How to Use an Oven

This isn't an article on how to turn on your oven; that information should come with your manufacturer's instructions and is highly specific to the model that you own and its source of power. Rather, this article is about getting the most out of cooking in your oven by knowing some of the standard basics that will help ensure good cooking results.


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    Know your oven. A good cook knows his or her oven through both reading the instructions that accompany the oven and experience through usage. Although recipes may indicate certain temperatures, your own knowledge of how your oven works is vital and it is ultimately up to this knowledge coupled with your cooking experience that will help to determine the most appropriate temperature and cooking length times. Every time that you have to get used to a new oven, always commence with your basic, true stand-by recipes and adjust as needed before branching out into more complicated recipes. And read the manufacturer's instructions if you have access to them; they are full of useful information!
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    Understand the effects of oven positions. Each level of the oven has a different cooking impact and it is useful to know this in order to get the best results:
    • Top level of the oven - this level is best for quick cooking and high temperature cooking
    • Middle level of the oven - this level is good for moderate temperature cooking
    • Bottom level of the oven - this level is best for slow cooking and low temperature cooking
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    Be able to make general oven temperature conversions. It is very useful to have a general notion of the oven temperatures in both Celsius and Fahrenheit so that you can bake recipes from cookbooks that use either temperature. The most common conversions that are useful to know are:
    • 160ºC - 325ºF
    • 180ºC - 350ºF
    • 190ºC - 375ºF
    • 200ºC - 400ºF
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    Learn the temperature ranges. When a recipe calls for using an oven at a specified temperature range, these are the following temperatures:
    • Cool/slow - 110 - 140ºC | 225 - 275ºF | Gas 1/4 - 1
    • Moderately slow - 150 - 160ºC | 300 - 325ºF | Gas 2 - 3
    • Moderate/warm - 180 - 190ºC | 350 - 375ºF | Gas 4 - 5
    • Moderately hot - 190 - 220ºC | 375 - 425ºF | Gas 5 - 6
    • Hot - 220 - 230ºC | 425 - 450ºF | Gas 6 - 8
    • Very hot - 250 - 260ºC | 475 - 500ºF | Gas 9 - 10
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    Reduce heat for fan-forced ovens. Fan-forced or convection ovens are more efficient at pushing around the heat during cooking. This means that the food is cooked more quickly and evenly than in a conventional oven - the shorter cooking time and lower temperatures required save energy and make cooking more economical. It remains important to follow the instructions for your oven but in general, these basic rules apply to use of fan-forced ovens:
    • Reduce the cooking temperature for baking by 13ºC/25ºF, especially when the cooking time is under 15 minutes but cook for the same length of time suggested in the recipe;
    • Reduce the cooking time by 25% for roasting and cook at the same temperature suggested in the recipe.
    • Keep a record of changes in cooking times and temperatures for your favourite recipes for future reference if you own a fan-forced oven.
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    Preheat the oven prior to cooking. It is important to always preheat the oven to the temperature suggested by the recipe, unless otherwise stated. This will ensure that the oven is at the right temperature when you add the item for cooking.


  • During baking, only open the oven door for as short a time as possible and only when really needed; this saves energy, keeps the temperature even and saves your baking from sinking!
  • Keep your oven cleaned regularly; not only does this help to ensure that the oven is easier to clean but it also ensures that the heat is directed at cooking the food and not also burnt on items, which can also emit an unpleasant odour.

Things You'll Need

  • Oven instructions
  • Oven

Article Info

Categories: Care and Use of Cooking Equipment | Basic Cooking Skills