When you think of a convection oven, you may immediately picture something that is separate from your conventional oven. However, that is not always the case. For instance, although you can buy a countertop convection oven, your traditional oven might already have a convection setting.
In fact, you can have a convection setting on your oven and never use it, because you don’t know what it is. You might be wondering, is it best to always use a convection setting, or are there times when the regular setting is better? And is it worth it to buy a new oven if yours doesn’t have the convection setting? What is convection cooking, anyway?
What is a Convection Oven?
Convection ovens are somewhat new in the world of ovens. The simple definition of this type of oven is that it has a fan and uses an exhaust system that’s different from a traditional oven. The combination of the fan and exhaust blows warm air around and over your food, then vents it out of the oven. This cooking method surrounds your food with heat, so it cooks faster and more evenly. If you’ve had issues with hot spots in your food or uneven cooking, a convection oven might be the solution.
Some confusion can arise from the fact that technically speaking, many ovens use convection to heat food such as this one. Convection, from a scientific perspective, is just heat circulating naturally due to differences in temperature. Remember that air rises, which naturally creates movement when different temperatures mingle.
Every oven uses convection to heat food. However, a convection oven uses a fan to force that heat to circulate evenly. These ovens make the cooking process more efficient
Why Use a Convection Oven?
You can probably already see some of the benefits of using a one, but let’s take a closer look at some of the top reasons to invest in one.
They Cook Food Faster
Tired of waiting for dinner to get done, but don’t want to use your microwave? A convection oven blows warm air straight onto your food, instead of letting the airflow around it. That means your food cooks significantly faster.
They Cook Food More Evenly
You’ll also get more even cooking with a one. Many conventional ovens will have certain “hot spots” where food gets cooked too fast. However, the fan in a this type of oven keeps the hot air moving, eliminating those uneven spots.
They’re Ideal For Browning
When you use a regular oven, the air can’t escape, so it often gets humid. However, the exhaust system of a convection oven keeps things drier, which can be a good thing for certain types of cooking.
This dry environment helps the sugars caramelize faster when you roast things like vegetables or meat. They’ll get more brown on the surface, without losing the moisture content inside.
They Save Energy
If you’re hoping to make your kitchen more energy-efficient, a convection oven is the best way to go. Your food will cook faster, and you can typically use a lower temperature with convection cooking. It will help you save a bit on your energy bills each month.
When to Use a Convection Oven
They aren’t ideal for every cooking task, but they’re ideal for a lot of them. Here are a few of the times when a convection oven is best.
When you’re roasting meat or vegetables, convection is ideal.
It’ll get your food roasted more evenly and quickly, and creates a beautiful, crispy exterior – it can even make toast. If you’re baking pastries or pies, convection is an excellent choice. It’ll make steam faster and melt the fat, so your pastries will have more “lift,” giving you the fluffy, delicious results you want. You can also bake multiple trays of cookies at once, without having to open up the oven to rotate them.
As you’ve probably figured out by now, moisture loss is one of the issues that can come with ovens. But if your food is covered anyway, moisture loss doesn’t matter, and convection will cook it faster. It is perfect for casseroles covered with foil, or anything that’s cooked with a lid.
When to Use a Regular Oven
Regular ovens still have their place, in spite of all the things convection ovens can do. However, the list of times you need the conventional oven is relatively short.
Aside from preserving moisture content, the one thing traditional ovens do better preserves the shape of delicate items that need to set while they cook.
Convection ovens blow hot air on the food, so a delicate pastry or bread might end up lopsided.
Avoid using a convection oven for cake, soufflé, flan, custard, and quick bread. Some people also prefer traditional ovens for making bread, since convection can make the bread dry. However, convection does help with browning the bread and making the crust crispy, so it’s just a matter of personal preference.
How to Use a Convection Oven
When you use one, there are a few things you’ll need to change.
First, lower the recommended cooking temperature by 25 percent. Keep in mind that even with the lower temperature, your food might cook faster.
Make sure to check whether or not it’s done before the total cooking time has elapsed. Change things as necessary if it’s cooking too fast or too slow.
Finally, convection ovens only work well if the air is free to circulate the food. Avoid covering your oven’s shelves with foil, since that will impede the movement of the hot air. Use roasting pans, baking pans, and trays that have low sides so the air can move more effectively.
Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Convection Oven
Before we share a list of the best products available right now, there are a few factors you’ll need to consider before making a purchase. With an array to choose from in today’s market, narrowing down your choice can be confusing, but the below guide will help your search.
The Oven’s Size
This type of oven comes in numerous sizes and designs so you’ll find that there’s a huge range to choose from. Before you venture off on your search, we first recommend measuring the available space in your kitchen and considering the volume output, too.
Full-size ovens usually hold five or more sheet pans and are great for a large kitchen and a busy household. Half-size ovens, on the other hand, have a lower volume and a smaller interior as they can typically hold one or more average-sized sheet pan. If you’d like more countertop space than a large oven, opt for a single deck oven as they don’t take up much room in your kitchen. But, they tend to be economical as they usually come with storage space underneath so you can neatly keep your pans and accessories out of the way.
Double-deck ovens are ideal for huge kitchens because they take up a large amount of space. If you have a household with big demands and need to cook for multiple people at one time, you’ll require an oven that can keep up with this hectic lifestyle.
Another oven size is standard or deep depth, which is an ideal option if you’re serious about cooking and baking and have a large family to feed. Generally speaking, the oven’s interior is four inches deeper than most ovens, which enables you to achieve an improved air flow for cooking. As they are bigger, they tend to poke out of the wall so bear this in mind with your kitchen’s design.
Choosing The Oven’s Power Source
After you’ve looked into the available space in your kitchen and what size oven you require, it’s time to choose a power sauce. Convection ovens are powered by electric, natural gas, and propane, and it’s up to you to decide which one would be best for your household.
Electric ovens are the most popular available and take a short amount of time to install and prepare before use. However, as they heat up quickly, they tend to use a large amount of energy which will increase your energy costs. Electric models are more reliable at staying at the accurate temperature and the heat evenly distributes around the oven for a tastier result. Plus, you’ll find that food takes a lot less time to cook, compared to a gas oven.
Another option is gas convection ovens which are one of the cheapest fuels to use when cooking but aren’t as popular on the market. As a result, there are less choices of design and sizes to choose from which can make your search difficult if you have a specific design in mind. This type of power source is relatively cheap to run compared to electric ovens, but aren’t as effective at evenly distributing heat around the oven.
Finally, another choice is liquid propane convection ovens which are ideal if you don’t have natural gas in your surroundings. This power source is generally more efficient than using natural gas but it can be more expensive to run in some regions. You will require electricity to operate the oven and it’s important that you have all the appropriate safety equipment when operating your oven to prevent any danger.
Heating Options and Temperature Range
These types of ovens come with an array of heating options and temperature ranges so you should consider what you generally cook and the temperature you need to make the right choice for you. Some convection ovens can reach 550-degrees Fahrenheit while others only operate up to 110-degrees Fahrenheit.
You should also consider the heating options available in the oven you’re interested in. Common options include broiling, toasting, and baking, but you might also require defrosting, roasting, and more. However, if these additional features are essential for you, reduce the temptation to purchase them.
A List of The Best Convection Ovens
Ready to enjoy convection cooking for yourself? Check out our top countertop convection oven choices here.
Hamilton Beach (31126) Toaster Oven, Easy Reach
This convection toaster oven is ideal for making snacks and small meals when you don’t want to use your oven.
It can cook a small pizza, or make six pieces of toast at the same time. You can also insert a 9-by-11-inch baking sheet if you want to make a casserole, rolls, or brownies.
The oven has a door that rolls open, so you can easily access it without burning yourself. You won’t need room for the door in front of the oven or on the side, so this is a great way to maximize your counter space.
Use the settings to broil, bake, or make toast easily, and choose the stay-on function if you need to cook something for more than half an hour. You can also use the low temperature setting to keep your food warm while you’re waiting for something else to finish cooking.
Where to buy Hamilton Beach 31126D
Oster Extra Large Digital Countertop Oven TSSTTVDGXL
This option has a higher capacity, you can cook two medium pizzas at once, or 14 pieces of toast. The digital controls are super easy to use, and cleanup is simple since you won’t have to wipe off any control knobs.
Select settings for baking, broiling, defrosting, toasting, or making pizza. The 90-minute timer shuts off automatically for safety, and the temperature ranges between 200 and 450 degrees. This oven also comes with a baking pan, two oven racks, and a broiler rack, plus it can hold most standard pans. However, avoid using foil in it, since this can make it overheat.
