If you’ve never used the convection bake option on your oven, now is the time to get started.

Convection bake cooks certain foods faster with much better results (think crisp skin and juicy meat!).

Let’s start at the beginning with a clear understanding of the difference between convection bake and regular bake options.

What is Convection Bake?

Convection Bake uses a fan and exhaust system to circulate heat. In contrast, a regular bake does not use a fan. In a standard oven, the hot air fills the oven cavity without circulating, which can create hot and cool spots.

When your oven is cooking in convection bake mode, the air in the oven is circulated by a fan, which eliminates “hot spots” and cooks the food much faster. Sounds great, right? It is!

Convection bake is best used for roasting meats and vegetables, baking pies, pastries, cookies, and casseroles, as well as toasting and dehydrating. Here’s why:

  • Use Convection to Roast Meat and Vegetables: While a standard bake will get the job done, convection bake is ideal for roasting. Your meat will cook faster and more evenly. Meats baked in a convection oven have crispier skins and juicier meats. Here’s a great recipe from Purcell Murray for using convection to roast a chicken.
  • Bake Pies, Pastries, and Cookies: Convection bake has so many benefits when baking desserts. Because the temperature is evenly distributed throughout the oven, you can confidently bake multiple sheets of cookies at the same time without the risk of uneven spots. Convection is also great for pastries because the dough will puff better.
  • Casseroles: Cooking your casserole using convection bake is a great idea because you’ll save time. Convection bake will save you a good 25-30 minutes off your bake time! Perfect for weeknight meals.
  • Toasting or Dehydrating: Convection bake is more efficient at removing moisture than a standard bake. Always choose convection mode when making dried fruit, jerky, or croutons.

But what about the cake?

Although convection bake is great for fast, juicy meats, it’s not so great for delicate foods like bread and cake. Because the fan circulates air, there is a bit of a draft inside the oven. The draft can cause the cake batter to blow around, resulting in lopsided cakes and splattered souffles. Avoid convection bake for custards and flans, souffles, cakes, and quick breads.

How to Cook with Convection

When cooking with the convection bake option, there are a few simple rules to follow:

  1. Use a lower temperature. Most recipes don’t have “convection bake” instructions, so be sure you lower the recommended temperature by 25 degrees F.
  2. Shorten the cook time. Because convection ovens use heat more efficiently, your dish will likely cook much faster than the recipe suggests. Be sure to check the dish for doneness about 3/4 of the way through.
  3. Make sure you have proper circulation. The success in convection baking comes from the air circulation. Make sure you don’t pack the oven too tight so that air can properly circulate.

Here are a few great cookbooks with recipes design specifically for convection ovens.