Why Do We Leave the Oven Door Ajar While Broiling?

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

retro iconHeather says:

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 closely to a source of dry, intense heat. For many models, the best results are achieved with the door left ajar a couple of inches. In fact, most models have a stop that makes this easy.

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

These gas ovens are typically vented and designed to not shut off during broiling.

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 whole lot with the moisture factor, venting the door has the added benefit of allowing steam to escape.

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 just 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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  3. Jason Bartholme on March 25, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    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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  4. Diane on March 25, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    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.

    • HeatherSolos on March 25, 2010 at 5:41 pm

      Of course you should defer to your manual's instructions.

  5. david on March 25, 2010 at 12:37 am

    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.

  6. Phelps on March 24, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    Electric heat is better for removing moisture, because gas releases water vapor as it burns.
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    • HeatherSolos on March 24, 2010 at 9:35 pm

      I will correct the information, you are correct.

  7. Daniel Bates on March 24, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    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

  8. Tinkerschnitzel on March 17, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    I always left it open to watch the food. lol Mostly cinnamon toast. Yum.

  9. lifemultiplied on March 17, 2010 at 4:19 am

    Wow, I never knew this but it makes so much sense, thanks!

  10. Tina on March 17, 2010 at 4:09 am

    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. 🙂
    My recent post Saving a McMint

  11. Jackie on March 16, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    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.
    My recent post Garden Planning Preschool Style [Project]

  12. Alison on March 16, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    My son asked me this exact question last week, and I didn't know what to tell him. Thanks for the insight!

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