A convection oven does more than heat food through the use of an upper and/or lower element. It also uses a fan to circulate hot air throughout the unit to create an evener cooking temperature. This approach leads to faster preparation times when compared to what a conventional oven can provide.
Convection ovens do more than prepare pizza or cook turkeys. They are also useful for industrial needs and non-food uses. It removes the blanket of cold air that surrounds food products when placed in the oven, which allows it to work at a lower temperature without increasing the time to cook.
The first oven that used circulated air was invented in 1914, but the product never received a commercial launch. It wouldn’t be until the 1945 Maxson Whirlwind Oven that families began to use this technology.
If you’re thinking about using this option for food preparation or other needs, then these are the pros and cons of a convection oven to review.
List of the Pros of a Convection Oven
1. You can cook more than a single dish at a time.
When you are preparing a large meal, then it is not unusual to need to bake more than one dish in the oven at the same time. When you do so with a conventional approach, then the temperature drops inside. One will cook faster than the other based on its position to the element. Using a convection oven instead allows air to circulate so that all of the items in the unit receive the same, correct temperature.
The only way you can cook 2+ dishes using a conventional oven with reliable results is to have more than one appliance in your home.
2. Convection ovens cook foods evenly every time.
When you use a traditional oven, then the top of the appliance’s interior is going to be colder than the area near the element at first. Because hot air rises, the upper part can eventually become hotter than what is below your dish. That process can lead to uneven cooking because some areas are too hot or cold.
Because of the fan that circulates air in the convection oven, this issue disappears. You’ll have one consistent temperature for baking. That means you don’t need to worry about the center of your casserole being cold when the rest of the dish is done banking.
3. Cooking times are shorter in convection ovens.
You can cook foods at 300°F in a convection oven if the recipe calls for the dish to bake at 350°F in a traditional model. You can also make things faster than you would using the usual approach because the heat wraps around each container so that items cook from all sides simultaneously. You’ll get your dishes to the table up to 25% faster, which means this technology can be a real timesaver for busy families. You’re also using less electricity to make something, so you might see a small reduction in your power bill each month.
4. You can put your baking dishes anywhere in a convection oven.
Have you ever noticed a recipe telling you to place your baking tray or dish on the “center rack” of the oven? The traditional appliance offers 4-7 different shelving slots for food placement so that you can customize your cooking results. When you use a convection oven, it doesn’t matter where you place your items. The temperature remains the same everywhere inside the unit, which means there is no risk of burning something or cooking items unevenly. Everything bakes at the correct temperature.
5. The cost of a convection oven is similar to that of the traditional appliances.
If you want to purchase a conventional oven today, then you’ll spend about $500 for an entry-level model. It will cost about 10% more to purchase one that includes a fan to give you a convection setting. Although that’s more expensive than a $350 starter unit, the actual expense isn’t going to break your budget. If you don’t have that kind of money right now, then countertop versions are available for under $100. You won’t be able to put large dishes into the smaller unit, but it can cook pizzas and other small recipes effectively.
6. Your food comes out of the oven with crispier textures.
Have you ever noticed how a casserole dish comes out of the oven with a crispy top and bottom, but the insides are still kind of gooey – and even cold? When you use a convection oven, then your food items will brown better during the baking process. If you prefer roasted vegetables, French fries, or items that you would normally fry, you can use this appliance to create a healthier version that still provides a really nice crunch.
7. It works well for some kinds of dough.
A convection oven can be tough to use if you bake a lot of cakes, but you’ll love this technology if you prefer pie or small pastries. The circulating air produces more lift and flakiness to your crust, providing a better flavor profile that highlights the butter and spices in what you’ve rolled out.
If your convection oven comes with multiple fan speeds, it’s a lot easier to customize the results of your baked goods. It won’t work for every kind of dough that you might make, but it does a good job on your crumbles, homemade granola, and the classic apple pie.
8. Convection ovens are very easy to use.
If an appliance comes with a convection feature, then you can activate it by turning it on. Then the work of making the recipe adjustments falls on you when you use this feature. You have the option to turn it off if you want to bake a cake or take the traditional approach. Some people like to cover their baking shelves with aluminum foil, but you cannot do that if you use a convection feature because it prevents the air from circulating correctly within the compartment.
If you use a countertop model instead, then most of the small appliances have dial settings that let you set the time and temperature. Just place the food into the unit, engage the settings, and you’ll have something to eat in no time at all.
9. Some convection ovens change your settings automatically.
If you can afford a premium convection oven with traditional features, then you’ll get the best of both worlds. The appliance will automatically adjust your baking temperatures on the convection setting so that you don’t overcook your food. Some models will even give you a recommended baking time if you tell the unit what you’re making.
Each oven takes a different approach to this advantage, so you’ll want to review the features and the instructions from the manufacturer to know if this option is possible.
List of the Cons of a Convection Oven
1. Most recipes require an adjustment with a convection oven.
The recipes that most families use to make meals are based on the idea that a traditional oven is being used for the preparation process. You must always assume that the temperature and time requirements use this approach unless it specifically says the times and temps are for a convection appliance. If you don’t make the correct adjustment, then it is easy to end up with overcooked food and burned items, especially when making a cake, cookies, or bread.
The easiest adjustment to make is to bake for the same length of time as the recipe instructs but to reduce your temperature by 25 degrees. Since the food will cook up to 30% faster using this approach, you’ll need to calculate the specific times based on what you make.
2. Cakes don’t rise the same way in a convection oven.
If you bake a lot of bread or cakes, then a convection oven is going to be a headache. You won’t experience the same rising effect with your recipes as you would with the traditional appliance. If you prefer to bake at home, then the best unit will be one that allows you to turn off the fan that circulates air.
3. A convection oven breaks down more often.
You have more working parts with which to contend when you choose a convection oven over a conventional model. There is a fan and a heating element that both operate every time you turn the appliance on. That means you have extra parts that might require repairs at some point in time. Most units will last for several years without experiencing an issue, but the heavy use of a countertop design could cause premature failure of the product.
4. You can still put too many dishes into a convection oven.
The design of a convection oven allows you to stack dishes on top of each other to facilitate the baking process, but you can still overdo it. If you place too many items into the appliance, then you can block or overcrowd the fan. The unit won’t work as efficiently as it would otherwise, which means it will take longer for your food to cook. There might also be uneven results with your recipes if you encounter this disadvantage.
5. Convection ovens require specific baking dishes and pans.
If you decide that a convection oven is the best appliance option for your home, then you will need to review your baking dishes and pans. Most manufacturers recommend that you use rimless baking sheets and low-sided pans so that the circulating air can have the highest level of influence on your food. You must keep each item at least two inches from the side of the oven at all times to encounter the correct level of air movement.
When you don’t have these pans and dishes available, then you’ll need to buy them in addition to the convection oven. The cost isn’t astronomical, but it can be a bit of a nuisance when you’re trying to manage expenses.
6. You might need to add venting to your home.
Because the convection oven uses a fan to circulate hot air, you might need to add a venting port at its installation point. The hot air can then blow to the outside much like you do with your dryer. Different coding requirements may be in place for some communities regarding this exhaust, so you’ll need to check with a local contractor or the overseer of local building permits to understand your responsibilities. If you don’t have a vent in your kitchen, then creating one for the oven could be more expensive than you expect it to be.
The pros and cons of convection ovens are essential to review if you are buying a new appliance, remodeling your kitchen, or finishing a new home. This technology might cost a little more and have some disadvantages to manage, but it is generally a positive selection that can provide a number of critical benefits.
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.