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Convection ovens are the new must-have kitchen appliance, and our favorite is the Brava Countertop SmartOven.
You may have heard ovens referred to as either ‘conventional’ or ‘convection’ — sometimes both. But an oven is an oven, right? Not exactly. There’s a significant difference in how these ovens heat, making them specialized for different cooking techniques. The most common examples of convection that most are used to are toaster ovens and air fryers, though some ovens have convection settings built right in.
So why buy a convection oven? One word: crispy. Convection is perfect for getting that golden brown and delicious crust on everything from crispy-skinned chicken to drool-worthy roasted potatoes. The circulating heat cooks food faster and yields even browning to achieve that crave-able, crispy exterior. We surveyed the market for the best convection ovens out there, landing on the Brava Countertop SmartOven as our top pick. Still, there are plenty of other great options to get cooking in.
Our Top Picks
Brava Countertop Oven
Pros: We loved the smart features of this model, as well as the zoned cooking.
Cons: This oven is an investment.
With a bit of resourcefulness, this appliance can replace nearly every other appliance in your home — and a few you didn’t even know you needed. There are over 7,000 different settings that this oven can be set to via its own app. Due to its smart size and zoned cooking, you can cook on two separate levels, perfectly cooking several different ingredients at once. The ample settings take the guesswork out of cooking; no more burnt or undercooked veggies. Simply select the item on the touch screen, and the oven uses the pre-set specs to do the rest. Meat, especially poultry, can be tricky in any oven, but with the built-in temperature probe, this oven cooked every piece of meat to perfection and not for a second more.
Price at time of publish: $1,195
Dimensions: 17.3 x 16.4 x 11.3 inches
Power rating: 1800W
Weight: 54.9 pounds
Panasonic NB-G110P FlashXpress Compact Toaster Oven
Pros: This model is affordable and provides easy-to-use controls for basic toaster oven functions.
Cons: This oven isn’t well suited for big jobs.
This compact toaster oven gives you such a great bang for your buck, you might be surprised at all this little oven can do for its low price. We love the easy-to-read buttons and controls, how the temperature and time gauges are simple to navigate, and how the presets come in handy for quick cooking. This oven is ideal for anyone who isn’t looking to spend a lot or take up much premium counter space. It excels at crisping up frozen fries, making even toast, and reheating last night's pizza — perfect for the causal toaster oven enthusiast. That said, we wouldn’t recommend endeavoring to make a whole chicken or sheet pan dinner in this oven: It just doesn't have the size or versatility in heat settings to pull off more complicated cooking tasks.
Price at time of publish: $150
Dimensions: 14.5 x 13.5 x 13.75 inches
Power rating: 1300W
Weight: 7.5 pounds
Ninja DT201 Foodi 10-in-1 XL Pro Air Fry Oven
Best Toaster Oven
Pros: This model heats up fast and cooks evenly, and we love its high-capacity cooking area.
Cons: We don’t like how hard this oven is to clean.
It’s no secret that Ninja is one of the leaders in countertop appliances, and once you use this toaster oven, it’s easy to see why. While still maintaining a compact footprint, this oven is spacious enough to fit an entire chicken. Plus, it fits two racks, so it’s perfect for any family-sized recipe. Like many other Ninja appliances, this oven heats up fast and cooks incredibly even. We think the heating elements here are nearly perfect. The only downside is that this oven can be tough to clean. The runners that the racks fit into can get greasy or covered in baked-on food, and their shape means a lot of elbow grease is necessary.
Price at time of publish: $250
Dimensions: 17.09 x 20.22 x 13.34 inches
Power rating: 1800W
Weight: 33.6 pounds
Cuisinart CMW-200 Convection Microwave
Pros: We loved that this oven had multi-stage cooking settings and other standard microwave and convection options.
Cons: It takes a while to preheat.
This microwave convection oven has all the settings you’d expect from a basic microwave, like a popcorn button and defrost setting, but with an extra set of convection buttons for things like roasting and pizza. You can even grill in this device. One of the best features is that it’s programmable for multi-stage cooking, so with just a push of a few buttons, you can easily transition from defrosting to roasting. But just know that it might take some time, this oven takes longer than many others to preheat.
Price at time of publish: $300
Dimensions: 12.2 x 19 x 21.2 inches
Power rating: 1000W
Weight: 38 pounds
Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer
Best Air Fryer
Pros: The extra equipment is a plus, and we loved the performance from the mighty fan.
Cons: This oven is on the pricier side for air fryers.
