Why Do We Leave the Oven Door Ajar While Broiling?

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Dear Home Ec 101,

Is there a particular reason we are supposed to leave the oven door slightly open while broiling? Is this just one of those things my mother taught me that actually has no basis in reality? Hush mom, do I really have to bring up the eating the crust of bread will make my hair curl thing again?


Broiling in Brevard

Dear Broiling in Brevard:

Broiling is a specific method for applying heat to food. When a recipe directs food to be broiled, it is expected for the item to be exposed, relatively close to a source of dry, intense heat. Some recipes may also call this direct, radiant heat. For many models, the best results are achieved with the door left ajar a couple of inches. Most models have a stop that makes this easy.

open oven door and broiler for broiling food

Broiling 101

As a rule, gas ovens advise closing the door while broiling, while electric oven manufacturers suggest leaving the door ajar. 

It is important to consult your manual, as some gas ovens will not operate with the door ajar.

Gas ovens are typically vented and designed not to shut off during broiling. A gas oven also broils at a higher temperature, which can cause more smoke. This means your smoke detectors will go off in every room, and while you’re running around trying to shut them off, you wind up burning dinner. Let’s pass on this scenario if at all possible.

On some electric models, if the door is left closed, the temperature of the entire oven, not just the surface of the food closest to the heating element, will rise. This rise in heat may trigger the heating element to cycle off, reducing the amount of exposure to direct or radiant heat. The food will continue to cook, but it will do so more slowly and by convection or contact with the heated air.

Additionally, electric heat doesn’t help a lot with the moisture factor. Venting the door has the added benefit of allowing steam to escape.

What Pan Should I Use For Broiling?

At cook time, you will need a broiler pan ( these pans usually come with your oven – they are the nice surprise you find after installation), which features a slatted top that sits on top of a pan underneath it to help air circulate for even cooking. Alternatively, you can use an oven-safe baking sheet or cast iron skillet and rotate your food throughout the cooking process. Due to the extremely high heat of a broiler, glassware is not recommended. Avoid nonstick pans and Teflon, as these can release toxic chemicals when used at higher temperatures.

Remember, broiling is often used as a quick way to cook foods with the application of high heat. Always keep an eye on foods while broiling, as they can quickly go from nearly done to burnt, in the time it takes to check your email or see what’s happening on Facebook.

Probably not in the time it takes to fan Home Ec 101 on Facebook, though.  </wink wink nudge nudge>

Send your domestic queries to helpme@home-ec101.com.

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14 thoughts on “Why Do We Leave the Oven Door Ajar While Broiling?”

  1. ha ha. I thought you left the door open to make sure whatever you're broiling didn't burn. 🙂 But then again we most often broil our bread lol.
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  2. Leaving the door open is a fantastic tease to the pets in the home. They can see and smell the yummy stuff right there at their level, but the horrifying heat is enough to make them look but not touch. 🙂
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  3. I always bake frozen pizzas for the time indicated and then broil for an extra 1-2 minutes to get the cheese nice and crispy. I'll have to try it with the door ajar

  4. I've never seen this advice given for gas ovens, and a quick check of a few owner's manuals for similar gas and electric ranges shows that all the gas ranges (top broiling, it's a moot point if the range is a bottom broiler) say to broil with the door closed, while all the electric ones say to leave the door open. The reason I was given years ago is that an electric oven is (nearly) a sealed box, it just has a vent at the top to allow moisture out. Opening the door allows air to flow through. Gas ranges are already designed to allow air to flow through them, so the door can stay closed while broiling.

  5. I have a Dacor oven and was told by a repairman that broiling with the door open will damage the electronics in the front of the stove.

  6. I vaguely remember my Gramma leaving the oven door open while broiling. Thanks for resolving an unanswered question from my youth.
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  7. But which applies in my case? I have a gas oven but the broiler is electric. So gas fire in the bottom but electric element for broiling at the top.


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