Ovens and ranges are some of the most important appliances in the kitchen. Understanding your oven controls and their capabilities is key to getting the most out of your appliance and creating well-cooked dishes. Use this guide to discover more about oven settings and how you can use them to optimize your results and enhance your creativity.
13 OVEN SETTINGS EXPLAINED
Oven settings are designed to bring out the best in your cooking with specific temperatures and functionality for different kinds of dishes and recipes. Many ovens today come with a number of oven settings that might include some or all of the following:
The preheat setting will heat the oven to a specific temperature range to help ensure that your dishes will begin cooking at the correct temp. The oven temp will be slightly higher than your set temperature to offset the heat lost when your oven door is opened.
Select KitchenAid® ovens feature Even-Heat™ Preheat to help remove cold spots and help ensure even baking. The entire oven, including the walls and racks, is heated to the correct temperature.
An oven will normally heat in 12-15 minutes. Many of today’s ovens are larger than older models and may take longer to preheat. If you’re experiencing long preheat times, remove any extra racks because they may prolong preheating. A hidden bake element provides a buffered heat and will take longer to preheat than an exposed bake element. Low/cold room temperature will also potentially cause longer preheat times. For optimal performance, place food in the oven as soon after the preheating signal has sounded as possible. Avoid leaving the door open for an extended period of time.
The bake setting is one of the most commonly used oven controls. Baking uses dry heat at lower temperatures from the oven’s top and bottom elements to slowly cook unstructured foods such as batter or dough, gently browning the surface while solidifying the interior. Cakes like this Damp Lemon Almond Cake bake at 350º for up to an hour for a flavorful, tender cake.
The broil setting cooks food quickly with direct heat from the top element, typically at 550℉ (289℃) and produces a seared finish that’s similar to grilling. The closer your food is to the top heating element, the more quickly the top will sear. Dishes that need to be cooked through shouldn’t be placed too close to the element, as this could result in a dish that’s burned on top and undercooked on the inside. You can brulée the meringue for this S’mores Berry Tart under the broiler for a toasted finishing touch to a delicious dessert.
Ovens with a self-clean setting are ideal for deep cleanings. The setting uses very high temperatures to burn cooked-on food to an ashy consistency—without chemicals—making it easy to wipe off oven interiors. For lighter cleanings, select KitchenAid® ovens feature a Steam Clean setting as well. This uses water to soften hard soiled particles and make cleaning easier.
6. BOTTOM HEATING
Some ovens feature bottom heating which is designed to cook the base of the dish first. This setting can be ideal for cooking pizzas and pastries that require a crisp, crunchy base.
Sabbath Mode is designed for those who follow kosher dietary guidelines.
This oven setting ensures food remains heated without the need to manually adjust the appliance on the Sabbath day. When the Sabbath Mode is set on select KitchenAid® models—including the KitchenAid® Single Wall Oven with Even-Heat™ Thermal Bake/Broil—only the Bake cycle will operate. All other cooking and cleaning cycles are disabled. No tones will sound, and the display(s) won’t indicate temperature changes. When the oven door is opened or closed, or the light switch activated, the oven light will not turn on or off, and the heating elements will not turn on or off immediately.
Many oven timers can be set in minutes and seconds or hours and minutes. They’re designed to count down the set time. Timers take the guesswork out of cooking and are especially helpful when the temperature needs to be adjusted or when a dish needs to be rotated halfway through, like this recipe for Horchata Inspired Creamy Corn Cake.
It’s easy to confuse the clock with the timer. The clock displays the time of day when the oven timer isn’t in use.
Convection bake settings use a fan to circulate hot air throughout the oven cavity for even cooking across multiple racks. These settings are great for batch baking, like these Sea Salt Miso Chocolate Chunk Cookies, where multiple racks are being used simultaneously.
Select KitchenAid® wall ovens and ranges feature Even-Heat™ True Convection. This unique bow-tie design with a heating element and fan circulates hot air throughout the entire oven, providing optimal temperatures for crisp, flaky baked goods, juicy, well-browned roasts and caramelized vegetables.
11. DELAY START
Delay cooking allows the oven to be set to turn on at a certain time of day to a desired temperature. Simply input a time and temp before you leave the house in the morning—or before the party starts—and the oven will start preheating to your selected temp at your selected time. Before programming, make sure the clock is set to the correct time of day.
Some ovens, like select options from KitchenAid brand, offer a special Proof setting for bread bakers. The proof function prepares dough for baking by activating the yeast in homemade bread and other pastries in a moist, warm environment in the oven.
13. KEEP WARM
The keep warm setting helps maintain a dish’s temperature without overcooking it. Dishes like sides, breads, casseroles and desserts can be kept warm before serving with this function.
There are oven setting symbols that provide a visual shorthand for oven functions. Some of the most common symbols include a bar on the bottom and the top, indicating that both elements will be used with this setting for conventional heating. Bottom heat only is represented by a single lower bar. Convection heating is indicated by a fan. A zigzag line at the top represents the high heat emitted from the top element for broiling. Look for a plate graphic with steam lines above it to indicate the symbol for the keep warm setting. Note that the exact symbols may vary by brand and model.
WHICH OVEN SETTINGS SHOULD I USE?
To optimize results, it’s important to follow your recipe for the right temperature and settings. Understanding the correct oven controls to use will help you create the tenderest meats, the flakiest pastries, the crispiest sears, the lightest and airiest cakes and more.
Here is some tasty recipe inspiration using different oven settings and controls:
PIZZA & TARTS
Bottom heat or pizza stones are ideal for creating crispy crusts. Bake this Vibrant Veggie Pizza with a beet-flavored crust on a pizza stone or inverted sheet tray for a delicious twist on pizza night.
Whole chicken is typically roasted, while chicken parts are commonly baked. This recipe for Roasted Chicken with Cabbage is marinated in an Asian-inspired dressing before it’s roasted.
Roasting is the tried and true way to cook this holiday classic. But turkey isn’t just for the holidays. This Asian Turkey Meatloaf is baked for a lean and elevated take on a family favorite.
Use the bake setting for items like casseroles and baked goods.
Proteins, vegetables and dishes that require higher temps should be cooked with a roast setting.
The convection setting is optimal for consistency in multi-rack cooking, as well as cooking short doughs. The fat will melt quickly and create steam resulting in light, flaky pastries and crusts.
Use broil for toasting, creating a sear or melting cheeses.
When using the convection setting, check for doneness with 20-25% of time left. Select KitchenAid ovens feature the EasyConvert™ Convection System that automatically converts conventional settings to their convection equivalents, ensuring you can get exceptional results when experimenting with new recipes or familiar favorites.
To maintain consistent temperatures, avoid opening the door. Frequent door opening during cooking releases oven heat and can result in longer cooking times.
If the oven is not thoroughly preheated, it can cause excessive top heat to foods and result in over-browning surfaces.
Use all metal pans (stainless, carbon steel or cast iron) when broiling to avoid damaging less durable cookware under intense heat.
For optimal browning, use the correct bakeware. Dark, dull pans absorb heat which results in darker browning. Shiny pans reflect heat which results in lighter browning.
Baking with your dish uncovered produces a browned or crisp surface, while covering the dish keeps the surface moist and can steam the food. Some recipes start with a covered dish and end by removing the covering to create a crisp finish.
If your baked goods are not cooked or brown on the bottom, try using a lower rack position. Shiny and insulated pans may require additional time and/or need to be closer to the bake element.