Ovens have become an everyday part of our lives. Nowadays, it is quite rare to spot a kitchen without an oven. If you do not have an oven and intend to purchase one, the biggest question coming to your mind would be “Which type of oven should I go for? Which one will suit my needs better?”
Need an answer to these questions? We’ve covered each point in detail to help you make your buying decision!
However, before we jump into understanding the theory surrounding Convection vs Conventional ovens, let us first look at both these appliances individually, their differences and figure out how they work.
Table of Contents
- Convection Ovens Vs Conventional Ovens
- What’s a Conventional Oven?
- What’s a Convection Oven?
- Types of Convection ovens
- Other appliances with convection mechanisms
- Air Fryer Vs. Convection oven
- Is an air fryer similar to a convection oven?
- Difference between air fryers and convection ovens
- Which foods should be cooked in which oven?
- Pros and Cons of Conventional and Convection Ovens
- What are the best settings for convection and conventional ovens?
- Buyers Checklist before buying an oven
Convection Ovens Vs Conventional Ovens
The major difference when talking about the types of ovens lies in the air circulation technique within both ovens. While convection ovens promote uniform heating and cooking, the same cannot be said about conventional ovens. Apart from this, let us have a look at some of the other comparisons between both of these.
1. Energy consumption
Convection ovens conserve a lot of energy. The efficiency of cooking in a convection oven is approximately 25% higher than a conventional one. Even the pre-heating feature is faster in a convection oven. On the contrary, a conventional oven preheats for a longer duration. The cooking rate is also slow.
2. Heating methodology
A convection model is equipped with an additional heating component. This heating component ensures that the food cooks exactly at the temperature set for the oven. A convection oven is also equipped with fans that aid in heat circulation within the oven. On the other hand, the source of heat for a conventional oven is stationary. Owing to this, the temperature setting requires adjustment from time to time.
3. Uniform heat circulation
The presence of fans within a convection oven ensures uniform heat distribution all over, thereby resulting in even cooking of food. With a convection oven, you don’t have the task of removing and adjusting the position of food from time to time. A conventional oven receives heat only from a single source at the bottom. This could cause certain portions of food to get overcooked or burnt, whereas some portions may be left uncooked.
4. Quality of foods cooked
Since warm air keeps circulating within a convection oven, all the moisture content is drawn away, thereby creating a moisture-free environment within. Thus, your convection oven is quite favorable for preparing crunchy snack items. This might not be the case with a conventional oven where heat is generated from a single point. To achieve the desired crispiness in a conventional oven, foods might require a little extra fat on their outer covering and they need to be positioned accordingly at regular intervals.
5. Competency factor
While you can cook more food in a convection oven, the same might not be the case in a conventional oven. The reasoning is as follows: as convection ovens ensure uniform cooking of all food surfaces, you can place foods on all the racks of your microwave, sit back and relax. In a conventional oven, there is a high chance of foods getting burnt; especially those at the bottom. This is quite evident since heat originates in the lower portion. To prevent this from happening, the racks might need to be moved from time to time midway during the cooking process.
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What’s a Conventional Oven?
As the name suggests, a conventional oven is a more traditional version of an oven. A conventional oven comes with two heating components that help in heating the air within so that the food cooks well. One heating component lies at the bottom of the oven, while the other one is at the top.
It is quite evident here that the food placed on the bottom heating component cooks faster as compared to the one placed on top. Foods like meat or fish that require broiling can be placed on the top component for quick cooking.
A conventional oven does not have any fan for circulating the air around. As a result, no uniform heat is generated within the oven. This could result in air being hotter in certain sections and cooler in the others. The food may not cook uniformly in a conventional oven. Hence, you need to place your food items accordingly depending on how you want them to be cooked.
What’s a Convection Oven?
A convection oven comes with a combination of a fan and an exhaust setup. This system ensures uniform heat circulation within the oven that results in even cooking of all foods, irrespective of their placement inside the oven.
Convection ovens can work on either gas or electricity. You can go for either depending on what suits you best.
