All About Ovens

Women opening oven

Most of us feel comfortable enough around our ovens to execute a few tried and true recipes with confidence. Sometimes, though, we're a little foggy when it comes to the details: What is the difference between a convection and a conventional oven? What are the benefits and downsides to each? What are some tips to make the most of my oven? How do I know if it's properly calibrated?

We asked our Pot Pie Bar chefs for a quick tutorial. We learned a lot and hope you find it useful!

Conventional and Convection in a nutshell

Convection ovens use fans and an exhaust system to circulate heat more evenly throughout your oven. A conventional oven relies on the heating elements and natural convection to heat your food. Convection ovens sometimes offer a third heat source ("true" convection ovens), but generally both convection and conventional have a top element for broiling and a bottom for roasting and baking.

Benefits of Convection

Downsides to Convection

  • A uniform temperature circulates throughout the oven allowing food to cook more evenly
  • Quicker preheat
  • Better caramelization and crisping of food
  • Shorter cooking times
  • More energy efficient
  • Most recipes are written for standard ovens, so recipe temps may need adjusting

Benefits of Conventional ovens

Downsides to Conventional ovens

  • Most recipes are geared to standard ovens
  • Price point may be lower
  • May cook unevenly due to hot and cold "pockets"
  • Less energy efficient
  • Longer cooking times

Making the Most of your oven

It will come as no surprise that time and temp are the key factors in cooking a delicious meal. Our chefs suggest a simple way to make sure your oven is calibrated. Take an oven thermometer and hang it on the center rack. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Do not open the oven while it's heating. When your preheat bell goes off, check the thermometer. It should read 350. If the reading is off, you can adjust your heat or time accordingly.


  • Always set a timer. Losing track when multi-tasking has been the downfall of many a great meal!
  • Remember that the back of the oven runs hotter than the center or front
  • Rotate pans at timed intervals to ensure even cooking
  • Cook on the middle rack except when broiling (top rack)
  • When cooking with convection on, the temp in a standard recipe should be reduced by 25 degrees (unless it is specifically geared to convection cooking)
  • Whirlpool suggests that you reduce cooking time by 1/4 if you're using a "True" convection oven with a third heating element.
  • When cooking meat, don't rely on the stated time and temp, check internal temp with a meat thermometer
  • Don't overcrowd your oven — especially a conventional one.
  • We suggest using the conventional setting when you'd like to retain a moister texture in your baked goods.