Broiling food is a healthy and efficient technique when it comes to cooking or reheating foods quickly and getting that perfect crisp surface on your food. The process involves exposing the food directly to a radiant flame and then flipping it over to the other side so that both sides cook evenly. It’s a fun technique- at least we think so!
However, as broiler pans are commonly and quite obviously associated with broiling, one may wonder: can you broil without a broiling pan? The answer is yes. There are substitutes to a broiling pan that you can use just as effectively as a broiling pan. Let’s take a look at them and see how to broil without a broiling pan!
Is a broiler pan necessary?
No, a broiler pan is not necessary for broiling. There are other substitutes for broiler pans that can be used to broil any steak, meat, fish fillets, etcetera.
A broiler pan usually comes with slats in its upper broiler plate lid (the cooking surface) which allows air to flow in and out of the pan, making sure that your food is cooked evenly throughout. It also has a pan that goes underneath the lid- this collects any fat drippings from the food.
All of this sounds like something special cookware could only pull off, but it is not necessary to own a broiler pan to broil.
Can you broil without a broiling pan?
Yes, you can broil without a broiling pan. Other substitutes, such as aluminum trays, baking trays, roasting pans, cast iron pans, etcetera, can complete the task just as effectively and beautifully as a broiler pan. Using these substitutes, you can cook the meat and separate it from the drippings while broiling.
How to broil without a broiling pan?
Broiling would work the same way as with a broiling pan. It would just differ in the way that you would not use a broiling pan but another piece of cookware. Based on that piece of cookware, your preparation and setting in the broiler may vary- the rest would remain the same.
For the instructions, we will take a look at how to broil chicken without a broiling pan. In 5 easy and straightforward steps, let’s broil some chicken without a broiling pan! Here is what you need to do:
(You can apply the same method to any other item you are cooking, making any necessary changes according to your recipe).
Step 1: Prep the broiler and the chicken
- Preheat the broiler for about 5-10 minutes (follow your recipe’s instructions and set the temperature accordingly).
- Marinate the chicken and let it be for 5-10 minutes. Use the preheating period for this to save yourself some time.
- If you want, you can brush your chicken with a bit of oil.
Step 2: Switch the broiler on
- If you preheated, the broiler would already be on.
- Make sure you leave the oven’s door slightly open to prevent the broiler from overheating or switching off.
Step 3: Choose a suitable pan (any substitute for a broiler)
- We used a baking tray to broil the chicken.
- We suggest not using non-stick pans as they may release toxic elements when exposed to very high temperatures (a broiler requires higher temperatures).
Step 4: Insert the pan in the broiler
- Place your chicken in an orderly fashion on the pan of your choice.
- Carefully insert the pan into the broiler above or below the flame or heating element.
We suggest placing it 4-5 inches below the flame so that you can continuously assess the progress of your meat without having to turn it.
Step 5: Broil the chicken
- Once one side has turned brown, flip it over to broil the other side.
- You can divide the total broiling time (as per your recipe) between both sides.
As a general rule for chicken, we suggest you broil each side for about 18-20 minutes.
Time your chicken accurately and check it once the cooking time is over. You will notice that all the juices run clear, and the meat has lost its pink hue- that is when you know your chicken is ready! If you want, you can prepare a sauce, brush it over your broiled chicken and serve.
Note: Try not to prick your meat while broiling to check if it is cooked or not. Pricking in the middle of the process makes the meat lose its flavor. This may happen because the outermost skin of the meat locks in the moisture and juice, making food more flavorful during the process. When meddled with, the taste may diminish.
What can I use instead of a broiler pan?
There are several substitutes for a broiler pan. These include cast iron pans, roasting pans/trays, aluminum trays, and baking trays, etcetera. Pick the pan that suits your task the most. For example, for broiling some lightweight vegetables, a baking tray would do, but for a roast, a cast iron pan would be more suitable.
Best broiling pan substitutes
Broiling pan substitutes can be found quite easily and very economically in cookware stores and online platforms. Below are the best 3 broiling pan substitutes we have shortlisted for you because of their suitable features and easy maneuverability.
Baking sheets or trays
Yes! Baking trays and sheets can definitely broil meat for you, but they work best with leaner, thinner slices of meat. They can withstand high temperatures, which makes them suitable for broiling. When using a baking sheet, line it with aluminum foil before placing your meat on it.
