Once limited to high-end ranges, convection functions are now built in to most new ovens. I use convection almost exclusively at home, because it cooks faster and more evenly than regular settings.

Here's why: It has a built-in fan that helps heat the oven faster, eliminates hot spots and enables even cooking on all racks. No more fussing with rotating pans! Plus, ovens with convection also have a vent that draws out excess steam. The drier air helps foods cook and caramelize sooner-just what you're looking for when roasting chicken or vegetables.

When to use the convection setting:

It's almost always a better choice because it's more efficient.

The only time to skip it:

When baking something with a light batter like cakes or soufflés that might get jostled by the fan.

How to use the convection setting:

If you have more than one convection setting, choose the one indicated in your recipe-bake, roast or broil-or the mode closest to your type of cooking. Because convection cooks food faster, common advice is to reduce the temperature by 25°F and expect foods to be done about 25 percent sooner. Depending on your oven, it may default to a lower temperature when using convection, but you can override that function. At my house, I don't reduce the temperature, I just check for doneness about two-thirds of the way through the recommended cooking time.

So, if you've been hesitant to use convection, just give it a try. It takes some experimenting-every oven is a bit different-but the efficient and delicious results are worth the effort.

Watch: How to Make Roast Chicken & Sweet Potatoes