/ / Everything You Need to Know About Convection Toaster Ovens

Everything You Need to Know About Convection Toaster Ovens

Not sure how to use your toaster oven’s convection function? Don’t worry, it’s easier than you think. With a few small changes to a recipe’s baking time and temperature, you’ll be turning out perfectly crispy on the outside, tender on the inside dishes every time.

Closeup of control panel on a convection toaster oven.

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This is embarrassing to admit but for years we never tried our toaster oven’s convection feature.

Clueless as to what convection was and fearful of ruining anything we stayed far away from that “Turbo” setting on the functions dial.

But we kept hearing how convection cooked better and faster.

So finally, last year we read the manual and gave it a go.  Immediately we were Addicted to cooking with convection.

Now, we know you want to cook the food you love better and faster too.

But you’ve got some questions.

So we’ve researched, tried recipes and even ruined a few cookies to put together a guide that aims to answer ALL of your questions starting with…

What is a convection toaster oven?

A convection toaster oven is a standard toaster oven but with a built-in fan.

Pan of cookies baking inside a toaster oven with arrow pointing to the convection fan.

Yeah, a fan doesn’t sound nearly as exciting as a custom pizza function, rotisserie option or baked cookies setting. But the truth is a fan is better than any of those fancy bells and whistles you’re barely going to use.

“Okay, but what’s the difference between cooking with a conventional toaster oven vs. a convection toaster oven?”

Small toaster oven next to a large countertop oven.

This video from CNET does a good job explaining the difference between conventional and convection heating. It’s in relation to full-sized ovens but the principals are the same for your toaster oven.

Basically, conventional toaster ovens use 3 main sources of heat to cook food with the Bake setting:

  1. Radiant heat emanating directly from the heating elements and metal walls.
  2. Warm air within the toaster oven that surrounds your food
  3. Conduction from the baking pan to the item inside it.

Toaster oven with arrows pointing to main heating sources.

A convection toaster oven uses the same 3 heat sources but source #2 is super-charged by a fan.

The convection fan forces air warmed from the heating elements to circulate around the inside of your toaster oven which…

  • Increases your toaster oven’s temperature but keeps it consistent and accurate
  • Removes moisture and encourages browning (great for roasted veggies!)
  • Cooks food faster and more evenly

Toaster oven with arrows showing air flow using convection fan.

Womp Womp…Not Every Toaster Oven Has Convection

How to know if yours does?

Look on your control panel.

Arrow pointing to convection button on a toaster oven.

If your toaster oven is digital, check for a small button with a fan symbol or a button labeled “Conv” or “Convection.” If your toaster oven has only knobs check the Cooking Functions Knob for a setting labeled “Convection” or “Turbo.”

Toaster oven functions dial showing the turbo setting.

A few convection toaster ovens, like the older Kitchenaid Convection Countertop models do not have a button or separate function to select convection.

These toaster ovens usually activate the fan every time it’s used and the fan cannot be turned off.

Some toaster ovens, like our Breville Smart Oven Pro (BOV845BSS) automatically select the convection feature when using specific functions like Bake, Roast, Pizza, Cookie and Reheat.

To turn it off just push the convection button until the fan icon disappears from the screen.

It’s important to note if your toaster oven auto selects convection as you need to make adjustments to your recipe’s time and temperature when cooking with convection.

Toaster oven control panel with arrows pointing to convection fan graphic on screen and fan button.

How To Use A Convection Toaster Oven

Are your dishes missing a crispy on the outside and tender on the inside finish?

Then the convection setting is just what you need and we’ve got two easy tips that will get you success.

  1. Reduce your toaster oven’s temperature by 25 degrees from what the recipe instructions call for.
  2. Check for doneness 2/3 to 3/4 through the cooking time called for in your recipe, adding time as needed.

You should use those conversions any time you try a new recipe in your toaster oven with the convection fan on.

Cookies baking in a toaster oven with directions for reducing cooking time and temperature.

Get The Most Out Of Cooking With Convection

The circulating hot air is your superstar here and there are a few things you can do to help it shine.

