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Oven Cooking Functions Explained

So you are looking at a new oven. You will be surprised how much technology has changed since the last one you bought, or maybe it’s your first oven purchase.

One of the things that may baffle you is the range of cooking functions. Make sure the sales person goes through them all with you slowly. Better still, think about what you cook in your oven and how it fits your lifestyle or what you would like to do in it and have a list ready for your salesperson so they can narrow down the choice there and then. There are a lot of ovens on the market and there will be a lot of considerations to make so if you go in with a short list you are bound to limit the confusion.

I have compiled a general list of cooking functions. It is not exclusive to one brand but if you go through and think it applies to you, write it down.

Also be aware that ovens can be quite interactive so you can purchase ovens that can store your recipes, suggest recipes, have delayed timer cooking, and even go into self cleaning mode. This is just the tip of the iceberg, so be aware, your oven can be almost as interactive as your phone these days. Do your research.

Fan Forced

Most ovens have this and it is a relevant feature. Fan forced ovens have a heating element on the back wall of the oven and the fan forces air around the entire area making it hotter than a conventional oven. Most recipes give there temperature according to a fan forced oven but double check the instructions before you begin cooking. The cooking can be done on all levels of racks as it is circulating heat and not trying to brown one particular dish.

Meals best cooked by this function are, roasts, biscuits, muffins, pizza, bread, cakes and pastry.

Fan Assisted

This function has the fan running but the heating element at the back of the oven is not on. The heat is coming from the top and bottom element of the oven, the fan then circulates this radiated heat. You would also use this if you had two dishes you needed to alternate if you wanted them browned up so you are using the top element to achieve this. So you don’t get distracted with other things if you need to change levels, put the oven timer on the remind you to switch.


Conventional oven baking means that the top and bottom element are working together. It doesn’t create such a hot cooking environment much like fan forced. It is ideal for delicate desserts such as soufflés, meringues, and casseroles. Dishes that can handle long slow cooking.

Fan Grill

Fan grill is a function that really requires you to supervise the cooking as it requires the door to be closed on the oven. This function requires the top element to be on whilst the door is closed. It is a good way to grill fish, meat, chicken or veges. It is probably not a practical way of cooking (having to stand there and watch whilst your steak cooks) but a way you can alleviate the labour intensity would be to set your oven timer for say, every 2 to 3 mins, just to ensure you check on the food regularly. 

Basic Grill

This function requires just the top element on without any fan assistance. This is generally only used to grill the top of something.

Oven Bottom Heat Only

This means only your bottom element is on and it is the right function to finish off that quiche, your pie or if you’re really clever and cook from scratch, that blind baking the recipe is calling for.


Some people are used to defrosting in their microwave but an oven with a defrost function can achieve the same outcome, it may take a little longer though.


This is a very exciting feature in certain oven models and it means self cleaning. The oven heats itself up to 500 degrees, burning of any residual grit and grime from previous cooking splatter, turns them into ash and they materialize on the bottom of your oven which just requires a quick wipe out when the function has finished. Under no circumstances is anything to be cooked at this temperature, it is a cleaning tool only.


This is short for “economy” meaning that there will be some energy saving with this function. Each brand is subjective so ask your sales assistant or read the instructions.

Added Moisture

This will mostly be applicable to a steam oven and may allow you to inject an extra burst of steam to create more moisture. Some non steam ovens will also allow you to add a burst of steam to aid moisture cooking. Again best to consult your sales assistant or refer to the manual.

Plate Warming

This is a low setting. The temperature is near to 65 degrees to safely warm your crockery.

Dough Proving

This setting creates a warm damp area in the oven to provide the perfect environment for activating dough yeast.

Bread Making

This setting heats the oven to between 180 and 220 degrees. It creates a crusty loaf at this temperature.

Fan/Steam Cooking

Steam cooking is becoming quite popular again so some brands have created what’s called “combi ovens” which means they are a multi tasking oven, not just a steam oven. It allows you to cook with a combination of hot air and steam simultaneously. Cooking with moisture has many advantages.

Combi Oven – Microwave

This is general microwave cooking with the fan oven.

Combi Oven Fan Microwave

This is a major cooking advancement. It is traditional microwave cooking that allows you to cook with a heated fan oven. Used in conjunction with each other this will significantly reduce cooking time.

Pizza Mode

Getting the base right with a pizza is the major concern and this mode takes care of that.