For anyone who hasn’t been cooking meals or baking treats their entire lives, getting a new oven online or in store is a challenge. Oven settings are confusing to the average Joe. The symbols are typically too vague to understand – user manuals aside.
Let’s see if we can explain some of the common oven symbols, settings and functions. We will only discuss the common ones, considering nearly every brand has a special brand-only function.
1. Conventional Oven
The conventional oven setting is represented by two lines or rectangles on top and bottom. This means the top and bottom heating elements will radiate heat, which is the standard for all electric ovens. The fan is not involved for this, using only the natural convection within the oven. This is perfect for baking breads, cakes, cookies and any standard baked good.
2. Top Heat Only or Grill
This setting is represented by a single line or bar on top. There are some ovens that do not have a separate heating element from their grill function, so you might also find the jagged top symbol as an alternate. This means only the top part will be radiating heat. Top Heat Only is perfect for browning dishes and performing rotisserie function.
3. Bottom Heat Only
Much like the former, the bottom heat only is the opposite setting, having a single bar or line on the bottom of the square. This symbol means only the bottom part will radiate heat and is typically perfect for pastries and bakes that require a crunchy, toasty base like pizzas, casseroles and lasagne.
4. Fan Forced
One of our favourite settings, fan-forced setting runs a fan with a heating element around it. This is typically symbolised by a fan inside a square with no lines or a fan within a circle around it inside the square. Fan forced allows for even distribution of heat in the entire oven, allowing for faster cooking times and even temperatures on all levels. This is ideal for batch baking where all levels need the same bake time.
5. Bottom Heat with Fan
This is represented by a fan with a line or bar on the bottom. This allows for a combination of fan forced function together with the bottom heat only. This has the same function as bottom heat only but it allows for an additional function of helping cook the top part with indirectly radiated heat. If you need the bottom to be crispy but the top to be cooked softly, this is the right setting. Bottom heat with fan oven function is perfect for pizzas, open faced pies and tarts.
6. Top Heat with Fan or Grill with Fan
This has a near similar function as top heat or grill only electric oven setting, represented by a fan symbol with either a line on top or a jagged line on top.
This allows for good distribution of heat around the oven and is a great setting to use for meats, poultries and BBQ. If you need to brown a casserole quickly, this is a great option to use.
7. Fan Forced Full Bake
This is the highest heat setting that you can put your oven, symbolised by two lines on top and bottom and a fan in the middle. This radiates heat from the top element, bottom element and the fan’s heating element, allowing for a very even distribution of heat in the entire oven. If you’re concerned that your bake goods or roasts may not cook evenly, you would want to use this function to make sure of even cooking all-throughout.
This oven function is fairly common in many modern ovens but typically absent in older models. The defrost function is represented by a snowflake or a snowflake with a drop of water. The defrost function well… defrosts. It thaws frozen food and can be used to slowly increase the temperature of delicate foods.
9. Slow Cook - Another of the newer settings on electric ovens, this is characterised by a pot or casserole pot symbol. This symbol is designed to run on low consumption for low heat and very long cooking times. This is perfect for stews, casseroles and even some large meat BBQ like ribs and steaks.
10. Keep Warm - One of the more uncommon but useful function in electric ovens, keep warm is represented by a plate with steam lines on it. Keep warm keeps whatever is inside it warm until it is taken out. This is very low heat and it is used to stop the cooking but keep the food inside nice and piping hot. Great for preventing breads from going stale or keep foods moist for a slightly later time.