  • Use pans with low sides (if you have them). Think roasting pans and unrimmed baking sheets. Don’t run out and buy new pans though, we use rimmed baking sheets and get great results too.
  • More isn’t always better. If there isn’t space between your food and the top of the toaster oven the air can’t do it’s job and circulate.
  • Avoid covering your food. Covering your food with either a lid or foil will keep the air from directly circulating around it.

Where Should I Put The Rack?

For the best results check your manual’s suggested placement for the function (bake, roast, etc.) you are using with the convection fan.

Cuisinart toaster oven with different rack placements pointed out.

If no placements are given, the middle or bottom rack position (if there are only two positions) are your best bet. Just make sure your food item is a safe distance from the top elements.

Do I Need To Rotate The Pan?

If you are using only one baking pan, you shouldn’t need to rotate it because the temperature should be the same throughout your toaster oven.

If you are cooking with two pans or more on multiple racks refer to your manual for directions. Generally, pan rotation is suggested for even convection baking with multiple pans.

Can You Use Foil In A Convection Toaster Oven?

Maybe? Each manufacturer has their own instructions. You should contact your toaster oven’s manufacturer or check your manual for directions.

Toaster Oven Manual

Yeah, we know some manuals are as helpful as the instructions for your NORDLI dresser from IKEA. But others do have useful information.

What if I Can’t Find My Manual?

Google it!

Major manufacturers now offer appliance manuals for free on their company websites (even for older models).

Search in Google for your toaster oven’s manufacturer name and the model number. Example: Oster Toaster Oven Model TSSTTVCG02 Manual

Still not sure if you can use foil?

#1 Toaster Oven Tip: When in doubt, leave it out.

{Related: 4 Surprising Things I’ll Never Use In Our Toaster Oven}

Can You Show Me How Food Cooks Differently If I Use Convection?

Absolutely. Let’s see how things go with a few pieces of pre-made chocolate chip cookie dough.

Raw cookie dough on a silicone mat lined toaster oven cookie sheet.

First, let’s bake some test cookies without convection and use the package directions of 350°F for 12 to 16 minutes.

Two baked chocolate chip cookies on a pan.

This is why test cookies are important!

Even though the directions said 12 minutes the cookies were done (a little overdone depending on your tastes) at 11 minutes. If we made another batch we’d take them out around 10 minutes.

{Related: 5 Tips That Will Make You A Toaster Oven Cookie Baking Expert}

“Okay, so what happens if I use convection but make no adjustments to the baking temperature or time?”

Your cookies might look like these ones that were baked at 350°F with the convection fan on for 10 minutes.

Over-baked cookies on a toaster oven cookie sheet

I know what you’re thinking. They’re certainly overdone but don’t look too bad.

Looks can be deceiving.

The cookies were terrible: dry and crumbly with zero flavor.

“Okay, so if I use convection, lower the temperature by 25 degrees and check on it early what does that look like?”

Hopefully, like these guys that were baked at 325°F with the convection fan on for 9 minutes.

Warm and gooey chocolate chip cookies on a sheet pan.

Crispy edges with a gooey just-cooked middle, now that’s a tasty chocolate chip cookie.

When I handed one to Tim he said: “Mmmm, just like at the mall

Cookies baked at different time and temperature on a sheet pan.

We hope this little cookie experiment was helpful in understanding how cooking with convection affects your food and the small changes you can make to be more successful using it with your toaster oven.

Does Convection Work The Same For Every Recipe?

That would be awesome.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that will affect your recipe, from your toaster oven’s heating to your ingredients.

The “Lower Temperature 25° and Cook for 1/4 Less Time” is a good starting place. But you’ll still need to do some tasty experimenting to discover what works for your little oven.

Take this roasted cauliflower, our original recipe was created using a conventional toaster oven and takes between 25 to 35 minutes to cook.

Roasted cauliflower on a black toaster oven baking pan

Roasting it with the convection on and the temperature reduced from 450 to 425 it took about 25 minutes to become browned and fork tender.

In our toaster oven, it seems like vegetables don’t cook much faster with convection. But they do get crispier and taste fantastic, especially these easy sriracha roasted red potatoes.

Roasted red potatoes on a baking sheet.

