Oven Rack Locations

Do you ever wonder where you should be locating food you’re preparing to bake on the racks of your oven?
There are a couple rules of thumb that can help you if your recipe doesn't specify oven rack position.
For most baking, positioning the food in the center of the oven is best.  But when I place a cookie sheet in the center of the oven, it is at the center; when I put a Bundt cake in the oven, I move the rack one notch lower, because the cake is high, and I want the center of it in the middle.  The same with loaves of bread.
If you need the top of your food to brown, like a casserole with a crumb topping, because heat rises, it is hotter nearer the top of the oven.
If you need the bottom of your food to brown, pizza comes to mind, use a bottom rack location.  Many frozen pizzas tell you this on the box.  I generally place pies nearer the bottom also, because I want the bottom to brown quickly, so it’s not soggy.  I can always slip it on the top rack a few minutes to get the top crust browner if necessary.
If you bake on two racks at a time (something I avoid when I can); you may want to trade cookie sheets halfway through the time so they brown well on both the top and bottom.  Cakes, which are more fragile, shouldn't be traded until they are almost done, or you risk having the cake layers fall.  
If you have an older oven with a less-tight door seal, you may want to turn cookie sheets or bread pans around front to back the last few minutes.  Meats, vegetables and casserole dishes are less sensitive to location, and can be doubled up on 2 racks better than baked goods.
When you purchase a new oven, remember that more rack positions are a desirable feature.


  1. What good reminders today... thank you!

  2. Thanks for this post! I always have to look up which rack to use for what because I don't do much baking. Happy weekend!

  3. I have to say that I never move my racks, unless I am making a turkey and I need to move it in order for the turkey to fit in the oven. Great tips!


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