Depending on the model of your oven, the display might have settings that roast, bake, broil, or use convection to cook your food. Maybe you’ve wondered what the difference between these settings actually is. Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
The oven is a source of dry heat that can help you make the perfect roast chicken, your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, and even a batch of crispy bacon without the dreaded stovetop splatter.
Does Each Cooking Method Do The Same Thing?
There are articles all over the internet telling you about the differences between roasting and baking. But we’re going to present a piping-hot take: whether you select the “roast” or “bake” setting on your oven, the outcome will be exactly the same. Gasp!
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That’s right, roasting and baking are interchangeable. They both use heat from both the bottom and the top of the oven to cook your food.
The term roasting is often used to describe the cooking process of large cuts of meat or vegetable side dishes, while baking is usually reserved for bread, pastries and casseroles. Those may be the most commonly used phrases, but in practice, the way they’re cooked is identical.
Isn’t Roasting When You Use Higher Temperatures?
You may have heard that temperature is the primary distinction between roasting and baking. Some people argue that roasting uses higher temperatures (at least 400°), while baking occurs at 375° and below. High heat is critical to obtaining crispy chicken skin and nicely charred Brussels sprouts. But it’s not limited to roasting, nor is it the only way to roast.
Exhibit A: slow roasting. Ever made roast beef or pork shoulder in the oven? Our recipes for both dishes start the oven at a high temperature, then keep the party going at a low-and-slow 300°. Prolonged cooking time at a medium heat is the best way to tenderize large pieces of meat with lots of connective tissue. And even though it’s not over 400°, it’s still roasting.
Exhibit B: baking fish. We love to throw salmon, cod, and tilapia in the oven for a quick, low-effort weeknight meal. And while it’s considered baking, it all happens at a high temperature. Using high heat to cook fish will prevent the flesh from drying out in the oven. And yet, it’s not considered roasting.
So There’s Really No Difference Then?
At the end of the day, it’s all just semantics. It’s all about how you use the words. The actual cooking process is exactly the same. So the next time you’re stuck pondering the difference between the “bake” and “roast” settings on your oven, don’t sweat it.