By using a fan to circulate heat, a convection oven can produce dishes which are evenly baked throughout and can save energy by lowering cooking time. Those trying convection cooking for the first time, however, will likely find that they need to make adjustments to their normal cooking technique, or else risk burned dishes. Taking in a few key tips can help ease the transition from conventional to convection cooking. Firstly, convection ovens usually require reduced cooking times and temperatures, and call for shallow cookware. In addition, mastering convection cooking requires a watchful eye as well as some trial and error.
Due to the fact that convection ovens use a fan to evenly circulate heat, foods prepared in this type of oven require less energy to become cooked through than those prepared in a conventional oven. In practical terms, this means that when preparing a recipe in a convection oven, one should reduce the specified temperature, cooking time, or both. Some cooking experts suggest reducing a recipe’s stated temperature by 30 degrees Fahrenheit (roughly 15 degrees Celsius). Others recommend reducing a recipe’s stated cooking time by 25 to 30 percent. Still others advise reducing both the temperature and the cooking time.
In addition to making adjustments to temperature and cooking time, those switching to convection cooking must also ensure that they are using appropriate cookware. Convection cooking is successful only when air can freely circulate around the foods being cooked. Therefore, deep baking pans or covered dishes should be avoided. Cooks should instead use cookie sheets or shallow baking trays where possible. If cooking a turkey or other large portion of meat, it should be set on a roasting rack.
Even after one obtains appropriate cookware and adjusts cooking time and temperature, mastering convection cooking will likely require a period of trial and error. It may be useful to experiment with familiar recipes, trying different combinations of cooking time and temperature and taking note of which combination produces the best results. Until one has become familiar with her convection oven’s performance, it may be necessary to remain in the kitchen while cooking to visually monitor a dish’s progress. While making the switch to convection cooking may be frustrating at first, many professional cooks advise that those who persevere through this adjustment period will eventually be rewarded with springier breads, juicier meats, and flakier cookies.