How to Clean a Dirty Broiler Pan

Dear Home-Ec 101,

The other night I splurged and made rack of lamb for my husband and sons. It was the first time, because I really don’t like it, and probably the last, because the clean up was such a hassle. Even though I sprayed my roasting rack and pan with Pam, it still took a large SOS pad, an overnight soaking, and a lot of elbow grease to get it clean.

Every time I use that pan I think there must be an easier way.

How do you do it?

Signed,

Embroiled in Emberton

Heather says:

I hate messy clean up, too.

Baking sprays are pretty much only useful for preventing food from sticking to a surface where the food is in contact with the pan. If the baking spray is exposed to the heat of the oven, it can polymerize. This just means the fatty chains turn into a polymer -basically plastic.  (Yes, this is me playing fast and loose with terms, we’re just going for the basic idea.) This coating is quite difficult to remove without the additional joy of burnt on food.

Here’s an article I wrote previously: How to Remove Baking Spray Overspray.

You’re going to get the same advice for the burnt on food. Grab our good friend Bar Keepers Friend, it’s my favorite non-abrasive scouring powder. The active ingredient is oxalic acid; it is very effective and safe for food contact surfaces. Get the broiler pan wet and then sprinkle liberally with Bar Keepers Friend. Find something to do for a few minutes, you want to give the cleaner some time to work. Come back and scrub gently.  Finally rinse. If the burnt on crud is especially thick, you will probably have to repeat the process a couple of times, but it shouldn’t take much elbow grease at all.

Some people, including LG (which manufactures ovens) recommend using oven cleaner to clean broiler pans and grates. That’s up to you. I’m not a huge fan of this idea as it’s messy and there are fumes, making the whole process a pain in the rear.  Throw in making sure the kids are occupied elsewhere and I’m just not that invested in having a shiny broil pan.

If you get the majority of the burnt on food off of the broiler pan, but there are still stains, please don’t stress out about this. When broiling food, you’re not going to use the pan juices, there’s nothing to worry about. And really, if your friends judge you based on the state of your broiler pan and rack, you need new friends.

In the future you can add a small amount of water to the bottom of the broil pan to catch the fat rather than having it land on the empty pan and scorch. Just make sure you don’t put enough water in the pan to touch the grill.

Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

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Comments

  1. Bobbie Laughman says:

    Some folks line their broiler pans with heavy duty foil before each use. While that makes the pan cleanup much easier, it does nothing for the racks – but at least you’ve lessened the burnt-on mess you have to deal with.

  2. rainintorainbows says:

    Being a military family means we move a lot. Each time we move, I want to leave the broiler pan, racks, etc. as clean as possible for the next family, so we just get a heavy duty garbage bag (not a kitchen bag, but one of those thick lawn and leaf bags), put in the items, spray them liberally inside the bag, and leave them outside overnight. This has always worked for us, although we’ve had to do it two nights in a row sometimes.

    I’m not a huge fan of oven cleaner but in a case like this, it’s what we’ve found works best for us.

  3. KeterMagick says:

    Instead of aluminum foil, I wipe the pan heavily with olive oil and place baking parchment over the oil. Siliconized parchment takes heat surprisingly well, and at worst just browns a bit. The parchment catches the gloppy drips so they can’t bake on, and the oil prevents the juices and “polymerized fat” goo from sticking too much. Plus I can just throw away the paper – guilt would make me wash and reuse the foil. BTW, don’t substitute waxed paper for this; it will scorch and make a great stink and might catch on fire. Guess how I know this? ;o)

  4. HeatherSolos says:

    @KeterMagick I bet I can guess. What I really hate though is when I should learn from an experience but repeat it anyhow. I don’t want to think about how many times I’ve picked up a hot baking sheet with what I thought was a dry towel, only to discover it was damp about 2 seconds into the transfer. You’d think I’d learn to check the towel first. You’d be wrong.

    That is a really great suggestion with the parchment. Thanks!

  5. HeatherSolos says:

    @rainintorainbows I have no problem with it for a once in a while super deep clean, but it seems like a ton of hassle for regular use. Great suggestion and I’ve heard it works really well. :)

  6. arvinamy says:

    You know, I’m wondering if soaking the pan in a borax solution would take the grease off. The filters underneath my microwave that hangs above the stovetop were so caked with grease that even a long soaking in dish soap and water couldn’t help. I soaked them in borax and hot water for about 30 minutes and they were as good as new (almost)!

  7. HeatherSolos says:

    @arvinamy It certainly wouldn’t hurt to try.

  8. KeterMagick says:

    @HeatherSolos What I’ve noticed when I have a problem with making the same mistake repeatedly is that there is a bad process in place that is causing me to make the mistake. In this case, I would guess that if you hung a dedicated pair of hot mitts near the oven and made it your process to use only those hot mitts when removing items from the oven, the “mistakes” would stop. Even if you <b>did</b> use a towel, being out of process would help make you mindful of whether the towel was dry, and if you were wrong…it would reinforce your motivation to keep to your process! ;o)

    Now if I could remember to tape over the “warming” light on my rice cooker so it stops fooling me into thinking it’s cooking when it’s only warming.

  9. rainintorainbows says:

    @HeatherSolos I definitely wouldn’t use it all the time, I hate the fumes, but I feel it’s only fair to leave it clean for the next person.

  10. rainintorainbows says:

    @arvinamy Oh, that is a good idea! I will try the borax next time, since I use it for my laundry anyway. And as for that filter under the microwave, I take mine out pretty regularly and just toss it in the dishwasher. It really works well.

  11. arvinamy says:

    @rainintorainbows @arvinamy The dishwasher – hmm . . . I hadn’t thought of that. Thanks!

  12. rainintorainbows says:

    @arvinamy Welcs! I don’t usually wash it with other things like glasses or Tupperware, just because it tends to get so greasy. I don’t mind throwing it in with pots and pans. Usually, though, I wash it at the same time I wash all of the grates on the stove (we have gas).

  13. Here’s a tip, put some water (alot) in a deep pan with some tablespoons of baking soda. Let the pan stand in the oven (400 degrees on) and allow the water to boil for about half an hour. After that, alot of the grease can easily be wiped off. It wont fix all your dirt but it’s a lot healthier to use than a lot of the chemicals we buy today. Atleast it will keep you from overusing cleaners.

  14. susan49wray says:

    After scrubbing my broiler pan for an hour using alternating methods, I have come to a conclusion: Clean what comes off fairly easily, then don’t worry about it. Compare it to a cast iron skillet. The black coating is the seasoning. All it is is burnt-on grease! The more you burn the grease on, the more non-stick it gets. With a broiler pan, the blacker it gets, the better. Pretty soon it will be black all over and you will have a very nice, very non-stick surface! It’s all sanitary because it won’t come off in your food just like it won’t come off when you clean it.