So what exactly is the difference between a convection oven and conventional oven? In short, a convection oven has a fan that circulates the air inside the oven and a conventional oven doesn’t. Seems like a fairly simple and insignificant difference but it isn’t. We’ll dive into the pros and cons of convection ovens so you can be informed about your next oven purchase decision. Continue reading to learn more.
Cooking With Convection
Some are intimidated by convection ovens but there really isn’t any need. Convection ovens are as simple to use as a regular oven. The thing that scares people is that the recipe states to cook at a certain temperature for a certain amount of time but with a convection oven those numbers aren’t accurate. Almost all convection ovens have an offset function built it that allows you to input the temperature and time your recipe calls for and it will adjust it automatically. This takes all of the guesswork out of it and makes the conversion problem a non issue.
If you happen to have a convection oven that doesn’t have a built in offset function it’s fairly easy to adjust recipes yourself. The simplest way is to follow the exact same instructions but simply reduce the temperature by 25 degrees. This should work quite well for most convection ovens. Alternately, if you’d like to speed up the process, you can leave the temperature at what is specified in the recipe and adjust the time instead. By reducing cook time 20% you should end up with a fairly accurate result. It is a little more reliable to reduce the temperature instead, however both methods will work. If you go with the reduced time method just keep a closer eye on things the first couple times you bake or roast. Each oven will perform slightly differently so you’ll need to get a feel for it a time or two just to fine tune it.
If you have a convection oven and have been reluctant to use it, just dive in and give it a go. A great way to start is simply bake some cookies. For the price of a tube of cookie dough you can quickly sort out the process and you’ll be off to the races in no time.
Conventional ovens have the problem of uneven cooking. Heat rises which means that things on the top rack are hotter than things on the bottom rack. The top rack of the oven can be a whopping 30 degrees warmer than the bottom rack.
You can also suffer from having the bottoms of items on the bottom rack blacken prematurely since they’re so close to the heating element but not cook as thoroughly as items on the top rack. It’s not an ideal situation.
The fan in a convection oven can significantly help eliminate these problems. The fan helps keep the temperatures in all parts of the oven at the same temperature. This means the bottom rack will cook at the same speed as the top rack.
With a fan circulating the heat in the oven you can imagine that this might speed cooking up a little. Can you believe it speeds up cooking by approximately 20%? That’s not trivial. So what does that mean? You’ll have to adjust your recipes to account for this. You can shorten your cooking time by 20% or you can just reduce the temperature by 25 degrees and cook for the same time as the recipe states.
If you’re bad at math like me you’re in luck. Many convection ovens come with controls that automatically adjust to account for the difference so you don’t have to worry about it. That’s a handy feature and a more accurate way to account for the discrepancy.
Not only do convection ovens cook more evenly and faster, but they also cook much better. Convection ovens do a better job than traditional ovens at searing, browning, and caramelizing. The fans do a far better job at spreading heat and wicking away surface moisture which promotes better cooked surfaces. You’ll want to use pans with low sides as much as possible when cooking. Tall pans prevent proper air flow and decrease the benefit of the convection fans.
Convection Oven Issues/Problems
Some things don’t cook well in convection ovens. Light and airy recipes may not react well to the fans blowing on them. You should also be aware that parchment paper and aluminum foil could get blown around as well. This shouldn’t put you off purchasing a convection oven. Most convection ovens allow you to turn off the convection fans when needed.
What is the difference between a convection oven and a true convection oven?
A conventional oven has 2 heating elements, one in the bottom and another in the top. The top element being the broiler. A regular convection oven only adds a fan. A true convection oven adds a third heating element. This additional third element increases the uniformity of the heating and cooking even further. If you can, purchase a true convection oven over a regular convection oven. Your money will be better spent and you’ll get much better results.
Convection Vs Conventional Oven
A convection oven is superior to a conventional oven in every way and doesn’t have much in the way of downsides. With the exception of the fan blowing lighter recipes too much, the only real downside is the premium cost. The fan issue can be resolved by simply turning off the convection function for recipes that would disagree with the fans.
When shopping for a convection oven we highly recommend looking for a true convection oven over a standard convection oven. True convection ovens add a third element for even better uniform heating.
If you have a convection oven but haven’t yet put it to use, just go for it. Start off with something simple like cookies just to get a feel for it. You’ll be pleasantly pleased with the results and have some nicely baked cookies to show for it.
We hope you’ve found this article informative and answered your convection oven questions. If not, sound off in the comments below.