Until you get comfortable with how your toaster oven cooks, reduce the temperature for every recipe.

You can always cook something longer but once the damage is done you can’t cook it less!

What Are The Best Foods To Cook With Convection?

That’s going to depend on your own taste and texture preferences.

We’ve found it’s best for items that you’d like to be crispy outside but tender inside. Foods like fries, buttery pastries, pizzas, roasted vegetables, biscuits, and cookies.

What about cake?

You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t use convection to cook cakes, muffins, and quick bread because it can dry them out. We’ve even shared that advice before.

Here’s the thing, we were wrong.

After months of researching temperature tests and toaster oven baking pans, we’ve realized that applying the “everyone says” rules of cooking rarely works the same for toaster ovens.

So we decided to give convection a try with a small batch of Lemon Olive Oil Cupcakes.

The result was light and tender (not at all dry) lemony cupcakes.

Lemon cupcake with strawberry filling and whipped cream.

But one positive experience isn’t enough to say it’s a good idea all of the time, right?

So the verdict is still out but we do plan to keep trying baking with convection and will update you with our results.

What about cooking chicken, pork, and beef?

While we’ve never cooked meat in our toaster oven (I don’t eat meat and it’s a rare thing for Tim) we didn’t want to leave you hanging.

The only book we could find on the subject at the library was Cooking with Convection by Beatrice A. Ojakangas. It’s about full-sized ovens but her directions are the same for reducing the cooking time and temperature.

Hand sticking thermometer into a veggie pot pie.

The author suggests using a meat probe or an instant-read thermometer to check the doneness of your protein.

If you’re looking for a quality thermometer America’s Test Kitchen voted the Thermapen by ThermoWorks as their number one selection and the ThermoPop as the best budget selection. 

We own the ThermoPop (in blue) and use it when cooking frozen meals – it definitely lives up to the hype and would make a great holiday gift for your favorite toaster oven cook. 

For a simple Temperature Guide check out Fine Cooking’s “Safe, but Not Overcooked” article. In addition to cooking temperature guidelines, it’s got helpful tips about carryover cooking and using larger cuts of meat.

And if you’re looking for meaty recipe inspiration we found some videos of Chef Ming Tsai roasting and baking with the convection setting on the Breville Smart Oven Pro.

You can watch the videos on YouTube using the links below:

If you already cook meat in your convection toaster oven, there are a lot of people just like you who want to enjoy a properly cooked piece of meat.

>>Can you do us a favor and share your best tips in the comments below?<<

Recipes We Cook With Convection

Roasted potato wedges on a dark roasting pan.

All of the recipes on Toaster Oven Love are purposefully created without convection so they can work in any toaster oven.

If specific convection instructions aren’t also included, just remember to reduce the temperature and time!

Gooey baked chocolate cookie surrounded by chocolate chips.

Below are some of our favorite recipes to cook with convection:

Have more questions?

Leave us a comment! Already use your toaster oven’s convection feature? Please share what you like best about it and any tips with the community, in the comments below.

83 Comments

  1. Your article gave me the confidence to try cooking a chicken in our recently purchased Breville toast oven. I found a recipe for chicken and potatoes for convection oven and so used that information. It said to cook the meat and potatos at 425° for about 1 hour. Mine took 1 hr. 15 min (although it might have cooked faster if I wasn’t checking it every ten minutes toward the end which meant that the oven had to heat up again each time). One thing I would do differently is to not put the potatoes in quite so soon. They were definitely very well done.

    1. Congrats on getting in there and trying something new, Susan! It sounds like you did a great job and learned a bunch about your oven – I bet the next dish will be even better. It’s soooo tough not to open that door – I’m guilty of it too 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and best wishes for lots of tasty fun with your new toaster oven!

  2. Great article, Thank you.
    My question is about foods that you would not recommend to be cooked with the convection option.
    Thanks, Lois

    1. Thanks, Lois, that’s a great question!

      I think anything that’s really dense or thick, where the middle takes a long time to cook through could give you some trouble. I see a lot of people struggle with things like banana bread where the outside will be overdone while the middle is still raw. We don’t cook meat but I imagine roasts might have a similar issue.

