Creating perfect oven-grilled dishes isn’t just the domain of top chefs! You can also make an authentic grilled meal in your oven any night of the week.
Meals can be grilled in the oven using the broiler function to sear the food.
- Preheat the broiler
- Heat the pan
- Get the temperature right
- Use the right pan
- Adjust the distance between food and heat
- Be vigilant
- Use the convection
- Use the door
- Watch for splatters
- Clean the oven
Before you dash off to pop a steak under high heat in your oven, take note that this process must be undertaken carefully to avoid creating a huge mess or even starting a fire.
How to Grill in the Oven
Sure, you won’t always get the smoky flavor that comes from an outside grill when you use the oven, but if you need quick and hassle-free grilled results, then popping it under the broiler is definitely the next best thing.
You can add several seasonings to dishes that replicate an authentic outside grill taste, so get creative. A touch of Liquid Smoke, paprika, or BBQ spice on your food before it goes into the oven is all you need to trick your taste buds into thinking it’s summer all year long.
You may be familiar with roasting meat in your oven, but that process is slightly different from grilling. There are three main differences between roasting and grilling:
|Slow cooking process – usually in an oven||Fast, intense bursts of heat to sear food – can be done on an open flame|
|Well suited for large pieces of food||Better suited to smaller pieces|
|The heat source is less direct||The heat source is focused and direct from one side|
So when grilling in the oven, the aim is to reproduce the effect of an open heat source that you would get from an outside grill. Besides the inside setting, the only difference is that the intense heat source will come from above and not from below, like in conventional grilling.
All ovens have some type of broiler setting. Before starting your first oven grilling experience, locate the broiler in your oven and check the settings. Some only have one high setting, while others also have a low setting.
Most electric ovens have a boiler element set in the top section of the oven. If you bend slightly and look up at the roof of the oven, you should be able to see it. Gas ovens sometimes have broilers located in the bottom drawer – if it has boiler pans down there, you can be pretty sure that is the broiler where you can create grilled food.
You only need the highest broiler setting to oven grill, so once you know where it is located, you are ready to get started.
The secret to perfectly grilled food is using the oven settings correctly, having the correct tools, and carefully monitoring the progress of food. Like an outside grill, using the intense heat of your oven broiler could quickly end in burnt food if you aren’t extremely vigilant.
Now that we are all set let’s start our oven grill!
1 – Preheat the Oven
It is essential to turn on the broiler and let it heat up before you put your food inside. In the same way, as you wouldn’t put a raw steak onto a grill that you haven’t lit yet, the inside temperature radiating off the broiler must be scorching before you put the food under it.
Remember that using this one-element method will create intense heat, similar to a fire. Only when the heat is sufficient should the food be added.
2 – Preheat the Broiling Pan
It is not only the oven that must preheat before starting the oven grilling process. If you think about a regular outside grill, the grid would be flame hot before adding the food.
So, if you are not using the broiling pan provided with your oven, ensure that you place the grill tray that you are using in the oven while you are preheating. Take note that your pan should have a grid with a drip tray and must be completely safe to withstand the extremely high direct-heat temperature from the broiler.
When you are ready to add your meat or vegetables, use oven mitts to carefully remove the broiling pan and place it on top of a stove plate. If you are using herbs on your meat and are worried that they may burn, add a coating of olive oil to keep them from scorching.
To prevent sticking, it helps to coat the top surface of the broiling rack with a bit of oil or coat it with a nonstick vegetable spray. Then arrange the food on the top of the heated surface.
3 – Get the Temperature Right
What temperature is the right temperature for oven grilling? Well, since most broiler functions don’t give you exact temperature options, you may need to do a little bit of guesswork and estimate when the heat emanating from the oven is hot enough to start grilling.
For anyone with a temperature setting on their broiler, the temperature to lightly broil is usually between 400 and 450F, and high broil is between 450 and 550F.
The usual rule is that the thicker the cut of food you want to broil, the lower the broiler setting. A lower grill heat will give the portion enough time to cook through before the outside starts burning.
4 – Use the Correct Pan
One of the primary considerations when trying to recreate the grill taste in the oven is the pan you are using. Fats and juices naturally drip through the grate away from the food on an outside grill.
To create this effect, you will need an oven broiler pan with a rack. Most ovens with broiler functions come standard with these. You will need both pieces because the bottom tray collects the fats and juices that drain off during the grilling process.