Where to buy Oster Extra Large Digital Countertop Oven TSSTTVDGXL
Hamilton Beach 31104 Countertop Oven with Convection and Rotisserie
You can fit two small pizzas, two cake pans, or two 9-by-13-inch baking pans in this model, so the capacity is nice. The rotisserie fits a five-pound chicken or roast.
The timer runs for up to two hours, and the oven has settings for both broiling and baking. Some users say the temperature tends to run low, so you might have to adjust your cooking temperatures accordingly. And if you plan to make toast with this oven, keep in mind that it doesn’t have a “toast” setting – but it will still do the trick.
Where to buy Hamilton Beach 31104
Black and Decker Extra Wide Convection Toaster Oven
Black and Decker has an array of convection ovens on the market right now, but we’re particularly impressed by this model.
We love that you don’t have to purchase an entirely new set of pans to fit inside this toaster oven as it fts standard 9”x13” oven pans and can even accommodate handles, too. The toasting rack comes included with this purchase so you’ll save money on a whole lot of effort there, too.
Black and Decker have also consider usability and keeping your cooking space clean and tidy thanks to the inclusive removable crumb tray. This makes cleaning easy as you don’t have to purchase separate accessories to access these hard-to-reach areas. Simply remove the tray and throw the crumbs away and the job’s complete.
This toaster oven is quick to heat up. Set your desired temperature and it’ll either bake, taste or warm your food to your preference. Plus, the convection technology air inside of the oven ensures that the heat is evenly distributed for a delightful taste.
Where to buy Black and Decker Extra Wide Convection Toaster Oven
Wolf Gourmet Elite Countertop Oven
This oven by Wolf Gourmet comes with six cooking settings so you can create an array of meals. The modes include bake, toast, roast, warm, proof, and broil. Plus, this unit offers excellent quality and precision so you can achieve the results you’ve always been looking for.
With features such as convection, probe, and specific temperature control, you’ll never have to worry about an uncooked, untasty meal again. Also, this unit is suitable for cooking and baking as the convection heater circulates heat throughout the interior for quick cooking and even heat distribution. To switch from roast to bake, simply press a button to adjust the cooking modes at your fingertips.
Aside from cooking, it’s also important that your unit is easy to clean and maintain. With inclusive drips and splatters, you can effortlessly remove any dirt and grime without having to scrub too hard. We’re also impressed that this Wolf Gourmet oven comes with a removable crumb and drip tray. Simply remove from the section and throw away the crumbs so you don’t have to clean inside the oven. It’s tray slides out easily and is dishwasher safe, too.
Where to buy Wolf Gourmet Elite Countertop Oven
NutriChef Kitchen Convection Electric Countertop Rotisserie
This oven is great for most households since it comes with many features. It’s time-efficient and produces powerful energy to enhance your cooking ability. It’s also a compact size that we love so you can conveniently store it on your tabletop if you have limited room in your kitchen.
However, the small size doesn’t mean this unit isn’t suitable for a family household, as it comes with a baking tray, rotisserie skewer fork, and grill rack to accommodate many mouths to feed.
Our favorite feature is the top panel that you can use to gently and evenly reheat food, or use the toasting setting to adjust the time and temperature if you’re preparing a snack. Plus, it’s also admirable that these electric rotisserie unit is energy efficient yet can still reduce your time when cooking, making it ideal for people in a rush.
Breville Smart Oven
This smart convection oven comes with 10 cooking modes so you can prepare an array of foods. These functions include bagel, bake, grill, roast, pizza, slow cook, warm, reheat, and cookies. So no matter what you feel like eating, this smart oven can help you get there while making preparing food quick and simple.
The integrated oven light turns on each time you open the door and automatically switches off whenever you close the door. Plus, at the end of cooking, it’ll switch off to let you know your food is ready as well as reserve energy. Not only does this light improve the design of the smart oven, but helps you to clearly see your food cooking without having to constantly open and close the door.
This convection-powered unit circulates hot air within the oven thanks to the inbuilt fan. This feature speeds up the cooking process as it raises hot air while cold air sinks. Also, the air within the unit is less dense to speed up the heat within the oven so preheating the oven takes less time.
