While convection cooking is hardly new, many of us still wonder, “What is a convection oven and how does it cook food?” Convection ovens differ from conventional ovens in that they circulate the hot air to cook food more evenly and quickly. We’ll help you determine when to use convection vs conventional oven settings, provide helpful user tips, and list the pros and cons of this practical cooking feature.
Comparing and Contrasting a Convection vs Conventional Oven
Though faster, even cooking certainly has its advantages, not every food is suited to this setting. We’ll also specify what cooks best in a convection vs conventional oven so you know when to maximize its capabilities. But first, answering how does a convection oven work can help clarify when to use it.
How Do Convection Ovens Work?
Unlike a conventional oven that simply heats the air inside, a convection oven uses a fan to circulate the heated air. This moving air creates extra energy that cooks food faster. A convection oven vs standard oven can also cook food more evenly, as circulating air evens out any hot spots that occur in conventional oven cooking. Lastly, a convection oven’s exhaust system removes much of the humidity in the heated air, promoting exterior browning and crisping.
How to Use a Convection Oven
Since most recipes are calculated according to standard ovens, using convection vs conventional oven settings requires some adjusting.
These are some useful tips to keep in mind when cooking on a convection setting:
- Shorten convection oven cooking time: since convection ovens cook faster, you may need to lessen cook times by as much as 25% to avoid overcooking foods.
- Lower the temperature: instead of shortening the cooking time, you can lower the recommended temperature by 25°.
- Ensure sufficient air circulation: to enable the circulated air to reach food, use cookware with low sides, and make sure oven racks remain uncovered.
What are the Pros and Cons of a Convection Oven?
Are convection ovens better than regular ovens? While they have their benefits, convection cooking also has some drawbacks. Here are some of the pros and cons of convection vs conventional oven settings:
- Faster cooking times
- More even cooking
- Foods have a deeper exterior browning while remaining moist inside
- You can cook more than one dish at a time without lowering the oven’s temperature or affecting cooking times
- Recipes require adjusting
- Doughs don’t rise as well
- Additional parts like fan and exhaust system may require more frequent repairs
When Should You Not Use a Convection Oven vs Conventional Oven?
Some foods are cooked better on a convection setting, while others benefit from conventional cooking. For example, using a convection oven for baking works for some items, but others can actually be hampered by its circulating air.
These foods benefit from convection cooking:
- Larger roasted meats like whole turkey, chicken, and beef roasts
- Flaky pastries such as pies and croissants
- Roasted vegetables
Cook these foods in a conventional oven for best results:
- Smaller pieces of meat or fish, such as filets or chicken parts
- Breads and quickbreads