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Due to its energy efficiency, shorter cooking times, and versatility, the air convection oven has become an increasingly popular choice among ordinary consumers, cooking enthusiasts, and professional cooks and bakers. There are models available to meet the needs of all three, as well as some highly specialized professional models. When it comes to choosing the best air convection oven for your needs and budget, the design and feature preferences will help you to narrow down the possibilities. The quantity and types of foods you most often cook plus your available fuel source(s) are other things to take into consideration.
Convection ovens fall into three basic categories: freestanding ovens with or without range tops, built-in ovens intended to fit a predefined space or cutout in the kitchen, and a variety of countertop models. Some specialty freestanding convection ovens are intended to do just one thing very well, such as bake pizza or dry fruits and nuts. Typically, built-in and freestanding models include one or more ovens as well as a range top. In evaluating one of these types, be sure that the dimensions will fit in your available space and that the air convection oven operates on your preferred fuel, be it electricity, natural gas, or liquid petroleum (LP) gas. Taking into account the types and quantities of foods you usually cook will also help to pinpoint how large an oven you need.
There are a variety of functions available on an air convection oven that you should consider before buying. Many built-in and freestanding convection ovens include a very effective self-cleaning function that is assisted by the same fan-driven convection effect used in cooking. Certain models offer programmed cooking for popular foods that factors in the oven's shorter cooking times. If you tend to roast a lot of meats and vegetables, a rotisserie function can be a useful feature. Cooks who prepare elaborate meals that include large foods such as whole turkeys as well as smaller side dishes and accompaniments should verify that the air convection oven offers flexible rack and shelf arrangements to accommodate such meals.
If you are satisfied with your current conventional oven or have a limited budget, but would like to enjoy the benefits of air convection cooking, you may want to consider one of the many available countertop convection ovens. These generally fall into two types: rectangular models that resemble conventional toaster ovens and round models with transparent tops. The toaster-style ovens usually have conventional electrical heating coils, while round models usually utilize halogen elements that cook the food with infrared energy. Either type can be a good choice when you intend to primarily cook smaller meals, prepare or heat frozen foods, toast bread, and reheat leftovers.