Only the top heating element on my oven works. When I want to bake something thicker than pizza, the surface of the food burns, while the rest of the food remains uncooked. I have tried using lower temperature settings, but I get the same results. While I could try turning the food upside down, and finishing the cooking this way, doing that could be problematic.

If I want to cook anything other than pizza in the oven, how could I ensure that the food cooks thoroughly without burning?

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    Hey, welcome to LHse! Quick theory question for you- If your car got a flat tire, would you fix it or would you go looking for a lifehack to enable you to drive round in a car that had only 3 working wheels? Of course you could try loading the car up with weight on the opposite corner to the flat in the hopes of taking some of the pressure off but honestly sometimes you should just fix something so it goes back to working properly rather than put more effort into looking for a less effective workaround
    – Caius Jard
    Commented Dec 8, 2018 at 5:28

5 Answers 5


What you have is called a "broiler" -- it's intended for searing the top of a dish (steak, perhaps, or a cheese layer, or a topping), not for cooking food through. As you note, anything thicker than a pizza will burn on the top before the middle is cooked, and never mind the bottom. It's primarily a radiant cooker, as opposed to the main oven which functions by heating a space and letting the heat "soak into" the food.

There isn't a good way to cook food through with a top radiant heat source like a broiler -- the only thing I can think of would be to preheat something like a pizza stone (circular terra cotta tile the size of a large pizza pan) and put the food on it, but that will only work for shorter cook times; the stone won't stay hot under the food because nothing is adding heat from the bottom.

The lower heating element in ovens (as opposed to toaster ovens, the counter top version) is a replaceable part. Unless the failure is due to a bad control, it's a pretty simple matter to pull out the dead element and replace it with a new one, and they're easily ordered on the Internet (find the data plate on the range to have the exact model number, to be sure of getting the correct part).


Try covering the food with baking foil. It should even the heat applied to the food.



Make an assessment as to whether your oven will work upside down - if it's not overly mechanically complex (they usually aren't) then inverting it might improve its chances of forming a through-heated space

There's also a chance it uses the same element for top and bottom - see if you can move the top element to the bottom

  • Rotating your appliance can be very dangerous!
    – Mooseman
    Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 13:59

The user who suggested “There’s also a chance it uses the same element for top and bottom - see if you can move the top element to the bottom” (Caius Jard) is correct.

Years ago we had a gas stove/oven and our lower element for regular baking/roasting went out. My husband switched the elements until we could order the new element. It worked well and when the part came in, he installed the new part as the lower element and put the broiler element back where it belonged as we hardly ever used it - maybe once per month - so we wanted the new element to do the everyday work of baking/roasting, etc.

Check out his idea by checking your user manual. You should be able to tell from that if both elements are the same. If you lost your manual, get your model number and make from the oven area and google for the manual online. I do that when I get a new appliance so I always have an electronic backup copy I can refer to or print a page out of.


In the short term, OP could try placing something BETWEEN the top heating element and his food. Perhaps place the food on a bottom rack and a cookie sheet or pizza stone on the top rack. This would greatly reduce the radiant heat on the top of the food and perhaps the food will cook thoroughly before scorching.

WARNING: The object placed between the heating element and the food will get HOT! A steel cookie sheet might warp or a ceramic plate might crack.

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