why do some recipes tell you to use the top third of the oven, and how much of a difference does it really make?

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why do some recipes tell you to use the top third of the oven, and how much of a difference does it really make?

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28 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Heat rises. The upper third of the oven is going to be slightly hotter than the lower thirds. There are certain recipes where the additional heat is desired for ensuring that we get the desired texture for what you are cooking. In general, not doing so isn’t going to ruin the dish entirely, but it might not come out exactly as crispy as the person writing the recipe hoped for.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Heat variations. Lower part is hottest and will bake faster, whereas the top section is more of an even heating (unless you’re broiling) elements are located at the bottom for baking. Top for broiling.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Heat rises. The upper third of the oven is going to be slightly hotter than the lower thirds. There are certain recipes where the additional heat is desired for ensuring that we get the desired texture for what you are cooking. In general, not doing so isn’t going to ruin the dish entirely, but it might not come out exactly as crispy as the person writing the recipe hoped for.

Anonymous 0 Comments

On this note, why do different ovens take different times to cook things when set to the exact same settings? I’ve rented in a ton of places, ovens ranging from new in some places, to 10 years old. Some take vastly different times to cook things, one was even 2x longer and that one was only 2 years old!

Why does this happen and how do I then follow a recipe if I don’t know the desired outcome?

Anonymous 0 Comments

Heat variations. Lower part is hottest and will bake faster, whereas the top section is more of an even heating (unless you’re broiling) elements are located at the bottom for baking. Top for broiling.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Your oven mainly uses the bottom heating element. The top is the broiler and only comes on when set to broil

The bottom of the oven will have cooler air on average but will also be exposed to direct heat from the heating element so you’ll cook the bottom faster than the top. You can burn the bottom, barely cook the top, and leave the middle raw on thick things

The top of the oven will have hotter air but is protected from the heating element. This gives you the predictable cooking of just hot air and not needing to adjust for the cycling of the heating element and it’s power

Anonymous 0 Comments

On this note, why do different ovens take different times to cook things when set to the exact same settings? I’ve rented in a ton of places, ovens ranging from new in some places, to 10 years old. Some take vastly different times to cook things, one was even 2x longer and that one was only 2 years old!

Why does this happen and how do I then follow a recipe if I don’t know the desired outcome?

Anonymous 0 Comments

Your oven mainly uses the bottom heating element. The top is the broiler and only comes on when set to broil

The bottom of the oven will have cooler air on average but will also be exposed to direct heat from the heating element so you’ll cook the bottom faster than the top. You can burn the bottom, barely cook the top, and leave the middle raw on thick things

The top of the oven will have hotter air but is protected from the heating element. This gives you the predictable cooking of just hot air and not needing to adjust for the cycling of the heating element and it’s power

Anonymous 0 Comments

No recipe writer can possibly know the type of oven you have and how the air temperature might be distributed inside. Is your oven 20 degrees hotter at the top? 40? Zero? The writer doesn’t know and very likely didn’t use the same oven as yours when coming up with the recipe.

So it’s not about temperature distribution. It’s just not.

What it IS about is the baked item and its final intended appearance and texture. If your item has a crispy top, it goes toward the top of the oven, where reflected heat from the metal ceiling will cause more browning and crisping–things like oven fries or breaded meats. Items that must NOT have a crispy top–like cheesecake–should be baked toward the bottom of the oven. The second most common cause of a cracked cheesecake, after baking too long, is baking too high. Cookies, pastries, and breads can migrate as needed but generally do best in the lower half.

Anonymous 0 Comments

No recipe writer can possibly know the type of oven you have and how the air temperature might be distributed inside. Is your oven 20 degrees hotter at the top? 40? Zero? The writer doesn’t know and very likely didn’t use the same oven as yours when coming up with the recipe.

So it’s not about temperature distribution. It’s just not.

What it IS about is the baked item and its final intended appearance and texture. If your item has a crispy top, it goes toward the top of the oven, where reflected heat from the metal ceiling will cause more browning and crisping–things like oven fries or breaded meats. Items that must NOT have a crispy top–like cheesecake–should be baked toward the bottom of the oven. The second most common cause of a cracked cheesecake, after baking too long, is baking too high. Cookies, pastries, and breads can migrate as needed but generally do best in the lower half.