Ovens can be part of a range or stove or a separate appliance built into a wall. Conventional ovens and microwave ovens are well-established necessities in most home kitchens. However, as more homeowners look for professional features in their cooking appliances, both convection ovens and combination ovens are growing in popularity.
Conventional ovens rely mainly on electromagnetic waves that radiate from the oven's sides. The air moves throughout the oven by natural convection-the warmed air rises and is replaced by cooler air, which then rises and is replaced, and so on.
- A less expensive option.
- Because the heating source used for baking is located on the bottom, it can be tricky to get food on the top and bottom shelves to cook at the same speed. There is a heat source at the top of the oven, but it's used for broiling. You may want to get a model that allows you to cycle the bottom heating element on and off.
Price: About $850.
Convection ovens work faster than conventional ovens. A heating source warms the air closest to it. That air drifts away and is replaced by cooler air that goes through the same process. A fan keeps the air circulating so that it stays hot and penetrates the food faster (in a conventional oven, the air rises and falls as its temperature changes, rather than by the aid of a fan). The technique was developed in the 1950s to help commercial bakers save time and cook their breads more evenly. All convection ovens are electric.
- You don't have to worry about dishes on different shelves cooking at different speeds.
- You can place many dishes in the oven without going back in to shift them around after a certain time. The circulating air reaches everything.
- You can cook dishes as different as fish, rolls, and cookies all at the same time and not have to worry about odors and tastes mixing.
- You may have to alter your recipes to account for the shortened cooking times.
- The fan can be noisy.
Price: About $1,300.
Some ovens combine the advantages of several types. You can purchase a conventional oven with a convection option, for example. Or you can buy a microwave/halogen light oven that can be used as a regular microwave or as a halogen light cooker-which can quicken cooking times so that a baked potato is done in 13 minutes instead of an hour. A combination convection/microwave will allow you to brown food so it looks as if it has been cooked in a conventional oven.
- More options give you more flexibility in how you prepare your meals.
- You can often cook faster.
- Can be more expensive.
Price: About $1,500.