When using a baking tray, you can use an additional cooling rack to help the fat drip easily while broiling. Line the cooling rack with the foil and poke some holes in it. Place your meat on the foil and put the rack above the baking tray before inserting it in the broiler.
Additional tips for using baking trays/sheets to broil
- Use heavier baking sheets. Lighter, inexpensive ones will most probably warp and destroy the flavor and texture of the food.
- Grease the cookware areas that will come into contact with the food (use any suitable oil). The grease would prevent the food, cooking juices, and fat from sticking to the tray.
From the looks, roasting pans resemble broiler pans- many have a wire rack and trays underneath that help collect food drippings (note that some do not). Some roasting pans even have lids to help trap heat and accelerate the cooking process.
These pans are very suitable for broiling because they are made of heavy, heat-conducting materials. The ones that come with a lid are able to prevent liquids from evaporating. Overall, they are a very versatile piece of cookware and can be used in the kitchen in a variety of ways.
Additional tips for using roasting pans to broil
- Use a lid when necessary to trap heat and liquids.
- Preheat the oven/broiler to accelerate the broiling process. Roasting pans could especially use this as they are made of thicker materials that may otherwise take too long to heat up initially.
- Place the roasting pan in the middle rack in your broiler/oven to ensure that the food is exposed to the same amount of heat from the top and bottom.
- Let the food rest inside the pan once you take it out of the oven. This helps transfer the juices evenly throughout your meat which adds extra flavor to the food.
- When broiling vegetables in a roasting pan, brush them with a little oil.
Cast iron pans
Iron being a natural (and an amazing) conductor of heat makes cast iron pans very suitable when it comes to broiling any food evenly. These are also usually available in most households already, making cast iron pans a very economical substitute for broiler pans. Most people also like using them because they are made of natural raw materials.
You might just need to cover the food with aluminum foil to trap flavor and heat, as these pans do not come with lids. Other than that, cast iron pans are a great fit for a broiling session.
Additional tips for using cast iron pans to broil
- Keep cast iron pans greased- while in use or not. This helps maintain their natural properties and makes them look great all the time!
- Use oil in moderate quantities. These pans are usually non-stick, which means that the excess oil can burn on the pan. Once burnt, it can ruin the condition of your pan and make cleaning and cooking messy.
What to look for in a broiler pan substitute?
When choosing a broiler pan substitute, there are a few things that you must keep in mind:
Broiling involves exposure of the food to high temperatures and also relies on the broiler pan’s heat conductivity to cook the food. The broiler pan substitute must be able to conduct heat well; otherwise, it will not broil your food properly.
Cookware made of lighter materials will not be suitable for broiling. They will warp and get distorted, ruining the food and even the oven. Always choose substitutes that are made of heavy metals, such as cast iron pans.
As mentioned above, heavier and thicker cookware pieces are more suitable for broiling. The thickness allows the broiler pan substitute to withstand the weight of the food, as well as remain sturdy in the broiler.
Your pan must be non-reactive, so you can safely brush your food with ingredients like vinegar if your recipe calls for it. We consider that it is generally safer to use non-reactive pans under such high temperatures.
Can you broil in an aluminum pan?
Yes, you can broil in an aluminum foil pan. These can be bought quite cheaply in the market but will need to be disposed of after a single use. Leaner, thinner slices of meat would be broiled well in these pans.
Can you broil a frozen pizza?
Yes, you can broil a frozen pizza. However, there are chances that the top of the pizza would be reheated and cooked too quickly before the bottom and center. Hence, you may end up with a weird mixture of frozen and too well-done pizza. Baking or microwaving a frozen pizza would be a better option.
Wrapping up our thoughts on whether you can broil without a broiler pan!
You do not have to own some extraordinary piece of cookware to broil without a broiler pan- there are numerous substitutes for a broiler pan that would do justice to your food. We have talked about 3 of the best broiler pan substitutes in this article, but there are others as well. Just make sure you choose a substitute that is suitable for the food you are cooking (keep the weight of the food and its leanness in mind). Apart from that, do not use cooking spray on many cookware as it ruins its properties and accumulates dirt on it- only use oils to grease!