Types of Convection ovens
Convection ovens can be divided into various categories. Let us have a look at each of these in detail:
1. The American & The European Variant
The ‘American’ variant, comes with two heating components that are situated around the oven cavity. A fan is present to circulate the hot air within the oven. The second variant is called the ‘European’ variant. This one also goes by the name of “True Convection”. This appliance comes with three heating components, instead of two. The third heating element sits ahead of the fan which helps in uniform and faster cooking of food all over.
2. Direct-Fired and Indirect-Fired Convection Ovens
This is another categorization of convection ovens.
In a Direct-Fired Convection Oven, the burner is present right under the oven’s cavity. The combustible products coming from the burner mix with the hot air within the oven getting circulated again and again. This combination, in turn, directly connects with the food being cooked. Hence it goes by the name of ‘Direct-Fired’. Since this creates an intense temperature within the oven, you can use it for baking cookies or pizzas.
In an Indirect-Fired Convection Oven, there is no direct contact of combustible products with the recirculating air. Hence it is named such. Rather, the burner connects to a radiant tube that helps in heat transfer. In this model, the heating process is quite slow and controlled. This is apt for cooking items like cakes that do not require a very high temperature.
3. Floor Model Convection Ovens
Furthermore, convection ovens are categorized as Floor Model Convection Ovens, Countertop Convection Ovens, and Bakery Convection Ovens.
Floor Type Convection Ovens are quite big. This one is equipped with either one or two decks. You can choose your model depending on your space availability in your kitchen. Each section is designed to accommodate up to 10 plates. This type of convection oven is preferred for cooking bigger volumes of food.
An important aspect of this model is the “cook and hold” feature. This functionality gives us the flexibility of adjusting the temperature as required, while the food cooks leisurely and thoroughly. You would undoubtedly relish that meat when cooked in this one!
4. Countertop Convection Ovens
Countertop Convection Ovens are quite compact when compared to Floor Model Convection ovens. You will find these ovens in convenience retail outlets, chuck wagons, and snack kiosks. Countertop Convection Ovens are quite easy to fix in your kitchen. As countertop ovens are small, they do not require a very big place to fit in. These ovens can hold up to 3 or 5 plates.
Countertop Convection Ovens are quite efficient in preparing your favorite pizzas and yummy sandwiches!
Oster Convection Ovens are the best ones in the market right now. Even experts recommend this brand.
5. Bakery Convection Ovens
Bakery Convection Ovens, as the name suggests, are usually found in bakeries. They are good for baking breads. The programs designed for these ovens are controllable. The racks within these ovens keep moving, thereby ensuring uniform cooking throughout. However, these models cost a bomb and are the costliest.
So the next time you wish to roast your meat or bake the best cookies, you need not worry. Consider your job deliciously done!
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Other appliances with convection mechanisms
There are some more varieties of ovens equipped with convection mechanisms. Let us go through them too.
- Toaster oven: This type of oven came into existence 4-5 decades ago. At that time, toasting multiple slices of bread at one go was quite a task and this appliance simplified the issue. Toasting implies heat generation from above and below at the same time. Nowadays, all toaster ovens contain the convection feature.
- Microwave Convection oven: Most microwave models these days are equipped with the convection feature. Hence, you can achieve good results even with a microwave.
Air Fryer Vs. Convection oven
Much like convection ovens, air fryers have also become common these days; thanks to the multiple advertisements involving them. These have also evolved from a convection oven.
We all know how crunchy and crispy those french fries are when they come out steaming hot from an air fryer. Moreover, there is very little oil usage. Now, this is true for french fries but then what about other dishes? This makes us wonder whether we require an air fryer or a convection oven.
Is an air fryer similar to a convection oven?
Well, both appliances use a similar mechanism for heating – the convection mechanism. The presence of fans within both of them facilitates this. The next question popping into our minds would be, is an air fryer a convection oven?
Well, if this was true, then probably convection ovens would have vanished by now. Since this has not happened so far (and will not happen soon), it is quite obvious that air fryers differ from convection ovens in certain aspects.
Difference between air fryers and convection ovens
One variation is in terms of their size. Air fryers are quite compact and sleek when compared to a convection oven. This makes air fryers suitable for cooking smaller quantities of food. However, if you want to bake multiple trays of cookies, then a convection oven is the one for you. Let us understand how air fryers differ from convection ovens.
