Convection vs. Conventional Ovens

Ever wondered what the convection setting on your oven does? Understanding the pros and cons of convection vs. conventional ovens can help you get better results in the kitchen.

Oven dial showing conventional and convection settings
Table of Contents
  1. What’s the difference?
  2. Conventional ovens (pros & cons)
  3. Convection ovens (pros & cons)
  4. Are both settings available on standard ovens?
  5. Do gas and electric ovens have both settings?
  6. What’s a conventional oven good for?
  7. What’s a convection oven good for?
  8. How do you accommodate for a convection oven?

The type of oven you have — convection or conventional — is probably something you’ve ignored until now. Still, it’s information that can help you avoid a kitchen mishap or simply become a better home cook. Since most conventional ovens have a convection setting and many convection ovens have a standard conventional setting, it helps to know when each setting is most appropriate. Let’s get into the facts.

What’s the difference?

  • Convection ovens heat food by circulating hot air from a fan in the back of the oven.
  • Conventional ovens, on the other hand, heat food from the bottom. The air is static and often hotter at one end than the other.

Conventional ovens (pros & cons)

Pros: While you can use both types of ovens for cooking anything, a conventional oven is better for baking than a convection oven because the even heat of a convection oven may cause baked goods to rise and cook too quickly. Conventional ovens also have a simplicity factor going for them. When a recipe says to cook for 20-minutes at 350-degrees, that’s exactly what you do (convection ovens involve tinkering with cook times and temperature).

Cons: Conventional ovens don’t cook as evenly as convection ovens, resulting in more heat on one side than the other and cooler air pockets. You can still get the job done; you may just have to open the oven halfway through to rotate the sheet pan or baking dish to result in more even cooking.

Convection ovens (pros & cons)

Pros: Convection ovens cook food faster and evenly; that means no need to rotate the pan. Convection ovens are especially great when you want your dish to come out crispy (i.e. when roasting potatoes or other vegetables). They’re also better for browning meat due to the drier environment they create. Finally, convection ovens are also more energy-efficient since they cook food faster and require lower temperatures.

Cons: Believe it or not, convection ovens may be too efficient for baked goods, causing them to heat too quickly. Another downside? The cooking times on recipes aren’t written based on convection cooking unless explicitly stated. You have to adjust the temperature 25-degrees lower than what the recipe recommends or cook for at least 10-minutes less. You also have to check the food frequently toward the end to avoid overcooking. 

Pie cooling on the top of an oven

Are both settings available on standard ovens?

Some conventional ovens have a convection setting. So, you can opt-in with the press of a button when you need to roast something but opt-out when baking pineapple upside cake or white bread. But not all conventional ovens have this setting. Read the fine print. Some convection ovens also have standard settings when you need to revert for baking.

Do gas and electric ovens have both settings?

Conventional ovens and convection ovens work with either electric or gas heat. 

What’s a conventional oven good for?

Conventional ovens win when it comes to baked goods such as cakes, cookies, and bread. They may rise too quickly or become dried out in a convection oven. Conventional ovens are also best for cooking casseroles, braising, and anything that’s cooked covered (the airflow of convection ovens won’t impact cooking as much in these cases).

What’s a convection oven good for?

Roasting vegetables to achieve a good crisp. They’re also great for cooking meat evenly. You may want to check the oven often to make sure you don’t overcook your food, as convection ovens will heat food quicker.

How do you accommodate for a convection oven?

Set the oven for 25-degrees cooler than your recipe recommends or check the progress 10 to 15-minutes sooner than the typical cook duration. It’s also wise to use baking dishes with low sides (sheet pans versus casserole dishes) to get the full benefits of a convection oven’s airflow.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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11 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Judy Caywood says

    We finally bought our first new stove and our first gas stove a year ago. It is also convection which my husband loves to use for pot pies. lol Thank you Jessica. You are the best!

  2. LaVonne says

    I have a gas oven with conventional and convection. I really enjoyed the pros and cons because I didn’t know the difference. Very informational and I appreciated it.

  3. Kristin says

    Our convection oven, which is almost 10 years old, automatically cuts the temperature 25 degrees when convection baking or roasting is chosen. This means baking works beautifully! I love my convection oven!

  4. Mary Koss says

    I love convection for skin on chicken breasts with lemon slices under the skin.
    What are your thoughts about convection “French fries”?

  5. Susie Stratas says

    JESSICA< THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! This is THE BEST and MOST INFORMATIVE "tutorial" about convection and conventional ovens! Thank You again SO MUCH!!!!

  6. Diandra says

    And now I am wondering whether my breads will turn out better if I switch the convection setting off once in a while. ^^

  7. Mi Vuong says

    Hello Jessica,

    Thanks for all your emails. I’m learning every day. I’m wondering if you use aluminum foil for baking/cooking or storing uncooked meat in the freezer?

    Mimi

  8. Monica says

    Hi Jessica
    I want to buy a countrtop oven. I think it’s easy to to bake and cook at small dishes and small batch of cookies. For more I can use big oven. So can you suggests which one is batter.
    Thanks

  9. Katie Kruse says

    Thanks Jessica for the information. Quick and to the point. I will finally get to use my convection option on my oven!

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