Broil vs Bake – Difference Between Broil and Bake

Broil vs Bake – Difference Between Broil and Bake

The difference between broil and bake is that broiling typically involves cooking at high temperatures to finish off or “crisp” already cooked food, whereas baking involves cooking at moderate temperatures to thoroughly cook food throughout.

Today’s aim is to help you fully understand how each of these cooking techniques or settings works so that you can effectively apply them to your own cooking at home or in a professional setting.

We will provide you with the definition of bake vs broil as well as laying out a quick reference table that visually separates the two. If you are ready to take your cooking to the next level, then read on for the definition of broil.

Definition of Broiling – So What Is Broiling?

Broiling is a high-temperature cooking technique that relies on all of the heat of an oven being directed from the top downwards, making it suitable for rapidly cooking thin food types or crisping already baked food.

The difference between broil and bake largely comes down to the temperature that each cooking technique employs. Baking typically occurs at moderate temperatures whereas broiling usually occurs in temperature ranges of 550 degrees Fahrenheit and above. The food is placed at the very top of the oven when broiling too, whereas it is placed in the center when baking.

Even though broiling can be used to completely cook certain food types, it is often best employed as a means of “finishing” partly or fully cooked food to enhance flavor and texture. Here are some examples of how broiling can be effectively used in this manner.

  • To chargrill cooked meat
  • To sear meat prior to baking it in the oven
  • To crisp the top layer of food (think potato or pasta dishes with cheese toppings)

These are some of the most common applications for broiling vs baking, but it is also worth noting that on occasion, broiling food is a completely viable way of cooking it completely without the need to bake it separately.

Here are some examples of food types that can be broiled without an additional need to bake them.

  • Any meat types that are less than 1.5 inches thick
  • Scallops
  • Shrimp
  • Halloumi
  • Tofu
  • Some vegetable types

Another major difference between bake and broil is the directional flow of heat that occurs during the cooking process. When we are baking, heat travels from the side, back, bottom, and top of the oven, meaning that it comes in from every side of the cooking space.

When we are broiling food, we are directing heat from the top of the oven and downwards only. This produces an incredibly intense heat wave that may not be great for achieving all-over cooking via even heat distribution but is capable of achieving the browning and crisping effects that we love so much on certain food types.

It can be quite difficult to compare broiling vs baking because the two often go hand in hand. So, rather than using one or the other, it is quite common to use one (baking) as a means of achieving a “foundation” (via cooking an item almost completely) before then finishing it off using the broiling cooking method.

As you can see, broiling is often used as a supplementary cooking method rather than a primary one due to its limited application when compared to the diverse cooking capabilities offered by baking, as we will now discover.

Definition of Baking – So What Is Baking?

Baking is a method of cooking that involves applying heat to food from every side of the cooking space (top, side, and bottom) at moderate temperatures of between 170–500 degrees Fahrenheit, making it perfect for controlled, slow, and evenly distributed cooking.

The major difference between bake and broil is that baking is often used as a primary cooking type whereas broiling is arguably best applied as a supplementary cooking method to finish off food that has already been baked or roasted.

As you are already aware, broiling can, of course, be used as a standalone cooking method, but its application in this capacity is severely limited when compared to baking, which is more easily controllable and suitable for a wider array of food types.

These are some of the most common applications of baking vs broiling.

  • To slow-cook meat joints
  • To ensure that recipes involving liquid components have adequate time to fully cook throughout (think cakes and other baked food types)
  • To avoid burning or crisping through slow temperature control

Due to the fact that food is not only cooked from all angles but also cooked thoroughly thanks to the extended cooking time and even temperature distribution applied via baking, it is the primary “go-to” cooking method when preparing most dishes.

Baking can be used to cook almost all of the same food types as broiling although it will produce a different texture and sometimes a different taste when it is not used in conjunction with broiling, but there are certain dishes that simply cannot be broiled.

         Here are some of the main dishes that separate bake vs broil.

