How Convection Baking Is Different to Regular Baking, Plus How to Convert Your Favorite Recipes for a Convection Oven

We're sharing two simple techniques you can use for both baking and cooking recipes.

woman taking homemade cake out of oven
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You've probably heard a lot of talk about convection ovens, most of it good, and maybe you're thinking of getting one or maybe you're moving into a home that has one and you're wondering how convection will work for you. Just how is convection bake different to regular bake, and would you be able to make your favorite recipes if you had a convection oven?

What Is Convection Cooking?

Convection ovens can roast or bake just about anything. They can be gas or electric, and they have fans that circulate hot air continuously throughout the oven to create a dry atmosphere that enables food to more evenly than with regular (thermal) ovens. They also cook food faster: when hot air is blowing onto food, as opposed to merely surrounding it, the food tends to cook more quickly.

The even cooking produced by a convection oven is especially useful for baked goods, but it also helps to create juicy, well-browned meat and poultry. And because the air circulates efficiently, more of the oven space can be used than with a regular oven. Convection ovens are available as an option in stoves, wall ovens, and in countertop ovens.

How to Adapt Recipes for a Convection Oven

A convection oven will cook faster and more evenly than a regular oven, so what does that mean for the recipes you love to make? You will need to adapt them for convection baking but you may well find that the results are better than when you used a regular oven.

There are two simple ways to adapt any recipe written for a regular oven to work for a convection oven: either reduce the temperature by about 25 degrees, or cut the cooking time by 25 percent, says our former associate food editor Riley Wofford. Both tactics are possible because of the appliance's supercharged efficiency and speed. Riley prefers the former option for baking and the latter for dishes that take an hour or more to cook, like a pot roast or whole chicken, since the amount of time saved is that much greater.

You should always check the manufacturer's handbook or website for information on the specific convection oven you are using. Breville's North American test kitchen manager Shaari Ward explains that their countertop ovens with convection settings have an auto-adjust built in, so that when you change the convection level, the temperature automatically increases or decreases. When using a convection oven like this, there is no need to reduce the temp or reduce the cook time, you can follow your recipe as usual.

For other convection ovens, use our tactics as guidelines—and remember that when baked in a convection oven, food may gain a golden brown color quickly, but it may not be thoroughly done. Whichever convection oven conversion approach you choose, be sure to follow the specific doneness test given in the original recipe.

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