The top section of a broiler pan where the food will be placed for grilling is made of a nonstick material. This section has slots that allow juices to drain into the bottom collection tray.
5 – Adjust the Distance Between Food and Heat
Estimating how far your food should be from the broiler is an essential part of the process. Since you usually can’t adjust the heat on a broiler, everything depends on manually ensuring that the food is close enough to the heat to cook thoroughly and get a healthy grilled color without it suddenly igniting.
In every oven, there are cooking shelves that can be set at various heights. The nearer one is to the top of the oven, the faster the food on that level will cook. Top layer grilling can be a little risky and should be undertaken with extreme caution because the intense directed heat is unlikely to penetrate through an entire cut of meat.
Of course, giving the meat a sharp blast of heat may be the perfect thing for those who enjoy steaks on the rare side.
When oven grilling for the first time, it is recommended to start a little lower down in the oven to get a feel for the effect that your broiler will deliver.
6 – Be Vigilant While Oven Grilling
Grilling in the oven is a relatively quick process, but it does demand all of your attention. Broiler-grilling is not an exact science, and you will need to stand by to monitor the progress and make adjustments continuously. Do not be tempted to carry on with something else while the food is grilling.
Have a pair of oven mitts at hand in case you need to move the pan to a lower level quickly. A helpful tip is to keep a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil handy in the event that one bit on the top is burning faster than the rest of the food.
7 – Use the Oven Door as a Regulator
To use the broiler element in your oven to successfully grill, there must be some airflow around the food. If you simply place it under a super-hot broiler and close the door, the food will quickly burn.
After you have heated the oven and inserted the food under the broiler, keep the oven door slightly open. Most oven doors can be set to remain open at various points.
Leave the oven door only slightly open so that excess heat can escape. This will also encourage air around the food to circulate.
8 – Use the Convection Fan If Available
Some ovens have a convection fan set in the back. This helps to move hot air around inside the oven to get more even cooking results on all parts of the food, not just from where the burners are located.
If your oven has a convection fan, you will be less dependent on adjusting the oven door during the oven grilling process. It might even be possible to set the convection fan on and keep the oven door closed during the short time your food is under the broiler.
9 – Watch for Spatter
Do not ever attempt to oven grill anything with the oven door fully open, as hot spatters can be dangerous. Also, keep kids and animals out of the kitchen while grilling food as the heat can be intense.
You will need to turn the meat during the cooking process. This needs to be undertaken very carefully, especially when broiler-grilling fatty foods that can suddenly spatter and send hot grease shooting towards you.
Remember that the secret to making food taste like it has been grilled is the intense heat and speed at which it is cooked, so watch it carefully through the glass section of the oven door. Do not be tempted to peek in through the top opening.
When the food needs to be turned, it must be carefully done. If it is very fatty or heavily basted meat, immediately slide a large, protective sheet of aluminum foil over the surface before using your oven mitts to remove the tray and put it on the top of the stove.
You can then add seasoning, turn the food and check the progress of things. When grilling in the oven, one would usually only need to turn the food once, but to begin with, getting to know the settings can take a bit of practice.
If you notice that meat is spattering excessively while under the broiler, use a paper cloth to blot some of the excess juices before returning the food to the oven. You can also pour off any juices from the collection tray during this step if it is sizzling and spattering excessively.
Open the oven door fully and carefully return the pan to the correct position under the broiler to complete the cooking process.
10 – Clean the Oven
Food can be successfully grilled under the broiler, but the only downside of this open, direct-heat cooking style is that it often results in a messy oven. Juices tend to spatter about inside the oven during the cooking process.
But don’t let a bit of cleaning put you off enjoying this cooking method. The delicious result is definitely worth the extra bit of cleanup.
The trick to restoring your oven to its former spotless state after using it to grill food is to clean it while it is still warm. So don’t leave the cleanup for the next day – tackle it as soon as the oven has cooled down enough to wipe safely.
If you have used the correct drip tray under your broiler pan, most of the runoff and fats will have collected inside the tray. That can easily be removed and washed.
It is possible to grill food in the oven using the broiler located inside the top section of most ovens. In some gas oven models, the bottom drawer contains a broiler. Turning the broiler on to maximum heat and carefully adjusting the distance between the food and the element will produce delicious grill-like results.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard.