Are You Positioning Your Oven Rack Correctly?

Recently I was making a new chocolate chip cookie recipe, and it stated to bake your cookies on the center rack. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that when reading this, I realized I had never paid attention to the position of my racks! This seems like such a rookie mistake, but I know I’m not the only one that has ignored the position of the oven racks!

The tricky thing is that many recipes don’t specifically mention which rack to use. So how do you know how to position your oven racks, and which one to use?

Let’s start with the science of it!

Ovens (typically) give off heat from 2 different sources- the bottom and the top. When you turn on the oven, both sources turn on to help the oven reach the desired heat. However, once the oven has hit the right temperature, the top turns off, and the bottom heat source is the one responsible for keeping the oven at the correct temperature, turning off and on to help keep things regulated.

Knowing and utilizing this tiny piece of knowledge can be such a game-changer with your baking! You can move the racks around and play around with different rack positions depending on the results you’re after.

If you want to bake something and ensure a more crispy bottom, such as pizza, artisan bread or pie crusts, the bottom rack is definitely the way to go. If you’re wanting things to get crispier on the top, such as a breaded casserole or garlic bread, then the top rack would be better. If you want things to be cooked evenly, the center rack is your best bet. You’ll be getting even heat from the top and the bottom. This is ideal for many baked goodies, like cookies!

You can always experiment with different racks and see which one yields the best results for specific recipes, but when in doubt, the center rack is the safest way to go.

But there are no rules that say you have to even stick with one position for the whole bake time! Maybe you start your pie on the bottom rack to ensure a crispy crust, but then move it to the middle halfway through for even cooking. Maybe your pizza starts on the bottom rack, but you move it to the top rack for the finishing broiled touch (broiled cheese on pizza is amazing!). You can have so much fun experimenting!

I think my biggest takeaway from all this is that your oven is just another kitchen tool that is not only functional, but with the right knowledge, can also take your baking to the next level! Knowledge is power!

Do you switch up which rack you use when baking? Have you ever moved dishes around during baking time? I’d love to hear your baking experiences?


    Camille Hoffmann
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
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