How To Use A Convection Oven

What Is A Convection Oven?

A convection oven, unlike a regular oven, has an internal fan in the back of the oven chamber.

The fan circulates the oven air around foods creating a cooking environment that tends to eliminate hot spots and produces foods that are more evenly cooked.

Heat comes from either a back element (used in pure convection), the bottom bake element (convection bake), or the top element (convection broil).

What Settings Are Offered On A High End Convection Oven?

A good convection oven will have at least three separate convection settings: pure convection, convection bake, and convection broil.

The oven will also have the standard oven settings of bake and broil.

What Temperature Setting Should Be Used With Convection Settings?

In general, you will reduce the cooking temperature by 25° when using a convection setting.

For example, if a recipe calls for a standard oven setting of 350° then reduce the temperature to 325° for a convection setting.

How Long Should Foods Be Cooked With Convection Settings?

Some convection manufacturers claim that it takes less time to cook foods on convection settings.

I find that most foods I cook using convection settings take about the same amount of time to cook as a regular bake setting. However, it is a good idea to monitor the progress of all foods when using the convection settings.

How Do You Choose The Correct Oven Setting?

Convection settings can dry certain foods out so here are some general rules of thumb for deciding what foods to bake using convection vs. non-convection settings:

Regular Bake Setting:
  1. If you are baking bread, cakes, cheesecakes, foods baked in warm water baths, or quick breads use the Regular Bake setting. For example, my recipe for cranberry orange sweet bread is best baked on the regular bake setting.
  2. Use the Regular Bake setting for items that are completely covered, for example, an oven stew or pot roast.
  3. Use the Regular Bake setting for casserole dishes if you can cook them for the full amount of time or perhaps longer. If you are in a hurry see the convection setting rules below.
Regular Broil Setting: No preheating is necessary for broiling. Foods should be placed 4 to 6 inches from the surface of the broiler.
  1. Use Regular Broil for individually portion-sized meats
  2. Use Regular Broil for fish steaks
  3. Use Regular Broil for cut vegetables
Pure Convection: Pure Convection provides the most even heat from rack to rack.
  1. Use the Pure Convection setting if you are baking cookies and would like to put multiple cookie sheets in the oven at the same time. Cookies will be evenly browned. Try my recipe for nutmeg logs using the pure convection setting on your oven. My nutmeg logs are a holiday favorite with friends and family.
  2. Use the Pure Convection setting for roasting smaller roasts (always raise meat up on a V-rack). Basting is not necessary when roasting meats with the pure convection setting.
  3. Use the Pure Convection setting for casserole dishes if you are stretched for time and want to cook the dish all the way through quickly.
Convection Bake: Convection Bake is best for large roasts, turkeys over 25 pounds, earthenware-baked items, baking stone items, and dense foods that need bottom heat to cook correctly. Lasagnas, pizzas, pies and loaf breads come out great using Convection Bake.
  1. Use the Convection Bake setting for pies. This will give you a nice crisp bottom crust with a pie edge that is baked to a perfect light golden brown. Try my recipe for pumpkin pie using the convection bake setting on your oven.
  2. Use the Convection Bake setting for baking fish. This will give you a nice well-done exterior and a very tender, moist interior. I cook my baked salmon using the convection bake setting.
  3. Use the Convection Bake setting for any pizzas or breads cooked on a pizza stone. The stone will create a crisp bottom crust.
  4. Use the Convection Bake setting for cooking pizza on a standard pizza pan or on parchment paper. This setting will create a nice, crisp bottom crust.
Convection Broil: Convection Broil is best for thin cuts of fish or vegetables. Preheat for about 10 minutes to cook foods correctly.
  1. Use the Convection Broil setting for broiling fish. This will give the fish a crisp exterior and a tender, moist interior.
  2. Convection Broil also works well for thin-cut vegetables and garlic bread.

What About Roasting Meats?

You can go either way on roasting meats. If you are roasting a small cut of meat, the Regular Bake setting may be more appropriate to prevent the meat from drying out.

I still roast my meat on a Regular Bake setting. Low and slow.

My Aunt, who is a very good cook, likes to use the Pure Convection setting when making a brisket or any other large cut of meat.

If you are roasting a large cut of meat you would use the Pure Convection or Convection Bake setting based on the weight of the meat.

The meat should be placed on a V-shaped rack inside a roasting pan. The meat will brown quickly on the outside, sealing in it's juices and keeping the meat moist and flavorful.

Roasting with Pure Convection eliminates the need for basting.

I use the Pure Convection setting to make roasted chicken and roasted turkey. The skin becomes a beautiful golden brown and the meat is very tender and moist. It definitely takes less time to cook on this setting, so check the internal temperature of the chicken frequently.

Remember, if the cut of meat is quite large, or if you are roasting a turkey over 25 pounds, then you should use the Convection Bake setting.

Categorized in