Convection ovens are versatile pieces of kit you can use to cook almost anything.
While convection ovens are similar to air fryers in some ways, and you can find mini convection toaster ovens, when you’re comparing convection ovens to a traditional kitchen oven, there are some key differences.
With traditional ovens, your food is enveloped in hot and dry air. This heated air warms the outside of your food. The head is then conducted inside the food until it’s cooked all the way through. So, with this classic style of oven, the oven heats the outside of your food, and the inner parts are cooked by the outside. In this sense, the food almost cooks itself.
With traditional ovens, the outside of the food can be exposed to high temperatures with the inside remaining tender – a medium-rare steak, for instance, or a roast that’s crusted and brown outside but succulent inside. This is achieved because the air in the oven may hit 400F, but the center of the roast remains 135F.
Convection ovens make use of fans to circulate hot air over your food, resulting in even results at low temperatures in less time.
I. How Does a Convection Oven Work?
The fan in a convection oven produces extra energy. When the hot air is blown around inside the convection oven, this serves to increase the force of the hot air hitting the surface of your roast.
Think about hot water swirling around in a bath or hot tub. When the water flows against your legs, it feels warmer. When the water stops swirling around, that feeling of extra heat dissipates. This same effect occurs in a convection oven with the fan responsible for more overall heat output.
To put this into perspective, convection ovens produce an average of 25% to 35% more energy. This varies depending on the power of the fan. The extra energy benefits you either in terms of cooking time or temperature. Not only does a convection oven cook faster than a traditional oven, but it also cooks hotter.
II. What Are The Benefits of Convection Ovens?
These are the core benefits of convection ovens:
- You’ll cook your food evenly every time
- Convection ovens get the job done quicker
- Fan-assisted ovens deliver superior browning
- A convection oven is more energy-efficient
You’ll cook your food evenly every time
When you cook in a conventional oven, you’ll often encounter hot spots. These are areas of the oven where your food cooks hotter and quicker than elsewhere in the oven.
With convection ovens, by contrast, the rapidly circulating air means the temperature remains consistent in all areas of the oven throughout cooking. This comes fully to the fore if you’re roasting a whole large turkey, or you’re toasting some nuts. Both can be easily burned or inconsistently cooked in a regular oven.
Convection ovens get the job done quicker
You’ll find your food cooks around 25% quicker when you’re using a convection oven, according to most estimates.
When the hot air is channeled onto your food, it will accelerate cooking times.
Fan-assisted ovens deliver superior browning
Not only are convection ovens fast and consistent, but you’ll also find they impart a wonderfully crispy and crunchy texture to your foods.
Conventional ovens are susceptible to humidity due to the lack of ventilation. With a convection oven, though, you’re generating dry air inside. This dry air helps to caramelize the sugars during the roasting process, resulting in an enviable texture.
A convection oven is more energy-efficient
You’ll be cooking your food for less time, so you’ll also use less energy as a result of this.
III. What Are The Drawbacks of Convection Ovens?
As with any product, convection ovens have some downsides, although the benefits substantially outweigh the drawbacks.
- Convection ovens are not good for delicate foods
- Baking bread in convection ovens polarizes opinion
Convection ovens are not good for delicate foods
If you’re making cakes, souffles, custards, or any other especially delicate foods, the air circulation inside a convection oven can interfere with the setting process. You may find the batter fails to properly rise.
Baking bread in convection ovens polarizes opinion
While some people claim convection ovens promote a great crust and even browning when you’re baking bread, others claim this form of cooking dries out the inside of the bread. Do your own due diligence here.
IV. How to Cook with a Convection Oven
Now for the easy part and how to use a convection oven.
You’ll find you may need to adjust some recipes. Most recipes you find, whether in physical or digital cookbooks, were developed with a traditional oven in mind. If you lower the temperature by around 25F, this should amply compensate. Alternatively, shorten the cooking time. If you like, you could combine both of these methods until you dial in what works for you.
Your food will cook quicker in a convection oven, so check it regularly to make sure it’s not burning.
To complicate this issue, though, some convection ovens automatically make this adjustment. Some of these ovens set themselves to run at 25F lower to make allowances. You should consult the manual of your convection oven to check on this.
Other than this, the only pointers to raise in closing concern roasting for optimum results in a convection oven.
V. A Note About Effectively Roasting in Your Convection Oven
When you’re roasting meat in a convection oven, you run the risk of drying out the surface of the meat. Also, since the overall temperature is higher than in a traditional oven, the roast also tends to shrink more, with the extra heat pinching the protein fibers.
If you’re cooking chicken or turkey in a convection oven, you’ll need to cook them all the way so that they are well-done. With poultry, you should lower the temperature while continuing to cook for the same time as normal. This should ensure that the very deepest parts of the thighs are properly cooked.
When you’re roasting in a convection oven, you should also take great care not to overcrowd the pan. The convection method hinges on air being able to freely circulate. If you overload your pan, you’ll prevent this from happening. Avoid placing too many pans inside at the same time, too. This can end up blocking one of the fans on your convection oven.
A final tip to help you take full advantage of the convection oven: always make certain nothing is preventing blowing air from hitting your food. Use rimless or low-sided baking pans and sheets to help you achieve this.
If you came to Madiba today with no idea about how to cook with convection ovens, that should now be different.
Using these highly efficient fan-assisted ovens can save you time in the kitchen, while also ensuring consistent results every time.
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