You’ve probably heard of a “convection” oven when cooking a roast chicken dish, reading a cookbook by a European chef, or simply warming up some frozen Trader Joe’s appetizers for a stay-at-home cocktail hour. You’ve probably heard that it cooks stuff quicker, and who doesn’t appreciate that? Or maybe your oven has a strange tiny fan button that you’ve never understood what to do with? Knowing when and how to use convection effectively may make or break many recipes, so we’ve compiled a list of dos and don’ts for convection cooking.
- How do convection ovens work?
- What are the benefits of convection ovens?
- What are the cons of a convection oven?
- What’s the difference between a convection oven and a regular oven?
- What you need to know before using a convection oven?
- Insider’s takeaway
How do convection ovens work?
A fan circulates heated air throughout the inside chamber of your oven in convection ovens. This implies that the oven is heated equally throughout, and an exhaust system is used to eliminate moisture from the interior of the oven. This implies that your food will not only be uniformly cooked in a convection oven, but it will also be crispy.
Many ovens now include convection settings that enable you to activate a fan and exhaust system to cook in this manner while still having the option of cooking in a conventional oven. Similarly, many convection ovens include an alternative fan mode, and if your cooking instructions indicate it, you may use the standard heating setting, which does not circulate hot air about your oven.
What are the benefits of convection ovens?
Purchasing a convection oven for your kitchen has several benefits. Three of the best are highlighted here.
When using a standard oven, the region surrounding the primary heating element is often warmer than the corners of the oven that are farther away.
With a convection oven, the fan circulates hot air over the whole oven, distributing heat evenly and increasing the likelihood of an evenly cooked dish. This method of cooking is also superior for baking cakes uniformly.
Reduced cooking times
Because food is continually fanned by hot air within a convection oven, rather than merely sitting in it, it cooks more quickly.
Consider the difference between sitting in front of a heater and a heating fan. While it may not be operating at a greater temperature, you will notice that the fan warms you up quickly due to the steady stream of hot air rather than simply the ambient heat that surrounds you.
Who doesn’t like homemade, nutritious fries? Whether you’re making a gooey pasta bake or a healthier alternative to deep-fried foods, a convection oven’s exhaust wicks moisture away from the interior of the oven. This helps your food to crisp up quickly, which is why a convection oven is often compared to an air fryer.
What are the cons of a convection oven?
While convection ovens are excellent, there are several disadvantages to purchasing them over a standard oven. Here are three reasons why it may not be appropriate for you.
They’re not suitable for some foods
The convection setting on an oven is excellent for generating crispy dishes, but since it eliminates moisture from the oven, it is not suited for all foods.
Baking bread is one example. Some people add a little water to the interior of their ovens while baking bread, so having a little moisture in your oven when producing a new loaf is normal. This will aid in the formation of a lovely crust without drying out the bread.
Cooking times can vary
Because food cooks quicker in a convection oven, it might cause recipes to fail. When cooking frozen food in a convection oven for 25 or 30 minutes, you may discover that it is scorched at this time. That means you’ll have to continuously checking on your meal while it’s cooking, which may need extra work on your side.
The temperature may need to be lowered
While some recipes call for an oven temperature of 300-400 degrees Fahrenheit, when using a convection oven, you must alter this to ensure that the outside of your dish does not burn while it cooks.
The typical recommendation is to reduce the temperature by roughly 30 degrees Fahrenheit, although this requires more work on your part when cooking.
What’s the difference between a convection oven and a regular oven?
A standard oven uses radiant heat, which is provided by an electric coil or flame at the bottom of the oven. Because heat naturally rises, many chefs notice certain areas of their oven where heat congregates, particularly at the top. These hot areas are inescapable, small purgatory zones prone to overcooking and scorching food. Certain cookie recipes, for example, require on rotating the top and bottom pans halfway through baking. With a few exceptions, the greatest area in a normal oven to obtain consistent results is smack dab in the center, a “Goldilocks Zone,” if you will, where the temperature isn’t too hot or too cold, which is how our very own chocolate chip cookies, published in The New York Times, are prepared.
While this method may be enough for a home baker with plenty of time, no business worth its salted caramel could survive manufacturing a sheet at a time, which is where the convection oven comes in. A convection oven, also known as a “fan-assist” or “fan oven,” has a fan that circulates air to prevent heat stratification in a standard oven, resulting in a bigger “Goldilocks Zone” where you can bake more cookies.