- Fan position: An air fryer has its fan sitting on top while a convection oven houses the fan in the rear portion. Owing to this, experts advise against using too much olive oil when cooking in an air fryer as it tends to heat faster due to its lower smoke point coupled with the fan presence above. Your food may not taste as great as it should. This is not true for a convection oven.
- Cooking speed As the body of an air fryer is small, the food cooks quite faster when compared to a convection oven.
- Cleaning: Despite its small size, an air fryer demands frequent cleaning when compared to a convection oven.
- Fan speed: The fan moves much faster within an air fryer when compared to a convection oven. This tends to make foods crunchier. Now you know why those fries are best when made in an air fryer.
Now we know the similarities and differences between an air fryer and a convection oven. Apart from french fries, a few other foods that can be air-fried include frozen foods, burgers, and even leftover foods. Leftover foods tend to become crispier when they are put in an air fryer.
Which foods should be cooked in which oven?
We have seen how conventional ovens differ from convection ovens in terms of their working mechanism. Now let’s look at which type of oven to use for specific foods.
Which type of foods can you cook in a conventional oven?
A conventional oven has its heat source at the bottom. Hence most people prefer conventional oven baking. Foods when baked within a convection oven hardly retain any moisture, thereby causing them to dry out. Thus, your cakes when baked in a conventional oven tend to turn out to be moist and yummy, rather than when made within a convection oven.
Apart from cakes, a conventional oven can also be used for preparing puddings and custards. It is also useful for foods that require roasting and broiling. Ironically, most recipes are designed by keeping a conventional oven in mind.
Which type of foods can you cook in a convection oven?
As we have seen, a convection oven causes uniform heat distribution, thereby enabling even cooking of your food items. If you have to cook for a huge bunch of people, then a convection oven is best for you. This is ideal for baking multiple trays of your favorite butter cookies. So in the debate of ovens for baking, convection oven takes the cake!
A convection oven sufficiently cuts down your cooking time. You can safely roast that large turkey on Thanksgiving Day and also relish it sumptuously. The uniformly heated atmosphere within a convection oven tends to make foods crispier and crunchier. If you are the one who prefers eating roasted vegetables with an extra crunchy flavor, then go for a convection oven.
You can also use a convection oven for preparing brownies and toasting loaves of bread and buns. Foods that require broiling can also be made in a convection oven.
Pros and Cons of Conventional and Convection Ovens
While some may prefer a convection oven to a conventional one, there are some who still prefer using a traditional oven. No appliance is perfect on its own. If an appliance is beneficial in certain ways, there are certain disadvantages too associated with each of these.
Now, let us have a look at some pros and cons of both conventional and convection ovens.
Pros and Cons of a Conventional Oven
Let us understand some pros of a conventional oven.
- Ample Recipes: You can come across multiple cooking recipes for a conventional oven. And trust me, these turn out super delicious and yummy. People can seldom go wrong with their dish if they follow all instructions correctly as mentioned within the recipe. Just for this one reason, there are many out there who like to go for a conventional oven since their cooking is made easy, thanks to these easily available, tailor-made recipes.
- Convection settings can be added: Did you know that you can fit a fan within a conventional oven? Yes, you read that right. We have conventional ovens in the market coming with a convection setting. Although, I would not say that this one works exactly like a convection oven, at least you can get a kind of convection-like environment within your oven.
If a normal conventional oven costs you about $350, this one would cost you somewhere around $600. Do try this variation of a conventional oven if you want to go for one. You can get at least some benefits of a convection oven with this kind.
These are some of the pros that come with a conventional oven. Let us have a look at some cons.
- Longer cooking time: If you are cooking food items on multiple racks within a conventional oven, you would have to keep pulling out the racks and shifting them from time to time, to ensure that it does not get burnt. All of these tasks are bound to increase your cook times. Moreover, you could take some time to figure out which food item cooks best when kept in which rack, how to prevent certain foods from getting overcooked, and so on.
- Lack of uniformity in cooking: Convection ovens have a single and a lone point of heat source. Secondly, due to the absence of a fan within the oven, there are sections of air that warm up, while some other sections of air remain cool. Hence there is a possibility of items in the lower rack getting burnt, while the ones kept above may not even cook completely. You will have the task of pausing your cooking process midway, opening your oven, and keep checking your dish at regular intervals.
