WHAT IS A CONVECTION OVEN (AND HOW TO USE ONE FOR COOKING & BAKING)
Convection ovens feature a built-in fan to circulate hot air and reduce moisture within the oven cavity. True convection ovens also feature an additional heating element. Convection ovens can help promote browning of meats, caramelized roasted vegetables and flaky baked goods making them a good choice for creative cooks and bakers everywhere.
Convection cooking can be found in a wide variety of kitchen appliances from stoves to wall ovens and more. Explore convection cooking options from KitchenAid brand including select ranges, wall ovens, countertop ovens and even convection microwaves.
Convection Oven vs. Conventional Oven: What’s the Difference?
A conventional oven has heating elements on the top and bottom only—which can cause uneven temperatures throughout the oven cavity. Convection ovens introduce a fan to circulate the heat more evenly. True convection ovens also feature a third heating element located at the back of the oven.
So why does even heat matter? Conventional oven heating elements produce radiant heat. Dishes placed closer to them may become hotter and possibly cook faster than dishes placed further away. If you are cooking multiple dishes on different oven racks, you may experience uneven cooking from dish to dish. Hot and cold spots within a regular oven can result in burnt edges or undercooked centers depending on where dishes are placed.
A convection oven’s fan can help move heat around the oven and your dishes, delivering more consistent results when you need to cook on multiple racks. The convect fan and third-element move heated air throughout the cavity helping to maintain optimal temperatures. This in turn can remove excess moisture from the surface of your food which helps you get crispy skins on meat, a mouth watering caramelized finish on roasted vegetables, and baked goods with a golden-brown crust and soft, fluffy insides.
What is True Convection vs. Regular Convection?
True convection, sometimes called European convection, features a third heating element usually placed near or behind the fan. This takes the fan from simply creating better airflow within the oven, to actively blowing hot air into the mix. The additional heat source contributes to temperature consistency and can help cook some dishes faster. Brands all have their own unique name for this kind of convection oven but look for an indication of a third heating element to determine if it offers true convection.
When shopping KitchenAid® ovens, look for ranges and wall ovens with Even-Heat™ True Convection. This is a true convection system featuring a unique bow-tie design with a heating element and fan. Compared to traditional baking cycles, this combination promotes better circulation and air flow throughout the entire oven, providing more consistent temperatures. Convection cooking options can even be found on select KitchenAid® countertop ovens and microwaves for incredible cooking results in a smaller footprint in comparison to a range. Countertop ovens have many other benefits besides space saving and cook similarly to their bigger oven cousins.
Some convection systems, including Even-Heat™ True Convection from KitchenAid, are optional settings that activate the fan, exhaust, and third heating element. This gives you the flexibility to create with a regular oven or convection oven setup.
Convection Baking and Cooking vs. Conventional:
Choose convection vs. regular cooking based on your recipe and the results you want. Convection is best for most everyday recipes and when a drier environment is preferable. Conventional ovens are best for wet or delicate mixtures that do better in moist or still environments or where intense browning is not desirable.
When to Use Convection Baking or Cooking:
The circulating air helps crisp up skins more quickly giving you a crackly exterior in less time so insides remain juicy. This same process helps you enhance browning, locking in flavorful juices on cut meats as well.
Roasting vegetables, fruit and more
Convection ovens speed up the caramelization of sugars on the outside of ingredients for beautifully roasted carrots, parsnips, potatoes and more. Perfectly roasted vegetables let you add new depth to standards like hummus with this roasted cauliflower version or serve up a comforting bowl of roasted vegetable soup.
Sheet pan dinners
Since convection cooking is great for roasting meats and veggies, a sheet pan dinner that features both is an ideal weeknight dinner. The low-sided pan allows air to envelop your ingredients in just the right heat for incredible flavors and textures.
Toasting or dehydrating
Convection cooking provides a drier environment than conventional cooking as it drives fast-moving, heated air directly over food surfaces. This makes it ideal for recipes involving dehydrating or toasting ingredients such as these layered goat cheese toasts.
Light and flaky baked goods
Pies, scones, flaky pastries, and other dense, non-yeast mixtures will benefit from the intense heat to maximize rise and golden browning.
Multiple batches of cookies and more
Convection ovens use a fan to drive hot air throughout the cavity so you can let multiple sheets of cookies bake up beautifully without rotating or shifting them around in the oven. This goes for multiple dishes in general, too. With even heat throughout the oven, you’ll get more consistent results when cooking on multiple racks.
