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Can Convection Ovens Be Used to Reheat Food?

Convection ovens have a fan that circulates warm air around the food, speeding up the cooking. And leftovers don’t always come out right in the microwave, so I wondered can convection ovens be used to reheat food?

As a general rule, convection ovens work well for reheating food. This is true for both countertop versions, and full-sized versions. And unlike a microwave, a convection oven will deliver superior flavor and especially texture to leftovers. 

But there’s more to know about using convection to reheat food than that.

So in this article, we’ll explore the best ways to use a convection oven for leftovers, what NOT to put in a convection oven, and if they make a convection/microwave combo.

Just keep reading!

How do you reheat food in a convection oven?

Reheat food in a convection oven the same way as a regular oven. Use a metal pan or oven-safe plate, place the food on the pan or plate, and heat in the oven at 250°F, covered with foil to prevent the fan from drying out the food.

A convection oven is just an oven with a fan. The fan moves hot air around the food so that it cooks quicker and more evenly.

For example, if you are reheating leftover chicken at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, use a cookie sheet.

If you are reheating food at temperatures under 300 degrees, you can use stoneware or Corningware. But it may be best to use a real oven-safe, heat-resistant glass-like Anchor or Pyrex.

Convection ovens may dry out certain food faster, though.

So if you are going to use convection to reheat food, make sure to cover it tightly with foil.  When using convection instead of your traditional oven, you should also lower the temperature and the amount of time you cook the food.

While every oven is going to be a little different, because of the fan, the food will heat up faster. So depending on what you are heating and whether it was room temperature or from the refrigerator, allow up to 25 minutes to heat up.

Can you use a convection oven as a microwave?

A convection oven can be used to reheat food as a microwave does, and will have better results. However, a convection oven will take longer to fully cook or reheat.

In fact, the food you reheat will even come out better than it would in the microwave.

Regular microwaves cook food from the inside out. That’s why if you reheat chicken tenders, french fries, or pizza in the microwave, it always comes out soggy.

Microwaves are not meant to make the food brown and crisp.

If you’ve ever nuked veggies and meat, you know how terrible they can be. If you reheat them in the convection oven, they will come out crispier and tastier. However, it won’t be as fast as a microwave.

While you can reheat chicken tenders in a minute or two in the microwave, it may take 10-15 minutes in the convection oven.

But it will be so worth it!

Baked potatoes, bacon, heating leftover pizza, or just about any leftovers will be better in the convection oven. There are a few things your convection oven really won’t be good for, though.

Things like defrosting food and reheating soup are better off in the microwave.

You can even replace your microwave with a toaster oven if you like. What you lose in convenience with the microwave, you’ll make up for with tastier food.

Just check out this recent article where I talk about all of the pros and cons of replacing your microwave with a toaster oven. What really surprised me was the fact that one company actually makes a combo of both!

Just click the link to read it on my site.

When should you not use a convection oven to reheat food?

Avoid reheating any foods in a convection oven that are delicate in texture or that will easily dry out, such as baked goods, roasted vegetables, or egg dishes. The fan recirculating the air can remove too much moisture from them leaving them tough and chewy.

Convection ovens are excellent for roasting meats and vegetables, baking pies and pastries, and making anything that is covered.

Hearty things like covered casseroles and braised chicken do great because moisture loss is not an issue. They’ll keep their moisture and cook faster during convection cooking.

But the fan that recirculates the hot air can cause things to dry out too quickly.

So for that reason, make sure to cover leftovers with foil, and if you must reheat things prone to drying out (even pasta casseroles), give them a spritz of water before covering to help keep the moisture in.

If you are moving into your first home, you may be wondering what other appliances are good to get.

The essential small appliances you need for your first home include:

  • A toaster
  • Toaster oven
  • Coffee maker
  • Microwave
  • Immersion blender
  • A regular blender
  • Food processor

These are the items that will get the most use. I’d even argue that the toaster oven should be a convection toaster oven.

To read more about what small appliances you need for your first home, check out this recent article. But there are also a few small kitchen appliances you should avoid like the plague! Don’t worry. I cover those too!

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Why can’t you use aluminum foil in a convection oven?

Aluminum foil actually can be used in convection ovens. It cannot, however, be used in any oven that combines convection technology with microwave technology.

So if you have a regular convection oven or convection toaster oven, foil and aluminum baking pans and dishes are going to be just fine!

In fact, those disposable low-rimmed aluminum pans are great for convection cooking.

