How to Pick the Best Commercial Convection Oven

Convection ovens are pretty much a standard piece of equipment in any commercial kitchen. Whether you’re just starting out catering or run an established restaurant, a convection oven is an appliance that is used every day. This guide should help you find out more about different models, purposes, and help you find the right oven for you and your business.

What is a Convection Oven?

A convection oven is a type of commercial oven that features fans used for circulating hot air inside the oven. That is why it is also called a fan-assisted oven, or fan oven. Moving around the heat, keeps the temperature equal in all parts.

Difference Between Convection and Conventional Ovens

While on the first glance they look the same, a convection oven has a fan and exhaust system that a regular oven does not. The problem with conventional ovens is that the hot air rises, so the top is always hotter than the lower half. Commercial countertop convection ovens solves this problem by using a fan to circulate air within the oven to equalize the temperature. No matter where you place you dish, or how many dishes you cook at the same time, they all cook evenly.

Benefits of Ovens with Convection Fans

  • Cook more evenly – forced air circulation in the cooking cavity heats the food more thoroughly.
  • Cook faster – Since more heat comes in contact with the food, it will take about 25% less time to cook.
  • Better moisture retention – cutting out cooking time will prevent food drying out.
  • There is no need to cover dishes with aluminum foil since there is no direct heat coming from the top or the bottom of your oven.
  • For baked goods, butter will release steam quickly, resulting in flakier, lighter, and fluffier pastries.
  • When roasting, fat will render quickly, sealing delicious juices and leaving evenly brown and crispy skin, without the constant basting.

A quick note: not all foods are suitable for fan ovens. Soufflés and light cakes are too delicates for hot air blowing out. You will need to either adjust the fan speed, or disable the convection feature completely.

5 Best Commercial Convection Ovens Reviews

There are many different types of convection ovens, for different purposes and different kitchens, so it would be impossible to choose the absolute best. Here is a round-up of the best ovens for different needs, to help inform your search and steer you in the direction of purchasing the right one.

1. Cadco OV-003 Quarter Size with Manual Controls

cadco roberta convection ovenCadco Roberta ¼ size oven is very compact in size and takes up relatively little space in any kitchen. The oven is 21.5” wide by 18.9” high by 15.8” deep with a cook space of 0.83 cubic feet, housing three shelves. All Cadco ovens come with a “cool-touch” double wall glass door and the oven cavity is wrapped in high-quality insulation.

Cadco OV-003 might be small, but it is very efficient. The squirrel cage fan helps to circulate the heat evenly and consistently, heating the entire unit to temperature quickly. It features easy-to-operate manual controls with just two knobs – temperature setting and timer.

Pros:

  • Small footprint, ideal for food trucks
  • Heats up very quickly
  • Very easy to use and easy to clean

Cons:

  • It is a bit loud

If you need more informatio0n about this oven, take a look at the full review of Cadco Roberta oven.

CHECK PRICE for Cadco OV-003

2. Waring Commercial WCO500X Half Size

waring wco500x half-size ovenWaring WCO500X is a small, but powerful countertop convection oven. It can be used to prepare a wide variety of delicious meals thanks to the four convenient cooking modes: bake, roast, bake, and broil. Durable stainless steel construction, inside and out, can tackle your toughest cooking needs and is easy to clean.

This model has all the featured of a standard commercial convection oven, packed in half-size. Weighing only 52.6 pounds, with dimensions 23 x 23 x 15 inches, it can fit in small kitchens. It is NSF-approved, so you will have no issues with local health inspectors.

Pros:

  • Versatile – it supports four cooking modes
  • Heavy-duty stainless steel construction

Cons:

  • It takes a bit longer to heat up
CHECK PRICE for Waring WCO500X

3. Avantco CO-28 Half Size Countertop Convection Oven

avantco co-28 half sizeAvantco CO-28 is a perfect balance of small footprint and substantial amount of power. It features a 2.3 cu. ft. cavity that houses four chrome wire racks. The heating element delivers 2800W of power, and the forced-air heat circulation system provides even cooking. It is a perfect appliance for small operations on a tight budget.

