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Convection Oven----Yes or no?

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Plano Rose Jan 19, 2010 01:49 PM

We're in the process of replacing our ancient built-in double oven. I've never used a convection oven. We have the option of having convection in one of the ovens. Of course, it costs considerably more. Question for those of you out there who have one. How much do you like it? What does it do better? Need the straight scoop. Thanks.

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    dmd_kc RE: Plano Rose Jan 19, 2010 01:57 PM

    This will get moved to the cookware board, I'm fairly certain.

    Yes, if you are a serious cook, you'll wonder how you got along without it. Convection roasting of almost anything dramatically improves browning. On things like cookies, it gives you far more even baking.

    I wouldn't buy another oven without it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: dmd_kc
      johnb RE: dmd_kc Jan 19, 2010 05:11 PM

      Agree with dmd.

      One thing; there are various ways to introduce the heat into the oven chamber, and IMO it does matter. I believe it is best if the heat element is in the fan assembly itself, or at least somewhere other than the floor of the oven. That way you can use really high heat for roasting, and the fat coming out of the meat can fall to the bottom but not smoke so much. If you can use high heat you will get the most advantage from the convection property of the oven, but obviously if you are going to create clouds of smoke you will have to moderate your temperature. I used to have a cheap counter top Farberware convection oven, and would roast chicken in it at 450-500 degrees---best chicken you would ever want to have, and really fast. The heat was in the fan, so the bottom stayed cooler--the fat drained down there and didn't cause problems. My current wall unit has heat at the bottom and I am forced to moderate the temperature, so don't get the same results. I don't know if you can find one like I'm suggesting, but I think it would be worth it to try. At the very least the heat elements should not be exposed, as they are in the cheaper ovens.

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      sueatmo RE: Plano Rose Jan 19, 2010 06:56 PM

      I have an older built in convection oven which I think I have used sucessfully for over ten years. I like it very much. I bakes and roasts well. It has a convection broil which I really like for chops and fish. You set it up differently than normal. The regular broil is not good, though. So I feel you give up that function. However on a regular electric oven often the broil function does not work all that well, if memory serves.

      Functionally, it will give you good results for baking and roasting. But, find out whether it needs to be vented to the outside (like a range hood). The fan noise and the venting of hot air into the kitchen was a big surprise to me, and I was not happy. A repair person told me that the oven should have been vented outside, but who knows if what he told me was true?

      I suspect that newer ovens are quieter. But I would certainly ask about those two issues.

      2 Replies
      1. re: sueatmo
        Paulustrious RE: sueatmo Jan 21, 2010 02:43 PM

        I do not know of any oven then vents outside - I'm not saying they don't exist, just I've never owned one. But in terms of venting hot air to the kitchen, that is a function of all modern ovens. You have an inside oven 'shell'. Outside that is insulation, then another shell. Then there is an air gap and the final outer shell. There is a fan (not the convection fan) which blows air through the air gap to keep the outer layer from getting too hot and damaging any adjacent cupboards. This is normally thermostatically controlled so it will continue to run after the oven is switched off, whether or not you are baking conventionally or by convection.

        My advice is go for the convection. The circulating (convection) air reduces hot spots so you don't have to rotate your cookie pans half way through. They can increase evaporation from open dishes, but as they cook quicker then that is compensated for.

        My rule of thumb is to drop the temperature by 25F from the recommended one for any temperature above 275.

        1. re: Paulustrious
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          sueatmo RE: Paulustrious Jan 29, 2010 01:22 PM

          I would check on the venting, because that is information you might want to have. I don't reduce the temps on my oven though. Sometimes things are done faster, sometimes not. Baking is better in general. Roasting is good too. Even though I find I do rotate cookie sheets, the product is better and I don't get burnt bottoms. I am supposed to be able to bake 3 or 4 cookie sheets at a time, but I only own 2 cookie sheets, so I've never tested that out. I also want to mention that I own a convection toaster oven, and I like the convection cooking in that appliance too. I would go for the convection.

      2. AndrewK512 RE: Plano Rose Jan 19, 2010 07:40 PM

        I have a convection oven but I've never used the option. I've never really been aware of the benefits and thus haven't been inclined to change as I am so accustomed to the normal settings.

