Those symbols dotted round your oven dials can be tricky to decipher. It’s important to understand the meanings behind these symbols, to make sure you’re getting the most from your oven, and not missing out on any crucial functions.
Or worse… ruining dinner because you’re cooking foods on the wrong setting.
Most oven manufacturers share the same meaning for the characters and symbols found around the controls on the the front of your oven, much like laundry symbols are shared across appliances.
Your oven user manual should cover all the details for operating your oven, but not everyone has their manual. So, we’re went to the trouble of creating a handy list of the most common oven symbols and provided a detailed explanation of their meanings.
Box With Line Inside Top and Bottom
This will be you main setting for using your oven, and means that both top and bottom heating elements are activated, for even heat around the oven.
This setting of for everyday roasting and baking. Set one control knob to this symbol, and then set your desired cooking temperature.
A problem here, is that heat distribution is not great. Because the heat is radiated from above and below, the function is primarily suited to heating a single item of food, one a single rack, in the middle of the oven.
Boxed Fan With Two Lines
If you choose convection on your oven, both heating elements are active. In addition, a fan blows air from the back of the oven to circulate heat around the oven. Thus, the heat is distributed evenly, so multiple racks can be used at the same time. This symbol is on “fan assisted” ovens, which are very popular these days.
Circulated hot air is far better for cooking compared to just having the top and bottom heaters on alone. At the same time, you also need less heat to achieve the same result. As a rule of thumb: Compared to solo top and bottom heat, you need 20 degrees less with circulating air.
You have to be careful with this symbol, because there are already modifications depending on the manufacturer. The two lines cannot always be seen on it. Sometimes the air circulation has only one propeller.
Fan With Ring
A fan or propeller blades, with a ring drawn around it, means hot air. Compared to the circulating air, the heating elements in the oven remain switched off. Instead, there is a radiator located on the fan. This blows hot air directly into the baking chamber instead of circulating the heated air. This is very helpful for fast preheating.
However, you should consider the reduced cooking time. This means that foods are ready a little faster than with convection. There is a risk of leaving them in the oven for too long and burning them or drying them out if you forget that this function is active.
Zig Zag Jagged Lines on Top: Grill Function
In this setting, the grill heating element is switched on.
Love toasted cheese? Well, this is where you’d make that. Use this function with a grill on the highest rack for grilling meats, or browning foods, and of course, melting cheese.
Zig Zag Jagged Lines With Fan: Convection Grill
A variation on the grill is the forced-air grill . Here, similar to normal air circulation, the fan in the back of the oven is switched on. This spreads the heat better for more even grilling. However, the distribution is less even than when preparing with convection or hot air. So think about whether you would like to cook with it instead and turn on the grill for a few more minutes at the end for roasted aromas. That may be a better choice.
Box With One Line – Either Top or Bottom
If you want to just activate the bottom heater, so that the primary source of heat comes from the base of the oven, then set to the symbol with the single line across the bottom of box. This is suited for specialise baking, for example a cake, where you don’t want to burn or dry out the top. This setting will bake from the bottom, so the cake or bread retains softness.
Box With Light Bulb Flashing
This setting will switch on the interior oven bulb, so you can see what’s going on inside, without activating any heating. Think of this as simply the oven light switch without activation of any heating elements.
Box With Frost or Water Droplets
This function represent ice melting, and is the ovens defrost function. This will operate only the fans without activating any heating elements. Air is simply blown around the oven at room temperature to aid a slow defrost.
Additional Special Features
In addition to these most common, universal symbols and setting described above, there are also numerous other modes with their own symbols. For example, there are ovens with a self-cleaning mode, alarms, locks, timers, and warming up. It’s down the the manufacturer which symbol they choose to create for special features outside of the basics.
If you notice something that you do not understand, take a look at the operating instructions. If you do not have this at hand , it is worth searching for the model on the Internet, ask on forums, ask a specialist on an appliance store, or contact the manufacturer directly.
Don’t fear the Symbols
As you can see, your oven has many practical functions that make it even easier to prepare and even improve food. Ideally, you should also take advantage of this. Dare to try the grill function that you may not have used before. You can use it to create delicious roasted aromas. Also, look out for tips in recipes for better preparation in the oven.