The Best Oven Rack Position for Every Dish

Stop playing baking Tetris

You’ve mastered the art of baking cookies. But when there’s a turkey to roast, a pie to bake and veggies to broil all at the same time, using the oven becomes a bit trickier. Which rack height is the best for each dish? Here’s a handy guide.

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Top Rack

First, find out where your broiler is located. If you see a rod or coil on the “ceiling” of your oven, place food on the top rack to broil it. That means fishveggiesopen-faced tuna melts…anything you’d like to cook rapidly. Broiled food gets crispy and charred quickly, so keep a close eye on it and be ready to remove it from the oven in a matter of minutes.

If your broiler is located in a separate compartment under the regular oven, the top rack is a great spot to bake a second tray of cookies—just be sure to rotate the trays halfway through baking so they cook evenly.

pie oven rack
Salvador Burciaga/Getty Images

Middle Rack

Ahh, the area of your oven with the most even heat distribution. Use this as your default oven placement—it’s perfect for everything from turkey to cookies to lasagna.

But if you’re cooking a few items at once, always save the coveted middle rack for delicate items that have the potential to burn, like pies and pastries. Move more forgiving items, like casseroles, to the top and bottom, then rotate those dishes halfway through the cooking time to make sure they’re baking evenly.

Bottom Rack

The heat is the most intense at the bottom, so it’s a great place to put pizza and flatbread. You’ll get the same chewy, crispy crust you’d get using a wood-burning oven—especially if you use a pizza stone.

Want gooey melted cheese? Move the pizza to the broiler for the last 30 seconds of baking time.

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Freelance Editor

From 2015-2020 Lindsay Champion held the role of Food and Wellness Director. She continues to write for PureWow as a Freelance Editor.