Once only found in professional kitchens, convection ovens are now a common fixture in our homes. Whether it’s a compact model that can sit atop a counter, or a standard oven with convection capabilities, they are becoming an omnipresent feature of the modern kitchen.
Considering their differences, it’s not hard to understand why there has been this growth in ownership.
What is the difference between conventional and convection ovens?
The key difference between the convection oven and its conventional counterpart is the fan and exhaust system. In a traditional oven, heat is generated from the top and bottom of the oven to cook the food. Convection ovens, instead, have a fan that helps to improve internal air circulation. This reduces those potential cold spots that sometimes develop. The exhaust system removes moisture from the oven so food becomes crispier and develops an even brownness. Faster cooking times and more evenly-cooked food is always going to be a winner.
For those making the switch there can be a period of adjustment. You’ll find that the time and temperatures you are used to need to be altered slightly to get the best results. As a rough rule of thumb, lower the standard temperature by 25° F, or reduce the cooking time by about a 10% to 15%. For large items, like a chicken or loaf of bread, this reduction needs to be increased to about 20%.
Oven-baked cookies, convection-style!
The greatest benefit when using a convection oven is that, owing to the dispersion of the heat, you won’t need to rotate or move your cookies as much. The whole oven is heated evenly, so you can make use of all available shelf space. No more situations where the top shelf cookies burn while the middle ones are undercooked! Also, you’ll find that your cookies turn out a little crispier because of the exhaust system removing excess moisture.
As air circulation is all-important, keep this in mind when looking at cookie sheets. Rimless cookie sheets are best here as they don’t block air flow. The side benefit of rimless sheets is that it’s easier to get the cookies off. Try to keep at least a 2-inch clearance on all sides to assist in the air flow.
Don’t try roasting a turkey on a rimless sheet, though! For making gravy, you’re going to want a rimmed baking tray.
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This is probably the best material for your cookie sheet. It’s durable, and a good aluminum tray should last the longest with heavy usage. They also tend to heat up consistently and evenly across the sheet.
With this option, you’ll need some cooking oil or parchment paper to prevent your cookies from sticking to the bottom. Instead of oil, you can also buy reusable silicone and fiberglass baking mats that are easy to wash.
Material: Carbon Steel
This is a popular option, but steel is not a great heat conductor. This means that they can be slow to heat up, but also very slow to cool down. This leaves the possibility of scorching the bottom of your cookies even after you take them out of the oven. For convection ovens, the thinner versions work better, as the thermal energy is carried by the air.
Non-stick sheets are usually a thin piece of metal that has been coated in Teflon. The benefit is that there’s no need to oil your pan or use parchment paper. Cookies will slide off easily. The downside is that they can sometimes be fragile and prone to warping or scuffs. There’s also some evidence that, when exposed to high temperatures, they can give off gas containing the chemicals that they have been coated in.
Polly wants a cracker, but did you know that Teflon is hazardous to birds? Check out these ceramic alternatives to Teflon kitchenware.
Recommended cookie sheet for convection ovens
Considering all these factors, my top recommendation for a cookie sheet for convection ovens is the T-fal AirBake Natural 2 Pack Cookie Sheet. For $20, this set includes two sheets: a 14 in x 12 in and a 16 in x 14 in sheet. They are rimless, aluminum, and come with a 10-year warranty and a no-rust promise. You can also choose a non-stick option.
If you’re using the natural aluminum (as opposed to non-stick), use a teaspoon of cooking oil to prevent your cookies sticking. With the non-stick version, make sure to always use plastic utensils to avoid scratching the surface.
You can also find some other size options, if you’re looking for something a little smaller or a little bigger.
While the brochure says that they can be used in the dishwasher, this is probably not advisable, especially in the long term.
All your baking needs, right here!
Cookies are such an important staple. They make great treats and gifts for any occasion. As such, we should be prepared with the best cookie-making equipment! Check out this post on the best rolling pin for cookies dough. You might also like my recommendations on ice cream scoops that will have you baking perfect cookies, every time!
And, if you’re sending cookies to a loved one in a care package, see this article on how to pack cookies for shipping.