The low profile allows for the hot air circulating in your convection oven to easily and quickly reach the food in the pan. They tend to be a bit smaller than traditional oven pans.

This makes them the ideal size for countertop convection ovens.

You don’t need any special pans for convection oven cooking. You can use glass, aluminum, light-colored metal baking pans, or even those dark pans, too.

If you have a microwave with the convection feature, that’s when you want to be careful with using aluminum foil.

It’s perfectly fine to use aluminum foil in a microwave during convection cooking. But do not use aluminum foil to cover your food for microwaving.

Not only will the foil keep the waves from reaching your food, but it could also be a fire hazard.

To use aluminum foil in your microwave convection oven, use just a small amount of foil. Use just enough to cover the part of your food you don’t want to overcook and press it as close to the food as possible.

It would be best to make sure that there is no stray piece of foil sticking upward or away from the food. It could act as a conductor and cause arching in your oven.

If you have a toaster oven, whether it has a convection feature or not, you might need to clean it every once in a while.

A great way to clean it is with a baking soda and water paste. To read about how to use this paste to clean your toaster oven, check out this recent article. But there’s 1 thing you want to make sure of if you use baking soda in an oven or toaster oven!

Just click the link to read it on my site.

What is the best convection oven for reheating food?

The best countertop convection oven is the Oster French Convection Countertop which is oversized, stainless steel, and features digital controls. It works extremely well for reheating food and is large enough to hold two 16-inch pizzas.

CLICK HERE to see it on Amazon and check the current price.

It has 2 racks, making it perfect for feeding large crowds. Digital controls make it easy to cook at the right temperature for the right amount of time.

You can bake in it, broil, toast, warm food, dehydrate food, and even defrost food. And of course, you can make pizza in it.

With this countertop convection oven, there is no need to take up space with a separate toaster oven.

And there is also no need to heat up your kitchen with your conventional oven, either. You’ll want to use this high-capacity machine for all of your cooking!

It’s an elegant-looking machine, so you won’t mind leaving it out on the counter. And you can open both doors with a single hand, making it hassle-free to open.

Tips and tricks for reheating foods in a convection oven

1. The fan can burn or dry out the outside of the food

A convection oven uses a fan to circulate warm air around the food it’s cooking or reheating.

Because of that, it often cooks or heats faster and you can set the temperature lower than you would in a regular oven. So if you just put a few slices of pizza in the tops of the slices could get too crispy or even burned if you set the temp too high or if you leave it in there too long.

2. Don’t set it and forget it

Piggy-backing on the above, unlike a regular oven or a microwave where you might just pop something in, set a timer, and walk away, keep an eye on the food in a convection oven.

Once you get used to it, this won’t be an issue. But at first, check on your food every few minutes just to make sure it’s not burning or drying out.

3. Make sure you use an oven-safe container to heat the food in

Unlike a microwave, convection ovens can have metal in them, or foods covered with aluminum foil.

But as you’d suspect, avoid reheating anything in a plastic or paper container as those would obviously melt or burn respectively.

Do use pyrex, Corningware, or other oven-safe cookware. Just be mindful to not exceed the max temperature as some of those aren’t designed to go above 350 degrees F.

4. Ensure the food doesn’t restrict the airflow

The fan is what makes a convection oven a convection oven.

So when putting the food in to reheat, make sure you aren’t blocking the fan or restricting it’s ability too much to push the air around inside the oven.

5. Use the microwave for certain foods

A lot of foods will taste much better reheated in a convection oven.

But it’s not for everything. As I mentioned above, avoid reheating foods in a convection oven that are delicate in texture or that will easily dry out. These include:

  • Baked goods
  • Roasted vegetables
  • Egg dishes

The fan recirculating the air can remove too much moisture from them leaving them tough and chewy. Also, things like soups are usually better off in the microwave.

Final thoughts

In this article, I talked about using convection to reheat food.

Convection ovens are great for reheating things that you want to be crispy. They are not the best choice for defrosting or reheating stuff like soup. More delicate baked items shouldn’t be cooked using convection or microwaves.

A traditional oven is best for that.

We talked a lot about pizza in this article. But what if you want to actually get a pizza oven?

One question that often comes up with pizza ovens is whether or not they use a fan to help with the cooking like a convection oven. Do they? And if so, does that mean pizza ovens are convection ovens? And does it help cook them faster or more evenly?

Get all the answers in a recent article. Just click that link to read it on my site.

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Jeff Campbell