What Is a Convection Oven? Are They Better Than Conventional Ovens?
You used to find convection ovens only in professional kitchens, but now they're gaining popularity as a home appliance. So... what exactly is a convection oven?
If you’ve ever peeked inside an oven and noticed a fan whirring in the back, you’re looking at a convection oven. That fan is its secret to success. The fan circulates heat throughout the oven, evenly cooking whatever’s inside— very similar to the technology that is used in an air fryer.
We love convection ovens because they cook a tender pot roast to perfection and bake cookies baked with a golden brown finish. Plus, convection cooking is known for reduced cooking time and improved energy efficiency.
Convection Ovens vs. Conventional Ovens
A conventional oven uses a single heating element, usually located on the top or the bottom of the oven. It can result in hot and cold spots within the oven. As Whirlpool’s Institute of Home Science explains, “In a traditional oven, the rack closest to the heat source would have the highest temperature, with the rack furthest away having the lowest.” You can see why it’s all about the fan when it comes to convection ovens! The fan blowing hot air around each rack ensures a consistent temperature throughout the whole oven, cooking food more evenly.
When to Use the Convection Setting
The circulation of warm air in convection baking results in evenly browned surfaces—think poultry skin, pork roast and double-crust fruit pies. It’s great for roasted vegetables, roasted meats, and of course, cookies. Air circulation also means that two pans of cookies baking at the same time on the upper and lower oven racks will bake evenly without having to rotate the pans. Just don’t overcrowd the ovens, as the air needs room to circulate.
When Not to Use the Convection Setting
You’ll want to skip the convection setting with certain recipes, though. Let your chewy cookies, cheesecakes and custards traditional bake. These dishes will have unwelcome browning and dryness if baked in a convection oven.
Tips for Successful Convection Cooking
So now that you know the benefits of cooking with a convection oven—are there any other tricks to the method? Of course! We have a few tips for convection success:
- Bakes one or two test cookies before tackling the whole batch. You want to be able to adjust the baking time and temperature for the best results.
- Reduce your oven temperature by 25° F. Your oven may automatically reduce the temp by 25° F when a convection bake is selected. To find out if your oven does this, consult the manual. You don’t want to find out the hard way that you reduced the temp unnecessarily and now your cookies are underbaked and overspread!
- Check your food 10 to 15 minutes earlier than the recipe suggests.
- The most important element is air circulation. So allow a couple of inches above and below each item you’re cooking.
- Use dishes with low sides (like cookie sheets) for optimal airflow.