Why You Need To Be Cautious When Baking Cheese Under The Broiler

We've all been there. It's your first time using the broiler and you think you've got it handled. You set a timer, you walk away to do some dishes, and suddenly smell the scent of sure doom: smoke. Sure enough, by the time you've flung open the oven, it's too late. The top of whatever meal you were trying to make is black with char. And you think to yourself, how in the world could this have happened in just a few seconds?

Well, a broiler is a tool in your oven built to expose your food to high heat (via Wide Open Eats). This means that the broiler is great for browning purposes, like if you need to crisp up some chicken or toast a whole pan of bread for some bruschetta. But there are some things that you should try to never put under the broiler, and if you do, never take your eyes off of it.

Don't get burned

Don't be scared of the broiler — a lot of things are perfectly fine under the harsh heat and crisp up beautifully! But according to Eating Well, cheese is one of those foods you absolutely should be wary of. Whether you're looking to brown the top of your mac and cheese or crisp up your casserole, a golden layer of cheese sounds amazing, so you may turn the broiler on. But cheese burns quickly and easily due to tightening proteins, and responds better to low heat for a long period of time versus high heat for a short period of time (via Fine Cooking). 

If you have the option, put your oven on low broil and crack the door to let out some of the heat and to better keep an eye on your cheesy dish. CNET reports that it can take less than 30 seconds for your cheese to melt under a broiler, which is why it burns so quickly. You can also move your dish down to a lower level of the oven and farther away from the direct heat if you are seriously concerned about turning your cheese to ashes. Careful cooking, everyone!