How Convection Oven VS Conventional Oven Differ

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Not too long ago, the big decision about kitchen cooking appliances was choosing between gas and electric options. Today’s cooking technology offers many more choices and more interesting opportunities. Old cooking techniques like pressure cooking are making a comeback in popularity because of healthy cooking recommendations and the inventions of instant pots, air fryers, convection ovens and induction burners. The choice of convection oven vs conventional oven is one of many decisions that today’s cook will make, and that’s a good thing.Converting to these new kinds of appliances is made easier by the resources of the internet, food TV shows and food magazines. Recipes and cooking suggestions are readily available and help both new cooks and experienced cooks become familiar with what these kitchen innovations can produce. Deciding what to cook and exploring the best way to cook it makes the convection oven vs conventional oven dilemma much easier to figure out. All of these new appliances come with directions, usage suggestions and even recipes to introduce the new owner to what the machine can do.

What Is The Difference Between A Convection Oven VS Conventional Oven?

Learning Something New VS Relearning How To Cook

People who are just starting out in their own home and just beginning to cook may find the whole issue of convection oven vs conventional oven a puzzling one. They will probably purchase an oven that is both conventional and convection or discover that their microwave is also a convection oven. They will learn to cook with all of that technology and not have to wonder about the differences. They will follow directions and choose recipes that fit their equipment.But for people who have learned to cook with a conventional oven from home cooks in their family who only knew conventional ovens, the transition may be an adjustment. The collection of handwritten recipes passed down through the family and the shelves full of classic cookbooks all will reinforce the use of the conventional oven, and the convection oven vs conventional oven is a serious one.

How They Work

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The convection oven vs conventional oven comes down to how they operate. The conventional oven’s heat source is within the walls of the oven and usually on the bottom, radiating heat into the oven cavity. The convection oven’s heat source is the same, but it adds a fan that circulates the heat continually during the baking process, producing a more evenly balanced heat throughout the oven.When the fan is operating, an exhaust system removes excess moisture from the oven. A convection oven basically is a conventional oven with a fan and an exhaust feature. Many newer ovens have both conventional and convection functions.

Gas Or Electric?

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Both gas-powered and electric ovens offer these two oven technologies. The choice between gas and electric models is up to the personal preference of the oven purchaser and the availability of natural gas or propane service to provide the gas option. The cheapest ranges will offer only a conventional oven, but more and more appliances, even moderately priced ones, offer the two functions.The ideal configuration is an oven that offers the functions of bake, broil, convection bake, and convection roast. In the convection bake setting, the fan blows at a lower rate, and in the convection roast setting it blows at its full force. This combination of options gives the cook the features of both oven styles in one appliance.

Differences

Understanding the similarities as well as the differences is helpful in making the convection oven vs conventional oven comparison. Advocates of convection ovens have created the impression that this is a more sophisticated, advanced cooking technology and that it replaces the antiquated, outdated conventional oven. It may be possible to survive using only convection technology, but serious cooks with a repertoire of baking and cooking dishes will quickly learn that there is a place for both oven styles in a well-equipped kitchen.

How To Adapt To Convection

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There are general directions, such as the suggestion to set your convection oven temperature 25 degrees lower than you would your conventional oven. This still leaves the issue of exact timing up in the air when converting the temperature on a recipe. This may lead to the cook opening the oven multiple times to check the cooking progress and may well have the negative effect of cooling off the oven and changing the heat flow.For most people, the decision will not be the convection oven vs conventional oven, but rather when to use one and not the other. Making that decision will be much easier, especially when learning convection cooking, if the cook uses recipes that have been developed for the convection oven. With experience under his or her belt, making conversion guesstimates will become easier.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of The Convection Oven VS Conventional Oven?

Energy Efficiency

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Convection ovens heat faster than ovens operating in the conventional mode and may not even require preheating, although preheating may still be a good idea for some baking recipes. They also operate at comparable efficiency to a conventional oven when set at a temperature 25 degrees lower. The combination of a lower temperature setting and shorter cooking time, especially if preheating is reduced or eliminated, all can contribute to lower energy consumption. Real energy savings will depend on the oven user’s attention to time and temperature settings.