What sets this air-fryer-toaster-and-convection-oven-in-one apart from others is the fan. The ultra-powerful fan circulates the hot air much faster and more evenly, giving this oven top marks for power and consistency and reducing cooking time even further. It’s more expensive than many other air fryers, but if you ask us, the high price tag is worth the outstanding performance. Though it’s slightly smaller than similar ovens, there’s room for multiple racks, and it has a pizza pan, broiling pan, roasting tray, and an air fryer basket included.
Price at time of publish: $320
Dimensions: 21.5 x 17.5 x 12.7 inches
Power rating: 1800W
Weight: 38.9 pounds
GE Profile 30-inch Smart Single Electric Wall Oven with Convection Self-Cleaning
Pros: We loved the smart oven capabilities and the no-preheat feature of this oven.
Cons: Consistent wi-fi is necessary to use all the cook features on this oven.
If you’re looking to replace your wall-insert stove and oven and want the flexibility of convection built right in, this oven is the best choice. The smart features set this oven apart: You can control your oven from your phone — even if you’re away from home. Preheat the oven on your commute home or program the built-in temperature probe to stop the cooking when the roast is done. This is especially helpful if you have to run out to grab something at the store. Unfortunately, some features are only available when connected to wi-fi, which can be annoying if your connection is spotty or out entirely. That said, we also loved the no-preheat air fryer function. Just pop in your food, and you’re ready to go — no wait time or special basket needed.
Price at time of publish: $2,999
Dimensions: 29.75 x 26.75 x 28.75 inches
Power rating: 4300W
Weight: 161 pounds
Instant Pot Vortex Pro 9-in-1 Air Fryer
Pros: We loved the versatility of this oven and the rotisserie basket that can also be used for air frying.
Cons: This oven is extremely loud.
Most rotisserie ovens are unitaskers — great for chicken but not so handy when it comes to much else. But not this oven: Use the rotisserie function for the best roast and quickly transition to air-frying frozen fries in the tumble basket and proofing bread. This model is an excellent choice for a household with a rotisserie enthusiast but needs a countertop appliance that pulls its weight in other tasks. This oven has a powerful fan, which is useful for even cooking, but unfortunately, it is extremely loud.
Price at time of publish: $160
Dimensions: 13.75 x 14.37 x 13.23 inches
Power rating: 1500W
Weight: 17.5 pounds
For the best of the best, reach for the Brava Countertop SmartOven for its easy-to-use smart features and convenient zoned cooking. If you’re looking for a compact oven for a great price that can still crisp up chicken tenders with ease, then the Panasonic Toaster Oven FlashXpress is for you.
Factors to Consider
Size and Capacity
Are you looking for an oven that fits into the wall or on the countertop, or in a cabinet? Are you likely to use it to crisp up a few chicken nuggets or rotisserie cook a whole chicken? Size and capacity are two of the most important factors when shopping for an oven. It’s critical to consider how much space you have to store the oven and where you want to store it. Additionally, thinking about what you want to use it for informs the capacity you need.
When it comes to installation type, your two options are either countertop or wall installation. Pros and cons exist, and your lifestyle and preferences will dictate your best choice. If you rent, likely, you won’t be able to cut into the wall and install a convection oven. But if you’re a homeowner and want to use convection heat often, you might want to consider a full wall installation the next time you replace your stove. If you’re new to convection or just want to use it sometimes, a countertop model is for you.
One of the significant benefits of the small appliance renaissance we currently find ourselves in is that anyone can find a product with the specific features they want. Anyone in the market for a convection oven can find a model with an extra setting they know they want to use. Dehydrating? Broiling? Roasting? No problem! Even a setting for a pizza oven isn’t uncommon to find. Some extra settings will be enticing and a reason to buy, but some will be things you may not use and aren’t worth the price. Knowing what you like to cook and what you plan to use your oven for can really help narrow down which extra settings will be right for you.
When shopping for a new oven, check out the additional features and equipment that come with it. Some convection oven tasks, like rotisserie or pizza making, require special equipment. If you know you’re all about that crunchy exterior on every tater tot, an added air fry basket may be a good investment. If you’re looking for something an app can control to make cooking hands-free, smart features are a worthy addition.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a convection oven and a regular oven?