Pros and Cons of a Convection Oven
A convection oven also comes carrying its own set of pros and cons. Let us go through them.
- Saves up on energy: As we all know, most foods cook much faster in a convection oven, when compared to the traditional one. Hence, it is needless to say that convection ovens conserve a lot of energy. You are sure to cut down on your energy consumption bills when you opt for a convection oven.
- Cooking uniformity: The presence of fans and an additional heating element within a convection oven helps in uniform cooking. And the best part here is that once you put your food into the oven, you need to worry. It will be cooked appropriately as per the timer set.
Moreover, there is no additional task of having to open the oven and keep changing the position of the oven racks when the cooking process is ongoing, thanks to the hot air which keeps moving about within the oven. You will have that perfect meal ready in no time.
- Huge Capacity: A convection oven is ideal for cooking large amounts of food. You can make use of all the racks provided along with the oven at once. So do not panic if you have to prepare that huge batch of muffins. With a convection oven, this becomes quite simple.
- Get that extra crispiness: The hot air within a convection oven adds that extra tinge of crispiness to your vegetables and patties. The best part here is that you need not even add that extra portion of butter or oil to get this level of crispiness. On the contrary, to achieve the desired crunchiness for snacks and savories within a conventional oven, you need to add that extra oil or butter which may not be suitable for everyone from a health perspective.
Now, let us have a look at some of the cons associated with a convection oven.
- No readymade recipes are available for a convection oven: A majority of recipes are designed for conventional ovens. Hence there is a very high chance that you may not come across many convection cooking recipes. For those banking on recipes for cooking them in a convection oven, they will have to make a few changes to the temperature settings or your cooking time.
Also, be careful enough to ensure you don’t spoil your dish by keeping it inside the oven for long, since the heat generated within a convection setting is quite intense. Use your judgments to the best of your ability.
- Not recommended for all delicacies: If you bake a cake in your convection oven that turns out to be dry, then don’t be surprised. The dry air inside the oven is responsible for this. Also, cakes rise quite fast when baked in a convection setting. This only means that cakes won’t be best when made in a convection oven. Even experts recommend against preparing moist cakes within a convection oven. You will not get the desired results.
- A lot of maintenance and cleaning involved: As a convection oven comes with a fan setup and an additional heating element, it goes high on your maintenance too. You will need to check and maintain the fans from time to time. Of course, these parts won’t wear off that easily, however, it is best to ensure and keep checking whether they are working fine. Using a countertop convection oven for a prolonged time without conducting any maintenance checks can damage the appliance.
Also, cleaning a convection oven is a tedious task. You have to be careful enough to ensure no parts are damaged during the cleaning process.
- You tend to overload the appliance: Undoubtedly, you can prepare multiple dishes at a time with a convection oven. However, many times, you tend to put multiple racks in it so that you can finish your work faster. On the contrary, overloading your oven at once can lengthen your cooking time. There is a high chance that the fan might get blocked by multiple trays, thereby restricting the movement of hot air within the oven. It is always recommended to cook only as many dishes as suggested within the manual.
- Specialized baking plates and pans: Convection ovens require specialized baking plates. These are designed according to the oven design. Not that these are way too expensive, but purchasing these pans and plates additionally over and above a convection oven may not suit many. Moreover, if you have any other baking plates which may not go with a convection oven, then those would be of no use any longer and you may have to discard them.
- Might need a specific exhaust setup: As hot air is generated inside a convection oven throughout the cooking time, you could need an exhaust system specifically for your oven. Mostly, this will have to be fixed close to your oven so that the hot air is drained out effectively. Most kitchens have an exhaust setup these days, so this might not be worrisome. However, if your kitchen does not contain any vent system, then you will surely be adding up to your woes by purchasing a convection oven.
What are the best settings for convection and conventional ovens?
If you need the best results from either convection or a conventional oven, then you need to understand the appropriate settings for each of them to get the best results. For instance, baking a cake for too long or under a very high temperature in a convection oven can cause its base to burn, thereby, ruining it completely. Likewise, if the chicken in your dish is undercooked, you can imagine how the dish would taste.