Quick, Crisp Results From Convection

The combination of the moving hot air of the convection oven and the exhaust system that removes moisture from the oven produces a crisp, well-browned surface on what is being cooked. This is the result that has led to the concept of the air-fryer, which doesn’t actually fry of course, but uses convection heat to produce a crispy finish. Convection roasting will produce a desirable, crisp exterior on large cuts of meat and will caramelize vegetables.

Conventional Advantages

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In the convection oven vs conventional oven debate, the pros aren’t all on the convection side! The high-speed fan of a convection oven actually can blow delicate batters and affect the shape of the finished product. On delicate cakes, and especially cupcakes, this will be a disappointing result. 

Convection also may cause the outside of a cake to bake and rise faster than the middle, possibly drying it out before it has even finished rising. This drying effect makes convection baking less desirable for dishes such as flans, cakes and souffles. Baking recipes can be especially challenging to switch from conventional to convection technique. 

Pastry chefs who have taken to convection baking are developing recipes, directions and guidelines to bake breads, cookies and pastries in convection ovens. This is a great way to learn how to use convection without having to modify all your old recipes and worry about the results.

​Conventional Oven Issues

In a conventional oven, heat is produced by stationary heating elements in the wall of the oven, most commonly from the bottom. The heat rises to the top of the oven and radiates throughout the oven, depending on the placement of the oven racks and the number of pans in the oven. Heat may be uneven, requiring moving the trays or baking pans from one rack to the other to help control the amount of heat reaching the tops and bottoms of the dishes.A conventional oven needs to be set somewhat higher, usually about 25 degrees, than the setting for a convection oven. The conventional oven is better-suited than convection for dishes where it is important to retain moisture.

How To Choose The Right Oven For You

The question of convection oven vs conventional oven is a topic of debate among experienced cooks and bakers. For new cooks, it will be a matter of learning how to operate their convection oven and finding recipes that call for that technology. This is getting easier all the time as cookbooks and food magazines recognize the growing availability of the convection oven and develop and publish appropriate recipes.

For experienced cooks, the convection oven vs conventional oven debate is more serious, and experimenting to find the right time and temperature conversions for familiar recipes may not appeal to everyone. In some ways it might seem too much like starting over.

Kitchen ranges in all price ranges except the very cheapest now offer convection options. Early versions of the dual ovens had just a single option for convection. Ovens that offer the functions of bake, broil, convection bake and convection roast give the cook an excellent selection of modes to accomplish virtually any oven recipe. Ovens with both conventional and convection modes are affordable and should be considered when you’re investing in a new range.

More and more recipes will assume the cook has access to convection technology. This will make it easy to adjust to convection. Only the most stubborncook will insist on avoiding convection.

In addition to ovens in full size ranges, there are new countertop appliances that incorporate convection technology. The popular air fryer is one of these. There are stand-alone air fryers that are essentially counter-top convection ovens. This feature is also included with some of the multi pots or instant pots that combine slow cooking and pressure cooking options with the air frying or convection baking feature. There are microwave ovens that are also convection ovens.

Convection Will Be The Conventional Of The Future

Convection technology is already part of almost every oven available on the market, and this is a trend that certainly will continue. It won’t be a choice between convection oven vs conventional oven. It will be the decision of when to use the convection feature and when to use the conventional one. It will be choosing a simple oven setting. In the future, the setting for what we call the conventional oven will simply be “bake.” The oven itself won’t be called conventional.

That very designation suggests that the convection oven is unconventional. Rather, the convection technology will be a standard feature of what will be the conventional or standard oven of the future.

With the ovens that have both conventional and convection options, the cook will have more choices and will be able to produce more precise results depending on the dish being made. Eventually the cooks who couldn’t imagine ever using a convection oven will wonder how they ever cooked without it.

​Conclusion

When a new technology comes along, it seems like people go through different stages of acceptance, depending on their personalities, personal style and general willingness to try new things. We all remember people who said they would never use a cell phone. And, of course, today they hardly remember having a land line or what a wall phone looked like.

Probably a fair number of accomplished home cooks and bakers have been heard to say they would never use a convection oven. If they aren’t already using one, it will be only a few years before they won’t have any idea what they were thinking. The oven of the future will be an oven with a range of settings that includes convection settings. The cook will use the setting appropriate for the recipe or preparation at hand.

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