Convection ovens: yay or nay?

Every high-end oven has a convection feature, and it is becoming increasingly popular on the mid-range models as well. But is convection something you really need? The Washington Post’s Aaron Hutchinson gives us a primer on this useful oven feature, explaining the hows, whens, and whys of convection.

At its most basic, the convection feature incorporates a fan that moves the heated air around the oven, creating a more even heat and adding a drying effect. The better models – known as true convection or European convection – also include a separate heating element at the back of the oven to make the fan even more effective. So how does this benefit our cooking?

Convection heat speeds up the cooking process, offering roast chickens in 25% less time, for example. It also makes it easier to bake multiple trays at one time because the temperature inside the oven cavity is more uniform from top to bottom and front to back. Convection does have its downsides, however. As many people pointed out in the comments, the fan can end up splattering fat on the sides of the oven, and if you use it for the wrong purpose it the drying effect can be harmful. Cakes can get overbaked on the top while still gooey in the middle, and delicate macarons can suffer from the same fate.

When I purchased my oven a few years back, I was eager to use the convection feature, but I have not used it nearly as much as I thought I would. For one thing, I can never remember which convection feature automatically adjusts the oven temperature and which one doesn’t (why didn’t they make it the same?). I also don’t bake multiple racks of food at once like I used to do.

Even though I do not use it frequently, I am still glad it is there when I need it – plus it seems to help the oven preheat more quickly. I won’t be going back to a regular oven, because I appreciate all of the benefits, such as getting extra crispy edges on my roast potatoes. After all, as Hutchinson points out in the article, an air fryer is just a small convection oven, so extra crispy food is one of the best things about this common feature.

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  • demomcook  on  March 29, 2022

    I love my convection oven. Best roast chicken, and bread!!! I’ve learned my oven over the years, and keep good notes of convection temps /alternate standard temp in my recipes. I have a counter-top oven that also has a convection fan, and it works beautifully as well. Once I figured out what how “my” ovens worked, I would not be without one.

  • racheljmorgan  on  March 29, 2022

    Best of both worlds in our kitchen with an older electric oven and a small air fryer on the counter.

  • bocaboy  on  March 29, 2022

    Roasting a chicken is an ideal use of convection. So is cooking a casserole in the oven. On the other hand, never bake with convection. It makes the timing of the item being cooked difficult to measure and tends to dry out the bread/cake et al.

    For the record, I think it’s a great feature!

  • Rinshin  on  March 29, 2022

    I use the convection feature with most except in baking or roasting. Mine is already close to 20 years old and the convection feature adjusts temp automatically so I do not pay attention to it. I feel it is different from my air fryer though. I love air fryer for quick small quantity cooking without waiting for it to reheat except few minutes.

  • FJT  on  March 30, 2022

    Wouldn’t be without a convection oven and when we lived in North America I was very upset to find that none of our rental homes had one in the kitchen….but then these homes also had top-loading washing machines and I thought we’d gone back to the 1970’s.

  • StokeySue  on  April 1, 2022

    As a UK resident, I have been confused in the past by US recipes that give oven temperature simply as 400⁰ or 400 degrees.

    I finally worked out that’s degrees Fahrenheit (F) (we mainly work in Celsius, C, but we tend to specify), so 400⁰F is approximately 200⁰C.

    But I was still puzzled as we would often specify bake at 200⁰C / 180⁰C fan / gas mark 6 (or 400⁰F) and I didn’t know whether US recipes used a fan setting or not.

    This blog post made me check, what we call fan it seems you call convection, and you don’t regard it as standard, though my mother had her first nearly 40 years ago.

    I have a fairly typical UK double cavity stove, the top oven is small, contains the grill (broiler) and has no fan. The larger, main, oven has a fan, which is always on (not optional), so it’s a “true convection” oven” in US terms.

    I think I’m slightly less confused, having read this US article, and at least I know temperatures are probably for traditional, non-fan, ovens if not specified in the US

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