We’re a huge fan of the slow cook function for those days when you want to enhance your food’s flavor or you have more time to allow your food to cook. You can cook your food slowly for up to 10 hours before the unit automatically switches off for safety reasons. This is a great feature if you’re out at work so your dinner is fresh and ready for your arrival. Finally, as intelligent as this smart oven is, you can still perform basic tasks such as reheating your food, and all of the functions are clearly stated.
Where to buy Breville Smart Oven
Nostalgia Retro 12-Slice Convection Toaster Oven
Not all smart ovens are cheap, but this unit is ideal if you don’t intend on using it every day or have a smaller budget. It’s a highly versatile unit that allows you to cook and toast a huge bulk of food in one go. For example, you can bake two 12-inch pizzas or broil tenderloin steaks without overworking the oven. As a result, this is a popular purchase for large families.
You can easily and conveniently adjust the temperature at any time during cooking. With a nice range of 200-450 degrees, and a 60-minute timer built into the unit, you can keep track of cooking with ease. We recommend you use the timer so your food doesn’t overcook or burn without you having to constantly keep an eye on the food in the oven.
We love the design and overall appearance of this smart oven as it’s completely different to the others we’ve presented in this list. It’s retro, unique, and full of life. Plus, with two colors to choose from, you’re bound to find one shade that will fit in with your kitchen and design.
The unit itself is user-friendly and fairly simple to use. Everything is labeled and made simple to understand, so anyone leading a busy lifestyle can quickly get the hang of this. The power light indicator illuminates in a dark room to inform you when it’s switched on. The oven’s interior is high quality with a high-temperature glass window that you can clearly see your food through and the perfect height and position to prevent opening and closing the door. Plus, the removable crumb tray makes cleaning up quick and easy.
Where to buy Nostalgia Retro 12-Slice Convection Toaster Oven
Oster Large Digital Countertop Convection Toaster Oven
First, let’s talk about this smart oven’s design. It’s sleek, luxurious and completely different to another of the other designs on this list. The single door pulls open to reveal both doors, yet you only need one hand to do so for excellent ease and convenience in the kitchen.
The digital controls make operating the oven simple and easy. The unit comes with a variety of cooking functions, such as dehydrating fruit and vegetables for a healthy snack. With a built-in 90-minute timer, the unit automatically switches off once everything is cooked. When you’re ready to cook your next meal, the oven preheats quickly and to the exact temperature you set.
Everything about preparing food with this oven is easy and convenient. With two racks, there’s the ultimate convenience and flexibility with every meal. The removable crumb tray ensures that cleaning up is a quick and smooth process, while the baking pan and baking rack combine into a broiling pan for when you need it. This is a unique feature that once again makes preparing food easy.
This smart oven is energy efficient and uses 50 percent less energy than a conventional electric oven, making it a great choice if you’re trying to reduce your outgoings. Plus, it’s highly efficient for cooking small and medium-sized meals without using an electric oven. Not to mention, it’ll add a whole new dimension to your kitchen and add class to its current design.
Where to buy Oster Large Digital Countertop Convection Toaster Oven
The Winning Unit
If your oven already has a convection setting, you may not need to invest in a countertop model at all. But if you want more cooking options in your kitchen, or your oven lacks a convection setting, a countertop convection oven can help bridge the gaps.
The least expensive models on this list are easy to justify buying, even if you’re not an avid cook. But the higher-end models are ideal for people who are passionate about the craft of making food. Make sure to choose something with settings that you’ll use, rather than buying a fancier model just because it sounds exciting.
If we had to choose only one unit to recommend, it’d be the KitchenAid oven. More than anything, the best fact about this is that it produces evenly and thoroughly cooked food, making it great for beginners.
It’s also simple to use, thanks to the two dials that can navigate the temperature and timer. This is a great feature so you can set your oven, place your food inside and leave it until the oven lets you know it’s cooked.
The KitchenAid oven is highly user-friendly and the nonstick interior means you can quickly and conveniently wipe away any spilled foods. Plus, the rack guide shows you the best places to position your trays so you don’t have to be an expert to operate this unit.
Will a countertop oven benefit your kitchen, or are you sticking with what you have? Perhaps you want a full size oven that uses convection cooking? Leave a comment and let us know!