How to Use a Convection Oven to Make Almost Any Recipe Tastier

Use this easy formula to properly cook almost anything in your convection oven.

If you have a convection oven, or your oven offers a convection option, take advantage! Choosing this feature can offer superior browning and crisping results. That means beautifully golden-brown pastries, perfectly crisp cookies, evenly roasted meats, delightfully caramelized vegetables, and more. Because convection ovens cook faster than traditional ovens, convection cooking can save you a little time, too. The only catch is that if you're cooking from a traditional recipe, some timing and/or temperature adjustments may be needed. Find out the best standard oven to convection oven conversion formulas for almost any baked recipe, and you'll be on your way to convection perfection.

What Is a Convection Oven?

Convection ovens are gas or electric appliances with fans that circulate hot air throughout the oven. The constant air circulation enables food to cook faster and more evenly. Even cooking means superior results, especially for baked goods. Also, because the air circulates, more of the oven space can be used.

If you're thinking to yourself, "this sounds a lot like using an air fryer," you're right! They work essentially the same.

Convection Oven Conversion

No complicated convection oven conversion chart needed! Essentially, there are two easy-peasy approaches to convection oven conversions: You can either shorten the baking time or reduce the temperature. While you should follow your manufacturer's guidelines, here are the general formulas for each of these approaches:

1. Shorten the convection oven cooking times

For this approach, set the oven to the same temperature as indicated in the original recipe; however, check for doneness after three-quarters of the baking time has elapsed. For example, if your recipe calls for 60 minutes in the oven, when converting bake time to convection cooking, check the food after 45 minutes.

2. Reduce the original baking temperature by 25°F.

For example, if your recipe calls for baking the food in a 375°F oven, set the dial to 350°F. If it calls for 400°F, set it to 375°F. What about 450°F? You got it, 425°F is your convection oven temperature.

Test Kitchen Tip: Whichever convection oven conversion approach you choose, be sure to follow the specific doneness test given in the original recipe. Even when food appears deliciously golden brown (as food often will in a convection oven), it may not be thoroughly done. Be sure you're up to speed on when cookies, cakes, and meats are truly and safely done.

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When to Use Convection Bake

In general, choose convection baking when you want your baked goods or roasted meats and poultry to come out of the oven nicely browned and/or delightfully crisp. According to GE, which manufacturers both traditional and convection ovens, convection cooking is best suited for baking cookies and pies, roasting meats, dehydrating foods, and making crusty breads and pizza.

More Tips for Convection Oven Adjustments

Ensure perfect results every time you bake with convection cooking using these helpful pointers.

  • ​​​​Whichever convection conversion method you use, always test food a few minutes before the minimum cooking time specified in the recipe has elapsed.
  • Follow the user's manual for the manufacturer's recommendations for preheating a convection oven. Be sure to position oven racks before you turn the oven on because they will heat up quickly.
  • To enable hot air to circulate around the food, place foods in the center of the oven; be sure to leave space between pans and oven walls.
  • Because convection ovens offer superior results when browning and crisping foods, most recipes designed for convection ovens do not call for baking dishes to be covered. If you do use your convection oven to bake a standard recipe that calls for the dish to be covered, the temperature and time will likely be about the same. For covered long-baking recipes designed for a standard oven, such when braising meats, you may reduce the temperature by 25°F to 50°F when using a convection oven.

It's no wonder convection ovens are standard in many commercial kitchens. When it comes to baking and roasting, they can make all the difference between good enough and great. With little adjustment for convection oven cooking times, home cooks can achieve pro results from their convection ovens, too.

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