Pressing the convection button on your oven will turn on convection fan(s) inside the oven chamber. The term “convection” implies a fan is being used to distribute heat evenly within the oven chamber. In its most basic terms, the fan blows hot air onto the food resulting in food that is cooked faster and more evenly with less hot and cold spots.
When the convection feature is enabled on a dual fan convection oven, a fan and exhaust system is activated. The fan and exhaust blow hot oven air evenly over and around the food being cooked, then vent it back out. As a result, this hot air surrounds the food and cooks it more quickly and evenly. The exhaust system will also pull moisture out of the oven, resulting in food that is more crispy and darker brown in color. Because convection cooking relies on air flow, you will get the best results by not putting food close together.
Keep in mind, there are different types of convection ovens. Some have a single fan, some have multiple fans, some have extra heating elements, etc. You can read about the differences over at Yale Appliance.
Some foods cook better with the convection feature activated and some cook worse. Generally speaking, soft baked goods such as cakes and custard that need moisture don’t do well with the convection feature. They will appear done from the outside but won’t be done on the inside. Most meats, casseroles, pies, pizzas, cookies, and any foods that should have a crispy or crusty exterior, cook the best with the convection fan running.
Because the moving air decreases moisture and keeps the heat at a consistently higher temperature, cooking time and temperatures need to be adjusted when using the convection feature. A rule of thumb is to reduce the heat by 25 degrees and shorten the cooking time by about one-half to two-thirds.
I suspect the reason convection cooking isn’t more popular is that most recipes are written for standard ovens. Who wants to waste time trying to figure out proper cooking times and temperatures?
- The earliest ovens were found in Central Europe and dated to 29,000 B.C.
- An oven used for making pottery is called a kiln.
- By 3200 BC, most mud-brick houses in Indus Valley Civilization had an oven in them.
- TheKitchn.com – What Is a Convection Oven, and How Does It Work?
- TheKitchn.com – 5 Important Things to Know About Baking in a Convection Oven
- SFGate.com – What Is the Convection Switch for an Oven Used For?
- Wikipedia.org – Oven