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The convection oven is a relatively recent invention… but it’s a great one. Unlike traditional ovens which cook food by surrounding it with heat, a convection oven circulates heat with the aid of a fan, allowing it to cook more thoroughly. Convection ovens cook faster than their conventional counterparts and can be combined with other methods (such as conduction and infrared cooking) in the same unit.
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If you’re interested in purchasing a convection oven, we invite you to look at the five top products in our matrix, above. Our selections reflect quality as well as value for your money.
If you’d like to learn more about how to navigate the world of convection ovens, please continue reading this shopping guide.
Susan Sano Tuveson has been cooking for people for five decades. Educated in music, law, and languages, she left her legal practice to establish Cacao Chocolates in Kittery, Maine. A three-time Best of Seacoast New England winner, the shop was popular for its high-quality artisanal truffles flavored with unusual local ingredients.
Convection ovens accommodate any oven-safe cookware with a safe temperature range between 100°F and 350°F. That variance allows you to roast, broil, steam, air dry, and dehydrate foods in a convection oven. Many ovens include several racks which can be stacked vertically to create even more cooking space.
Because convection ovens cook faster, home chefs must perform some math in order to convert recipe cooking times. In most cases, temperatures should be reduced by 25° for convection ovens. (Alternatively, you could drop the overall cooking time by 25% to achieve the same result.)
Some ovens automatically convert the time or temperature, but that feature is primarily found on high-end wall ovens with convection capability.
Depending on temperature range and timer settings, some convection ovens can also function as dehydrators.
Convection refers to the circulation of air. In the case of a convection oven, a fan circulates hot air to cook the food.
The primary difference among convection ovens is the heat source. A convection oven gets its heat from traditional conduction, halogen, infrared, or a combination of those elements. Each heat source has its advantages. For example, halogen is great for steaming, and infrared can be used to fry foods with only a small amount of fat.
The NuWave Pro Plus employs convection, conduction, and infrared heat sources.
The Breville Smart Oven uses “ElementIQ” to deliver just the right amount of convection heat. It comes with nine presets, including settings such as “Toast,” “Roast,” and “Broil.”
The Oyama Turbo Convection Oven employs convection heat only. You can use it to steam, roast, and bake.
The KitchenAid Convection Bake is a countertop oven that uses convection heat.
For your next Thanksgiving, consider cooking your turkey in a convection oven. Fresh turkey should be cooked for 12 minutes per pound to achieve the ideal doneness.
Convection ovens come in two varieties: standalone products that operate solely in convection mode and “multifunction” units that include functions such as toasting, broiling, and baking.
These appliances have a space-aged cylindrical look with a one or more heating elements and a fan. The cooking area is made of glass or food-grade plastic and can hold wire racks, bowls, or other oven-safe cookware.
Certain features differentiate these models, including the type and number of heating sources as well as the control panel, ability to preheat, temperature range, and accessories.
The popular NuWave Pro Plus is a fully featured, versatile convection oven. It boasts push-button controls with presets to keep food warm and cook frozen food. Regularly featured on home shopping channels, the NuWave uses convection, conduction, and infrared heat sources. It has the ability to grill, broil, bake, barbeque, and steam.
Because of their portability and ability to fix meals quickly, convection ovens have become a favorite for RVers. The hugely popular Oyama Turbo Convection Oven does much of what the big boys do, but it does it for half the price of its counterparts. Noted for its energy efficiency, the Oyama also gets high marks for its easy cleanup.
Convection ovens are a staple on home shopping channels. Watching the demos on these channels can help you select the right one for you.
Kitchen technology has come a long way since the invention of the two-slice toaster. Toaster ovens, recently celebrating a 100-year anniversary, do a lot more than toast bread and bagels. They’re useful countertop appliances that are great for small baking and broiling jobs.
Technological advances in the kitchen — precise preheating, temperature control, and so on — have ushered in even more improvements to this household staple. Thanks to convection capability, shoppers can now choose from excellent multifunction ovens like the Breville Smart Oven and KitchenAid Convection Bake pictured in our product matrix, above.
