When it comes to efficiency, baking two things at once is the perfect solution to getting dinner on the table when everyone is hungry. While most ovens can handle more than one item at a time, there are some general guidelines to follow when using this time-saving cooking method.
Yes, you can cook two things in the oven at the same time. Just make sure to pay attention to temperature and cooking times for both items.
Baking Two Things at Once
If you've ever hosted a holiday meal or prepped two dishes that both need oven time, then you know how nice it is to be able to put multiple pans in oven. While this method is really convenient, it does require a basic understanding of the effect and results that you want to achieve for each dish.
The first thing to consider when baking two things at once is the temperature. Since both items need to be in the oven at the same temperature, you'll want to choose foods that have similar temperature requirements. For example, baking two cakes at once. "When you're baking something like a cake, the temperature needs to be consistent," explains Tracy Wilk, lead chef and recipe editor at the Institute of Culinary Education.
However, you can modify the temperature on one item to accommodate multiple pans in the oven, as long as you stick to certain foods that simply need to be heated through. When cooking two things at different temperatures, try to stick to non-baked goods such as meat or steak and poultry since you can leave these items in the oven until they meet the safe internal temperature for serving.
In other words, if you have a poultry dish that needs to reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, it might have a different cooking temperature recommendation than a ground beef casserole that needs to hit 160 degrees F before it is safe to eat, according to the safe minimum internal temperature chart from the USDA. In this case, you can cook both items in the oven at the same temperature until they each reach their safe serving temperature.
Read more: How to Cook Steak on a Baking Sheet
Time and Taste Considerations
You also need to pay attention to the recommended baking time, especially with baked goods. Because unlike meat and other food that can stay in the oven until they are done, baked goods like cakes and pies will be a colossal failure if they spend too much time in the heat.
The easiest way to tackle the time issue, as long as the temperature is consistent, says Wilk, is to start with the item that needs to stay in the oven the longest. This should go in first, followed by the second dish that needs less time to cook or bake. Make sure to preheat the oven and wait for it to be ready before putting the first item in.
When baking two cakes at once or two pies, Wilk recommends rotating the items. "If the top of your oven cooks faster than the bottom, make sure to rotate the items or turn the pans, then move them from top to bottom at the halfway point."
If possible, try to avoid pairing up a dish that has a strong flavor with an item that does not. For instance, don't put a piece of meat covered in garlic in the oven with a sweet-smelling apple pie. Try to pair items that have similar ingredients and aromas, such as two apple pies or a steak with twice-baked potatoes.
Food Safety Tips
If you're cooking anything in an oven that has raw ingredients that could potentially cause a foodborne illness, it's essential that you follow the safe minimum temperature guidelines. A foodborne illness can cause symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach cramps that can turn deadly if not treated right away, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
For raw or uncooked beef, poultry, veal, ham and lamb, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says the minimum internal temperature needs to be 145 degrees F with a three minute rest time before it is safe to serve. If you're cooking poultry, the temperature needs to hit 165 degrees F to ensure safety.
Ground meat needs to reach 160 degrees F before eating and fin fish like salmon and halibut should reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees F before serving. Always use a cooking thermometer to test the internal temperature.
Adhering to the minimum temperature guidelines can help you avoid a foodborne illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most raw poultry contains campylobacter and other bacteria such as salmonella and Clostridium perfringens. Additionally, raw meat can have salmonella, E. coli, yersinia, and other bacteria that can make you very sick.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Most Common Foodborne Pathogens"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Foods That Can Cause Food Poisoning"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "Safe Food Handling"
- Institute of Culinary Education: "Tracy Wilk, Lead Chef and Recipe Editor, Personal Interview"
- USDA: "Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Chart"