Whether it is baking cookies or bread, broiling steaks, or roasting a chicken or turkey, the convection oven does it all!
An energy saving appliance, they perform better and faster than a conventional oven while still saving on the energy bill. When it comes to appliances for the kitchen, the convection oven is a must-have appliance.
Why a Convection Oven?
The preference of the convection oven over the regular oven is due to the fact that the convection oven is not only efficient but versatile. It has multiple functions and cooks faster, making this a heavy-hitter that is more convenient and cost-effective.
For you first-timers out there who might be worried about using a convection oven, never fear! Convection ovens are intuitive and you’ll get the hang of it in no time.
However, there are some things to remember when using the convection oven, such as how to preheat one. Before you even begin to think about cooking, it is important to know what a convection oven is and how it works.
How to preheat a convection oven
Now that you know the basics, the first thing to know about cooking with convection ovens is how to preheat one.
Preheating is the process of turning the oven on and allowing it to reach the desired temperature for cooking. Most recipes recommend letting your oven preheat because it takes time for the oven to warm up when turned on.
However, it should be noted that when it comes to meat and poultry there is no need to preheat a convection oven because these foods have a tendency to be overcooked.
While a convection oven is good for many things, it might not be the best option for those of you who like to bake foods like cakes, puddings, or scones. These kinds of foods require a steady atmosphere when cooking, so the circulating air in the oven may ruin them.
When preheating, we always recommend that you follow the user’s manual that comes with your convection oven. If no preheating process is provided, you can simply follow the tried and true method below:
- Turn on the convection oven 10 to 15 minutes before cooking. Ideally, do it before or halfway into your food prep.
- Set the temperature as required by the recipe.
- When the desired temp is reached, get to cooking!
For more info on preheating in general, check out this video over on YouTube:
Warming up to convection ovens
Convection ovens come in different shapes and sizes. It could be in the form of a regular oven with a convection setting or it could be a traditional convection oven complete with an added third heating element.
Regardless of the type, a convection oven always has a signature fan and exhaust system that pushes and pulls hot air into and around the food inside its interior. Because of the stable temperature afforded by the circulating warm air, food cooks more quickly and evenly.
In addition, since the fan and exhaust system provides an escape for moisture to pass through, food tends to crisp and retain color better.
Things to consider when using a convection oven
Like any kitchen appliance, convection ovens have their own unique personality and so it’ll take some time to get comfortable with using one. Here are some things to keep in mind while you familiarize yourself with yours:
- Always adjust the temperature of the convection oven 25°F lower than what is called for in the recipe. While the original temperature would be fine for a conventional oven, convection ovens cook more quickly and have a more effective absorption of heat.
- Even with the reduced temperature, the food is normally cooked 25% faster in a convection oven when compared to a regular oven, so keep an eye on your food until you get a feel for it.
- Use pans with low sides within the oven to allow the heat to circulate effectively.
- Avoid crowding the oven or trying to cook too much food at the same time. Too much food inside the oven will prevent the air from circulating evenly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are convection ovens better than conventional ones?
That’s a question that really depends on you and what you plan to use it for. If you find yourself cooking a lot of meat or poultry, a convection oven will cook them more quickly than a conventional. You’ll also find that the meat will cook more evenly, cook crisper, and retain color better.
However, if you like to bake pastries, you may be better off with a conventional oven. Everything that makes the convection oven so ideal for cooking meat is also what makes it less than ideal for traditional baking.
Then again, check out our page on baking for some more tips – you may be convinced!
Are convection ovens harder to use than conventional ones?
Convection ovens aren’t harder to use than conventional ovens, per se.
They’re just a different kind of kitchen appliance, so you’ll need to take the time to learn and figure out how they work.
However, once you’ve gotten a feel for how a convection oven works and why it cooks the way it does, it’ll become second nature the same way that using a conventional oven probably is for you.
Will I need to buy any new equipment for my new convection oven?
Nope! The standard tools you use with a conventional oven (mitts, tongs, thermometer) will work just fine with your new convection oven. The only thing you may want to consider buying are shallow sided pans.
Food tends to cook more evenly in shallow pans because the low profile allows air to circulate more freely around the food in them.
However, they’re not a necessity. If you don’t want to buy new bakeware, your regular baking dishes/pans will work just fine.
Since convection ovens cook more quickly, do I always need to preheat it?
Some convection ovens use more than one heating element during preheating, which can mean that the temperature will fluctuate and possibly burn any food that is placed in the oven during the preheat cycle.
Luckily, the preheat time on a convection oven is shorter, meaning you don’t have to wait as long! Either way, however, you should always start cooking with a hot oven.
This will give you more control over the cooking process.
Are there different types of convection?
On one end of the spectrum, you might have a conventional oven with a convection setting. While this won’t cook as well as a dedicated convection oven, these can be effective.
Then, on the other end of the spectrum, you have true convection ovens. True convection ovens differ from a simple convection setting because they have a third heating element located in the back.
This third element is crucial for achieving the even heat distribution that convection ovens are famous for and its utility can’t be emulated by a conventional oven with a convection setting.