As with most innovations in the food preparation industry, convection ovens earned their success over nearly 50 years of use in commercial kitchens. They have been available to home chefs in the high-end segment for the past 15 years. Now manufacturers are making convection ovens more accessible to the mass consumer.
Manufacturers are focusing on improving the technology and taking it into new realms of speed and efficiency to deliver higher quality results.
Incorporating a fan in the back wall, convection ovens circulate heated air to more evenly cook food. “True European” convection technology is standard throughout the industry and features a heating element around or behind the fan, as well as top and bottom elements, to provide multiple heat sources.
“Circulating air through the cavity promotes a more consistent and even oven temperature and delivers higher performance results than a conventional oven, where air is stagnant in the cavity,” says Michael McDermott, marketing manager of cooking products for GE Consumer and Industrial.
The distributed air eliminates most hot spots and “allows for more caramelization and browning,” says Brian Maynard, director of marketing for KitchenAid. Also, “it creates a more moist environment, so things don't dry out as rapidly.”
In addition, convection ovens typically reduce the temperature and/or time required to cook or bake food. Food cooks approximately 25% to 30% more quickly in a convection oven, according to experts. When roasting meats, convection ovens quickly begin crisping the outer surface, sealing in moisture and reducing overall cook time.
“One of the huge attributes clients are seeing is that it's a major time-saver for them,” notes Elk Rapids, Mich.–based kitchen designer Sara Busby.
“You can bake multiple racks of cookies at once, and they'll all turn out evenly in the same amount of time as a conventional oven,” claims Gary Stoner, market education manager for Jenn-Air.
Many convection ovens have temperature controls that make it easy to convert conventional cooking recipes for a convection oven.
For example, KitchenAid's Easy Convect Conversion system requests the cook mode, then the standard cooking temperature and time. The system adjusts to the correct temperature and will tell the homeowner when to check the dish for doneness. Jenn-Air's conversion system works in the same way but signals the user to check the dish after 75% of the cooking time has elapsed.
According to manufacturers, consumers want to be able to achieve professional results at home. But it is often up to the remodeler or designer to broach the subject. “You really have to talk with them first about how they cook and live, and what they're expecting from their cooking appliances,” Busby advises. “You have to find out what features they're looking for.”