Can I Cook on Aluminum Foil in the Broiler?

Grilled potatoes and onions
Broiled potatoes and onions in aluminum foil on the table. (Image: LeeAnnWhite/iStock/Getty Images)

Aluminum foil can be a handy way to contain the mess of broiling food, especially meat. Fat drippings that are caught by the foil can be easily thrown away without a lot of messy cleanup. Lining a broiler pan with aluminum foil is a common practice since the pan can be difficult to clean, but there are alternatives to using foil when you broil.

Understand Broiling

Broiling food means cooking it with the heat coming from the top, as opposed to baking, in which food cooks surrounded by hot air in the oven. The effect is similar to grilling that heats meat or vegetables from underneath. Broiling can be an effective way of cooking steaks, for example, because the high heat from above can char the outside of the steak while leaving the inside less well done. Most ovens also have a broiler setting for "high" or "low" heat. While a steak might be broiled on high because it doesn't need to cook as long, roasted potatoes might be broiled on low, to ensure they get browned on the outside and cooked sufficiently on the inside.

Using Foil

A broiler pan is usually a two-piece item with a bottom tray that may be an inch or two deep and a flat top with holes that allow grease or fat to escape. Your broiler may have a rack that’s similar to a grill, and the tray can be placed under the rack. Because hot grease could easily stain the broiler pan and make it impossible to clean, placing a sheet of aluminum foil along the bottom of the tray is recommended. If you have a solid top with slots to your broiler pan, you may also want to cover the top with foil and cut holes in the foil to match the slots in the broiler top. This allows the grease to escape and keeps your broiler cleaner.

Tips

Spray a little nonstick cooking spray on the broiler before placing the foil on it to help keep the foil from sticking. Fish can also be broiled, wrapped in foil. Fillets of tilapia, for example, can be seasoned to taste, wrapped in foil packets and placed on the broiler pan for 10 to 15 minutes. You can check the progress by peeling back on the foil periodically during cooking.

Aluminum Foil Pan

Rather than always putting down a sheet of aluminum foil on a sturdy broiler pan, you can also use a disposable aluminum foil pan. Foil pans can be purchased inexpensively at supermarkets and then used as a standard broiler pan; there's no messy scrubbing or cleanup. You can just throw away or recycle the aluminum foil pan when you're done. These pans also tend to come in a variety of sizes to match your cooking needs.

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