Most people think knowing the right time and temperature for cooking is all you need. But understanding the best rack position as well as the differences between conventional and convection ovens will help your food turn out how you want it. Learn the ins and outs of how to use an oven so you get consistent performance, meal after meal.
STEP 1: DOUBLE CHECK YOUR OVEN TYPE
Fan cooking helps distribute temperatures more evenly on all racks than thermal-bake ovens. Cooking by convection can circulate heated air for fast baking and roasting.
In a conventional oven, the dish closest to an active heating element cooks the fastest. It's what most people grew up using and still have in their homes today.
STEP 2: REPOSITION RACKS BASED ON YOUR MEAL
Check how many rack positions your oven has. It can vary from three to seven. Positioning racks closer or further from the oven heating elements can affect how food cooks.
Roasting meat and poultry
All purpose baking rack or when using two racks
All purpose baking rack and broiling larger cuts or bone-in meat
Baking larger cuts or bone-in meat
Thinner cuts of meat or vegetables
STEP 3: START COOKING
Preheat to the right temperature.
Wait until it’s fully preheated to put in your food.
Allow 2" of space around cookware and bakeware so air can circulate.
Set the time you want to cook for.
Avoid opening the door unless needed, so the temperature doesn’t drop.
CONVERTING RECIPES FOR CONVECTION
Convection ovens can help improve the bake times of many dishes thanks to their even heating design. Typically, to adjust your recipe when baking, reduce the temperature by 25°F and when roasting, reduce the overall cook time by 20%. Or check your oven for a setting that does it for you.
STEP 4: KEEP YOUR OVEN CLEAN
Many ovens have a self-cleaning cycle so you don’t have to spend hours scrubbing. They utilize only heat—no chemicals—and are built to withstand high temperatures. For the dos and don'ts of running a self cleaning cycle and how long it can take, read how to use a self cleaning oven. If your oven doesn't have a self cleaning cycle, see your owner's manual for instructions on how to clean by hand and read how to clean an oven from top to bottom.
CLEANING THE RACKS
Use a non-abrasive scrubbing sponge or a steel-wool pad for stubborn soils. For racks that are harder to slide out, use a little vegetable oil on the rack guides.