A Guide to Choosing Convection Ovens
When choosing your convection oven, you’ll first need to ask yourself a few questions:
What utility does it need to run on?
Codes and placement tips!
Call your Fire Marshal or check local codes to see if an exhaust hood and fire suppression system are required. Some municipalities allow a closed oven to simply vent out. Carefully review installation requirements as well to ensure that your chosen oven works with your kitchen setup.
Some municipalities require that a gas line have an electrical or mechanical auto shutoff that is tied into the fire suppression system. If you are placing the convection oven under a hood, check height, width, and depth clearance before purchasing. If the hood is deep enough to extend 12” beyond the front of the oven, it will effectively exhaust the heat when the door is opened.
Make sure that you have exterior stainless walls if you are placing another piece of cooking equipment next to it (though giving it 6” of side clearance is best). Never place a range or fryer right next to the side with the control panel as the heat could damage the controls (unless the manufacturer says otherwise in writing).
What type of oven works best with your kitchen space?
These models are easy to install and take up no floor space (as per their namesake). The downside is that they hold less food and smaller trays. Many municipalities will allow this type of unit to be operated without a hood.
These are available in Single or Double deck models. High-volume kitchens will want to opt for the double deck as this make the best use of floor space. I single deck can later be stacked to double the output without increasing the footprint.
Available for floor models only, these specialized models allow users to load sheets in either direction to allow for ‘staggering’ and, thus, better airflow.
Finally, what type of functionalities must your convection oven serve?
Some models offer cook and hold features ideal for specialized applications. If you’re wanting to slow roast items and hold them at a given temperature afterwards, then look for this feature. This is good for restaurants who can’t afford the space or investment for an additional piece of equipment and, thus, opt for a versatile convection oven. Glass windows and interior lights allow you to see how the cooking or baking is going but can be difficult to clean.
Convection ovens have the ability to reduce cooking times and temperatures by 25 and 30% respectively than radiant oven counterparts. With versatility that allows it to not only cook but also warm, roast, and re-thermalize too, it’s no wonder that many restaurants opt for convection ovens as their go-to oven.
A convection oven utilizes fan to circulate air within the cooking cavity, spreading the heat evenly over food for even cooking and faster cooking times. They’re also known as fan-assisted ovens or fan ovens.
Consider these additional tips when cooking with your convection oven:
Reduce Temperature: Because of the convection oven’s ability to cook items faster and more easily, reduce the cooking temperature of any given recipe by 25%.
Reduce Cooking Time: Similarly, you’ll want to reduce the cooking time by 25% as well.
Check Items Often: The reduction in cooking times increases exponentially as you choose to cook larger items. For instance, a batch of cookies may only need a small reduction in actual cooking time (25% of 10 minutes, for instance, is only a 2.5 minute decrease in overall time) while a larger piece of meat may reduce cooking time by hours (25% of 4 hours, for instance, is a full 1 hour reduction in overall time!).
Choose Pans Wisely: Pans with lower sides allow for better airflow, and always opt for purchasing more pans than you expect you’ll need.
Fan Speed: You can change fan speeds to low or pulse for more delicate items like pastries and souffles.
Some units come with water or steam spray mainly for bread finishing. For full-fledged steam and convection cooking capabilities, consider a “Combi” oven.