Convection and conventional ovens are the two main types of ovens in the modern world. Whenever you have options from which you are supposed to make a choice, the dilemma automatically kicks in. In order to pick on which oven is perfect for you, one has to first understand what each of them is all about.
This is where the convection oven versus conventional oven battle comes into play. When comparing a convection and conventional oven, there are things to consider. These include their features, uses, pros, cons and effective ways of usage. Therefore, if you are looking for an upgrade or it’s your first time buying an oven, this article is for you.
What is a Convection Oven?
This is also popularly known as a fan oven. Contrary to what many believe, the term convection is just a setting on the oven and not the oven itself. It’s this setting which enables you to adjust it to the correct way your food is to be prepared.
Benefits of Convection Oven
- Reduced cooking time: A convection oven cooks faster; up to 40 minutes less cooking time for the long cooked dishes. This is attributed to the efficiency of the fan when it comes to heat distribution. The convection fan and exhaust system pulls and blows hot air around the food hence maintaining a steady temperature. This is what speeds up the cooking process.
- The food cooks evenly: It’s still about the convection fan circulating heat from all directions, thereby surrounding your food with heat. This even distribution of heat all through the cooking process in turn results to an evenly cooked food. This leaves you with no doubt of whether to rotate or not to rotate the food when cooking.
- Energy efficient: The fact that it gets your food ready in less time saves energy consumption. With a convection oven, you will definitely save some money when it comes to your regular monthly expenditure. That is money you can spend on something else, like say buying the right convection cookware.
- Can handle more than one dish at a time: This setting makes it possible to cook or bake multiple items at a go provided they require the same cooking conditions. The better part is that there’s absolutely no transfer of flavor from one dish to the other. This is yet another amazing way through which a convection oven saves you time and of course energy as well.
- You can cook your food from anywhere: The location of the food inside the oven is not an issue when you have a convection oven. The cookware can be placed anywhere on the racks; no restrictions. The food will still cook evenly.
- The food gets ready all at the same time: This works best when preparing a number of dishes all at once. With a convection oven, you don’t have to worry about a particular tray being overcooked, undercooked or even burnt before the others. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be checking on your food. You can still make adjustments or even rotations if need there-be.
- Can be converted to a conventional oven: Most of the convection ovens come with two diverse settings. This comes in handy when you want to prepare diverse kinds of food so you don’t have to buy another oven. You can either use the regular oven setting or choose to use the convection setting based on what you are preparing at that particular time.
When to Use the Convection Setting
- When roasting
It will give you crispier roasted meats and vegetables with deliciously moist interiors. All of these cook for lesser time due to the fast and even heat inside the oven.
- When baking a lot of cookies
Saves you time because you can bake using all the oven trays. You still rest assured that they will be ready evenly at relatively the same time.
- When cooking a dish that is supposed to be covered
The problem with convection is that it dries out moisture in the food. However, when the food is tightly closed with a foil or a lid, it will still turn out perfectly.
- When making toasts or need to dehydrate food
The exhaust system helps remove the moisture faster and efficiently. This makes the food perfectly dry from all directions.
However, don’t use the convection setting on delicate foods like quick breads, cakes, or even custards. The setting will dry out the moisture, giving you very crusty baked goods.
Better still, these Do’s and Don’ts should not limit you. Whatever way you want the end product to be entirely depends on your preferences, especially if you are not a professional cook. There’s room for breaking some of these rules.
Drawbacks of Convection Oven
- Not ideal for baking everything
This is not the best oven to bake some items, especially those that are dense or high in fats. This is because the exhaust system is not appropriate for delicate baked items that need the moisture to be retained in them.
In addition to drying out the moisture, your baked goods may not rise to perfection compared to when a regular oven is used. As for the cakes, they might end up being brown on the outside, but totally uncooked on the inside.
The oven just does an amazing job when it comes to roasting meat and vegetables, baking cookies and everything else that needs to be evenly browned. However, when you feel the urge to bake and you have a convection oven, you can still pull it through. Just turn it into a conventional oven by turning off the convection button. This will still give you optimal results.
- Might change the texture of the food
As earlier mentioned, convection ovens do not trap moisture in the oven chamber during the cooking process. You will end up with either dry or crispy food. Therefore, when the food you are cooking requires the original moisture to be retained, it’s only appropriate that you cook the conventional way.
- They are more fragile
If you have a convection oven in your kitchen, or you are planning to buy one, just remember to be extra careful at all times. The oven parts can fail or break down easily when not properly handled.
This normally happens when you overcrowd the oven. Even the fan can get overworked. Therefore, only cook or bake as much as the oven can manage. This not only guarantees you optimal performance, but also saves you maintenance or repair costs that might be incurred.
- They are a little costly
Convection ovens are like an all-in-one package. It’s because of the many advantages that these ovens have that make their price to be off the hook. In order to buy one, you will have to spend a couple of extra dollars.