Preheating the oven is mandatory before cooking any dish. Pre-heating should be appropriate in terms of time and temperature, failing which, the item may not turn out as expected. Let us see what are the best settings that we can deploy for both conventional and convection ovens.
Best Settings for a Conventional Oven
A conventional oven is ideal for certain dishes. Any recipes that need to be moist like puddings, caramelized custards, and so on are best made within a conventional oven. Apart from being moist, these dishes are also delicate. There is a high chance of these dishes getting distorted or losing their overall look due to the constant blowing of air from the fan. Hence it is always better to prepare these dishes in a conventional oven.
Conventional ovens are ideal for baking and broiling. Baking typically requires a dry environment; however, a conventional oven is preferred in this case since it retains a certain moisture content required for baked foods. You can bake cakes, cookies, fish and even certain vegetables like potatoes.
On the other hand, broiling requires foods to be exposed to direct heat. Certain dishes require your oven’s broiler temperature to be as high as 550 degrees. Steaks, hamburgers, chicken breasts, cheese, etc taste best when broiled.
Listed below are some actions that need to be done during baking and boiling:
- Preheat your oven: This step is important for both baking and broiling. You must preheat your oven at the required temperature for the desired amount of time. If you don’t preheat your oven beforehand, your dish may not cook evenly or even be an undercooked mess. This is because an oven takes at least 20 minutes to settle and heat up to the desired temperature.
If you are baking a cake, your oven temperature should be set to around 350 degrees. The preheating process lasts about 4-5 minutes.
If you are broiling, ensure you preheat your oven’s broiler to the desired temperature. The ideal preheating temperature over here can be around 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 4 to 5 minutes. However, you need to leave your oven door slightly open. This is to prevent overheating and automatic shutting down of the oven. You also need to put your pan into the broiler during preheating so that it reaches the right temperature.
Once the preheating process is done, the oven will give out a sound.
- Baking: Set the oven to the desired temperature and time. With the desired temperature and timing, the dish turns out perfectly inside and out. If preheating is done at 350 F, then you can choose to lower your temperature by about 25 degrees if required. In most cases, the bake time is set to 40 minutes, however, you can adjust the time as required. Also, avoid opening and closing the oven door midway as it might hamper your baking process because of the oven temperature fluctuating.
Experts recommend placing your item on the center rack of the oven. This ensures that the dish is baked to perfection.
- Broiling: Certain items broil better with the oven door open, while others turn out better with a closed oven door. Also, the rack placement is quite important here. Ideally, you should place the rack in the middle to avoid overcooking or browning of dishes on either side. You can choose to move the rack closer to the broiler if the dishes take ample amounts of time to broil. Oven regulators help to monitor the internal temperature.
For ovens consisting of a warm drawer broiler, check whether it comes with a rack adjusting mechanism. If so, set it to its lowest point.
The choice of pans is also important here. Always choose broiling safe pans and avoid using glass bowls. Most glass bowls can’t withstand the intense heat within the broiler. Also, refrain from using non-stick pans as there could be some sort of a chemical reaction owing to the high temperature.
A Conventional oven with a Convection setting
If you go for a conventional oven with a convection setting, you can choose to opt for it during the following times:
- When you have to roast vegetables requiring a crispy outer flavor.
- Baking soft doughs for pies or croissants.
- Preparing a large batch of food.
- Toasting loaves of bread.
A convection environment is best suited for the dishes mentioned above. The hot air helps to give a crunchy outer covering for roasted vegetables. Similarly, the hot air helps in preparing a soft and fluffy dough for pies.
As explained earlier, huge quantities of food are done pretty effectively within a convection environment. The dry heat ensures that your slices of bread are toasted perfectly, giving you that crunch when you take a bite.
Best settings for a Convection oven
The air inside a convection oven is quite hot. This heat remains consistent and keeps flowing inside the oven constantly throughout the cooking process. Hence, if you are using a convection oven for cooking, the ideal thing to do is to lower the oven temperature by around 25 degrees compared to a conventional oven.
