How To Use A Convection Oven — And The Best Foods To Cook In It

If you’re lucky enough to have a convection oven, it’s time to start using it properly.

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Roast chicken sheet pan dinner
Your chicken dinner will be even more of a winner! Photo, Roberto Caruso.

Many ovens have a convection setting, but it often gets ignored. Don’t be intimidated by this feature — it can help you cook your food faster and more evenly. Here’s how to make good use of a convection oven.

What’s the difference between a convection and a regular oven?

Conventional ovens heat up thanks to coils located at the top and bottom of the appliance. However, even the best ovens have a downside — if you use an oven thermometer, you’ll know that some don’t come up to temperature, and many have hot and cold patches, which means you have to move your dishes around throughout the cooking process. But, with a convection oven, your food can stay put.

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How much quicker does food cook in a convection oven?

That’s because convection ovens come equipped with a fan and an exhaust system to circulate hot air. Basically, your food is constantly enveloped in a warm hug, so you don’t need to worry about moving it around while it cooks. It’ll also be ready — and achieve a beautiful golden-brown colour — more quickly. Some estimate food cooks about 25 to 30 percent faster in a convection oven, so make sure you check it often. Or, try cooking it for the same period of time, just turn the temperature down 25 degrees F.

When should you use the convection oven setting?

To get the best results, use the convection setting when you’re cooking or baking with low-sided dishes (such as a roasting pan or cookie sheet). As much as possible, you want to expose the surface area of your food to the circulating air. Just remember, the convection setting yields a drier environment, while a regular, or conventional, oven is more humid.

These are the types of dishes that will have best results in a convection oven

These are the types of foods that will have best results in a conventional — aka “regular” — oven

Use your conventional oven setting for any recipes that include a batter than needs to rise (think cakes), delicate pastries and baked goods, such a cheesecakes, flans, soufflés and meringues, such as macarons.

Make a sheet-pan roast chicken dinner with your convection oven!