In some stores, the prices are even more than double the normal price for the high end brands. However, if you buy from a trusted brand, this kitchen appliance will be the best thing that has ever happened to you.
It is, therefore, advisable that you ensure the oven has all the features of a convection oven before purchasing. You might end up paying a lot of money just for an ‘impostor’ brand which will not be worth it definitely.
When you normally cook using recipes, you might find it hard to adjust the convection oven settings to the conditions provided on the recipe. Most recipes that we normally come across are those to be used with a conventional oven.
Due to how fast they cook, you’ll have to reduce the overall cooking time and oven temperatures given on the recipe. Doing this can sometimes bring unpleasant turnouts because really, it’s just pure trial and error. It however gets much easier and fun once you get to understand how best your oven works.
So before figuring out the right cooking time and temperatures, you should consider going slow on the volumes of food you prepare. This will minimize the damages, in case of burnt, overcooked or undercooked food.
How to Effectively Use Convection Oven in Cooking
Here are tips that will make you get the best results from your convection oven:
- Lower Temperatures and Cooking Time
When following a recipe meant for a conventional oven, cook using a lower temperature and overall cooking time than that indicated on the recipe. It cooks faster, remember. So you won’t end up with burnt food.
Actually, I tend to believe this should be the case with every newly acquired oven. This is because what works best for someone else’s oven may not be the same with yours. We have quite a number of brands on the shelves from every corner of the world, each functioning differently.
Every manufacturer tends to customize their products to make them unique from the rest, in order to stand out.
- Don’t Overfill the Oven
Many people take advantage of the fact that a convection oven can cook or bake multiple foods at the same time. So it’s just normal that you may be tempted to cook as much as you can in a single shift. However, just like every other appliances, ovens too do have a limit.
Overcrowding it will get the oven worked up. It can, therefore, fail to function properly or even break down hence prompting for additional maintenance costs. Convection ovens are already pricey, therefore, you should avoid going deeper into your credit cards by taking all the necessary precautions.
- Type of Cookware
Before throwing any pan or dish in the oven, always ensure that they have lower sides. This is what enables the heat to evenly circulate on all sides of the food, especially when baking or roasting.
Using the wrong cookware will give you an unevenly cooked food, which shouldn’t be the case when using a convection oven. You already paid a lot of money for the oven. Therefore, the best way to reward yourself is by ensuring that your food always comes out perfectly done.
- The Convection
The good thing with the convection oven as we have seen is that you can turn the convection setting on and off. This entirely depends on how you want your food cooked.
Some dishes will not turn out okay when prepared under the convection settings. The only important thing is preferences, that is, what suits your palate.
- Keep the Foil/Parchment in Place
Sometimes all you need when baking is just a foil or parchment and not pans or even bowls. This is usually the case when making cookies. In such instances, the convection fan may keep on blowing the foil up, which might interfere with your cooking and even make the oven messy. Always keep it on the low by pressing it down with any oven-friendly metal kitchenware, like a table spoon or fork.
- Don’t Block the Fan
The effectiveness of a convection oven largely depends on the fan. This is the main unique feature that makes everything work differently. Therefore, when placing your food in the oven, especially large objects, make sure it doesn’t block the fan. This will in turn block the even circulation of the hot air to the other parts of the oven chamber. The result is definitely an unevenly cooked food.
A conventional oven is also popularly referred to as thermal or regular oven. It is similar to the convection oven, only that it doesn’t have the second and third heating elements. That is, the fan and the exhaust system.
Some of the Benefits of Using a Conventional Oven?
- Ideal for baking
Conventional oven is the traditionally recognized oven ideal for all baking escapades. This is because it doesn’t have a fan and exhaust system that blows out all the moisture and fats. With it, everything is retained within the oven chamber, good for your baked goods.
Most of the recipes are written for conventional ovens. This means that you don’t need to make any changes or adjustments to the conditions indicated on the recipe. There is necessarily no room for many trials, making this oven easier to use.
It also means that the accuracy levels will be higher, reducing the chances of the food burning, being overcooked or undercooked. With this oven, everything will go well for you and your food, provided that you follow the instructions to the latter. You can comfortably bake pastries to push you through the week, without doubts of making huge messes.
- No specific cookware required
When using a conventional oven, there are no conditions when it comes to the kind of utensils to use. This makes your work a bit easier because you don’t have to make any adjustments or go through the hustle of getting new sets of utensils.
It saves you from unnecessary expenditures. You can comfortably use whatever pans and dishes that you already have, provided they are oven-friendly.
Conventional ovens are more affordable compared to the modern convection ones. Therefore, when you rarely use an oven in your kitchen, you might as well retain or buy this type. This is better than spending a lot of money on an appliance that you will barely use.