Let us consider the following example. You have a convection oven and need to check out a recipe for the dish you want to cook. However, you are taken aback when you realize that most of the recipes are meant for conventional ovens. Now, what do you do? Well, the answer is quite simple. If the recipe mentions the temperature required to be around 500 F, you can reduce your oven temperature to about 475 F or even 450 F, depending on the dish you are cooking.
If you are confused about the temperature, the easier thing to do is to cut short the cooking time by about 25%. However, you need to be a little watchful here and choose the options smartly. Food items such as red meat, chicken, and turkey need to be cooked thoroughly. So here, you can choose to lower the temperature instead of shortening the cooking times.
A few convection ovens automatically reduce their temperature. Say, you set the oven temperature to 450 F. However, when the cooking process begins, the temperature resets itself to 425 F. For such kinds of ovens, you need not alter the temperature at all.
Some important aspects to keep in mind when you are cooking in a convection oven.
- All the energy within a convection oven is dispensed in the form of the hot air which circulates inside.
- Primarily, the surface of the food comes in contact with the hot air. Hence, it is the surface that cooks faster when compared to its interior. So don’t assume that your food is fully cooked when you see its exterior portion cooked.
- For roasting meats, try to adjust the temperature and timer appropriately. Meat, when roasted in a convection oven tends to reduce in size owing to the high heat. The intense heat also deprives the meat of all its nutritional fibers which you definitely would not want.
You can set the timer and temperature accordingly depending on whether you are baking or roasting. Separate settings for both these cooking methods are available in certain convection ovens. Choose these options wisely.
Buyers Checklist before buying an oven
Now that we know which foods taste better in which oven, how you should adjust their settings, and so on. Now that you are all set to add an oven to your kitchen, it is only appropriate that you go through the following checklist before you zero down on that oven.
- Gas Vs Electric: Decide whether you want to go for a gas oven or an electric oven. Gas ovens have a challenging temperature adjustment feature, they are also tougher to install. However, they are relatively cheaper. Ironically, 96% of professional chefs settle for a gas oven. Depending on your needs and available resources, choose the one that would be the right fit for you.
- Space: Check out your space availability before you finalize your oven. If you have space constraints in your kitchen, go for a smaller-sized version. You can perform ample tasks even with a small oven. For that matter, even an air-fryer would be a good choice.
- Efficiency: You need to ensure that your electricity consumption does not shoot up because of your oven usage. Go for the efficient one, and at the same time, it should suit your demands.
- Utility value: Are you going to prepare large portions of food in one go? How much food do you think you would be cooking at once? You need to ask yourself these questions before finalizing your oven. If you are planning on purchasing an oven mainly for baking cakes and pastries, you should choose a conventional oven.
You can also go for a conventional oven with a convection setting. Go for a convection oven if you feel you will be utilizing most of its functionalities. If you are going to bake that big batch of cookies, you can opt for a deep-depth convection oven.
This type of oven is also known as a bakery depth oven. Likewise, as per your space availability, choose whether you want to go for a single-deck oven or a double-deck one.
- Exhaust setup: Before going for a convection oven, ensure that you have your exhaust system in place. If you do not have one, you need to get it fixed before purchasing an oven. In case you feel you cannot get an exhaust fixed in your kitchen, go for a conventional oven with a convection setup.
- Budget: This is the most important aspect to take into account before you square on to your oven. Go for the one that fits within your budget, and also fulfills most of your requirements. If you are planning on cutting down on your expenses, you cannot let an oven drill a huge hole in your pockets.
Well, hope the above article helps you thoroughly understand the key differences between conventional and convection ovens. You also understand why people prefer conventional oven baking and how those veggies turn crispy in a convection oven.
So what are you’ll waiting for? Go and pick the best one from the market right away. Happy cooking!
Yes, aluminum foils are pretty safe to use in a convection oven. There are exclusive aluminum pans designed for preparing pizzas and baking cakes. However, do follow the guidelines so that there is no damage to the oven.
A convection oven is used for roasting vegetables, meat, and chicken. It is also used for preparing crunchy snacks, and baking pies, cookies, and croissants.
No, convection ovens are very efficient and save electricity.
A convection oven is not ideal for baking cakes as the heat pulls away all the moisture and it tends to become dry. Likewise, it should be avoided for delicate dishes as they could get disturbed due to the blowing fan.