Convection Ovens 101

Several years back, it was rare to see convection ovens in home kitchens.  They were reserved for restaurant kitchens and “real” chefs.  These days however, many new kitchens and remodels come with convection ovens as a matter of course.  But even if you’re fortunate enough to have one, you may still not know exactly what its purpose is, so we thought we’d give you some info and tips for cooking and baking with your convection oven.

First, remember that “convection” is a setting on your oven, not a separate oven.  When the button or switch for convection is not on, then you are working with a regular oven, baking, roasting or broiling as you normally would.   But when an oven has a convection setting, there is an additional fan and exhaust system that other ovens don’t have.  When on, this system helps blow (and then vent) hot air over and around your food, allowing your food to cook quicker and more evenly.  An article from Fine Cooking explains it this way, “To help understand this, consider wind chill: When cold air blows against you on a blustery winter day, you feel colder more quickly than you do on a windless day of the same temperature.”

So now that you know what exactly a convection oven is, and what it does, here are a few tips from The Kitchn for better baking:

  1. Lower the Temperature.  Since heating and cooking are significantly more efficient in a convection oven, you often don’t need quite as high a temperature when preheating it.  A good rule of thumb is to set the oven about 25∞F below the recipe’s recommended temperature and you’ll achieve the same results, without risk of burning or over-cooking.
  1. Check Food Frequently.  Again, thanks to all the efficiency of a convection oven, whatever you’re cooking will probably take less time to finish than in a regular oven.  So make sure to check it often, particularly towards the end, and judge “doneness” by how the food looks and smells, as opposed to time alone.  With time and practice, you’ll become more in tune to how long certain dishes need to cook for.
  1. Don’t Crowd the Oven.  What makes convection ovens unique is the ability for air to circulate around the space, making for even and more effective cooking.  However, if there are too many things in the oven, it can make it hard for the air to flow, which negates the unique convection features.
  1. Use a Low-Rimmed Pan.  For much the same reason that you don’t want to overcrowd the oven, using a low-rimmed baking pan or sheet will enable the air to circulate easier, allowing for crisper, more-evenly cooked foods.
  1. Use a Silpat or Silicone Liner in lieu of Parchment Paper.  Because air is flowing and moving while the convection oven is on, parchment paper is likely to blow up and possibly cover your food, which can cause unevenness.  So unless you remember to weigh down the parchment paper on the sides, it’s easier to just use a Silpat or silicone liner instead. 

Here at Better Housekeeping Shop we have a wide range of appliances – including convection ovens – that we’d love to show you, to help you create the kitchen that’s right for your family.  Stop into our store anytime or give us a call at 732-741-4310 and speak to one of our knowledgeable Sales Associates.

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