Anyone who has remodeled their kitchen (or even moved into a new home) knows what it feels like to have appliances that just don’t make sense. Your new convection oven may have piqued your interest, but you just aren’t sure what to do with it. Or maybe you’ve had one for years, and you’re just now getting around to figuring it out.
If you want to get familiar with using a convection oven, you simply have to start using it in place of your conventional oven. One of the best ways to start off is to cook your favorite recipes in the convection oven, so you know exactly how they’re supposed to turn out. Just keep in mind that you need to cook them at a lower temperature for a shorter amount of time.
Luckily, you can use a convection oven for just about anything; it’s simple, easy, and efficient. And the best part is that it comes with endless advantages compared to a conventional oven. Investing in a convection oven is one of the best choices you can make for your kitchen.
Convection ovens warm up more efficiently
Conventional ovens use radiant (or thermal) heat. This essentially means that they produce heat from the top and/or bottom to cook food. A convection oven, on the other hand, has a fan which circulates the heat throughout the entire oven. Due to the fact that the heat is directly blowing onto the food, and evenly surrounding it, the food tends to cook more quickly than it would if heat were unevenly surrounding it in a conventional oven.
To get into the nitty-gritty of this advantage, you have to understand what heat transference is. When you put a cold pan on a hot stovetop, the stovetop transfers heat to the pan until they are both the same temperature. Convection ovens speed up this process because moving air transfers more heat than still air. A good example of this is the wind. If you’re standing outside on a windy day, you’re going to feel colder than you would on a day that is not windy (even if the temperature is the same).
The fact that heat transfers more quickly in a convection oven is one of the many reasons for the better results you get when using one. The blast of heat makes the food produce chemical reactions more quickly. For example, the butter in a cake would release steam more quickly, which results in a crisper surface. If you’re cooking chicken, the fat dissipates more quickly so the meat is juicier. And lastly, if you’re roasting vegetables, they caramelize sooner which creates a better taste and texture.
Convection ovens cook more evenly
As we discussed above, the heat in a conventional oven comes from the top and/or bottom. That’s why trays closer to either end will cook more quickly—the temperature throughout the oven is not consistent, which often results in undercooked or overcooked food. However, when you use a convection oven, the fan pushes the hot air throughout the entire oven. This causes each part of the oven to be equally hot, allowing your food to cook evenly regardless of its size and positioning.
Aside from making your life a bit simpler, a major benefit of even cooking is that you can cook multiple trays of food at once. If you’re making twelve-dozen cookies for an event, you can bake three trays at a time rather than one. There is also the added benefit of other foods browning evenly, such as turkeys. In a conventional oven, your Thanksgiving turkey may be browner on the top than the sides, but in a convection oven it’s crisp all over.
Convections ovens are more consistent
We’ve spent a lot of time talking about how convection ovens work. As you now know, they produce heat and then circulate it throughout the oven so that food is cooked evenly. While this makes your food taste better and allows you to cook more at once, it also allows you to have more consistent results.
When using a conventional oven, the amount of time and the temperature at which you cook a dish may vary, because every spot of the oven is a slightly different temperature. Each time you cook or bake, you’re forced to play it by ear. However, when you use a convection oven, you can count on the temperature being consistent, regardless of the food’s position in the oven. This allows you to rely on the same lengths of time and temperatures to cook food, and takes all of the guesswork out of cooking and baking.
Convection ovens require less time and energy
Cooking and baking can both be a hassle. It may take you an hour to prepare something that only takes you five minutes to eat. On the other hand, they can also take up a significant portion of energy. Running a conventional oven for an hour or more can significantly raise your electric bill. This is another reason that convection ovens are great alternatives to more traditional approaches.
When using a convection oven, you cook food at a lower temperature for a shorter amount of time (be sure to Google conversion rates before using your oven for the first time). This means your food is done more quickly, which cuts down on your work and your electric bill. It also means your convection oven is using less energy per minute simply because the temperature is lower.