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You’ve likely heard the phrase "convection oven" at some point. It might sound fancy, or different, or technical. But what exactly is a convection oven, and how does it differ from a conventional one?

The convection idea boils down to hot air constantly circulating thanks to one or more fans.

Conventional ovens with convection functionality (which tend to be more affordable) have a fan that circulates hot air from the heating elements at the top and/or bottom of the oven cavity. “True convection,” “third-element convection,” or “European convection” ovens have a dedicated heating element near or around that fan that blows heated air around. (Very high-end models even have multiple fans.)

Why does it matter? Think: Food with better browning, more caramelization, and that cooks up to 25% faster than conventional cooking.

And is a convection wall oven really worth the cost? Are there any disadvantages? Can you even find an oven without convection fan?

In this guide, we’ll show you the pros and cons of convection ovens and regular ovens—and help you make the right choice for you.

Our exclusive video review of Wolf convection oven

Benefits of Convection Ovens over Conventional Ovens

First things first: These are the four biggest reasons to choose a convection oven over conventional ones.

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More Even Cooking

Convection ovens are designed to produce more evenly cooked food. In a traditional oven, heating elements are arranged as evenly as possible—but the shape of your dishes and the interior of the oven still means that some areas will receive more heat than others. (Think about how a cookie recipe will often specify that you rotate the tray halfway through baking.)

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Shorter Cook Times

Because convection fans circulate heat more evenly and efficiently throughout the oven interior, you can typically expect shorter cook times. When using convection functionality or a convection oven, use a lower temperature than you normally would. (Try 25 degrees lower than usual, and check your food 25 percent earlier than the recipe specifies.)

Shorter cook times and lower temperatures mean less time waiting for the stove to heat up, less energy usage, and slightly reduced electricity bills.

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Cook Multiple Dishes More Effectively

Because convection ovens do such a good job circulating heat, they can bake larger dishes or multiple dishes more effectively than their conventional counterparts.

For example, in a conventional oven (with no convection function), a large dish placed on the top rack blocks heat from fully reaching dishes on the lower racks. You’ve probably experienced this when you’ve tried to cook two trays of cookies at once, with one tray being cooked (or burned) before the other is ready.

The convection fan ensures that heat moves over and around dishes placed inside the oven cavity, for even cooking of every dish.

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No More Moving Hot Oven Racks

Because convection ovens offer more consistent cooking throughout the oven, you don’t have to fret over whether your dish should be placed on a lower, middle, or upper rack, and you'll stop getting stuck with hot racks to move around mid-process! A quality convection oven will usually cook your dish just right no matter where you place it in the oven.


When To Skip Convection Cooking

We’ve discussed all of the benefits of convection ovens, but are they perfect? Not necessarily. Although in all convection ovens conventional cooking is the default mode, home cooks do occasionally report dissatisfaction with convection over conventional cooking. Their complaints generally fall into one of the following three categories:

Adjusting Recipes

Most recipes assume you're cooking in a conventional oven. It's an extra step to make temperature and cooking time adjustments for your favorite recipes. Fail to make those tweaks, and you could end up with underdone bread, burnt cookies, or mushy birthday cakes. (Some recipes might tell you the necessary adjustments for convection cooking, but much of the time you'll need to use your own judgement or do some Googling.)

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Poor Performance for Some Food Types

Many convection oven users say that dishes that require a moist environment, such as puddings and flan, don’t get the same results using convection settings as they do in with a conventional approach. (A convection oven environment is slightly drier.)

Also, the fan involved in convection cookery can mess with soufflés, macarons and other tetchy baked goods that need to rise in a particular fashion.

A smart way around this? Choose a convection oven that allows you to choose whether you’d like the fan to operate or not for a given cooking task. This essentially gives you two ovens in one, as a convection oven without the fan on is basically a conventional oven and will cook as such. This will allow you to choose conventional cooking for the foods better suited to that style.

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More Parts That Can Malfunction or Break

As appliances go, a conventional oven is pretty straightforward. It converts electricity to heat energy to heat up the internal cooking elements, which in turn heat up your food. But convection functionality and convection ovens add a whole other system of moving parts—the fan mechanism. With multi-fan convection ovens, the amount of moving mechanical parts is doubled or tripled. That means there are more parts in your oven that can malfunction, break, and fail—which means a higher likelihood of repair or replacement costs.

You can avoid this issue by choosing a convection oven from a brand with a trusted reputation for quality construction—and a robust guarantee or warranty program for faulty parts and wear and tear.


The Landscape of Convection Ovens

The debate about convection vs conventional ovens used to be very, er, heated. In modern days, however, convection fans have made their way into almost all ranges, stoves, and wall ovens—with the exception of the sub-$999 price point. Therefore, the biggest competition among manufacturers is how to come up with the most effective convection chamber.

Most Wall Ovens and Ranges Now Have a Convection Feature
Wolf Convection Oven SO30PMSPH

As an example, the Wolf oven prides itself on its new "Advanced Dual VertiCross Convection. The Wolf wall oven technology not only provides even cooking for multiple dishes on different racks, but also allows for fast preheat times. Wolf offers a wide range of wall ovens from single to double ovens, from steam to speed ovens, and more.


Air Fry Convection Ovens

Cafe Air Fry Oven CTS70DP2NS1

Recently, air-frying became a huge trend in the United States, and air fryers started popping up all over. Some oven manufacturers smartly realized that the two technologies are similar, and that convection fans with proper programming and correct fan-blade angling of the fan blades will have the same effect as air fryers. Cafe CTS70DP2NS1 and GE Profile PTD7000snss lead the market with great products.

Frigidaire Gallery also released the gas-only FGGH3047VF, electric FGEH3047VF, or induction FGIH3047VF ranges with air fry feature.


Convection Speed Ovens

Miele Convection Speed Oven H6700BM

Speed ovens are popular in elegant kitchens thanks to their flush look juxtaposed with cabinets. They combine the power of a convection oven with microwave technology.

Miele and GE Advantium combination speed ovens lead the way in the industry. Both brands are remarkable in that they are pre-programmed with tons of premade recipes.


Convection Steam Ovens

Miele Convection Steam Oven

Steam ovens are innovative and allow us to enjoy healthy recipes.

These days almost all manufacturers incorporate convection cooking in their steam ovens. You can now not only steam vegetables and fish in the oven, you can also make more complex recipes that allow for browning and slow-cooking. Additionally, the smaller cavity in the steam ovens pre-heats fast, and saves you time when you simply want to use them as a standard oven.

Miele makes the most advanced steam ovens in the market and employs convection technology. They even packed in a broiler element in their steam ovens.


Conclusion

Your personal preferences, budget, and cooking needs will determine the right oven for you. A convection oven certainly offers some distinct advantages for many cooking tasks, but you’ll have to decide whether the potential inconvenience of adjusting a recipe now and then are worth the benefits of improved evenness, faster cook times, and greater flexibility.


FAQs

What is a 'conduction' oven?
In our daily lives, we never use terms such as convection or conduction. However, manufacturers' technical jargon still makes its way into marketing materials. So, in case you came across this term here is what it means: "a standard stove".

Conduction, according to the dictionary, is defined as" conveying heat and energy through a conductor, which is a material or object that permits the energy to flow easily." Think of your cast-iron pan. The heat source, flame from the stove, touches the pan. In turn, the pan is made of a material that is super-efficient to pass this heat to the food.