GasElectricDual FuelEnergy Star Certified
Main Content
Open oven

Convection vs. Conventional Oven: What's the Difference?

Convection vs. conventional ovens: when it comes to these cookers, it can be hard to tell the just from appearance. Their names even sound similar. But their cooking methods differ vastly. Learn more about all the different ways that you can upgrade your kitchen cooking.

Getting Started

Given a choice, which would you choose in the battle of convection vs. conventional ovens in your home? You may have heard about differing technology and new ways that air is cycled, but it's always better to have a complete picture before making an investment in either of these kitchen appliances. Read on for the knowledge you need to find the best cooker for your home and lifestyle.
Wall Oven in a White Kitchen
A wall oven or range is a major kitchen appliance, and it's important to choose the best for your cooking preferences. Whether you find yourself roasting vegetables every night or serving up homemade pizzas as a family dish, what you make within matters. To help you make a choice, we've put together a list of differences between the two.

The Way They Cook

Convection vs. conventional ovens: they look quite similar, and they can also be both gas or electric. The difference truly all comes down to one variable: the heat source. A conventional oven's heat source is stationary, rising from the bottom. But a convection oven's heat is blown by fans and circulated throughout the entire cooking process, whether you're flash-heating at 500 degrees Fahrenheit or roasting low and slow for longer.
It's the heat source that acts as the defining difference that may determine which type of oven you choose for your kitchen. But that's a large change for many—let's dive into the pros and cons of both.
Father and daughter baking

Pros and Cons: Convection vs. Conventional Oven

Heat Consistency

Convection ovens circulate air, which creates a consistent heat. This is an advantage over conventional ovens, which tend to create air pockets that waver and can send a misread to the temperature indicator.
Professional chefs prefer this circulating heat, as they offer consistent warmth without having to turn or rotate the food. With the classic model, that heavy roast will need to be pulled out and rotated at the halfway mark, simply to ensure even preparation and prevent one side from burning.

Quicker Cook Time

Because of a convection version's circulating heat distribution, not only is food heated evenly, but it can cook almost 25 percent faster than conventional models. Again, professional chefs love this feature, but busy parents can also make use of shorter preparation times, getting dinner on the table quicker.
Another feature that gets you to dinnertime faster? Convection versions also preheat faster. Because of this, they can also save you on energy costs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, this efficiency allows homeowners to use about one third to one half as much energy as a traditional model.

The Conversion

The main disadvantage to a faster finish and higher power with these recirculating cookers is that you need to keep a strong eye on your dishes while your food is finishing, since it will often finish faster than a recipe states.
For homeowners unfamiliar with this new heating method, it's wise to check in on your dish approximately 10 minutes earlier than it's intended to be done. First-time users can ruin a perfectly brined Thanksgiving turkey this way, so it's best to always double-check.

The Baking Factor

For those homeowners who enjoy baking cakes and cookies in their favorite classic bakeware, there is one difference between the two cooking modes to be aware of. Most convection ovens offer a "bake" or "thermal bake" mode to perform just like a classic model. However, it's also a good idea to turn off the fan, as it can circulate heat in a way that causes recipes like cakes to bake and rise faster on the outside than in the middle, resulting in a droopy top.
Due to the quicker cook time, certain baking recipes can completely dry out before they've had adequate time to fully rise. So if you love baking cakes, brownies, beignets and cookies at home, this is something to consider. Not necessarily a disadvantage, but it will take time to adjust if you're used to a conventional version.
That being said, certain baked goods don't perform well in a convection oven, period. If you love to cook more delicate desserts such as souffles, custards, and macaroons, circulating heat may not be for you. Pies and cookies are perfectly fine in these appliances, browning nicely and evenly. But an angel food cake, on the other hand, would most likely not come out the way it's supposed to: soft, fluffy and easy to slice through with just a fork.

Additional Features to Consider

As you consider your options between the convection vs. conventional oven, there are a few extra features you should be aware of in making your final choice.
  • Convection Setting—With their rise in popularity, all major appliance brands–including GE, Bosch, Miele, and Frigidaire–now offer some form of convection oven. The most common type is a conventional version with a convection setting (essentially a built-in fan) that you can simply turn on and off.
  • Additional Heating Element—Some offer an extra heating element next to the fan that provides an even more consistent temperature. Look for the terms "third element" or "true" convection.
With the above information, you'll know which is right for you in the battle of convection vs. conventional ovens. To learn more, you can also check out our wall oven buying guide. Keep in mind too that convection ovens and the popular air fryer share similarities, mainly in the heating method. High-powered fans circulate hot air within, but at vastly different scales. That's yet another option to consider in the battle between dinner-making machines.