Casseroles and pasta bakes
The enhanced distribution of heated air in a convection oven makes it an ideal environment for most baked dishes that star a variety of ingredients like pasta, vegetables, sauces, meats, and cheese. Get a bubbly, just browned finish on cheese-topped dishes or a touch of caramelization on tender bakes like vanilla bean sweet potato gratin.
Countertop air fryers are essentially mini convection ovens. This means, you can achieve similar results in your full-sized oven. Use a perforated tray or basket to air fry in your convection oven for a healthy take on an indulgent favorite. We even have an air frying 101 guide for all of your air frying needs. Best of all, you can double your air fryer recipe for even more of your go-to snack. Learn more about traditional oven baking vs. air frying.
When to Use Conventional Oven Baking or Cooking Instead of Convection
Delicate or wet mixtures
The movement of circulating air within a convection oven may disturb delicate bakes or very liquid mixtures like angel food cakes, custards, or souffles. These recipes are better off in the still baking environment of a conventional oven vs a convection oven.
Mixtures that rely on the expansion of air bubbles to rise also fair better in the stillness of a regular oven.
When you’re unsure
Convection ovens may cook some dishes faster than conventional ovens. If your recipe is written for a conventional oven, you’ll have to reduce heat, time, or both to achieve optimal results in a convection oven. If your oven doesn’t automatically convert the settings for convection and you’re unable to calculate it yourself, stick with regular cook settings. However, there are some basic rules you can follow for simple conversion. Read on to learn how.
How to Use a Convection Oven for Cooking or Baking
Convection ovens may cook some foods faster so start by converting your recipe temperature, cook time, or both. You should also place your dishes in a way that allows for maximum airflow and check dishes early for doneness. Make sure you’re getting the most out of your convection system by following these tips.
Adjust Recipes for Convection Cooking or Baking
Some recipes provide a convection oven conversion. If not, a general rule of thumb is to reduce the recipe temperature by 25°F and begin checking for doneness with 20-25% of the time left. For example, if your recipe instructs you to bake at 350°F for 60 minutes, you'll convert this to 325°F and begin checking at 45 minutes.
It is not necessary to reduce the temperature for meats or proteins so leave the temperature as is per your recipe and just make sure to look in on it sooner.
Note: Time and temperature adjustments can vary by oven so be sure to check the user manual for your model.
To take the guesswork out of conversions, some ovens feature an auto-convert option such as EasyConvect™ Conversion from KitchenAid. This oven system automatically converts conventional settings to their convection equivalents, ensuring you can get exceptional results when experimenting with new or familiar recipes.
Keep an eye on dishes when first using a convection oven
When trying out a new recipe, it doesn’t hurt to turn on the oven light so you can keep an eye on your dishes. Using the light helps you avoid opening the door which can interfere with the temperature.
Position dishes for maximum airflow
One of the main benefits of a convection oven is the circulation of hot air for even results. Here are some ways to take maximum advantage of this feature:
- Use low-sided or perforated pans and dishes for better exposure to the heated air.
- Avoid placing dishes too close to heating elements.
- Avoid overloading the oven or in a way that blocks the flow of air around dishes.
- Keep 3 inches of clearance between dishes and the outside oven walls.
Cook almost anything in a convection oven
While certain recipes are better prepared in a conventional oven, you can take steps to achieve excellent results for nearly any recipe in a convection oven.
- Crusty artisan breads can be baked in a convection oven by popping in a pan of water. This will create steam to offset lost moisture and help form that oh-so-satisfying outer crunch. (Get our tips and tricks on making the perfect loaf of crusty bread!)
- Quiche and custard pastries will develop a golden-brown, melt-in-your-mouth result in a convection oven but their egg-based fillings may come out too dry. One solution is to cover the dish for the first half of the bake to help retain moist centers.
Ready to Try a Convection Oven? You Have Choices with KitchenAid.
KitchenAid ovens with Even-Heat™ True Convection produce flawless results. The unique bowtie design and convection fan ensure the inside of the entire oven is heated to, and stays at, the perfect temperature. Take the guesswork out of convection cooking with EasyConvect™ Conversion on select models. This system automatically converts conventional settings to convection settings for you. Find these features and more on select KitchenAid® ranges, wall ovens, and even convection microwaves to help make your everyday creations extraordinary.
More help finding the right cooking appliances
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Types of Stoves or Ranges: Slide-in vs Freestanding Learn about the types of stoves or ranges best for your kitchen setup, including slide in vs. freestanding or commercial-style ranges.
What Is A Warming Drawer? Does your kitchen or range come with a warming drawer? Learn more about warming or proving drawers and how they can help you create amazing meals.