If you've been wondering how do convection ovens work, we've got you covered. Convection ovens are not a newcomer in the kitchen, but they're increasingly becoming a favorite among those who like their food cooked well, and fast. You'll find many convection ovens in our best ovens (opens in new tab) guide, but what is the difference between these ovens and regular ovens?
While we'll go into depth in this feature, the basic mechanisms for how a convection oven functions are quite simple. They work much like the best air fryers (opens in new tab), to circulate hot air around your food as it cooks. Regular ovens simply produce radiant heat into which you place your food, so while it will still cook your pies, casseroles, and cakes, a regular oven won't do this as fast as a convection oven. Because of this, many people are opting for a convection model when choosing the best electric range (opens in new tab) or oven for their home.
How do convection ovens work?
Convection ovens use a fan to circulate hot air around the internal cavity of your oven. This means that every area of the oven is heated evenly, and they also use an exhaust system to remove moisture from the inside of the oven. This means your food will not only be cooked evenly in a convection oven, but it will go nice and crispy, too.
A lot of ovens now come with convection modes that allow you to switch on a fan and exhaust system to cook in this way, but with the option of cooking in the way of a regular oven. Likewise, many convection ovens have an optional fan mode, and you can turn on the regular heating setting that doesn't circulate the hot air around your oven if your cooking instructions specify this.
What are the benefits of convection ovens?
There are many advantages to buying a convection oven for your kitchen. Here we outline three of the top ones.
1. Even cooking
With a regular oven, the area around the main heating element can often be warmer than the corners of the oven which are further away.
With a convection oven, you'll find that the fan circulates hot air around the entirety of the oven, so the heat is evenly distributed and more likely to deliver an evenly cooked meal. This kind of cooking is also better for evenly baking cakes.
2. Reduced cooking times
Because food is constantly fanned with the hot air inside a convection oven, as opposed to simply sitting in it, you'll find that it has a speedier cooking time.
Think about the difference between sitting in front of a heater, compared to a heating fan. While it may not be running at a higher heat, you'll notice that the fan warms you up very fast thanks to the constant stream of hot air instead of just ambient heat which surrounds you.
3. Crispier food
Who doesn't love healthy homemade fries? Whether you want to make a cheesy pasta bake or a healthy alternative to deep-fried dishes, a convection oven wicks away moisture from inside the oven thanks to the exhaust. This then allows your food to crisp up easily, which is why many people compare a convection oven to an air fryer.
What are the cons of a convection oven?
While convection ovens are pretty great, there are some cons to buying them as opposed to a regular oven. Here are three reasons why it might not be right for you.
1. They're not suitable for some foods
The convection mode on an oven is great for making crispy foods, but the fact that it removes moisture from the oven does mean it's not suitable for some foods.
One example is when baking bread. Some add a little water to the inside of their oven when baking bread, so naturally, it's great to have a little moisture in your oven when making a fresh loaf. This will help to create a nice crust without drying out the bread.
2. Cooking times can vary
Because food will cook faster in a convection oven, you'll find that it can throw off recipes. When the packaging of frozen food specifies 25 or 30 minutes, you may find that it's burnt by this point when cooking in a convection oven. That means you'll need to keep checking while your food is cooking, which can require more effort on your part.
3. The temperature may need to be lowered
While some recipes will specify that you place the oven at 300-400 degrees Fahrenheit, when cooking in a convection oven, you need to adjust this to make sure the exterior of your food isn't burnt as it cooks.
The general advice is to lower by around 30 degrees Fahrenheit, but this is more effort for you to take into account while cooking.
Which foods are best cooked in a convection oven?
As we said, sometimes a convection oven is not best suited to baking. Bread is one example of food that's not best to cook in a convection oven, but other examples are cakes, souffles, and other baked goodies that you want to have lots of natural moisture.
As for which foods are best cooked in a convection oven though, think of anything that you'd place in a toaster oven or air fryer. That includes frozen foods such as chicken nuggets and french fries.
Anything you want to have a crispy exterior will also do well in a convection oven. That includes pasta bakes, pies, and anything breaded.
Chicken and turkey will also cook well in a convection oven. If you want that crispy skin for your Thanksgiving meal, it will definitely deliver.
Can you use aluminum foil in a convection oven?
Some people like to use aluminum foil when cooking to keep the top of a dish from browning before the inside is cooked, or to keep meat from drying out while it cooks through.
You'll be pleased to know that it is perfectly safe to use aluminum foil when cooking in a convection oven, so long as it's just covering your food and not blocking the base or heating elements of the oven itself.