Convection ovens have long been popular with professional bakers because of their ability to cook quickly and brown evenly. That’s why when these ovens were made available for home kitchens, many consumers rushed to get one of their own. If you’re considering a convection oven for your own kitchen, here’s a quick guide to help you make a smart purchase.
How Do Convection Ovens Work?
Convection ovens work much like a traditional oven, but with one important addition. A convection oven utilizes fans to better circulate the air inside the oven cavity. Traditional ovens heat from the bottom or top, creating areas of hot and cold that can lead to undercooked food or burning. Because a convection oven heats from the back and circulates the air more efficiently, the temperature inside the oven is consistent.
Benefits of Convection Ovens
Convection ovens have considerable benefits over traditional ovens. The use of fans to circulate the heat means convection ovens heat up much more quickly than conventional ovens. Also, because the hot air completely surrounds the food and remains at a steady temperature, food browns evenly, cooks faster. Plus, the oven can be operated at a lower temperature. Something else to note is that, contrary to popular belief, you do not need specially designed pans to work with your convection oven. The benefits of convection ovens go beyond cooking. Being able to prepare food faster and at a lower temperature translates directly to energy savings. An oven that cooks faster, better, saves you money, and is better for the environment – it’s a wonder traditional ovens are still used!
Making the Most of Your Convection Oven
So why do people still use traditional ovens? Well, convection ovens take some getting used to. Most recipes are made with traditional ovens in mind which can make using a convection oven somewhat challenging for beginners. However, convection oven manufacturers and chefs have come up with some suggestions to help adjust recipes and compensate for faster cooking times. When cooking meats, such as a roast or turkey, experts suggest reducing the cooking time by about a quarter (think 15 minutes off for every hour suggested). For baking, it’s recommended to cook for the full time indicated in the recipe, but at a quarter of the temperature. For example, if the recipe says to cook at 162 degrees Celsius, you would reduce the temperature to 148 degrees Celsius.
Other Helpful Tips and Tricks
When cooking with a convection oven, remember that it works best when the air can properly circulate. Refrain from overfilling the oven with pans, and use pans with short sides whenever possible. This will allow for the best browning. For the same reasons, avoid using a lid; provided you do not overcook the food, the even browning should seal in the moisture, making a lid unnecessary. Another tip: If you live at a high elevation and normally adjust recipes, you may want to consult your oven manufacturer to find out if further adjustments need to be made.
The Bottom Line
Convection ovens are simply a better than traditional ovens in every way. They cook food faster, more evenly, and are much more efficient in terms of energy use. It will definitely take some time to get used to how they work and alter your recipes accordingly, and you will have to be willing to spend some time learning through trial and error. But once you adjust, you’ll be able to enjoy better-tasting food for years to come.