Convection ovens are one of the most popular pieces of commercial cooking equipment. Because these appliances are the centerpieces of so many kitchens, it’s not a purchase any restaurant should take lightly. That’s why we’ve compiled all of the information you need to know about convection ovens before selecting one.
In This Buying Guide:
What is a Convection Oven?
Known for their speed and efficiency, convection ovens use fans to circulate heated air through the cooking cavity to help foods cook as much as 35 percent faster than conventional ovens. Because of their speed, these fast cook ovens require less labor and energy than most other ovens.
Convection ovens are basically a standard radiant heat oven with a high-speed fan added to the oven cavity. The addition of the fan provides rapid circulation of heated air which changes the thermal characteristics of the oven – where the fan “strips away” the relatively cool air near the food and brings it into contact with hot air to speed up the cooking process. This process creates a more uniform heat throughout the cavity, resulting in an even, much tastier bake.
These ovens are best suited for cooking large batches of dry heat roasting and baking operations – especially those requiring browning. They are less ideal for reheating foods or making delicate foods such as pie crusts because they tend to dry them out or burn the edges before the interior is heated.
Types of Convection Oven
Gas vs. Electric
The decision of a gas or an electric combi oven may be limited by the utilities available in the kitchen. However, it is important to keep in mind that even gas models will require an electric connection to power digital displays and fans. Be sure to confirm what voltage is needed in your kitchen (208V, 240V, or 480V – single or three phase).
No matter which type of convection oven you buy, make sure to clean it regularly and follow these instructions.
Countertop vs. Floor
Space is the biggest consideration when looking at countertop vs. floor models. Floor convection models can come as single or double stack and are ideal for high volume kitchens. At the same time, countertop convection ovens are great for quick serve restaurants with limited space, convenience stores, and concession stands. Countertop models are perfect for small cookie trays with some models accommodating half-size sheet pans. It is important to note that countertop models do not create as much output as floor models.
Half-Size vs. Full-Size
Half-size convection ovens are another great option for when space is limited or less output is required. In high production kitchens where space is available, full-size ovens are the best choice. Keep in mind that half-size ovens will only accept 13×18 pans, while full-size ovens accept 18×26 size pans.
- Solid or glass doors – glass doors allow the operator to view product as it bakes, which is recommended in order to keep a close eye on the food. However, solid doors offer a lower cost point.
- Dependent doors are available on some models where both doors open when one handle is pulled, thanks to a chain and socket linking both doors. Have difficulty carrying a pan and opening both doors wide enough to place the pan inside? Not anymore! Dependent doors allow both doors to open with just one hand for easy loading and unloading.
- Controller options:
- Solid State controls are standard, basic controls that include thermostats, cook timers, a two-speed fan switch, and a compartment light switch.
- Digital and Computer controls are more sophisticated controls which can handle cook-and-hold, fan pulsing, shelf position compensation, and programmable recipe storage and retrieval.
- Bakery depth ovens are “deep depth” models and allow pans to be loaded in either direction. An added benefit of bakery depth ovens is the ability to promote better airflow during baking by staggering the direction of pans.
Top Convection Oven Vendors
Vulcan: Vulcan is among the world’s largest manufacturers of commercial cooking equipment. With a rich history traced back to 1865, Vulcan has grown to a worldwide distributor of the broadest lines of gas and electric cooking equipment. Vulcan utilizes a masterful design and state-of-the-art innovation to be recognized as top-quality equipment that produces consistently spectacular results.
Blodgett: Blodgett Ovens dates back to 1848 when Gardner S. Blodgett built his first oven for a local Vermont tavern owner. Today, Blodgett remains located in Burlington, Vermont, just one and a half miles from where Gardner Blodgett built his first oven. As a leading manufacturer of commercial ovens, Blodgett provides the industry with everything from convection, hydrovection, combi, rotation rack, and deck ovens.
Southbend: Southbend has been manufacturing top-quality commercial cooking equipment for over 100 years. From ranges and convection ovens to broilers and steamers, Southbend products are recognized by chefs and industry experts as the best in the industry. Southbend is committed to constant innovation in energy savings, cooking speed, automation, and safety to ensure their products are top-quality.
Adriane works as a Content Specialist at Central Restaurant Products. She has more than a decade of experience as a copywriter and e-commerce strategist, with most of that time spent focusing on the restaurant industry. When she’s not writing about foodservice, Adriane enjoys cooking, hiking, traveling, and hanging out with her dog.