An infrared oven is a type of oven, either for use in a commercial or home kitchen or for industrial applications, which uses infrared radiation rather than traditional conduction or convection heating to cook objects. They are available from a number of different manufacturers and are often built for one of several different purposes. An infrared oven can be a fairly small home kitchen appliance, a larger commercial cooking machine, or a large machine used to “cook” industrial products to apply coatings, cure, and dry materials or for other similar uses in commercial industrial applications.
One of the most common uses for infrared ovens is as a home kitchen device intended to allow a person to cook food faster and easier than other types of ovens. Much like microwave radiation, infrared radiation can be used to basically cook food from the inside out, allowing for faster heating and cooking. At least one type of infrared oven also uses more traditional convection and conduction to cook food as well, using all three types of heating to quickly cook food inside and out.
The idea behind such an infrared oven is that the convection and conduction heating will properly cook the outside of the food and begin to cook the inside as well. Convection and conduction basically refer to how heat moves and is transferred between objects and are the typical methods by which food is cooked in ovens. In an infrared oven, infrared radiation is used to penetrate the food, much like microwave radiation in a microwave oven. The radiation begins cooking the inside of the food faster than in traditional cooking techniques where the heat has to travel from the outside of the food toward the center.
While this type of oven does typically work to cook foods faster, it may not provide certain textural or flavor elements other types of cooking can provide. Some testing has shown that these ovens will cook a frozen chicken breast quite quickly and ensure a browned exterior and a juicy, fully cooked interior. Other types of food, however, benefit from other applications of heat. A steak, for example, will not receive the textural or flavor benefits of direct heat such as a grill when cooked in an infrared oven.
For commercial and industrial uses, an infrared oven typically refers to a large device in which products are often placed for heating. This heating is usually done to bake on coatings, laminate products, burn-off coatings, shrink, and dry different materials. Infrared ovens in this type of capacity often allow very fast and precise heating, and may require less energy than other types of ovens. Though such an infrared oven typically costs about the same as conventional industrial ovens, the individual parts for replacement may be more expensive.