This oven operates at temperatures between 150 and 550 degrees Fahrenheit, giving it the capacity to cook a large array of dishes and products. A cool-touch dual pane glass door keeps the heat inside while allowing you to check on the food. Installation is as easy as plugging it into an outlet.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Heats up quickly

Cons:

  • The seal on the door is not perfectly tight.
CHECK PRICE for Avantco CO-28

4. Moffat E28M4 – 32″ Turbofan Electric Oven

moffat turbofan E28M4Moffat E28M4 is a full-size countertop convection oven that works great for small kitchens and food trucks. With four removable wire racks you can bake up to four full-size 18”x26” sheet pans without taking up floor space in tight operations.

This model features reversing fans that evenly distribute heat throughout the oven, baking products in a range between 150 and 500°F. Controls are manual and simple – one knob for temperature and another one for timer. Pull-down glass door assembly and two interior halogen lamps provide a way to monitor food as it bakes. Fully sealed enamel cooking chamber with full-rounded corners is very easy to clean. All in all this is a real professional piece of cooking equipment that is used and approved by chefs around the globe.

Pros:

  • Full size oven, with small footprint.
  • Reversing fans.
  • Easy to clean enamel cooking chamber.

Cons:

  • Takes a lot of time to pre-heat.
CHECK PRICE for Moffat E28M4

5. Breville BOV900BSS Smart Oven – Air Fryer Pro

breville air fryer pro ovenBreville Smart Oven is not a super heavy-duty oven, but it can be a viable cost-effective alternative for a small catering business or a mobile cooking station. It takes up very little space, but you have to make sure not to put anything on top of it, as it gets very hot while cooking.

It has 13 different pre-programmed cooking settings: Toast, Bagel, Broil, Bake, Roast, Warm, Pizza, Proof, Air Fry, Reheat, Cookies, Slow Cook and Dehydrate. There is even Rotate Remind to remind you to turn your pans half way through the cooking cycle. All in all, it is a small, but capable oven for preparing variety of delicious dishes.

The entire oven is made of stainless steel, which looks good when new, but unless you are cleaning it daily inside and out, it can get grimy quickly. Look out for buildup of grease on wire rack, as this can cause your oven to smoke. The good alternative is the Calphalon Performance Air Fryer oven, that we have reviewed here.

Pros:

  • It’s capable and reliable.
  • Good for baking

Cons:

  • It is not quite a commercial oven for heavy-duty use.
CHECK PRICE for Breville BOV900BSS

Commercial Convection Oven: Key Considerations

When it comes to choosing an oven for your commercial kitchen, there’s a lot to take into account. If you’re trying to decide on the right convection oven for your establishment, here is a walkthrough of the many options, features and more you need to consider:

Countertop vs. Floor Model

Space is the biggest consideration to decide whether you need a countertop convection oven or a floor model. Floor convection ovens come as single or double stack and are designed for high volume kitchens. Countertop convection ovens are portable and compact, and easy to install. They are great for quick serve restaurants with limited space, food trucks, convenience stores, catering businesses, and concession stands. Countertop models are perfect for small 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.

Size

convection ovensThe typical convection oven has a cooking cabinet about 29 inches wide and 24 inches deep, providing room for a single full-size pan or two half-size pans on each rack. Most commercial kitchens will do fine with these measurements. Have in mind thou the these are interior measurements, the exterior width, depth, and height are bigger. There are, however, countertop and half size convection ovens that can offer the same cooking power in a fraction of the space. Standard full size and half size convections usually come with five racks, but have space for up to 7 at a smaller spacing.  Countertop convections have four or less racks per oven.

Commercial kitchens often operate in strict space requirements, with limited floor space and lots of different units to accommodate. This may make it tempting to get a smaller oven, but have in mind that smaller size means reduced capacity. An oven which is too small may not have the capacity you need, but if it’s too big might not fit into your kitchen at all. Make sure to take measurement (multiple times) before the purchase.

