Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.
What Is The Difference Between A Conventional Oven and A Convection Oven?
If you’re furnishing a brand-new home or renovating your kitchen, you essentially have two types of ovens to choose from: a regular, conventional oven or a convection oven. When choosing between the two, it’s important that you understand the features, functionality, and specifics of each one.
As a homeowner, you’ll likely ask yourself at one point or another: “What is the difference between a conventional oven and a convection oven? In short, the main difference between convection ovens and conventional ovens has to do with how heat is distributed. As opposed to conventional oven heating, a convection oven uses a fan and exhaust system to circulate hot air.
We’ll explore this question in further detail and help give you all the essential information in order to make an informed decision on which oven is right for your particular cooking needs.
Table of Contents
What is a Conventional Oven?
Conventional ovens, often referred to as regular, traditional, radiant or thermal ovens, contain heating elements that are generally located on the bottom or top areas of the oven. In general, when using a conventional oven, you can expect the dish that is closest to the heating element to cook the fastest.
This type of oven is probably what you are most familiar with and most recipes are written with conventional ovens in mind. Many people often feel more comfortable cooking with conventional ovens since they don’t require any time or temperature adjustments to account for the way the heat is circulated.
Conventional ovens can be either gas or electric to fit your home or preference.
What is a Convection Oven?
Unlike conventional ovens, convection ovens have a powerful fan and exhaust system that circulates the hot air within the oven. This distribution of air helps to maintain a consistent temperature and makes convection ovens the ideal choice for effectively cooking multiple food items at once.
Just like conventional ovens, convection ovens can be outfitted for gas or electric. They also come in various models with differing features.
One example of a convection oven is called a True convection oven. Sometimes called third-element convection or European convection, True convection involves the addition of a third heating element along with the fan.
In this case, True convection can cook your meals faster and much more evenly. However, since this type of convection cooks food differently than conventional ovens, you may have to alter recipes slightly to compensate for these differences.
If you have difficulty choosing between conventional or convection, many ovens on the market are a hybrid that offers both options built into one appliance. Most convection ovens have a specific “convections setting” that can be turned on when needed.
Electric or Gas?
As previously stated, both conventional and convection ovens can be electric or gas. However, most convection ovens have cooktops that are gas. Thinking beyond the burners, electric convection ovens are more common than their gas counterparts.
This is mostly due to the fact that the combination of a gas flame with a circulating fan causes the potential danger of the fan blowing out the flame. A burner that is left on without a visible flame can lead to a number of problems including, but not limited to, carbon monoxide poisoning.
With electric convection ovens, there is no flame so all the fan does is circulate the hot air. There are no possible hazards associated with the fan and open flame with electric convection.
Nowadays, some gas convection models strategically place smaller fans in order to avoid these dangers. In theory, a gas convection oven that is a newer model can be just as safe as electric convection ovens.
When it comes to conventional ovens, you will not have any of these possible hazards because they do not have a circulating fan.
Pros and Cons of Convection Ovens
In general, conventional ovens are more understood and offer a familiar cooking method. When you’re selecting the oven for your home, it’s essential that you are aware of the alternative as well as all of the associate pros and cons. Let’s examine all the possible advantages and disadvantages of owning a convection oven.
The Pros of Convection Ovens
- Evenly cooked food. It’s very common for cooking food in a traditional oven to result in some areas that are too cold and others too hot. This will never be an issue when cooking with a convection oven. The fan will circulate the hot air, surrounding your food and producing consistent temperatures throughout the appliance.
- Shorter cooking time. With the addition of a fan, convection ovens allow food to be cooked effectively at lower temperatures. For example, a dish that you would usually cook at 350 degrees in a conventional oven can be cooked at 300 degrees in a convection oven. Consequently, food can be cooked much faster than it would in a traditional oven.
- Cook multiple dishes at once. When cooking a big meal, you may need to use your oven to cook more than one dish. In a conventional oven, this can make things complicated and lead to some foods being finished before others or general uneven results. However, when you put more than one dish in a convection oven, the multiple dishes are viewed as one singular item. You even have the ability to stack dishes on top of each other, and the food will still remain at the same temperature.
- Dishes can be placed anywhere. In conventional ovens, you have to ensure that it is placed in the proper position for optimal cooking results. Putting pans too close to the top or bottom of the oven could possibly result in burnt food. Because of the heat distribution in convection ovens, pans can be placed anywhere in the oven’s interior and will still cook evenly at the correct temperature.
The Cons of Convection Ovens
- Recipes have to be adjusted. Since most recipes are developed around conventional ovens, you have to rethink them when cooking with a convection oven. If the recipe isn’t adjusted to compensate for the way heat is distributed, you may end up with overcooked or burned food. You may be able to find some recipes that are adopted for convection ovens but not all recipes will have instructions for both.
- Dough will not rise properly. The most prevalent complaint among convection oven owners is the fact that breads and cakes do not rise in the same way they do in conventional ovens. If you bake frequently, opt for a hybrid oven that allows the convection fans to be turned off.
- Too many dishes may hinder performance. While convection ovens allow you to cook multiple dishes at once, you could potentially block the fan or overcrowd the inside. A convection fan that cannot operate properly can cause your food to take longer to cook. In general, it’s always best to put a few dishes in an oven as possible to avoid any obstruction of performance.
How to Adjust for Convection
If your oven primarily operates as a conventional oven but also has convection settings, it’s possible that you’ve never even used them before. While you might assume that you can just pop your dish into the oven on the same settings, turn the switch to convection, and proceed as normal, this is not the case.
Since a convection oven cooks quicker and more consistently, you need to make slight adjustments to your normal cooking settings when you cook with convection. Here’s what you should do:
- Avoid overcrowding the oven. When you cook on a convection setting, you should avoid putting too many dishes into the oven. Since convection works based off of air circulation, your food will be cooked more evenly with less items inside.
- Check the food often. Always check on your dish more often towards the end of cooking. In most cases, you won’t need to leave it in the oven for as long. Try to avoid opening the door when checking on the food, as air will escape and disrupt the cooking process. Instead, check in on your dish by using the oven light.
- Use pans and dishes that have lower sides. Opting for cookware with low sides will make it much easier for the air to flow properly, giving your food more room to cook. For instance, so long as your dish allows it, try to choose a cookie sheet instead of a casserole dish.
- Decrease the temperature by 25 degrees. When cooking with convection, chefs recommend lowering the temperature by around 25 degrees from your conventional settings.
These small adjustments to your regular cooking routine can make convection cooking easy, delicious, and fun.
Wrapping It Up
Now that you understand the difference between the two types of ovens, you can make an educated choice for your home. Whether you decide to go with a convection oven or a traditional oven will depend on your individual cooking needs and desires.
However, if you’re looking to get the best of both conventional ovens and convection ovens, consider opting for an oven that has both settings.
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