What Are the Best Foods to Cook Under the Broiler?

Make the most out of all of your oven's functions by understanding which foods can be prepared—incredibly fast, we might add—beneath a broiler element.

The broiler is a powerful partner in the kitchen if you know how best to use it; for those uninitiated into the world of broiler meals, we're here to help. Broiling can be an easy way to get dinner on the table fast, but if you've ever been "burned," so to speak, by this cooking method, you know it's not suitable for cooking anything and everything. That's because the broiler works a lot like a standard grill, applying intense, direct heat to only one side of your food at a time. In that sense, it's best to treat broiling something just like you would grilling it, meaning you'll need to keep an eye on the food and flip it once or twice. The reward for a few minutes of your undivided attention is a meal that can be on the table lickety-split.

Ultimately, using your broiler to prepare dinner is a bit of a balancing act because you want your food to brown nicely and cook through, but never become charred beyond recognition. This is where our guide to broiling can come in handy. Here, we're sharing inspiration, recipes, and tips in our guide to creative ways to use the broiler.

herby broiled swordfish with roasted cherry tomatoes
Johnny Miller

Best Foods for Broiling

The broiler is most often used for thin cuts of steak, thin pork chops, quick-cooking vegetables like asparagus or zucchini, seafood like fish fillets and shrimp, and tofu. With that being said, there are a few different things you can cook in the broiler that are creative and delicious. Take the Herby Broiled Swordfish with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, shown above, for example: It's proof that fish steaks, not just fillets, can also work under the broiler. Our Rolled Flank Steak, stuffed with a ton of garlicky sautéed greens and formed into a sliceable cylinder, is another great example—the broiler only needs about five minutes per side to cook this party-perfect roast to perfection. And since this cooking element is already good at cooking thin cuts of chicken, it's no wonder that it's extra great at making a bacon-wrapped chicken dinner, like our Broiled Bacon-Wrapped Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Watercress; the sweet potatoes aren't something you would normally think would turn out well from broiling, but this sheet-pan supper proves otherwise.

How can you work out if a food is suitable for broiling if it's not outlined here? When it comes to broiling without a recipe, a good rule of thumb is that if it can be grilled over high heat, then it can be broiled under high heat. This puts certain dessert foods in play, including juicy pineapple and sweet stone fruit such as apricots.

Broiled cheeses are another great way to utilize this under-appreciated oven function—just look at what it can do to this humble hunk of feta. Keep some of that cheese on hand for last-minute gatherings and let your broiler help you pull off an easy and elegant-looking appetizer in no time.

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