Regular Oven vs. Roaster: What's the Difference?

A roaster oven cooks an individual fillet or an entire turkey.
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A regular oven — also known as a conventional oven — and a roaster oven are two different appliances that both cook food using dry heat. The shape, temperature and design of each cooking appliance affects the quality of your food.

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Traditionally, only solid foods such as meat and potatoes are roasted. A conventional oven, however, can cook both unformed foods, such as cake batter, and structured meat dishes, such as a stuffed turkey.

The difference between cooking in these two ovens ranges from energy use and convenience to moisture infusion and speed.

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Heat Distribution and Moisture

Cooking in a regular oven requires preheating plus the time spent cooking the food, thereby using more energy than a roasting oven, which cooks meat at approximately 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Additionally, a conventional oven cooks food by surrounding it with a large box of flowing heat. This excess supply of dry heat draws moisture from the meat, resulting in a dry turkey or roast. In contrast, the enclosed structure of a roasting oven preserves the meat's internal moisture without requiring constant basting.

Movement

In a conventional oven, the food remains stationary throughout the entire cooking process, unless you manually flip it. This allows the heat to cook some sections more thoroughly than others.

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In a roaster oven, the food is suspended over the heat source on a rack or rod. The proximity of the heat source to the meat while cooking helps cook the food evenly without drawing excess moisture.

Space

In a small living area, space economy is especially sensitive. Unlike a roasting oven, you can't slide a conventional oven in a drawer after dinner. A roasting oven packs easily in the back of a camper, and you can clean the entire appliance is less than five minutes.

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While a conventional oven can't accompany you to the campground, its double layer rack and box structure allow you to cook multiple items in a short period of time.

Variety

While a roasting oven uses less energy and space, it can cook only a limited variety and amount of food. Anything soft, dough-based or loose won't cook in a roaster oven or the contents might fall through the rack.

A conventional oven, however, can cook two different foods with different baking needs at once, such as two casseroles and a sheet of cookies.

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