When it comes to kitchen ovens, you've got a lot of options. Should you get the gas, electric, or induction stovetop burners? The gas, electric, or dual fuel oven? The oven with one or two doors? Would you use an oven with wireless connectivity and unique cooking modes for dishes such as pizza or bread? Last but not least, would you prefer conventional or convection?
Simply put, a convection oven uses a third heating element, a fan that circulates hot air to heat the food. A conventional or traditional oven does not have a fan; it warms from the bottom alone, which may result in uneven cooking.
If you don't like to spend a lot of time making dinner, then a convection oven would be an excellent choice for you. A convection oven cooks food much faster than a traditional oven, since in a convection oven, more hot air comes in contact with the food. Because of this, cooking temperatures or times will need to be adjusted, since recipes are commonly written for conventional ovens. When using a convection oven, you should either reduce the temperature by 25 degrees or reduce the cook time by 25 percent. Typically convection ovens have an automatic feature that will make these conversions for you.
Cooking multiple dishes in a conventional oven is difficult. Hot air rises in a traditional oven, and you'll find that the dishes at the top will always cook faster than the dishes toward the bottom. For example, if you place two sheets of cookies into a conventional oven, the bottoms of the cookies on the top rack will be browner and crispier than the bottoms of the cookies on the bottom rack. You'll get better results cooking one sheet at a time.
In a convection oven, no matter how many sheets of cookies you place in your oven or where you choose to put them, all the cookies will bake evenly.
A conventional oven will have hot and cold spots. You run the risk of burning or undercooking your food if you place it too close to the bottom or too close to the top. Conventional ovens can be finicky; you really need to know your oven.
Convection ovens, on the other hand, aren't as tricky. You can place your food anywhere in the oven, and it will cook evenly no matter where you put it.
Bakers may find that the fan in a convection oven negatively affects their delicate batters, such as soufflé or macarons. Bakers will have to adjust the fan speed or turn the convection feature off to turn out these delicious baked goods.
The hot air that circulates within a convection oven pulls across the food and is vented out, creating a dry environment perfect for roasting and braising. The movement of air and dryness of the heat may cause a cake to cook unevenly, however.
Conventional oven air stands still, creating a more humid environment that's ideal for bread and cakes.
A convection oven's third heating element is another part to repair when things go wrong, so convection ovens are almost always more expensive than traditional ovens.