Drawbacks of Conventional Oven
- Cooks unevenly
Conventional ovens don’t have fans installed in them, so the heat is not evenly distributed in the oven chamber. Cooking is done through the radiating heat generated from the oven walls.
Not all the parts of the food being cooked are exposed to these walls, so you have to periodically rotate or turn the food. Failure to do this gives you dishes with some parts that are fairly done, and the rest barely done.
As earlier mentioned, these ovens don’t cook food evenly. You have to periodically turn, rotate or make adjustments as the cooking continues. Therefore, when using a conventional oven, you have to pay close attention to the food for it to turn out perfectly. This means that you have to be closer to the oven, and cannot successfully run other errands.
- Time consuming
Conventional ovens take longer time to heat. The reflection is in the overall cooking time which tends to be relatively longer. This is not quite efficient, especially when you are in a hurry and need the food done within a short period of time.
- Multiple Dishes
These ovens don’t give you the privilege to cook or bake multiple items at the same time. This is because when you try to, your dishes may not turn out the same. Not all of them will get ready under the same cooking time and temperatures.
You will end up with others being barely done, prompting you to re-do them. This really is not anything different from just cooking one meal at a time.
- Energy consumption
Due to the prolonged cooking times, conventional ovens tend to consume more energy. The fact that you cannot also prepare multiple dishes at a time also implies that you will definitely use more energy for each procedure. This is unlike when you just cook all you need at once.
How to Effectively Use Conventional Oven in Cooking
- Position of the cookware
When you place your dish or pan on the racks closer to either of the heating elements, it tends to cook faster. In case you want the food done a little bit faster, you now know where to position it.
This also means that such positioning may easily get the food burnt, even before those on the other racks get ready. Therefore, when monitoring your food, focus on these racks and rotate the trays as need there-be.
- Always keep the oven door closed
Continuous opening of the oven door extends the cooking time. So when monitoring the cooking process, you are advised to do so through the glass, and only open the door when you need to make adjustments to the trays. This will not only save you time, but energy as well.
Difference Between Convection Oven and Conventional Oven
These two types of ovens may look all the same with the only difference being the additional fan and exhaust system in a convection oven. It is these additional features that bring the difference in the functionality of the ovens.
- Heat Distribution
In a conventional oven, the radiated heat used in cooking the food rises from the source at the bottom of the oven, cooking the food from underneath. With a convection oven, the heated oven air is blown and circulated throughout the chamber by the convection fan when cooking.
The main reason people go for a conventional oven apart from the cost is attributed to how perfect it is when it comes to baking. A convection oven can also be used for baking, but only when you want the baked goods to turn out crusty.
This is why it is not ideal for cakes, but does amazing work when it comes to roasting or dehydrating. To some extent, it also comes in handy when cooking foods with closed lids where the moisture stays fully retained.
A convection oven has a fan and an exhaust system which the conventional ovens do not have. It’s this major observation that makes a difference on how long and effective the oven cooks. The fan ensures that the heat is circulated all round and it’s not concentrated in one direction, touching on everything placed in the oven.
- Even cooking
When using a convection oven, it’s a guarantee that your food will cook evenly. No matter how many trays are stacked up, you will still end up with properly done food. This is aided by the evenly circulated hot air. A conventional oven on the hand requires you to rotate the food midway through the cooking, for it to cook evenly
- Monitoring the food
Convection ovens require minimal monitoring during the cooking process. The only time you need to repeatedly check the food is when you are using it for the first time. During such instances, you may still be trying to figure out which settings are compatible with your oven.
With a conventional oven on the other hand, you have to monitor the progress of what you are cooking. The food will often get ready at different times, depending on the racks where they are placed.
Convection ovens dictate that you use dishes and pans with lower sides. This is to allow the hot air to circulate freely around the food. The conventional types on the other hand require no special dish when cooking or baking. This is because either way, the radiated heat is only transmitted to the food from underneath.
- Rack positioning
There are specific points in a conventional oven where you have to place your food for it to cook faster. This depends on whether the rack is closer to or far away from the heating element. However, for a convection oven, this doesn’t matter because the heat will still be circulated to your food, no matter which oven rack you use.
Having gone through the convection oven versus conventional oven battle, you now have a clear understanding of both. No matter the type of oven you choose for your home or business, there are important things to always remember. Such precautions cut across both convection and conventional ovens for maximized performance.
For example, re-adjust your settings with every meal you cook. Different dishes require varying conditions to cook properly. When you throw in a next meal with the previously used settings still running, you risk ruining your food.
Buying a good oven is one thing and maintaining it is yet another task. An expensive appliance is not a guarantee that it will serve you for a long time. You have to handle it with utmost care.
After learning about these two types of ovens, I hope that your decision on what to buy has become much informed. However, before making a purchase, inspect the oven properly to see if it has all the said features. You shouldn’t just assume that all the brands automatically come with the entire package.