Cooling racks can be used in the oven if they are made out of the right materials. A strong stainless steel rack would easily cope with the temperatures in an oven and can be used to cook a wide variety of different foods.
As the name suggests, cooling racks are perfect for letting food cool down such as cookies after baking. What a lot of people don’t know is that they can be used for a lot more than that, including oven cooking.
Whether you should use your cooling rack in the oven or not depends on a few factors. There are a lot of cooling racks available today, but often, they’re coated with a thin layer of chrome. These are the cheaper types of racks so they usually have lower quality.
If you use these, expect the coating to chip off easily. When that happens, these chips will likely end up in the food you’re preparing. Once the coating wears off, the iron bars of your cooling rack will be exposed to air and water. And you know what that means, rust.
This is why it’s important to use the right rack if you want to use one in an oven. Here we’ll take a closer look at if you can use cooling racks in the oven as well as giving you other bits of important info. Let’s get started.
Should I Use a Cooling Rack for Oven Cooking?
If you love cooking in the kitchen then it’s always good to know how you can make the most out of all your pots, pans, and tools. That included cooling racks which can be incredibly versatile.
Whatever type of cooking you love, a cooling rack can probably help. You can use them for baking, smoking, grilling, and much more.
If you’re using a cooling rack in the oven, make sure that they’re oven-safe and made from high-quality stainless steel
As long as you follow that rule, then cooling racks are brilliant for oven cooking. Don’t be afraid to use one in your next kitchen creation.
Why Use the Cooling Rack for Cooking?
Now you know that cooling racks can be used in the oven. With that, here are some reasons why these should be used for cooking.
To smoke fish or meat
It’s great for smoking fish or meat since the cooling rack can provide proper air circulation. You don’t need a pan since the rack can do the job on its own.
Simply place your BBQ, steak, or salmon directly on the rack in a smoker and you’re all set!
The cooling rack is also great for dehydrating a variety of fruits and vegetables. It helps diffuse heat while simultaneously preventing scorching. This is done by keeping food away from the bottom of your pan.
If you decide to roast some juicy chicken thighs or steak for the family, follow these steps. Place your vegetables or beans under the cooling rack to soak up all the meat juices dripping while you’re cooking.
Remember that cooling racks aren’t as tall as your regular roasting racks. That means, these usually sit less than an inch above a pan. So when you place greens, beans, or sliced eggplants and zucchini underneath, you’ll also get tasteful veggies with your meat.
To make your baked foods crispier
Want some delectable tempura, baked buttermilk chicken, or other oven-baked fried treats? These are hard to resist, but most of the time, they aren’t crispy and crunchy enough.
Luckily, air cooling racks can significantly help and up the crunch factor in this situation.
The rack will help elevate your food so all the moisture from heat will be released. This will prevent soggy food and instead, give them the crispiness and crunch they deserve.
For oil-less cooking
We can’t deny that a lot of us oil and butter our food when cooking inside the oven. The thing is, we also can’t deny that greasy food is unhealthy too.
A cooling rack can help cut down on oil fat by again, letting adequate airflow and circulate. The rack helps you cook food evenly even without oil, making your food crispy while still being healthy.
For grilling meat
Instead of using roasting racks or grills, you can grill little pieces of meat on a cooling rack. These will give you the same results to get delicious and juicy meat.
Cooling racks have thick wired grids that are properly welded. With these, your meat won’t fall out which is all thanks to the rack’s crisscross design.
If you’re using a gas oven, set the cooling rack on the bottom area. Then if you’re using an electric oven, keep the rack on the top portion close to the heating element.
For roasting vegetables
These are also great for roasting vegetables since the rack’s thick grid helps in the cooking process. And because it offers good air circulation, vegetables won’t turn limp and soggy.
Best Material for Cooling Racks
Since you can use your cooling rack in the oven, the best one to get is a stainless steel rack. It’s an ideal material for oven use, and we suggest that you find one that uses a higher grade of stainless steel.
Getting one with this material will prevent you from worrying about flaking-off coatings and unnecessary rusting on your food. It’s also very safe when you use it in the oven and it can withstand up to 575-degrees Fahrenheit.
You can use these types of cooling racks for baking, smoking, roasting, grilling, and even for BBQs. You can do this because of the cooling rack’s high heat tolerance combined with its pure stainless steel build.
Aside from stainless steel, the cooling rack should have oven-safe labels on them. Plus, we suggest that you avoid using cooling racks that have non-stick coatings.
You may think it’s weird for us to suggest that. However, a non-stick polytetrafluoroethylene coating can easily break down and warp. This happens especially when exposed to the oven’s high heat.
Another thing that’s great about stainless steel cooling racks is that with proper care, you can use them for years.
Where to Position the Cooling Rack in Your Oven
Once you’ve chosen and purchased the right cooling rack, knowing where to position it in your oven is important. This can largely depend on the results you’re looking for.
When you set the cooling rack on the highest shelf inside your oven, the results will be excellent browning. This happens because when temperatures increase, the bottom heat element automatically shuts off while the element on top stays on.
Because of the consistent exposure to the right amount of heat, browning will naturally take place.
If you’re using a small oven, the perfect area to position your rack for even cooking is in the middle. When you set your cooling rack here, it acquires direct heat from both the lower and upper heat elements.
We highly recommend the middle area when baking your meals and goodies.
When it comes to the bottom area, this is the best place to position your rack for pizza and bread.
Quick Tips to Remember
Keep in mind that browning requires very little time on the bottom rack when using a gas oven. This is compared to when you’re using an electric oven.
If you’re planning to cook in bulk, you can set two cooling racks and two sheet pans inside the oven. Position one of the racks at the top-most portion inside the oven while the other should just be below it.
Halfway into your cooking session, make sure to swap these two positions.
If you need to do some extra browning, make sure to complete your cooking process first. Once done, remove the sheet pan then set it closer to the top heating element in your electric oven.
Then for a gas oven, position the rack at the bottom just above its open flame.
What to Avoid When Choosing a Cooling Rack
Again, we don’t suggest purchasing those cheap-quality cooling racks because of the chrome coating. When they chip off and get into your food, the whole time you spent preparing food would go to waste.
It’s also best to avoid cooling racks that have non-stick coatings containing Teflon or PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene). This compound wraps and melts under intense oven heat, which can make you sick if ingested.
While it’s always tempting to buy cheaper, you need to remember that old adage of ‘ buy cheap, buy twice’. If you bought a low-quality rack then it would likely soon need replacing, compared to a high-quality model which may last for years.
FAQs on Can You Use Cooling Racks In The Oven
Are cooling racks and baking racks one thing?
These are two different things. Cooling racks are for cooling your bakes, while a baking rack is for holding pastries when baking. When it comes to some cooling racks, these can be used for baking. However, you need to make sure they’re made of suitable materials.
Can cooling racks work as an alternative for a baking rack?
Yes, as long as they aren’t non-stick and their materials can withstand high temperatures. So before stacking one in your oven, make sure it’s a quality cooling rack.
How would I know if the cooling rack is oven-safe?
Not all cooling racks are made equally. If the cooling rack has a non-stick coating, it means it isn’t safe for oven use.