Convection ovens are becoming a popular item for today’s kitchens as they have come down in price and promise to speed up cooking times with excellent results…but they do require a bit of adjusting to cook and bake with when using recipes based on the use of conventional ovens.
- When converting conventional oven recipes to convection oven cooking, start with 3/4 of the time normally needed (if your recipe says to cook for 1 hour, cooking time will be 45 minutes when using convection oven). This is a good option for items that normally take some time to cook.
- Or you can cook for close to the same length of time but at a reduced temperature setting–reduce by 25° (if your recipe says to bake at 375°F, set temperature to 350°F). This is the option to use when baking time requires only a few minutes for conventional oven cooking (for example a cookie recipe that needs 15 minutes).
It may take a bit of adjusting and you will learn your oven’s abilities over time, but it’s nothing too complicated and the above is a good standard to start with.
How’s this all work? Convection ovens have a fan (or fans) that moves the heat around continuously throughout the oven, this cooks and browns food more quickly and evenly and works especially well for open-roasted meats and vegetables (rather than covered dishes like casseroles).
- Unless recipe states otherwise, place items on the center rack so there is even airflow around the dish while it cooks. If cooking more than one dish at a time, make sure that there’s room for air circulation to move around each dish (about 1″ to 2″ on all sides). Keep in mind the more items in the oven roasting or baking, cooking time will likely be extended.
- Using low-sided roasting pans will help meat and vegetables roast more quickly and brown evenly. If you’ve heard about how great meats can turn out in a convection oven but don’t quite see what the fuss is about, try this: cook a roast directly on the center oven rack with a baking sheet on the bottom rack to catch all the juices. The meat will brown evenly all over and juices will be sealed in nicely. If you cook items in deep pans, the hot circulating air is blocked from reaching the sides of the food and cooking times will be affected.
- Use baking sheets that have no sides when baking cookies, they’ll bake more evenly.
- Some baking is best done with the conventional oven option rather than convection, some baked goods can get too crispy on the outside or bake too quickly and affect results. This will take trial and error to find out what method will work best for a recipe.
- Just as cooking or baking with a conventional oven requires, always preheat the convection oven before starting to cook (unless recipe states otherwise).
These are just guidelines so you’ll want to check food a few minutes earlier than you normally would to test for doneness. After you gain experience cooking and baking with a convection oven, you’ll be able to better judge accurate cooking times and temperatures to use for particular recipes.