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Convection Oven Cooking Tips

What is a convection oven? How is it different from a regular oven?

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Convection Oven Fan

© 2011 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Convection ovens are the norm in most commercial kitchens and fast becoming popular in home kitchens. Convection ovens may be gas or electric. The difference between a convection oven and a traditional (radial or thermal) oven is that the convection oven has the added bonus of a fan. The fan has two major advantages: It circulates the hot air resulting in more even cooking, browning, and crisping, and in doing so, also shortens cooking times by about 25%. Even browning also helps seal meats, resulting in a juicier product. Your food will look and taste better, will be more moist, and you will get out of the kitchen sooner. It's a win-win situation.

Many current stove models have an optional convection feature, meaning you can use the oven in the traditional manner or turn on the convection option at will. 

Convection Oven Cooking Tips

Here are some cooking tips for using your convection oven and converting your recipes to convection oven use:

• All ovens vary, so be sure to read the owner's manual for your particular convection oven.

• For traditional recipes, cooking time is generally 25% less when cooking an uncovered recipe. Start checking for doneness about 3/4 of the way through the recommended cooking time. 

• If you don't want the hassle of trying to figure out that reduced cooking time, simply reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees F. (about 15 C.) and use the same traditional cooking time. Of course, this defeats the benefit of the faster cooking time, but takes less brain-work.

• If your recipe calls for covering the food (such as casseroles or Dutch oven dishes), you will most likely need the traditional amount of baking time, so no adjustment should be necessary. If your convection is optional, it's probably best to not even bother using it. Just use the conventional method.

• Center your baking vessel on the oven rack so air can circulate freely and evenly around the food.

• When food is cooked uncovered in a convection oven, it browns faster. This does not necessarily mean it is done. Be sure to use a meat thermometer or the recommended testing method in the recipe instructions rather than going by outward appearances.

• Low-sided roasting pans or cookie sheets are recommended for convection cooking so the air can freely circulate around the food. Meat roasts and poultry should be placed on a V-rack over a shallow pan.

• If you are using parchment paper in your pan, you will most likely need to weight down the corners with pie weights so the fan doesn't blow the paper over the food. Silpats or silicone liners are recommended in lieu of parchment paper.

• If you can turn on the convection option at will, consider uncovering casseroles during the second half of the cooking time, then turn on the convection to get a nicely-browned finish.

Cookbooks

The Convection Oven Bible
Cooking with Convection: Everything You Need to Know to Get the Most from Your Convection Oven
The Best Convection Oven Cookbook
More Cookbooks
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