Shopping for a new oven can be overwhelming. It used to be a simple choice of electric or gas. But these days, now you have to option of convection or conventional. But many consumers are unsure whether or not a convection oven is right for them, simply because they’ve read about the complicated convection oven cooking times and recipe conversions that are required.
When you’re shopping, sales people will go on and on about the energy saving and time-saving advantages of convection ovens and how you can cook several batches of cookies at once.
Here’s the deal. A convection oven is an insulated box, just like a standard oven. But the convection oven has a fan located in the back. Some models also have an additional heating element as well. The fan pushes the heat around inside the oven, allowing for evenly cooked food and faster cooking times.
It’s Easier to Cook with Convection
Learning how to use the oven and how adjust recipes is a frequent complication for new convection oven owners because most recipes are designed for traditional ovens.
But it’s actually pretty simple to convert any recipe and make it convection oven friendly. So, here’s how you do it: reduce the oven’s temperature by twenty-five degrees. Be sure to check your food about ten minutes earlier than the recipe calls for. You can always bake the dish longer if you discover it still needs more cooking time, but you can’t do much once a dish is overcooked.
Some convection ovens will do the time and temperature adjustments for you, which can be confusing for some cooks. You can set the temp at three hundred and fifty degrees, and if you hit the convection setting, it will automatically preheat the oven to three hundred and twenty-five degrees. Our advice when shopping for a convection oven is to consider the types of recipes you use often. Take a look at the oven’s controls and see if it’s a model that’s intuitive and user-friendly. Will it work well for the type of food you enjoy cooking? Look at the spec sheet. Does it have an automatic conversion setting? For some, this automatic setting can be either a plus or a drawback. Just keep this in mind before you decide on a model to go with.
An oven that features both a regular and convection oven setting can provide you with the best of both worlds. The first thing you need to know is that any oven with a traditional and convection oven settings will allow you to switch off the convection fan.
Most convection models feature the following settings:
• Convection bake
• Convection roast
Some models also have a convection broil setting as well, even though broiling is a radiant heat method and the fan is of little use.
The convection bake feature is pretty nice. It bakes at a lower temperature which is perfect for dehydrating fruits and veggies. The convection roast feature that you’ll find on higher priced models is perfect for any kind of chunk of meat or poultry where you’ll like a crispier outside. This setting is also great for pizza crusts.
Here’s a quick list of the best foods to cook with convection:
• Artisan breads
• Roast chicken
• Roasted root veggies
• Drying veggies and fruits
• Drying meringues
• When making several batches of cookies at once
Tips for Convection Cooking
Make sure you follow manufacturer recommendations. An oven will always come with a user guide. Be sure to take the time to familiarize yourself with the oven’s specs. If you don’t have a user manual, contact the manufacturer to obtain a copy. You can also usually find a printable copy online.
Air circulation is very important. Allow for one to two inches of clearance around pans. For multi-rack baking, you’ll want this type of clearance above and below as well.
For max, browning use rimless baking sheets and pans with low sides. Many models come with special cooking racks and baking pans that will lift a roast so that the air can easily flow around it. If possible, make sure you place the longest sides of the pan parallel to the door.
Roasting Poultry and Meats
When roasting poultry and meats preheating the oven isn’t necessary. Place the meat in a roasting pan on a rack for better browning. Roasting time can take thirty percent less than in a traditional oven if the temperature isn’t lowered. Some models offer a patented roasting mode that will offer the option of bottom or top browning, or an initial surge in heat. These roasting modes will make it easier to get optimal results in a short amount of time.
If you’re cooking a smaller roast, don’t reduce the oven temperatures. For dense, larger roasts, you may need to reduce the oven temp by twenty-five or thirty degrees during part or all of the cooking process. When you decrease the temperature, the meat may shrink less, but it’ll take longer to cook.
Cooking With Convection Summary
To sum it up, here are the three commonly accepted methods used to convert any recipe and make it convection oven friendly:
• Bake at the same standard oven temp but for a shorter period of time.
• Bake for the same length of time as you would with a standard oven, just reduce the temperature by twenty-five degrees.
• Bake for a slightly shorter period of time and reduce the temp. This method seems to be the most successful option.
Remember, foods that are cooked in a convection oven can cook about twenty-five to thirty percent faster, depending on what you’re cooking.
One of the most important factors when it comes to determining which type of cooking method is the right one to use for your food is the type of cookware you’re using. If the cooking container blocks airflow around the food, then there’s no point in using the convection feature.
Use the convection setting if you’re cooking something on a baking sheet or in a shallow pan. If you’re cooking something in a covered dish or deep roasting pan use the conventional oven setting.