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I think I understand what convection does, and (some) of the benefits, such as eliminating hot/cold spots, and being more efficient overall. Does this mean that I should always take advantage of it? If not, which circumstances are better for convection, and which are better for regular bake/broil?

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In other words, you want to know whether to have the courage of your convections? –  bmargulies Sep 20 '10 at 1:15
    
@bmargulis: boo! –  Chris Cudmore Sep 20 '10 at 13:11
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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

We have a convection oven and almost always use it. I can't remember the last time we didn't use convection. Our model automatically decreases the temperature, so if you set it for 300, then it will heat to 275. Not sure if that is a magic 25 degree number, but it seems to work. Almost all recipes cook time wise as they would with a non-convection oven. Our also has a single and multi-rack mode, and it circulates the air differently in that case. We have NEVER had any problems with the food drying out more with the air circulation as they say that is a common negative.

I am sure the effectiveness varies oven to oven, but in our case, we always use it (except for broiling of course).

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Anytime you're in a rush, the convection oven's a big help.

Wikipedia had this to say:

By moving fast hot air past the food, convection ovens can operate at a lower temperature than a standard conventional oven and yet cook food more quickly. The air circulation, or convection, tends to eliminate "hot spots" and thus food may bake more evenly.

A convection oven will have a reduction in cooking temperature, compared to a conventional oven. This comparison will vary, depending on factors including, for example, how much food is being cooked at once or if airflow is being restricted by using an over sized baking tray.[citation needed] This difference in cooking temperature is offset by the fact that circulating air transfers heat more quickly than still air of the same temperature; in order to transfer the same amount of heat in the same time, then, one must lower the temperature to reduce the rate of heat transfer to compensate.

I sometimes feel like it dries things out a little more than a traditional oven, but that may just be a function of it being easier to overcook things due to the speed.

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drying out may actually be because of the airflow. As water evaporates the local humidity increases. Air circulation brings lower humidity air over the food and can take up more water, as well as picking up water molecules on the surface as it passes. It's kind of like wind burn. –  Tesserex Sep 20 '10 at 1:59

I made buffalo chicken wings using the convection feature and they came out tough and not crispy as experienced in non-convection cooking. I'm actually gun shy about the convection option as a result.

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