Welcome to ‘Kagoo Explains’ - a series of short articles explaining some of the confusing terminology used to describe technology. This week we’re looking at ovens: more specifically the difference between ‘conventional’ and ‘convection’ cooking.
When you’re considering buying a new oven, there can be a dizzying collection of features to consider. Does it have a steam function? What about steam cleaning? Do you need a Sabbath Mode? Should you instead go for the model with the Black Sabbath mode? One of the most important is whether it is a ‘conventional’ or ‘convection’ oven. They may sound very similar, but they are extremely different!
At the most basic, these are two different methods of heating food. Conventional - also known as ‘conduction’ - cooking uses a single static heat source, normally placed on the bottom of the oven. The heat is transferred from the hot element to the cold food, heating it up and cooking it. Simple and effective - it’s one of the oldest methods of cooking.
Convection cooking, on the other hand, uses that heat source to heat the air inside the oven, then uses a fan to blow the hot air all around the food - effectively transferring heat from all angles at once, rather than just a single point. If you’re thinking this sounds similar to air frying, you’d be correct - air fryers are basically small countertop convection ovens.
There are sizable differences between the two - because convection blows hot air at all angles, it provides a more even distribution of heat across the food. This means food cooks more evenly, as well as cooking faster - as much as 25% faster than conventional ovens. It’s especially good for roasting, since the heat will permeate the meat better, meaning less chance of the skin drying out before the inside is fully cooked.
However, it’s important to note that convection isn’t the preferable option for all types of cooking. For example, baking is better suited to conventional cooking - there is a sizable difference in cooking time between the filling of a pie and the crust on top of it. With a single heat source, this is easy to regulate - the timing and heat can be easily controlled, and you get a perfectly cooked pie. With convection cooking, on the other hand, it is harder to control the heat source. This could lead to uncertain results, with the crust cooking before the filling.
Helpfully, most convection ovens allow the fan to be turned off if required - meaning you get the best of both worlds, both conventional and convection. Therefore, if you’re shopping for a new oven, a convection oven is the better option - it will give you far greater flexibility. There is always a trade off though - convection ovens tend to be more expensive than conventional models, and the fan means they can be more noisy while cooking. That said, the benefits to your cooking are easily worth it!
If you are shopping for a new oven, or you’ve got the hankering to bake some pie, hit up our list of the best ovens!