Convection technology has been present for more than a half-century, with William L. Maxson inventing the “Maxson Whirlwind Oven” during WWII, a fan-assisted portable oven that could heat six meals at once in half the time. The Navy Air Transport Service employed these small ovens to transport personnel and women across the Atlantic, and these aluminum “sky plates” were the great-grandparents of current TV dinners. While Maxson’s firm ceased operations after his death in 1947, the principles behind it were developed and introduced to the commercial market in the late 1960s. Home chefs jumped at the chance to reduce cooking time, and it has since become a standard function in many contemporary ovens.
Aside from levelling out the interior temperature, the flowing air increases the heat transfer rate to the food and wicks away moisture, much as how Santa Ana winds in Southern California dry off the slopes before brushfire season. As a consequence, roasted vegetables and choux pastry will have superior browning and crispier exteriors. The similar principle underpins air fryers, although with substantially lower wind speeds.
What you need to know before using a convection oven?
However, with high heating power comes a slew of additional restrictions and regulations. First and foremost, always check your recipe to determine what sort of oven, temperatures, and hours are given. Most recipes use standard oven temperature and timings and need the home chef to make the necessary changes.
As a general guideline, when cooking a normal dish in a convection oven, reduce the oven temperature by around 20 to 25°F (11 to 14°C), otherwise foods may over-brown on the outside before properly cooking through to the core. Also, since the increased heat transfer rate tends to cook items quicker, prepare to check for doneness sooner than usual. This might be as little as a minute early for a cookie recipe, or as much as 15 to 20 minutes earlier for dishes that need longer baking durations, such as roast chicken or homemade pie.
Using this normal temperature adjustment and testing for doneness sooner than planned can lead to success in most circumstances, but there are exceptions to everything, just as there are to spelling standards in the English language. Except when it comes to a convection oven, it’s for good cause!
There are a few additional important things to remember while cooking using convection:
Don’t block the fan
This may not need to be explained since the whole idea of convection ovens is based on air circulation, but it’s something we don’t usually consider when we’re in a rush. Don’t put a 25-pound turkey in a high-sided roaster and wonder why it’s dried to a crisp on one side and pale on the other. Make sure that large things are placed far enough away from the vent so air may easily circulate around them. Low-sided pans (hello, sheet pan suppers!) and other items that don’t restrict airflow will provide the greatest outcomes.
Secure your parchment paper or aluminum foil
Flimsy, lightweight things like parchment and foil may function like a boat sail, catching a gust of air and flapping about, disrupting what’s on your baking sheet or blowing over and baking into the top of your tray of brownies if using a parchment paper sling for easy removal from the pan. When using a sheet pan, consider using an oven-safe metal utensil to weigh down the end of the parchment closest to the fan, or, as Edd Kimber suggested, use binder clips to keep parchment slings in place.
Discern if your oven simply has a fan or is actually convection
Older convection ovens typically just have fans in the rear, however contemporary convection ovens include a heating coil that surrounds the fan, often known as third-element convection or European convection. This additional heating element guarantees that the air forced through the oven is warmed (akin to the difference between using a hair drier on low and high heat) and is the kind of convection where you’ll notice the most difference in your results. Not sure which kind you have? You could peep in (though Sylvia Plath fans, your oven should be turned off for this section), but the safest option is to reference your oven’s owner’s handbook since the coil may be visibly blocked by the design of the vents.
Ovens exist in a variety of sizes, brands, and heating methods, so not all recommendations will apply to all ovens. Some ovens feature various convection settings, such as Convection Roast or Convection Bake, in which the fan operates at greater or lower speeds. Some of the most recent ovens even include a function called “Convection Convert,” which allows you to enter the convectional temperature given in the recipe and the oven will automatically adapt for the difference. Keep in mind that if you utilize this mode after making your own manual temperature adjustment or utilizing a convection setting, your oven will not be hot enough to cook correctly. Furthermore, many ovens allow you to toggle your convection on and off during baking, so you might start without and end with the fan on, or vice versa. Try them out and see how they alter your cooking!
Many contemporary ovens now offer a convection oven option. The convection oven incorporates a fan to boost airflow and produce equal heat distribution during baking or cooking. A convection oven is ideal for baked goods such as cookies, pastries, and pies rather than cakes, and it may also be used for many savory foods such as roasted chicken, vegetables, casseroles, and other covered dishes.