Costlier than the everyday two-slice toaster or toaster oven, units like the Breville Smart Oven fit nicely on a countertop and can take the place of an electric or gas range. Not only can the Breville toast to varying degrees of doneness (including both sides of a bagel at the same time), it can bake and broil with or without its convection setting. This stainless steel marvel has a easy-to-clean crumb tray underneath to keep things tidy after multiple uses.
Lacking the smarts of the Breville, the Kitchenaid Convection Bake oven has knobs instead of digital controls. Otherwise, it’s a good solution for those who have had success with the KitchenAid brand.
A European convection system differs from an American version in it that it has a six-pass broil element in the top of the oven and a six- or eight-pass baking element in the bottom of the oven.
The ideal convection oven for you depends on your budget, space, and primary needs. Consider these factors when selecting a convection oven:
How much room do you have for a convection oven in your kitchen?
A standalone item like the NuWave Pro weighs about nine pounds, is 15.5 inches wide, and stands shade over one foot high. Inside, it is 6.5 inches deep and 12 inches in diameter.
Weighing in at 22 pounds, the Breville Smart Oven takes up remarkably little room in most kitchens. This multipurpose appliance is 15.8 inches tall, 18.5 inches wide, and 11 inches deep — enough to accommodate a wide range of baking dishes.
Both convection-only and tabletop models are extremely good at a wide variety of cooking tasks, but an oven’s heat source dictates its primary strengths.
Halogen-powered heat is suitable for air frying, grilling, and rapid cooking from a light source at the top of the unit.
Infrared heat performs all the basics — such as baking and broiling — but in a smaller space. Because of its direct heat, the food may need to be turned several times during cooking.
Because of their portability, a standalone convection oven is ideal for families on the go.
Among convection-only appliances, both glass and plastic domes exist. NuWave uses a plastic dome, as the company claims the material is safer due to the dangerous amount of heat glass conducts.
Nearly every other convection oven, especially those that use halogen as a primary heat source, uses a glass dome.
Countertop ovens with convection capabilities are made of stainless steel, which offers easy cleanup.
The choice between knobs and push-button settings is a matter of personal taste. The NuWave Pro and Breville Smart Oven are digital machines with buttons to control the functions. This allows for precision, which many busy cooks appreciate.
The Oyama and KitchenAid Convection Bake, as well as most other convection-only appliances, uses dials for controls. This may be easier for some, but dials lack the ability to set precise times and temperatures.
Before you make a purchase, decide which type of heat source is best for your cooking objectives.
For the budget-minded chef who wants a solid product, the Oyama TRO-110C Turbo Convection Oven offers a terrific solution. This 12-L oven packs a lot of functionality in a slightly smaller frame, and it costs just $51
The Hometech Oven is similarly priced at $53. For the money, you get a 12-quart halogen/infrared convection oven with an extender ring that can increase the capacity to 17 quarts.
A wide array of other countertop toaster ovens with convection fall in this price range, including the Oster TSSTTVCG02 6-Slice Convection Toaster Oven and the Kenmore 6-slice Convection Toaster Oven. However, these products are limited in their functions and have dial-based controls that are known to be less precise than their digital counterparts.
Tabletop ovens with convection features are typically housed in a sturdy, stainless steel body.
Q. Is infrared cooking safe?
A. Even though infrared cooking is safe, one should keep safety measures in mind. Do not use your infrared oven if the hinge, seal, or latch is damaged. Because of its high heat, be cautious when removing food. Also, monitor children if they are nearby.
Q. Can a convection oven cook frozen food?
A. Yes. Some convection ovens even include settings for frozen foods.
Q. Can my convection oven be used as a dehydrator?
A. Countertop ovens rarely allow time settings long enough for dehydration, but many convection-only models have temperature ranges low enough for the lengthy time required for dehydration.