Baking and broiling are cooking methods that use the dry heat of an oven. Both are recognized as healthy ways to cook and often used interchangeably with other cooking methods, such as roasting and toasting. Still, each yields different results and works best on special types of foods.
What is the difference between broiling and baking?
Both the broiling and baking use the dry heat of an oven for cooking foods, although they do so in slightly different ways, yielding different outcomes.
Baking is a cooking technique that surrounds foods with hot air to prepare them indirectly. The term is typically kept for foods without a stable structure that solidifies during the cooking process, like cakes, bread, and muffins.
Foods are ordinarily baked on the middle rack of the oven at temperatures up to 375℉ (190℃), which gently cooks the inside of the food without burning its outside.
Broiling uses direct oven heat to instantly cook solid foods, such as meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables, at temperatures about 550℉ (289℃).
Foods must be set close to the broiler for the heat to reach and cook them successfully. Depending on your oven, this may be both the top or bottom rack.
Broiling sears the surface of food and goes best for cooking thin foods. This technique can also be used to add texture to the skin of foods that have already been prepared using another method like baking.
How do they vary from roasting and toasting?
Baking and boiling are often used mutually with roasting and toasting. But, there are slight distinctions between each of these cooking techniques.
Roasting is similar to baking in that it makes food by surrounding it with hot air. That said, roasting is typically kept for foods that have a solid structure before cooking — like fish, meat, fruits, and vegetables — and requires slightly higher temperatures than baking.
Furthermore, foods typically remain uncovered during roasting, while they may be covered during baking.
Toasting is used for cooking the outer surface of foods that don’t otherwise need cooking, such as baked bread or raw nuts.
You can toast foods by momentarily placing them under a preheated broiler in the oven or exposing them to lower temperatures for a longer time. For example, you can toast nuts by putting them on the middle rack of an oven set to low cooking temperature.
Health benefits of baking or broiling
Both broiling and baking are considered as healthy cooking methods.
Baking is an excellent way to reduce the loss of nutrients that occurs during cooking. For example, up to 85% of the omega-3 content of tuna is wasted during frying, while only minimal losses happen during baking (1, 2).
Similarly, specific vitamins and minerals appear to degrade to a slightly smaller extent during baking compared with other cooking techniques (3).
Furthermore, neither broiling or baking requires you to add oil during cooking, decreasing the total fat content of your meal.
Not combining fat to foods before cooking also helps reduce the creation of aldehydes. These toxic substances, which appear when oil is heated at high temperatures, may double the risk of cancer and other diseases (4).
However, while broiling restrains the formation of aldehydes, it may give rise to possibly carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
PAHs form when fat from foods touches a hot surface. Since, promptly removing meat drippings, trimming excess fat from meats before broiling, and dodging oil-based marinades are perfect ways to limit PAH development (5).
Which method is best?
Both baking and broiling use dry heat to prepare foods, which means they work best with naturally moist foods.
Foods that are best baked
Baking allows the inside of otherwise liquid or semi-liquid food to solidify while the exterior slowly fries.
That’s why this cooking style works well for baked goods like bread, cakes, cookies, muffins, and tasty croissants.
Baking is also excellent for cooking one-pot meals, including casseroles, quiches, enchiladas, pot pie, lasagna, and stuffed vegetables.
Foods that are best broiled
Broiling is a convenient alternative method for grilling on a barbecue. It cooks foods very quickly and can be used to char and caramelize them, giving a distinct flavor and texture.
Broiling works best on:
- Thin cuts of meat: typically pieces that are less than 1.5 inches (4 cm) thick, tenderloin, including rib eye, or T-bone steak, ground meat patties, lamb chops, meat kabobs, and halved boneless chicken or turkey breasts
- Fish fillets and seafood: tilapia, swordfish, salmon, tuna, scallops, shrimp
- Tender fruit: peaches, bananas, grapefruit, pineapple, mango
- Some vegetables: tomato halves, pepper strips, onion wedges, summer squash slices, asparagus
Broiling certain foods may produce a significant amount of smoke. To stop this, trim excess fat from meats beforehand.
Also, pay close attention to your foods during the cooking process and flip them halfway to prevent them from burning.