This Is The Best Way To Position The Racks In Your Oven, According To Ina Garten

Whether you're baking a cake for a friend's birthday or roasting a whole chicken for Sunday night dinner, your oven is one of the key parts of the cooking process. There are a lot of things that whatever recipe you're following will tell you about your oven, from the temperature you need to preheat it to how long your dish should stay inside to whether you should use the bake setting vs. the broil one. But what the recipe won't tell you? Where to position the racks inside your oven.

It may seem trivial, but it can actually have a significant impact on your final dish. Should you space out the racks or remove all but one? Should you place your dish on the top, middle, or bottom rack? So. Many. Questions. Fortunately, Ina Garten has a few thoughts — and tips — on the matter. Here's how the Food Network chef suggests arranging your oven racks.

Place the racks so your food is in the middle of the oven

If you've ever wondered about the proper positioning of your oven racks, you aren't alone. A home cook on the television personality's website asked the "Barefoot Contessa" where the best place to put your racks is. Her response? It depends on what you're cooking — you just want to make sure that your food is in the center of the oven, so adjust your racks accordingly. 

"I generally bake or roast everything exactly in the middle of the oven, unless I'm using two sheet pans, in which case I'll space them evenly," Garten explained. "However, If I'm doing a large roast, I want the roast in the middle, not the pan in the middle, so I'll adjust the rack accordingly." Most cooking experts agree that the middle of the oven is your best bet. However, if you want to brown the top of something (like a casserole), put it on the top rack. Likewise, if you want to brown the bottom of something (like a pizza crust), put it on the bottom rack. Easy-peasy.