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Teach me how to use my convection oven

We have a fancy new range with our kitchen remodel which gives us the option of convection bake. I have never used a home convection oven before and need help. The guy who installed it said basically use it for things you want crispy on the outside like roasts or potatoes because the circulating air dries things out, and that it doesn't necessarily decrease cooking time. I used it once to bake lasagna with no noticeable differences, and once to bake cookies when they were browning unevenly. It did help the cookie browning. What should it be used for and not used for? Anyone use theirs to dry fruit (I am thinking our boatload of figs - but lowest temp setting is 200)? Words of wisdom?

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  1. In addition to using it to create a crispy exterior on meats, I use it when cooking *long and low* (200 degrees) to create more even cooking (ie; my Thanksgiving turkey, Easter ham, pork shoulder, pot roast, brisket, etc.).

    1. You can use it for almost everything. It does take some trial and error to get used to it. You'll also want to monitor your food a little more closely to figure out when things are done (until you get used to it). You don't need to preheat as much.

      Most convection ovens come with a good instruction manual that gives you a translation table between conventional and convection ovens (for example, if you normally cook a roast at 380, you will want to set it at 350 in the convection oven).

      Here is a good on-line resource:

      1 Reply
      1. re: Darren72

        just tried my convection oven smoky and messy had a horrible smell because on the roast setting the broiler goes on and off guess what the hot air blown over the food nicely gets sent allover the oven and leaves a greasy film over the entire oven is this common what am I missing here I wish I had my old electric oven back how to prevent the grease

      2. I had a convection oven where I used to live, and am looking for a range with a convection/conventional oven. What did you get? Baking cookies is done at a lower temp and actually takes longer. Cakes the same. Meats about the same but end up crispier on the outside. This is a great tip: Nuke a baking potato until almost done and then convect for 10 or 12 minutes for a crispy skin. Also Thanksgiving: Your turkey can go from wall to wall as the air is moving and you don't need much space around it. Contact me directly if you want more specifics.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Curmudgeon

          Thanks for the tips! I'm baking potatoes tonight. It is the 36" Viking - all gas, self-cleaning, sealed burners. I love having six big burners. Room for pasta water, skillet of sauce AND skillet of vegetables without something perched halfway off the stove. Canning is totally enjoyable with this thing for the same reason.

          I had heard people complain about not getting the burners low enough to simmer but I have not had that problem. Also my husband bought a metal plate at Shackfords to put over the burner so my Bialetti coffee maker doesn't tip or overheat, but I needed that before. It distributes the heat beautifully. I use it when scalding milk and can melt chocolate right in a saucepan on the plate.

          The oven is enormous (we would have sprung for the 48" with two ovens but didn't have room and 8 burners is just ridiculous) so I'll plan on two Thanksgiving turkeys. The broiler is a revelation, toasts bread instantaneously. I haven't tried creme brulee with it but I'm sure it's possible.

          My only complaint - besides the price which is why I am here typing instead of on vacation this summer - is the window on the door is kind of small and the lighting isn't too good in there so I end up opening the door to check on things more than I would like.

        2. Just about the only thing I don't use convection for is things that would get blown around due to the fan-ie souffles (they'll look like they were windblown). It might not always decrease cooking time but I find it usually does. My thanksgiving turkeys (~15 lbs) always take under 2 hours.

          1. From what I am reading, all items using the convection feature of an oven are cooked uncovered. Can I assume that an item cooked in a lidded pot gets no advantage from the convection feature? Thanks.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mksfca

              you can get the benfit of keeping things covered. The general rule is 25 degree lower temp for 25% less time. So, if something braises for 2 hours, you can usually cut about 30 minutes from it.

            2. I am one of the owners of Specialties Appliances and Plumbing fixtures in Berkley Michigan. We actually go into the homes of our customer and teach them all about convection and how to use their “fancy new” ranges. Here’s what we teach:

              The definition of convection is, the transfer of heat through a fluid (liquid or gas) caused by molecular motion.

              In convection ovens, this is accomplished by using a fan at the back of the oven, to move the air through the oven cavity, creating a more even temperature throughout and allowing multi shelf cooking. In a regular oven, when using Bake, the bottom element heats up forming a hot spot in the lower oven. Since hot air rise and the thermometer is at the top of the oven, the temperature you set for the oven, is at the top of the oven but not throughout the cavity. Most recipes were developed accounting for this variance in temperature

              When using Convection, the temperature you set is now through out the cavity. To correct for this, most guides advise decreasing regular recipe temperatures by about 25 degrees and cooking times by 10 to 25 percent. That said, there is a learning curve, because every oven varies slightly in temperature.

              In many of the high-end ovens, there are multiple convection settings:
              Convection Bake, Convections Roast, Convections Broil, Pure Convection. On these models these I recommend the following:

              Convection Bake- Drop temperature by 25 degrees, use only one rack. Best for cookies, cakes muffins, and breads.

              Convection Roast – When roasting meats, leave temperature at suggested degree for the first 15 minutes or so to sear the meat. This will seal in the juices, then reduce temperature by 25 degrees. Use only one rack. Best for meats, turkey, chicken, duck and roasting vegetables.

