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Healthy Cooking Techniques: Should You Bake or Broil?

Posted by Bryan Potok, CPO on

Compared to other cooking techniques, both baking and broiling are considered to be healthier. Both methods employ the dry heat of an oven, but each yields different results. Specific types of foods also taste better by using either technique.

 Baking and broiling are both considered healthy cooking methods.

In this article, we look into the differences between baking and broiling. We also answer the question of whether you should bake or broil your food.

Differences between baking and broiling

Baking cooks food indirectly by surrounding the food with hot air. Foods are baked on the middle rack of the oven, and temperatures run up to 375°F. This slowly cooks the inside of the food without burning its surface.  

Meanwhile, broiling cooks solid food using direct oven heat. The food is placed close to the broiler. Depending on your oven, this can be either on the top or bottom rack. Temperatures run hotter when broiling, going up to around 550°F.

Because broiling uses direct heat, it sears the surface of the food and works best for thinly sliced foods. Other times, both techniques complement each other. Most cooks broil to add texture to the surface of foods that have already been cooked through another method like baking. 

Health benefits of baking and broiling

While both baking and broiling are considered to be healthy cooking methods, there are still some differences between both.

Baking is great for minimizing the loss of nutrients during cooking. Compared to frying, foods lose only minimal nutrients when baked. Furthermore, baking retains the integrity of specific vitamins and minerals better compared to other cooking methods.

Perhaps the best reason for using both cooking methods is that they don’t require oil, which reduces the total fat content of the food. Because oil isn’t used, baking and broiling mitigate the formation of aldehydes, which are toxic substances that form when oil is heated at high temperatures. These toxic substances may increase the risk of cancer as well as other diseases.

Although broiling limits the formation of aldehydes, it may pave the way for carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs form when fat from foods touches a hot surface. To avoid this, make sure to cut excess fat from meats before broiling. Avoiding oil-based marinades is also an excellent way to limit the development of PAHs.

Should you bake or broil?

Both methods work best with naturally moist foods. But it’s also important to note that some foods taste better when baked and others when broiled.

Baked goods like cakes, bread, and cookies are best when baked because the cooking method allows the interior of the food to solidify while the exterior slowly browns. However, baking is not limited to creating pastries; it’s also great for cooking one-pot meals, such as stuffed vegetables, lasagna, and casseroles.

Meanwhile, broiling is a convenient alternative to grilling. It cooks food quickly. It can also be used to char and caramelize, which provides a distinct flavor and texture. Broiling works best on thin cuts of meat like turkey breasts and lamb chops. It also works for fish fillets, seafood, tender fruit like peaches and bananas, and some vegetables like pepper strips and tomato halves.

It’s also important to remember that broiling certain foods may create a significant amount of smoke. To prevent this, trim excess fat before broiling.

The takeaway

Both baking and broiling are considered to be healthy cooking methods. Both require only small amounts of added fats and minimize the formation of toxic substances. But as for the question of whether to bake or broil, that can be answered with what type of food you’re going to cook.    

What about you? Which healthy cooking method do you prefer: baking or broiling? Please share your thoughts with us and leave a comment below.
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