Maybe your oven has a convection button that you’ve never touched, or maybe you’ve heard about convection cooking but thought it was just for the pros. Either way, you’ve been sleeping on faster cooking, better browning and crispy potatoes galore. (Kidding, but not really.) Here’s everything you should know about cooking with convection, plus convection oven recipes to get you started.
What is a convection oven?
Like a conventional oven, a convection oven relies on radiant heat from the top or bottom surfaces (or both). In a regular oven, that means there’s a high chance for hot and cold spots. But a convection oven is also equipped with an internal fan that circulates the hot air, eliminating hot and cold spots and creating an evenly heated environment. (It’s similar to an air fryer.) Some conventional ovens have a convection setting, while other convection ovens are countertop models.
What is convection oven cooking good for?
So glad you asked! Convection ovens offer better energy efficiency, faster cooking times and more evenly cooked food. With a little experimentation, you can cook pretty much any recipe in a convection oven that you would normally make in a conventional oven. They’re especially good for browning and rendering fat from proteins; roasting vegetables (and fruit) to caramelized perfection; evenly toasting nuts and seeds; dehydrating fruit and jerky and adding loft and lightness to baked goods.
On the other hand, we wouldn’t advise using a convection oven or setting to cook cakes, quick breads and custards (or anything made from a loose batter), since the blowing air can create lopsided and dry results.
How to cook in a convection oven:
You’ll want to consult your user manual for the most specific instructions, but cooking standard recipes in a convection oven generally relies on two adjustments: temperature and/or time. You can either lower the oven’s temperature by 25 degrees or shorten the cooking time by about 25 percent, or use both methods. You can use visual cues like browning and texture as a guide, as well as internal temperature and doneness.
Convection oven cooking tips:
Adjust recipes as needed. Try reducing the temperature by 25 degrees or shortening the cooking time by 25 percent; either way, keep an eye on browning and doneness.
Allow for air circulation. The whole point of a convection oven is to circulate hot air for even cooking. If you use high-sided pans and trays, you’ll defeat the purpose. Instead, stick to pans with low sides, try rimless baking sheets and don’t cover the racks with foil. If you’re baking more than one tray at a time, make sure there’s at least two inches of space between them.
There’s a learning curve with convection oven cooking, so don’t be discouraged if your first attempt isn’t perfect. Since most recipes are written with a conventional oven in mind, you’ll have to test and tweak dishes until you find the sweet spot.
10 Convection Oven Recipes to Try
1. Skillet Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy Potatoes
The constant, even heat of a convection oven does wonders for proteins, rendering the fat quickly and effectively for crisp, juicy results. In this recipe, you can either lower the oven temperature to 375°F, or just reduce the cooking time as the chicken gets close to doneness.
2. Cocoa Peanut Butter Granola
With a convection oven, making granola (or just toasting nuts and seeds) will take less time and require less stirring and rotating the pan. Keep the temperature at 300°F, but start checking to see how toasted it is at 30 minutes instead of 45.
3. Baked Sweet Potato Fries
You know how sweet potato fries never want to crisp up, no matter how long you cook them? A convection oven can fix that. You’ll still want to flip them halfway through and you can keep the oven temperature at 400°F, but expect faster, better browning and crispiness.
4. Sarah Copeland’s Chocolate Chip Cookie for Modern Times
Convection ovens aren’t just for roasting chickens and vegetables—they also work magic on baked goods. For cookies, you can bake more trays at one time without the need for frequent rotating (and they’ll also take less time to bake). Here, start checking for doneness at 8 minutes instead of 10.
5. Strawberry Pie with Strawberry Crust
Since the convection oven fan creates consistent heat, you can expect butter-based crusts to come out of the oven even flakier and more tender. (The heat causes the butter to release steam, creating all those light layers). Experiment with lowering the temp to 400°F or reducing the cooking time—just keep an eye out for proper browning.
6. Crispy Roasted Artichokes
Try roasting these artichoke bites for 20 minutes instead of 30—you’ll still have plenty of time to make the cheater’s garlic aioli, and your appetizer will be as crispy as if it were fried.
7. Roasted Mixed Nuts
We’re guilty of one too many trays of burnt pecans, so cooking nuts in a convection oven is an appealing solution. There’s less stirring and rotating needed, and the nuts will start to get toasty in less time overall. (Just don’t walk away from the kitchen.)
8. Salt and Vinegar Roasted Potatoes with Feta and Dill
For potatoes that are crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, set your convection oven to a toasty 400°F, then roast the spuds until deeply golden.
9. Baked Quinoa Chicken Nuggets
We love the health-factor of baked-not-fried nuggets, but the breading can sometimes turn soggy before we even get a bite. If you follow the direction for temperature and time as written but use a convection oven, you can eliminate the mushy outer coating.
10. Crispy Tofu Bites
We still recommend pressing the tofu for at least 30 minutes, but cooking these cuties in a convection oven will help the spicy-sweet coating get *that much* crispier.