Using the right oven rack can make all the difference between a crispy pizza crust, evenly reheated leftovers, or perfectly baked cookies. Even though choosing the middle rack is usually a safe bet, there are situations where you will get better results if you use the top or bottom rack.
Why does oven rack position matter?
Using the middle rack of a convection oven means your food will be primarily cooked with indirect heat. This gentle cooking method prevents food from getting dry or tough. On the other hand, placing food on the top or bottom rack exposes it to direct heat and results in a broiling effect.
Which oven rack is best for different foods?
So, which oven rack is best for each type of food? Here is a breakdown of which rack you will want to use based on what you are cooking.
The top rack is best for:
● Foods where crispness is important, like casseroles or gratins.
● Foods that can bake quickly, like cookies.
● Thin foods that you want to broil, like shish kabobs.
The center rack is your best option if you are not sure which rack to use. Placing your food in the center of the oven will help ensure it is getting exposed to an even amount of heat. Here is what you can use it for:
● Meats that require longer cooking time and an even temperature.
● Larger pieces of meat that you want to broil or roast.
● Most cakes and desserts.
● Foods that dry easily when too close to a heat source, like fish.
● Leftovers that need to reheat slowly and evenly.
There are a few instances where you should use the bottom rack:
● If you want to brown the bottom of a dish, like a pie or pizza.
● If you need to bake food that will rise or need more space, like bread or a large casserole.
Signs you need to use a different oven rack
If you notice that your food looks too brown or has a burnt taste, you might need to use a different oven rack that is further away from the heat source. A lack of crispness is another sign that you used the wrong rack. You should also try a different rack if food bubbles or spills due to excessive heat.
How close to the heating elements should your food be?
You can broil food or get it crispy by placing it three to four inches away from the heating element. You will get the same effect four to five inches away from the heat if you are cooking a thicker piece of meat.
Keep delicate foods like fruits, veggies, or fish six to eight inches away from the heating elements.
How long should you cook food for?
Here are a few tips to help you get the timing right:
● Beef should cook at 325°F for 20 to 30 minutes per pound.
● Poultry and pork should cook for at least 20 minutes per pound at 350°F.
● You can bake cakes at 325°F to 350°F for 3 to 55 minutes depending on the size and depth of the pan.
● Cookies should bake for 10 minutes at 350°F on the top rack.
● It is best to bake casseroles for 40 to 50 minutes at 350°F.
● You can reheat leftovers for 30 minutes at 350°F.
● Try roasting fruits or veggies for 30 to 50 minutes at 400°F.
● 20 minutes at 480°F is perfect for pizza.
If you are having issues with your food cooking properly, it may be time to consider purchasing a new oven or range.
Modern ovens and ranges make it easier to bake or broil food with smart temperature controls and keep warm settings. Convection ovens include additional fans to distribute the hot air evenly throughout the oven to provide a more evenly cooked meal. Many models also have self-cleaning cycles that eliminate greasy buildups that impact performance.
If you are thinking about upgrading your old appliance, take a look at the ovens available at Queen City Audio Video & Appliances. Visit one of our showrooms today.