              Convection Broil - no change necessary

              Pure or True Convection- In addition to having a fan in the back of the oven, most high-end ovens have an additional concealed element in the back, around the fan. This allows for even multi rack cooking.
              Reduce temperature by 25 degrees.

              Our chefs use convections almost exclusively. I tell people, if you have an old family recipe that comes out perfect at 325 bake, then keep it that way, but start playing with it. As someone else mentioned, I do not recommend convections for soufflés or muffins because they will have a windblown look.

              10 Replies
              1. re: dorbarak

                Very helpful post!!

                But our GE Profile Advantium has both standard and convection features. Other than the apparent preferences I see here for baking in a convection oven, are their advantages to convection ovens besides time? Is that why chefs use them 'almost exclusively'?

                1. re: Midlife

                  The other advantage (with a good convection oven) is evenness. The blown air makes the entire oven the same temperature, so there aren't hot and cool spots.

                  It does take some getting used to, for sure, but the results are impressive.

                  1. re: pramjockey

                    thanks, one thing that i found and i dont know if the temp is too high or if the result is typical of a convection oven, but my choclate banana bread border was crisp and my choclate cake edges were crisp as well and a little dry, i kept the temp the same but cut the time by 5 minutes, as i said i am experiementing but i do apprciate your feedback

                2. re: dorbarak

                  dear dorbarak, thanks so much for this information, i have a maytag, self clean, convection and for some reason the owner's manual doesnt say much about it. what you wrote was extremely helpful, i printed it and hung it in the cabinet above my microwave. folks are correct in saying there is a learning curve.
                  thanks again

                  1. re: dorbarak

                    I can't get my chicken to brown cooking in the convection oven, even if I cook it longer. I am using a ceramic pan. I am using the middle rack. I have both a roast and a bake convection setting. Advice?

                    My oven is a Whirlpool. I am frustrated and can't get anything to come out right. There is no manual, just a few pages of confusing info. Even the help line was confused.

                    1. re: Suejelly

                      I know your post is few months old but i'm in the same boat. Whirlpool (2nd oven. returned the first as it had too many probs) and nothing comes out right. did you ever figure it out?

                      1. re: trolley

                        Hi Trolley,

                        Nope. I just got home from summer vacation a little while ago and I am ready to take another run at it. I have a microwave/convection combo above the range model.

                        Let's keep each other posted. I am getting ready for holiday cooking...

                        1. re: Suejelly

                          ok, sounds good. we just got a second warranty repair. did i mention this is our 2nd oven? this is brand new as of Jan 2014 and 2 repairs. it's still pretty sketchy as it will go on for the most part but sometimes it just does the clicking thing and won't ignite. good luck!! yes, keep me posted!!

                        2. re: trolley

                          Hi Trolley,

                          Nope. I just got home from summer vacation a little while ago and I am ready to take another run at it. I have a microwave/convection combo above the range model.

                          Let's keep each other posted. I am getting ready for holiday cooking...

                          It might be that the Whirlpool oven itself is the problem. They are not helpful at all and their site doesn't work when you click customer reviews for help.

                          1. re: Suejelly

                            Hi Trolley and Suejelly,

                            I'm Dorothy from Specialties Appliance and Plumbing Showroom in Berkley Michigan; years ago I posted an extensive reply about convection cooking.

                            What you are both describing does not sound right. But before you call service again I want to make a few recommendation:

                            First, make sure you are properly preheating your oven,
                            you must preheat beyond the initial beep indicating that your oven is preheated. That initial beep is measuring the oven cavity temperature, if your walls are not preheated, when you open the door and all the hot air rushes out. Your oven temperature may drop effecting your results and your timing.

                            Second, Use a pan that has low sides. When using convection, the more exposed the food is to the air flow, the more efficient the convection cooking is. Half sheet pans ( jelly roll pans ) are great when using convection. When cooking meats, turkey or whole chickens, use a rack for better air flow around your food. When foods are completely enclosed, there is really no need to use convection, unless you are doing multi-rack cooking, in which case it is more about maximizing the use of the cavity.

                            If you have a convection roast setting, use it for meats, chicken, turkey, fish, and roasting vegetables.
                            Convection roast typically uses the broil element and depending on the manufacturer, multiple elements, to help sear your food, locking in juices and flavor.
                            Some manufacturers say that when using convection roast
                            you do not have to lower your temperature by 25 degrees.

                            Try these suggestions, if your oven is still not browning, something is wrong and needs to be addressed.

                            Here at Specialties we fight these battles for you, I don't know if you can get help from the retailer that sold you the appliances, perhaps they will advocate for you. If not do not be timid, the beauty of convection is that it browns and crisps your food. Make sure to take care of this while you are still under your manufacturers warranty because service calls can get very expensive.

                            Good luck, let me know if any of this is helpful.

                    2. Mine isn't as fancy, but I'm learning to love the convection setting. If I want to cook something at 400*, the oven automatically lowers it to 375* for me. The first time we made brownies they came out hard and weird, still don't know what I did wrong. Oh man- roasting on the very bottom rack works out REALLY well. Mine won't go below 250* so when I slow roasted a few pans of cherry tomatoes I just kept checking them (thru the door, with the light)

                      1. How long did u cook the lasagna