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          Plano Rose RE: Plano Rose Jan 20, 2010 03:16 AM

          Thanks to all of you responders. OP here. Anyone else have an opinion?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Plano Rose
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            DGresh RE: Plano Rose Jan 20, 2010 03:32 AM

            Just got a convection oven a year ago in a kitchen remodel. I use it a lot, and like it particularly for cookies-- you don't have to rotate pans and they really do cook more evenly. Also really good for roasting. And in reply to sueatmo, mine isn't vented to the outside; I don't notice much significan heat escaping, and it also is reasonably quiet. I mean, I hear the fan, but it's not annoying.

          2. RetiredChef RE: Plano Rose Jan 20, 2010 04:17 AM

            Dmd said it well.

            If you are serious about cooking you will never EVER own anything but a convection oven. If on the other hand you use your oven once a week for the occasional frozen pizza – don’t bother.

            What does it do better – just about everything – NOTE the JUST. There are items I don’t cook with convection and there are items I use convection for only part of the cooking. It is a tool and you need to LEARN how to use it. There are no hard and fast rules, for example my wife’s super secret chocolate chip cookie recipe comes out better without convection. Yet other cookies come out better with.

            Cooking with convection provides even heat and will cook foods much quicker than a regular oven; you often hear cut temps down by 25-50 degrees and cut cooking time in ½ when using convection.

            Would I get it yes, do I recommend it yes, would I go in debt over it – no.

            2 Replies
            1. re: RetiredChef
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              Plano Rose RE: RetiredChef Jan 20, 2010 10:47 AM

              Thanks, Chef. I won't be baking any frozen pizzas. That's what pizzarias are for. I do cook almost everything else, however. Been doing it for some sixty years. How steep is the learning curve? Sure don't want to buy it and not use it.

              1. re: Plano Rose
                RetiredChef RE: Plano Rose Jan 20, 2010 03:05 PM

                Shaogo,

                Gives some very sage advice and writes better than I do. The learning curve for you and your experience will be minimal. The big mistake people do is to think the same temp and cooking times apply, they don't. After just a couple of weeks you will get the hang of it and LOVE it.

                Example of learning curve for hypothetical cookies

                Currently you cook cookies at 375, 1 pan at a time, middle rack double panned, rotate it at 10 minutes done in 7 more.

                You have it down to a science - like most accomplished cooks.

                New convection oven:

                3 Pans at a time, 340 degrees, bottom one double panned with bottom pan staying in the oven, no rotation cook for 8 -9 minutes.

                It will take a few times to figure out the optimal way to use the oven. Some people get exasperated and want their OLD oven back, but if you take that time your results will be better.

                Good Luck.

            2. shaogo RE: Plano Rose Jan 20, 2010 11:11 AM

              There's no big learning curve for the conversion between conventional and convection ovens. Follow the directions and recommendations given by the manufacturer and you'll be fine. There's also an enormous body of information on convection cooking right here and elsewhere on the internet.

              You'll find that roasts come out juicier, more evenly-cooked and much, much faster without sacrificing tenderness. Cakes and pastries come out lofty and evenly cooked. If you've ever made a souffle you'll wonder why you didn't do it in a convection -- I turn out quickie dessert souffles all the time and it's great.

              Convection cooking also helps us in the restaurant. Despite the extra energy cost for the fan, it's still far cheaper. Foods come out faster, and we can get more trays of food in a convection oven to cook at once without hot spots/cold spots.

              Plano Rose, if you've been cooking for any time (you told us you have) you will embrace the convection oven and you won't know what you've done all these years without.

              Right now at home I have a Magic Chef that came with the house -- it's gas with convection -- and I'm very happy with it. But it makes a racket. And I don't like loud noises in the house, I'm fussy that way. When this thing's on "high" you can hear it all over the first floor. Louder than our vacuum cleaner. Which prompts me to say:

              If at all possible "test drive" a convection model in the showroom. "Big Box" stores don't do this but quality, reputable appliance dealers do. When we bought our dishwasher (KitchenAid) we were looking at higher-priced Euro models but settled on the KA because it fit with our lifestyle -- and it's very, very quiet.

              6 Replies
              1. re: shaogo
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                Plano Rose RE: shaogo Jan 20, 2010 11:40 AM

                Thanks, shaogo. Fortunately, we are dealing with an independant appliance retailer because of installation and service concerns. I'm with you on the noise factor. Rarely use the fan for the cooktop because of the roar factor. I'll be sure to listen.

