Convection Cooking Equipment

The term convection refers to the process in which heat is transferred by the movement of a fluid, either liquid or gas. In cooking applications, the fluid is typically air or steam.

Some degree of convective heating takes place in most types of cooking, but in conventional cooking equipment, the convective effect is slow and inefficient. The speed food can be cooked by convective heat depends on how rapidly the fluid flows across its surface and the fluid's temperature. Cold or partially frozen food is surrounded by a thin layer of cold, slow-moving air, which in effect insulates the food, slowing the cooking process. Forced convection cooking equipment solves this problem by creating a very rapid convective flow that & quot;blows away" the envelope of cold air surrounding the food.

Convection Ovens

A convection oven utilizes a fan to induce a rapid circulation of the heated air to eliminate the envelope of cold air surrounding the food and to distribute the heat evenly throughout the entire oven cavity. More of the oven's interior can then be utilized for cooking, increasing the production capacity. By eliminating the cold air envelope and enhancing the convective heat transfer, cooking times and energy requirements are reduced.


  1. If a standard conventional oven can bake four pies per load, a convection oven, with its even heat distribution, can cook 12 pies per load.
  2. If the four pies cooked in the standard oven took 60 minutes to cook and 4,000 BTUs of heat per pie, they would take 45 minutes and approximately 1,700 BTUs per pie in a convection oven.

Convection Steamers

In a steamer, the heat transfer medium is steam which, like air, is a fluid and subject to the same convective flow. As the steam enters the cooking chamber, it rises gradually, transferring its heat to the food, and then slowly falls. It is reheated and the cycle begins again, creating a circular flow. By using a fan to force this circular flow to occur rapidly, the transfer of heat to the food is greatly increased, reducing cooking time and energy consumption. In addition, the rapid circulation of the steam prevents flavor transfer from one food to another that occurs when steam condenses on the food.

Oven/Steamer Combination

One of the most versatile pieces of commercial cooking equipment, the combination convection oven /steamer offers a variety of cooking modes. A single piece of equipment can deliver even convective heat for baking or roasting or, with the flick of a switch, steam heat for cooking seafood, vegetables, or frozen items. The newer combination ovens offer a third choice of both convection and steam heat at the same time. When used for roasting or baking, the food's moisture is retained, shrinkage is reduced and product appearance is enhanced. With optional electronic controls that can be programmed to switch from one mode to another, all three operating modes can be used in succession to prepare a particular product.

Convection Fryers

One recent application of convective heat transfer is in deep fat fryers. Cooking oil, like air or steam, is also a fluid, and by circulating this fluid across a heat exchanger and around the food, cooking time and energy consumption are reduced. With the increased production capacity, it is possible to cook the same amount of food using a smaller size fryer. Circulating the cooking oil also reduces temperature fluctuations which can shorten the life of the oil. Extending the useful life of the cooking oil can have a significant impact on food costs, especially in high-volume applications.

Summary of Benefits

The primary benefits of convection cooking are:

  • faster cooking
  • increased production capacity due to elimination of "cold spots" decreased operating costs resulting from reduced energy consumption
  • excellent product quality/appearance.