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Both convection and induction cooking have a wide range of applications at home and in restaurants. Appliances which use these technologies were developed to speed up or optimize the cooking process. Although the two terms are easy to confuse, these methods have some major differences.
This blog post will cover:
- What is Conduction Cooking?
- What is Convection Cooking?
- What is Induction Cooking?
- Which option is better?
What is Conduction Cooking?
First, it’s important to understand how conventional conduction heating works. Conduction heating involves transferring heat from a heated area to a cold area. It’s essentially how every restaurant burner heats up a dish, as well as how most electric ovens work.
Electric coils and gas flames are the heat sources commonly used in conduction cooking. The heated molecules from the burner get transferred to the molecules of the pan.
Depending on the conductive properties of the pan, your food will gradually heat up. As opposed to convection cooking, conventional conduction cooking involves a static heating process. Uneven heating is a real risk, and the quality of your pan is an important factor.
What Is Convection Cooking?
Convection heating technology is found in both countertop ovens and spacious built-in ovens.
There are four elements essential to convection cooking. There are three heating elements covering the top, bottom, and rear of the oven, and the fourth element is the fan. Most of the time, the fan will be connected to the rear heating element. However, you may also find the fan positioned at either side of the oven, still in a middle position.
What makes this cooking method different from the previous one is air circulation. As the convection oven draws in air from the outside, the heating elements go to work and warm up the air inside the oven. When the fan kicks in, the air gets moved around the oven.
This means that the food cooks evenly, with no hot spots, and the process also becomes faster. What convection cooking does best is to help you prepare browned roasted veggies, or cook pastries or dough evenly.
One downside here is that convection cooking requires some alterations when it comes to cooking times and temperatures. That’s why most convection ovens will come with preprogrammed settings for optimal air circulation and heat generation. But if you want to prepare complex recipes, you may find these pre-prepared options unsatisfying.
What is Induction Cooking?
Unlike with conduction cooking, induction cooking means there is no direct heat output. It doesn’t use flames or coils to transfer heat from a burner to a pan.
Induction stovetops work in a different way. They generate an electric field, which creates a current, which generates heat – but only when it comes in contact with specific materials.
Instead of a traditional burner, induction cooking happens over a flat piece of ceramic or glass material. There are usually copper wire coils underneath. An electric current is sent through the coil, alternating directions multiple times per second.
This is what creates a magnetic field above the coil. Because the magnetic field also alternates directions, it helps create an electric current in the pan sitting on top of the induction plate. If the cooking pan is made of the right metal alloys, it will offer resistance.
When resistance occurs, heat is generated as a result of the electric current. From there, everything functions basically like conduction cooking. The pan gets heated and the heat gets transferred to the food through classic conduction.
The safety and ability to control temperature and power levels are just two of the pros of induction cooking. The magnetic field only generates electric current and heat once it comes in contact with specific ferrous metals.
This means that touching the induction plate with cloth is perfectly safe, no matter how high you’ve set the temperature on the stove. The risk of injury becomes much lower than in the case of convection ovens.
Which Option Is Better?
Both convection and induction cooking have their uses. Induction cooking is reserved for stoves – this means that it’s used for searing, broiling, boiling, stir-frying, or deep frying.
Convection cooking is only done in enclosed spaces, such as ovens. It is used when baking, air frying, or slow-cooking your food.
As different recipes and cooking techniques are reserved for each type of heating method, it can be a good idea to own both types of appliances in your kitchen.
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