling process, food gets cooked throughout while creating a crispness on the outside. Rotating meat under a broiler gives you a medium-rare cook with a perfect char on the outside, without the extra step of using a grill. The heat source can vary depending on the type of oven; gas ovens use a flame, while electric ovens use a coil.

Though broiling seems like a simple enough concept, there are actually some techniques to consider in order to get the best performance from your broiler — and there is a reason you should always keep your oven door open when broiling food.

Leave the door open to help with airflow

The key to success when broiling is understanding how airflow works. Although the heat source is at the top of the food (and therefore will primarily cook from the top), the heat still travels throughout the oven and creates an environment where all sides of a dish can cook if they're exposed to air. One way to help that airflow is to keep the oven door slightly open while broiling. MasterClass says this trick is twofold: It not only keeps the air flowing but also ensures that your electric oven doesn't overheat, which could cause the broiler to automatically turn off.

On that note, it's worth remembering this trick may not work with all oven models. For instance, if you're working with a gas oven broiler, it may shut off if the door is left open for more than a few minutes. It's all about knowing your oven.

Broiling should be used on thin foods, per Healthline, to ensure proper cooking. Thin steaks or chicken cook well under a broiler. It's also great for finishing off a dish, such as melting the cheese on top of a hearty bowl of French onion soup.

Other tricks to get the most from your broiler

Although the open-door trick might be an option for everyone, no need to fret! There are plenty of other ways you can ensure your broiled food comes out perfectly. Real Simple says to keep the food the proper distance from its heat source — usually 3 to 5 inches from the broiler, though thicker dishes, such as meat, should be kept a bit further to give them enough time to cook in the center without getting too brown on top.

You can quickly roast vegetables under the broiler, too, but Better Homes & Gardens suggests placing them even further from the heat source than you would meat — about 6 to 8 inches. Make sure to use a roast pan that will catch any drippings. This way, when you flip the food halfway through, the underside remains crispy and doesn't sit in its juices or any leftover oil. And make sure to watch your food while it cooks: Real Simple says a broiler's high heat can quickly lead to a dish being charred or burnt.