                1. re: Plano Rose
                  shaogo RE: Plano Rose Jan 20, 2010 11:59 AM

                  You're doing the right thing by having your appliance sourced and installed professionally by the people who'll be trusted to service it in the future (hopefully way, way far into the future).

                  I have a friend who had a commercial gas range put into her home. She thought that the hood fan for that thing was going to make an infernal racket. Wrong -- they put the motor/fan housing on the roof of the house and it's quieter than when they had their conventional fan! If people are going to be poking around your house, maybe now's the time to have a fan put in on your roof, or on the wall next to the kitchen. These semi-commercial installations have easy-to-clean grease baffles. The downside is that the ductwork should be steam-cleaned at least once a year (better every 6 months) for grease by a pro.

                2. re: shaogo
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                  Beckyleach RE: shaogo Jan 21, 2010 08:09 AM

                  I recently got my first convection oven (a Frigidaire) and I love it! The fan is quiet--often I can't tell it is on--and mine comes with a "convect convert" function if you're too busy or lazy to do the conversion yourself, which lowers the temp. automatically from what you've entered based on a standard recipe.

                  Here's the true accolade: this raised in the South gal finally, finally, finally made light, fluffy biscuits for the first time in her life, using convection. Ah, that's a monkey off my back! ;-)

                  1. re: Beckyleach
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                    DGresh RE: Beckyleach Jan 21, 2010 08:39 AM

                    my convection oven always autoconverts (the manual says that it does, and you can see that it's different if you switch between modes; the displayed temperature changes, as the displayed temp is the converted temp, not actual). This is a GE Profile. The conversion process seems to work very reliably.

                    1. re: DGresh
                      johnb RE: DGresh Jan 21, 2010 06:38 PM

                      I find this discussion of temperature interesting. Many years ago I took a professional level baking course. The prof, a very experienced guy who had baked everywhere and had wonderful stories, was very clear about time and temperature. You turn the oven on in the morning (3am??). Whatever the setting was I don't recall. You bake everything in that oven at that temperature--a commercial oven may be used for dozens of different things in any given day that might have a wide range of suggested temperatures in home cookbooks, but you only have one oven and one temperature. Prof--how long do you leave it in? Answer--until it's done!

                      Moral of the story: with all due respects to RetiredChef above, don't get too worked up about particular temperatures or time. Use the oven you have at whatever reasonable temperature is set (the actual temp inside may be way off anyway), put things in there, and take them out when done. With the possible exception of oddball items like souffles, you'll be fine.

                      1. re: johnb
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                        Beckyleach RE: johnb Jan 22, 2010 07:11 AM

                        Yeah, but since my stove is new and I'm not <g>, I still forget to check the food as EARLY as the convection process requires. I burnt my Christmas Stollen by letting it cook to within 10 minutes of the "regular" time; convection was just too quick.

                        So, we Senior Moment types need a little help while we adjust and learn new tricks.

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                  brooklynkoshereater RE: Plano Rose Jan 21, 2010 06:50 PM

                  My dream kitchen has a convection oven in it.

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                    Island RE: Plano Rose Jan 23, 2010 04:52 PM

                    I have one, but don't use it much, mainly because from day one the oven temp on my Dacor has always been unpredictable. I like to bake, but am far from a pro so I don't want to introdufe another variable with this oven. That said,I would still purchase a convection oven, We're planning a remodel now too and there will be at least one in my next kitchen. I have friends who swear by theirs and use convection 99% of the time. Like previous posters mentioned, knowing how to use it is key and I never did, but will in the future. Someone mentioned pizza and I can tell you I love it for getting a nice crispy bottom crust when reheating take out pizza and for browning other dishes.
                    Also for resale, convection in the kitchen seems to be expected. You can always save by getting convestion in only one of your double ovens. That seems to be a common config, but what do the more experienced think? Would you recommend having it in both ovens?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Island
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                      DGresh RE: Island Jan 24, 2010 02:05 AM

                      speaking of pizza, my convection oven is relatively new and I was mainly using the feature for cookies and things like that. On reading these posts the last time I made pizza I put the pan right in front of the convection fan and used the feature-- the crust came out really good-- crispy both top and bottom instead of more soft. My 13 year old noticed it enough to comment on it-- high praise--

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