  • Pasta dishes
  • Any baked goods (cake, cookies, etc.)
  • Stews
  • Casseroles

These food types simply cannot be broiled as their ingredients require them to be cooked gradually and evenly. The reason why the cooking process is more gradual with baking is due to the temperature employed when using this cooking technique.

We can use temperature as a quick reference difference between baking and broiling to help summarize the two because baking only employs moderate heat that is distributed evenly from every surface of the oven. This achieves a well-rounded cooking approach that thoroughly heats the food throughout.

In comparison, broiling simply cascades heat down from the top of the oven at an incredibly high temperature, meaning that it is not capable of cooking food thoroughly if it is beyond a certain thickness or depth. It is an amazing way to enhance taste and texture though.

Ultimately, rather than viewing baking vs broiling as a best or worst comparison, you should instead break them down to their core elements and understand their unique benefits. This will help you to employ both techniques in harmony to produce some world-class dishes.

The quick reference table in the next section will help you to understand how they can be used together more effectively.

What Is the Main Difference Between Broil vs Bake?

Here, we have laid out the difference between baking and broiling visually to make it easier for you to compare the two.

Cooking techniqueBakingBroiling
Typical operating temperature170–500 degrees Fahrenheit550+ degrees Fahrenheit
MeaningA gradual, even cooking process performed at moderate temperaturesA rapid, high-temperature cooking process designed to finish off food or cook thin food types throughout
Direction of heat flowHeat comes in from every side of the oven.Heat travels from the top of the oven and downwards only.
Associated food typesCakes, cookies, stews, meat jointsChargrilled meat, seared meat, and thinly sliced food including tofu, halloumi, or certain meat steaks and fish fillets
Typical useA main form of cookingA supplementary form of cooking
Food positionIn the middle of the ovenAt the top of the oven

For those who have been asking what is the difference between bake and broil, the above table should make their variations very clear.

Let’s head to the FAQ section to mop up what you have learned about these two cooking methods so that we can ensure that no stone is left unturned before you venture into the kitchen today.

Broil vs Bake – FAQ

Here are the most commonly asked questions about broil vs bake.

Q: So, what is broil, and can I use it instead of bake?

A: Broiling is very useful for finishing food types off to enhance their taste and texture once they have already been cooked. One popular example is crisping. However, broiling is also useful for cooking “thin” food types in their entirety. You may wish to exclusively broil your food if it is thin and flat, but typically, broiling is used alongside baking to enhance flavor and texture as opposed to being used on its own.

Q: So, what is bake like when used for cooking food fast, or should I use broil for rapid cooking?

A: Baking food takes longer than broiling, but it is important to remember that baking cooks food in a completely different way. Baking uses moderate heat to evenly cook food throughout whereas broiling is useful for rapidly cooking thin food types. Otherwise, the only other application for broiling is to finish off food that has already been partly cooked or baked.

Q: I’m confused. What does broil mean on my oven settings?

A: When you change your oven setting to broil, it will direct all of the heat from the top of the oven and project it downwards towards the food.

Q: Is it true that I need to leave my oven door open when I broil food? Should I keep it closed for baking?

A: It is true that your oven door should remain partially open when you broil food. Otherwise, the heating element can cut out while you are cooking. When you are baking, the door needs to stay closed at all times. If any heat escapes during baking, then this can negatively impact the cooking process and lead to your food being undercooked.

Q: Can I crisp food with baking?

A: While it is true that you may be able to achieve a brownish appearance to your food when you bake it for extended periods of time, usually, this will not be enough in its own right to create the crispy texture that many people love. In order to do this, you are likely going to have to broil your food towards the end of its cooking cycle.

What Is the Difference Between Bake and Broil? – Conclusion

Finally, those who have been asking what is the difference between bake and broil should now be able to effectively summarize the two easily from now on and appreciate these two cooking techniques for their unique benefits.

Just remember that an effective summary of broil vs bake is that broiling involves cooking at high temperatures from the top of the oven downwards, whereas baking involves cooking at moderate temperatures from all sides of the oven.

Come back to our quick reference table any time you need a quick refresh on this subject in the future.