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How to Cook a Complete Meal in Convection

Updated: Jan 6, 2023

When I joined the appliance industry in 1999 and learned about the benefits of Convection cooking I had a few lightbulb moments. The first was realizing that a roast turkey was fantastic when roasted to 165 degrees, but more about that closer to Thanksgiving. The second was, if a complete meal could be cooked on multiple racks at one time in the oven, then obviously we had an amazing tool for preparing quick healthy meals that would free us from cooking on the cooktop.

I had baked in Convection ovens in a professional kitchen but had not had the opportunity to work with Convection at home. However, I had enough experience in catering and teaching cooking to know that understanding how to use Convection could transform cooking for many people.

How does Convection Make Cooking an Entire Meal Easier

The key benefits of Convection cooking are:

  • The ability to cook on multiple racks at one time with no transfer of flavor.

  • Not having to change the placement of pans or turn the pans during cooking.

  • Foods cooked in Convection have better moisture retention, therefore better flavor and texture so overall cooking results are improved.

So if you can cook food on multiple racks at one time with no transfer of flavor, then you can easily cook an entire meal in the oven at one time. Best of all placing the food in the oven liberates you from standing at the cooktop, just set the timer and let the oven do it’s magic.

What Types of Oven Meals are Best Cooked in Convection

Family meals can be challenging, parents may prefer a more sophisticated meal while children usually prefer something simple. Some family members may not eat meat or may prefer fish, all these variables can make meal preparation challenging. In Convection food can be seasoned to appeal to different tastes but still cooked at the same time with no transference of flavors. This means that you can bake brownies for the kids and cook a savory casserole for the whole family without having to worry about mixing up flavors.

How using Convection makes meal preparation easier.

  • Almost any type of vegetable can be roasted in Convection.

  • Whole chicken, chicken pieces, turkey pieces, pork tenderloin, pork loin, beef filet, tri-tip, meatloaf, fresh sausages, and fish can all be cooked together with vegetables and casseroles.

  • Fish can be added in to the oven during the final 10 - 12 minutes of cooking.

  • Rice pilaf, risotto, and polenta can all be baked in a covered pan alongside other foods.

  • Simple desserts such as fruit crisps and cobblers can be baked alongside other foods.

Tips for Success Cooking a Complete Meal in Convection

The most important aspect of this style of cooking is planning. Here are some things to take into account when planning a Convection meal.

  • Most meats benefit from resting before being sliced so always factor in the resting and carving or slicing time to the cooking time.

  • Time the cooking of the vegetables so they will be done when the meat is ready to be served.

  • Cut the vegetables into uniform pieces and when roasting a variety of vegetables plan the cooking time for each one. For example potatoes may take 30 minutes to cook but Brussels sprouts only 15 minutes, so cook the potatoes for 10 - 15 minutes then fold in the Brussels sprouts.

  • Pay attention to the rack positions. When using the Convection Bake or Convection Roast modes heat will be coming from the bottom and top heating elements while the fan will be circulating the heated air around the oven. As a rule of thumb cooking meats in the upper portion of the oven with vegetables and casseroles below will give the best results.

  • Once the meat is removed casserole dishes can be moved higher in the oven for crisping and browning.

How to Determine the Temperature for Cooking a Convection Meal

An important thing to remember about cooking in Convection is that the heated air circulates around the oven cooking the food from the edge to the center. If the oven temperature is too high for the entire cooking process then foods may be overcooked on the edges and not quite cooked through. Here are some guidelines.

  • Get to know your oven. A large capacity 36” range oven may require higher temperatures for cooking multiple dishes at one time. While smaller 24” and 27” ovens may do better with more moderate heat.

  • Heat is best used in two stages. High temperatures are great for searing, ensuring caramelization and flavor but moderate to low temperatures are best for even cooking results.

  • Many recipes suggest high cooking temperatures, don’t be afraid to adjust the temperature as needed for success when cooking in your oven. All ovens are different.

You will find some meals plans for cooking a complete meal in Convection in the Convection Recipe section of the website that will help guide you through the process of planning and cooking a Convection meal. I hope that understanding this aspect of Convection cooking will make it easier for you to prepare easy delicious meals.

Stay tuned for my next post, Steam Ovens, the Best Sous Chef in the Kitchen to learn how to maximize using this amazing appliance.

Larissa, your Convection enthusiast.

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