Convection ovens were first sold to the public in 1945, but they actually were invented over a century ago. The idea is actually pretty simple: A fan moves the heat around the inside of the oven to achieve more uniform cooking of the food.
The best convection oven offers a combination of modern technology with this time-proven cooking method. For example, the Breville Smart Oven Pro is an intelligent cooking system with precision controls that allows the chef to be in full control of the entire cooking process.
When you light a match, the air around the flame gets hot. However, just a few inches to the side of that flame, the air still feels cool. The same thing happens inside a conventional oven — not every spot is the same level of hot. A convection oven uses a fan to move the hot air around so that the temperature inside the oven is consistent throughout. Not only does this method heat your food more evenly, but it also cooks it faster.
As noted, the main difference between a convection oven and a conventional oven is the fan. This subtle difference changes the cooking process in a number of ways. The moving air means that the oven preheats quicker and cooks faster, saving you time and money on your energy bill. The moving air also means you don't have to rotate the food inside the oven as often. If the oven is large enough, you can cook multiple dishes at once.
Additionally, the air is drier, which means anything cooked in a convection oven has improved browning, roasting and crisping. Because the food crisps faster, it seals in moisture, making your dishes juicier on the inside.
While air fryers have a catchy name that suggests a new cooking method, they use the same cooking process as a convection oven. However, there are a few features that differentiate an air fryer from a convection oven. Typically, an air fryer is smaller, so it cooks food much faster and takes up less counter space. On the downside, this means you can’t cook as much in one batch, and there is not enough room on the appliance for a window to watch the food.
Since an air fryer uses a basket, the air can better circulate around the food, making it crisper all around. However, cooking in a basket also means that grease can drip, resulting in more cleanup than in a convection oven with some foods. The biggest difference between an air fryer and a convection oven is that a convection oven is much more versatile; it can toast, bake, broil, roast and more.
Convection ovens come in a variety of sizes. Some models are small, compact units that easily fit on a counter, while larger units may feature French doors and multiple shelves. Also, some models are not very deep, even as others can accommodate a 12-inch pizza. Consider how you will be using your oven and how much room you have.
Many basic convection ovens use analog dials to control the unit in a manner that is similar to how a toaster oven may work. The benefit of this type of control is familiarity and ease of use. Higher-end convection ovens may still have dials, but they also have displays that show the temperature and time. Additionally, convection ovens with digital controls tend to have a number of presets.
For the purpose of this article, a convenience feature is one that makes your life easier. On a convection oven, this can include a cool-to-the-touch door, easy cleaning, auto-off or even remote operation through an app. If you like bells and whistles, know they are available in convection ovens, but will raise the price.
A countertop convection oven can run anywhere from around $70 to $450. The cost is dependent on the size of the oven and the number of features like digital controls or a large, informative display.
A. No, but cooking is best with aluminum and lighter-colored metal pans. As with all ovens, using darker or anodized cookware can brown the food more quickly, so you will want to keep an eye on it or even reduce the temperature by 25 degrees.
A. Since convection ovens cook faster than regular ovens do, reduce the heat by 25 degrees but keep the cooking time the same if you are using a recipe for a regular oven. For example, if the recipe calls for baking at 325 degrees for one hour, simply bake at 300 degrees for the same hour.
What you need to know: This is a top-performing convection oven that is packed with user-friendly features.
What you’ll love: The intelligent cooking system employs five independent quartz elements to deliver power to where it is most needed for ideal results. By using the convection setting, it is possible to greatly reduce cooking time. The 10 cooking functions make this oven very easy to operate.
What you should consider: Over time, the fan on this unit may get noisy.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: If you are looking for a budget-friendly convection oven that still has a lot of features, this model is it.
What you’ll love: This countertop oven has an extra-deep interior that allows you to fit a 12-inch pizza inside. It offers one-touch cooking for foods ranging from bagels and cookies to potatoes and frozen snacks. The dual-position oven rack offers the versatility needed to cook a wide variety of dishes.
What you should consider: The door to this model can slam open on the counter if you are not careful.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: This nine-in-one countertop convection oven is capable of accomplishing a wide variety of cooking tasks, making it a highly desirable and compact kitchen appliance.
What you’ll love: This stainless-steel convection oven uses a fan and heating elements to create crispy results. It has a heat-lock system that makes cooking more efficient, and the internal light allows you to check on your dishes. The unit has nine preset features for convenience.
What you should consider: Because this oven offers a larger cooking space, the air-frying feature will take longer to achieve results than a dedicated air fryer does.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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