      That said, I’ve found that if you’re willing to play around with the temperature enough, you can pretty much cook anything and get good results using the convection option.

  3. I am having a problem. Setting the time and temp on the bake setting could you tell me exactly how to do it how do I set the temp step by step thank you soon much, please email me back with the instructions

    1. Hi Cheryl,

      Since each toaster oven is different, for step-by-step directions using the bake setting on your toaster oven, you’ll want to follow the directions provided in the manufacturer’s manual that came with it. 

      If you don’t have your manual, some manufacturers make them available as a downloadable PDF on their website. Or you can email or call their customer service and ask them to send you one.   

      Best wishes,
      Brie

  4. I am checking out toaster ovens to buy. There are quite a few reviews regarding the glass on the door exploding or the toaster oven catching on fire for various ones. Many includes picture. Do you know a website that rates a toaster oven’s safety?

    Thank you so much for explaining what the convection feature is. Your article is so easy to understand.

    1. Hi Dina,

      I don’t know of a site that does that. You might want to check Consumer Reports I know they have experts who test things like that for cars, etc. If not, I’d email them – maybe it’s something they could add.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the convection article and found it an easy read.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. enjoyed reading your information on convection cooking in a toaster oven. I just received a used PC convection oven pc 25355 and have been trying to find instructions as how to use this model. I am having no luck. I am anxious to try the convection part of the oven. Hope you can steer me in the right direction. Thanking you in advance. BRENDA

    1. Hi Brenda,

      I just tried looking online for the President’s Choice manual and came up empty too. But I’ve got a few suggestions for you.

      1. It looks like they have an active facebook page. I would message them and ask if they can help you get the manual. It appears from comments on their posts that people have been successful getting manuals for other appliances.

      2. I could not find a contact on the PC website but it looks like their parent company is Loblaw Companies. If you don’t get anywhere with the facebook option I’d try contacting them for help. Here’s the link to their contact page: https://www.loblaw.ca/en/contact-us.html

      Best of luck!

  6. I bought Emeril Legasse’s latest unit. It’s huge, with all the features. I was clueless about using convection. So I Googled it and up popped your page! I am so. Grateful. I am a very good home cook, and knew Convection would be awesome, but didn’t know how to begin. Thank you for posting such an interesting and informative page! I will likely be eternally grateful.

    1. Hello Elizabeth!

      I’m so glad you found the article helpful and congrats on your new oven – it sounds like you’re going to be having a lot of fun cooking with it 🙂

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!

      1. My convection toaster oven it’s 18 inches wide by 12 inches deep by 10 inches high the space I have 22 inches wideBy 17 inches high by 22 inches deep is the space large enough. (Safe distance) from the walls when the convection oven is on

        1. Hi Angie!

          Each manufacturer sets their own spacing requirements. So you’ll want to check your manual to make sure you’re getting accurate info your little oven.

          If you don’t have the manual, it can usually be found on the manufacturer’s website. If you need any help locating it – leave a comment with the brand and model of your oven and we’d be happy to help you look for it.

  7. Your post is so detailed and easy to understand. I like your way you write. Can you recommend me some good toaster oven for RV?

    1. Thanks, Zelda! I’m so glad you enjoyed the article.

      Unfortunately, I don’t know much about RV cooking. The only thing I’ve seen mentioned is a concern regarding power supply vs. the wattage of the oven.

      Are you part of any online camping groups or RV forums like the one at https://www.irv2.com/forums/. That might be a great place to find some good suggestions.

  8. Our small (6″ high) convection oven takes 4 minutes to toast regular bread, 5 minutes for bagels. Would a larger convection oven be even slower?? Thanks.

    1. Hi Tony,

      It’s really going to depend on the machine.

      Our Breville is around 10.5 inches tall and 18 inches wide. It takes about 4 minutes to toast 2 slices of bread (longer if you’ve got more slices) and 4 1/2 minutes for a split bagel.

      I’ve seen some of the really large convection ovens take up to 6 or 7 minutes to toast bread to a medium darkness.

      If you’re looking for a new oven, that’s definitely something to keep an eye out for in customer reviews – most manufacturers boast about the number of slices you can toast but never seem to talk about how long it takes.

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