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Use less energy with convection cooking

There is room for three racks in this table-top version of the convection oven.
There is room for three racks in this table-top version of the convection oven.
Image by John C Abell

Convection ovens bake and roast food by moving very hot air with fans. Food is finished in less time, which means less energy used and less cost to cook. The convection feature is available in full sized ovens and counter top models. Convection baking can be included on gas and electric ovens (also on dual fuel models) and microwave ovens.

Over the years, manufacturers have added more fans to differentiate their products. Consumers Reports has said it is not necessary to pay more to buy the oven with more fans since all convection ovens do a nice job of baking and browning evenly.

Epicurious does a lot of cooking and uses a lot of convection ovens. Because convection ovens operate differently than conventional ovens, you need to make some changes to your recipes. Epicurious says:

Experts and manufacturers recommend adjusting any recipe in two ways: either by lowering the oven's temperature by about 25 degrees or by shortening the cooking time by roughly a quarter. Follow the tips below and carefully monitor your first few attempts for browning, texture, and doneness. It may help to record the results—through trial and error, you will quickly get a sense of how your convection oven cooks and what further adjustments should be made.

Epicurious also suggests you use pans and cooking sheets with low sides so the heated air can move freely. Convections ovens cost from $1,000 up, depending on the brand and features included.

You can also buy a convection toaster oven. It is obviously smaller and sits on the counter, giving you the option of having convention cooking without replacing the large oven. This may be a good choice for apartment dwellers. says:

The convection oven toaster is exactly what its name implies. It a modern cross between an oven and a toaster. This unit saves money because of reduced energy used - it heats up fast, therefore cooking food fast. The convection oven toaster does not heat up the whole house as a regular convection oven would, and alleviates much discomfort especially during summer. Small but powerful, the cooking time of food is cut into half with the convection oven toaster.

Convection toaster ovens cost from $100 for a home use version up to $1,000 for the commercial models. Do a lot of comparing on features, size, and capabilities before you decide which one to buy.

Convection microwave ovens tend to be pricier than convection toaster ovens. They tend to be larger than standard microwaves. Some offer a "combination mode" that uses both hot air and microwave cooking simultaneously. Here again, you should learn about the features offered and decide which ones are important to you. Why pay more for features you will never use.

The green concept of using less energy is appealing, but it comes with an upfront price tag. Preparing foods more quickly and producing evenly browned cookies, pies, and roasts is a great bonus. Maybe, if you add up all the "pros," you can convince yourself that this is a good investment.

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