Weight

While in restaurant kitchen you can set it and forget it, weight is a big issue for mobile kitchens and on-site catering business. You do not want something large and heavy when you have to transport it from place to place. Make sure to check the specs sheet and see how much the oven you are looking into weighs.

Convection Fans

Convection ovens use one or more fans for forced air circulation, depending on the brand and model. Some ovens have two convection speeds: baking setting lowers the fan speed, and high fan speed convection roasting to brown and crisp the exterior of meat and poultry.

Time and Temperature Controls

Convection Commercial Oven controls can either be manual or programmable. Programmable controls allow you to create pre-programmed presets and settings you can choose from with a single push of a button.

Manual controls, on the other hand, provide operators with a lot of flexibility. Professional chefs prefer manual controls because it lets them adjust their cooking settings as needed.

Doors

Doors on a commercial convection oven can either be made from tempered glass or solid metal. Tempered glass doors let you look at the contents without opening and letting the heat out. Solid doors, on the other hand, are more durable and have better heat retention. However, constantly opening solid doors to check on your products could lead to heat loss and higher energy costs.

Doors can also be dependent or independent. Dependent doors open at the same time using a single handle. They let you open both doors with one hand only, which is useful when you’re holding a tray of food products with the other hand. Independent doors are not as convenient because they have separate handles. The advantage of independent doors is that they don’t produce as much heat loss as dependent doors.

Material – Porcelain Enamel vs. Stainless Steel

One thing that doesn’t come up often in commercial oven guides is the material. The exterior is made of metals that are resistant to temperature and corrosion, like coated aluminized steel, or stainless steel. The inside liner is made according to the industry standards, but there are options to choose from according to your preference.

The two liner materials offered by most commercial oven manufacturers are porcelain-enamelled steel and stainless steel. Porcelain enamel is typically the default material for most commercial ovens, while stainless steel does come standard on certain units that may endure heavier usage.

Porcelain is easy to clean and resistant to rust but can start to break and chip over time. Stainless steel doesn’t crack, but it requires some scrubbing to clean debris off.

Ease of Use

Sometimes a kitchen can become very chaotic. There’s million tasks to balance, so many things to get done right away. There is no room for any piece of equipment that will slow down your kitchen team, including the convection oven. Probably the most important criteria when choosing a convection oven are the ease of use, intuitive operations and simple maintenance. Commercial electric convection ovens are a popular choice, because they are simple to install, and easy to use.

Price

Price is a major consideration for any business operator, especially a small one. If you run a small restaurant or a mobile kitchen, you do not need a high-end large convection oven anyway, which excludes the most expensive models. Don’t go for the cheapest option either, however tempting it might be. It is always a smart business decision to go for quality equipment over cheaper alternatives that might break down quicker or end up costing more in repairs than anticipated.

The best thing you could do to use your budget in the best possible way is to get your equipment from a knowledgeable supplier that will understand the needs of your business. In the end, it all depends on the sort of food that you’ll be preparing, the clients you expect to get, and how much you plan spending.

Energy Consumption

A commercial kitchen uses about 2.5 times more energy per square ft than other commercial spaces. Industrial kitchen equipment can be operated for hours at a time and is often very energy-intensive.  In a world of rising energy costs and erratic climate change, it’s never been more essential to run a sustainable kitchen.

If you are in the market for new equipment, consider ENERGY STAR qualified appliances. ENERGY STAR® is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency, providing simple, credible, and unbiased information that consumers and businesses rely on to make well-informed decisions. At this time, only commercial, full-size gas and half- and full-size electric convection ovens may qualify for the ENERGY STAR symbol. ENERGY STAR qualified ovens save energy by employing convection cooking technology, higher insulation levels and tighter-fitting door gaskets and hinges. ENERGY STAR qualified ovens are typically about 20 percent more energy-efficient than standard models.

Gas vs. Electric

Ovens can be powered either by electricity or natural gas. Electric convection ovens are easier to install, all they need is to be plugged into an outlet. However, some models use a lot of power, which can be inconvenient for trailer kitchens and food trucks that use generators. Gas convection ovens use less energy than electrical units and have lower operating costs.

