Does anyone have any tips to browning large quantities of food that will take too long to do in batches in a frying pan? For example meatballs, which I will brown before putting in the oven with a tomato sauce. Can I use the grill or oven? What temperature would you set it at?

2 Answers 2


Grill, oven, or broiler can all work. Specific temperatures for the oven are not necessary, because ovens vary wildly and are rarely that precise. You can just think in terms of low (200 - 300F/93 - 149C), medium (300 - 400F/149C- 204C) and High (above 400F/204C). For the grill or broiler, you simply have to keep an eye no things and turn regularly so as not to burn. For browning in the oven, I think in terms of high heat...so I might set my oven at 475F/246C. Place items on a sheet pan...again, keeping an eye on things and turning as necessary. I would suggest you have the largest risk of overcooking with the oven method, as the other methods will likely brown faster. (BTW, meatballs can also be poached in sauce without browning).

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    Agreed on browning in the oven. I’d also recommend high heat ‘til almost browned, then rotating them. If you’re doing two sheet pans at a time, I’d start them up high to brown the top, then move them lower and start the second pan up top again. You can put them on a wire rack in the pan if you don’t want them to poach in their own juices, but be sure to give them a bit of space in between so they don’t steam each other. If you have a convection oven, turn the fan on. You can also broil them (top heat only), but be careful you don’t brown them too much.
    – Joe
    Mar 27, 2023 at 14:47

Browning comes from cooking at a high temperature. The problem with overcrowding a pan is that water/liquids will come out of whatever you're cooking, and water is super-effective at taking heat away. You're pretty much capped at 100ºC until the water's gone, giving you a boiled effect, instead of the nice fried browning.

With that understanding, here's some options:

  • Bigger surface area, e.g. bigger pan or switch to an oven tray
  • Bigger heat source (think chinese noodle shops where they use jet engines)
  • Less contents, i.e. batch cooking
  • Less moisture—this is a big one. For meat, patting it dry with a paper towel can make a big difference. For anything that will end up wet (e.g. cooked in a sauce), don't add any wet ingredients until the browning has occured.
  • Oil—another big one. Oil gets super hot, then (as it's liquid) gets all up in every crevice of the food. Water gets steamed away very quickly, leaving a browning that is not just where the pan touches the food, but where the oil touches the food. Much more thorough, and the extreme example is deep-frying, where the entire outside gets that delicious browning.

For large quantity meatballs, I would personally try deep frying or (preheated to very hot) oven

  • A griddle or low sided pan also helps, as the moist air won’t be held near the food. Well, not for deep frying; you want high sides for that
    – Joe
    Mar 28, 2023 at 0:19

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