<p>The regular oven most of us have in kitchens are conventional ovens, and you may have even seen a ‘convection’ button floating around next to the self-clean button and wondered what exactly it means. Conventional ovens work by either an electric coil element or gas flame heating the space in the oven. Convection heat, however, utilizes a fan to move the heat around. This eliminates hot and cold spots in the oven and provides an environment where the entire food surface is heated evenly and more quickly than in conventional ovens.</p><p><br/></p><p>Paul Sidoriak, cookbook author and cook behind <a href="http://grillingmontana.com/" data-component="link" data-source="inlineLink" data-type="externalLink" data-ordinal="1" rel="nocaes">GrillingMontana.com</a>, says the most significant difference between these two, besides the mechanics, is efficiency. “Convection ovens have powerful fans that circulate hot air around your food. This allows food to cook a bit faster and more efficiently than in a conventional oven. Convection ovens also often take advantage of dual heat sources both above and below the food.”</p>
What are the different types of convection ovens?
<p>Convection is usually categorized as “European” or “true” convection and “American” or “standard” convection. American convection has a heating element, usually on the bottom, and a fan at the back of the oven to blow the heat around. European convection is set up much the same as American convection but has an additional heating element behind the fan. This provides extra heat that helps with more even heat throughout the oven area.</p>
How do you clean a convection oven?
<p>There’s not much difference between cleaning a convection oven and a conventional oven or other countertop heating appliances, like microwaves. The most important thing to remember is to turn the oven off, unplug it, and let it cool completely before getting started. Two-time James Beard Awards Semi-Finalist, Chopped Champion, and executive chef <a href="https://www.thefrontierchicago.com/" data-component="link" data-source="inlineLink" data-type="externalLink" data-ordinal="1" rel="nocaes">Frontier</a> and<a href="https://www.inamaetavern.com/" data-component="link" data-source="inlineLink" data-type="externalLink" data-ordinal="2" rel="nofollow nocaes"> Ina Mae Tavern</a> in Chicago, Illinois, Chef Brian Jupiter, also gave us this helpful cleaning tip: “Make sure there is no dust or impurities on the fans as these will fly all over the oven if it is turned on.”</p><p><br/>The best way to clean them is also the easiest: warm water, dish soap, and a kitchen towel. Wipe down the exterior with a damp towel or any disinfecting wipes you like. To clean the interior, start with any big pieces or wet spills. Then, go in with a wet towel and some dish soap. Finally, wipe with water and dry thoroughly.</p>
What shouldn’t I cook in my convection oven?
<p>Convection ovens are incredibly versatile, and there’s not much they can’t do. One limitation, though, is recipes with lots of liquid. Because convection utilizes powerful fans to move the heat around, it’s best suited for things that need to be golden brown, so things like <a href="https://www.foodandwine.com/cooking-techniques/braising/braising-recipes" data-component="link" data-source="inlineLink" data-type="internalLink" data-ordinal="1">braises</a> don’t come out as well as they do in conventional ovens. Delicate baked goods, like cakes, custards, <a href="https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/best-ever-cheese-souffle" data-component="link" data-source="inlineLink" data-type="internalLink" data-ordinal="2">souffle</a>, or cheesecake, are also not well-suited for convection since they require delicate heat and no disruption to cook up properly. Chef Yester Banuchyan of <a href="https://cookonmonday.com/" data-component="link" data-source="inlineLink" data-type="externalLink" data-ordinal="3" rel="nofollow nocaes">CookOnMonday</a>, a site dedicated to helping people learn to cook, would never put her baked goods in a convection oven. “The airflow will dry them out, and the surface especially will have an unpleasant and dry texture.”</p><p><br/>Finally, anything that needs to be cooked low and slow for several hours isn’t a great match for convection. The whirling hot winds inside a convection oven can dry things out during long cooking periods. This movement of heat cuts down on cooking time, so ‘low and slow’ dishes might end up with an over-cooked exterior and under-cooked interior in a convection oven.</p>
What kind of cookware can be used in a convection oven?
<p>Any cookware used in a regular conventional oven is safe for a convection oven. That said, some materials are better than others. Nonstick or dark metal pans aren’t ideal since they conduct heat better than lighter metals and can overcook food in contact with the pan. Aluminum sheet rays and bakeware perform best in convection ovens. Pyrex or oven-safe glass is also a good choice for convection.</p>
Nick DeSimone wrote and compiled this piece. They have spent nearly ten years as a professional cook and have spent much of that time using convection ovens in professional restaurant settings. At home, Nick is an avid air fryer user and has trial-tested many of the available models on the market.
Additionally, Nick spoke to several experts about their thoughts on convection ovens. Paul Sidoriak of GrillingMontana.com focuses on grilling and meat cookery for the home cook and has a background in butchery. Yester Banuchyan of CookOnMonday helps demystify cooking for the new and enthusiastic home cook. Brian Jupiter of Chicago’s Frontier and Ina Mae Tavern is an executive chef and can speak to the industrial side of convection ovens.