With a convection oven, you can cook just about anything, and while most people are totally clueless in the beginning when it comes to how to use a convection oven, learning how to use one really isn’t a big deal. But the results you’ll get, such as well-browned meats, crisp pastries, and evenly cooked cookies, are.
In order to get comfortable with convection oven cooking, you simply have to dive in a start using it. The best and easiest way to do this is to do a little experimenting with some of your favorite recipes, cooking them at a lower temp for a shorter period of time than you would with a conventional oven. But before you begin, read on to learn how to correctly use these ovens, what can kind of results you can expect and how different models vary.
Using your New Convection Oven
Unlike a traditional oven, a convection oven features a fan that continuously circulates air throughout the oven. Opposed to hot air simply blowing around the food, the hot air in a convection oven will blow directly on the food, cooking the food more quickly. This rush of heat works to speed up the different chemical reactions that occur during the cooking process. The skin of a roasting turkey renders its fats, browning at a faster rate, while the butter in a croissant or pie crust releases steam quickly, creating crisp, flaky layers. Overall, food cooked in this type of oven is often done twenty-five percent faster than it is in a standard oven.
Cooking Guidelines in a Convection Oven
When you’re following a recipe that’s designed for a traditional oven, make sure you heat the convection oven twenty-five degrees lower than what the recipe suggests.
You can expect the food to be done much faster than it would be in a traditional oven, even at a lower temperature.
Make sure you use baking pans with lower sides in order to get the full benefits of the oven. You can fill every rack in the oven, but you should still keep an eye on browning.
Depending on the model you have, you may need to rotate pans to ensure each dish is cooked evenly.
Many models will allow you to turn off the convection feature. Make sure you play around with it. If you want a roast that’s nicely browned and slowly cooked, switch the convection on at the end or the start, but leave it off during most of the cooking process.
Because the convection’s fan can blow foil or parchment paper around, place a metal utensil on the tray to hold the foil or paper down and prevent air from becoming trapped.
Why You’ll Love Convection Cooking
Another benefit of using a convection oven is evenly cooked food. Baking a few racks at the same time in a convection oven can save you a lot of time and energy. But doing this in a traditional oven is just asking for trouble.
With convection ovens, all of the hot air moving throughout the oven works to eliminate cool and hot spots, resulting in evenly cooked food. This even heating feature provides a major boost to roasts as well. As an example, if you roast a chicken in this type of oven, it will brown all over, instead of just on top.
When to Use the Convection Setting
Since there are countless benefits that come with using a convection oven, you’re probably wondering why most models also come with a regular oven setting option. Depending on what you’re making, there are some instances when you’ll want to switch to regular oven cooking and others that you’ll need to stick with the convection setting for the best results.
Foods that are roasted, such as veggies and meats will definitely benefit from convection cooking. These foods will cook more evenly and much faster. The drier environment also caramelizes exteriors and yields a crispier skin.
Whenever making pastries and pies you should always use the convection oven. The convection heat creates steam and melts fat faster, which helps to create more lift in pastries and pie doughs.
Baking cookies with a convection oven will allow you to bake two to four trays of food at the same time and the food will still turn out evenly cooked.
Cooking a dish covered? Might as well use the convection setting since it will cook the food faster.
When you dehydrate or toast food the goal will be to remove any moisture as fast as possible, so convection cooking is a much better option.
When to Switch to the Traditional Oven Setting
At times, the fan in a convection oven can become a liability, especially when it comes to cooking delicate foods. Blowing air on certain dishes can end up creating lopsided results. Here is a list of foods you should not cook on the convection setting:
• Quick breads
Using the Convection Setting
If you’ve decided to use the convection setting, here are some things to keep in mind:
Since foods will cook faster in a convection oven, make sure you check on your dish about 2/3s of the way through the recommended cooking time and make any necessary adjustments.
Cooking with a convection oven is only effective if the air is able to circulate well. Use baking pans, roasting pans, and trays that feature low sides. Don’t cover the oven racks with any foil.
Final Thoughts on Convection Cooking
Don’t be afraid to use your new convection oven. Play around with it and you’ll be impressed and amazed by the results. These ovens have been a long mainstay in most professional kitchens all over the world, and they continue to gain in popularity with home cooks, many of whom either purchase an oven with a convection setting or opt for a countertop model. The allure of evenly cooked foods and faster cooking times, not to mention improved energy efficiency is what makes these ovens worth the higher price tag. They also have a reputation for being highly durable and don’t require the same type of heavy maintenance that a traditional oven does.