But even gas models require some electricity to power their interior fans. Gas ovens also usually need at least 1″ of clearance around its pans’ sides to ensure adequate airflow throughout its cooking chamber.

Looks

The kitchen is the heart of your food business. With the trend moving towards open kitchen concept many restaurant owners started paying attention to the style of the appliances. Visually beautiful oven that seamlessly fits in the kitchen layout will help creating the workspace seamlessly connects with the consumer, without losing its functionality. Whether you opt for modern stainless-steel look or something more distinctive, a well-designed kitchen can have a positive effect on your staff, on the food preparation, and on the overall restaurant experience.

How to Use Convection Oven

Convection ovens are widely used in restaurants, but they are different compared to standard ovens, and they are used differently. Here are few quick tips to get the best results with fan oven:

  • Reduce the recipe-recommended oven temperature by 25°F.
  • Because food cooks more quickly with convection feature, check on it two-thirds or three-quarters of the way through the recommended cooking time and make any necessary adjustments.
  • Convection is only effective if the air can circulate well over the food. Use trays, roasting pans, and baking pans with lower sides, and make sure not to block the fans.
  • Delicate items like muffins and souffles must be cooked using low fan speed.

Convection ovens are better than regular ovens for toasting, dehydrating, or roasting meats or vegetables, as they save more energy and cook food faster. They are wonderful for roasting large cuts of meat making them nicely browned on the inside but medium rare on the inside.

Other Types of Industrial Ovens

Beside convection ovens, there are many other varieties of commercial ovens used in food service operations. What type of commercial oven is right for you is entirely down to what type of kitchen you want to open.

Standard oven

Also known as conventional oven, this is a basic oven used in residential and commercial kitchens for many years.  It uses an electric element or gas burner to heat the air in the oven cavity. The biggest downside of the conventional oven is the lack of airflow inside the oven cavity, leading to uneven heat distribution. They may not be suitable for certain types of food products.

Combination Oven

More commonly called combi ovens, these are generally the most advanced and powerful cooking appliances in the professional kitchen. Combi ovens cook using steam, convection or a combination of both. This means they can do the job of multiple other cooker types in one single appliance, saving time and energy.

Conveyor Oven

Conveyor oven, or pizza oven, is an oven that features a metal conveyor that goes through a cooking chamber. The food is cooked using the impingement, targeted jets of hot air on top and bottom, which achieve better transfer of heat into food than normal space-heating oven. They are mostly used to produce large amount of pizzas consistently, but can also be used for other types of food as well, like biscuits, Panini sandwiches, potatoes, or even pastries.

Cook-and-Hold Oven

Cook and hold ovens cook dishes and retain their warmth with little operator involvement. Holding ovens are designed to cook foods slowly at low temperatures. Many units add humidity to maintain juicy, tender food. Once product is cooked, the oven switches to a holding mode to keep food warm until serving. This enables foodservice operators to prepare high-demand dishes ahead of the rush.

Speed Oven

As the name suggests, speed ovens are designed for ultra-fast cooking. By combining multiple different cooking methods, these are able to cook up to 20 times quicker than traditional ovens. They are best for fast-paced “while-you-wait” businesses, getting the results wanted in a fraction of the time.

Steam Oven

A commercial steam oven is designed to steam cook large quantities of food like fish, vegetables, rice and more, over multiple shelves. This type of cooking is a healthy alternative to some other methods, as it retains nutrients and reduces food shrinkage. However, steam ovens on their own cannot brown or crisp foods, so a separate salamander grill, frying pan or oven range is commonly used to finish the dish.

Conclusion

Remember that there is no perfect commercial oven.  Each type of oven has its own inherent flaws, depending on what you’re cooking. The first step to getting any oven is to do your research on it.  Ask around, look at reviews of the convection oven models that you’re thinking about, and check out the forums here to other people’s experiences and suggestions.