Nothing is worse than when your baked goods get dark around the edges but are raw in the middle, or when they’re just overdone, so should you use a gas or electric oven for the job? I’ll tell you ahead!
When baking, it’s better to use an electric oven instead of a gas oven since an electric oven bakes more evenly. When cooking with gas, you can end up with hot and cold spots that can leave you with burnt edges and a raw center.
That’s not to say that gas ovens don’t have their advantages, especially when baking bread (hint: it’s the moisture that gas ovens retain). Ahead, I’ll go over both the pros and cons of baking with gas vs. electric ovens so you can know which to use once and for all.
Is It Better to Use a Gas or Electric Oven When Baking? The Pros and Cons
If you had access to both a gas and electric oven, for most desserts and baked goods, I would tell you to go for the electric oven. You get much better heating consistency which will ensure the doneness of all your yummy homemade treats.
Bearing that in mind, even electric ovens aren’t perfect, just as gas ovens aren’t totally useless, either.
Let’s look at the perks and downsides of both oven types, beginning with electric ovens.
Electric Oven Pros
- Even Baking
By far, the biggest advantage of selecting an electric vs. gas oven is the baking consistency.
When your oven has hot spots and cold spots intermittently throughout, you don’t get a consistently baked product every time.
Perhaps the center of a pie is done but the edges are raw, or your cake develops browning around the perimeter, but the middle is unbaked.
These make for frustrating baking experiences. If you put your baked good back in the oven for too long, you could overdo the already cooked parts, but that’s a risk you usually have to take.
Not with an electric oven. The even baking is consistent and reliable. You know that when you make your grandma’s favorite pie crust recipe or bake a cheesecake that it will cook through all the way.
- Temperature Accuracy
Part of how an electric oven produces such a consistent cooking result is in its temperature accuracy.
When you set your oven to 375 degrees, you want your dessert baking at 375, not 370 or 380. While no oven has perfect temperature accuracy, an electric oven’s accuracy is far better than a gas oven.
You know when to take out a dessert that’s baking at 375, but if the temperature is higher or lower than that? You could end up with an overcooked or undercooked treat that’s inedible.
There will be far fewer instances of that with an electric oven.
- Fewer Reductions in Temperature
Another issue you don’t have to stress about when baking in an electric oven is temperature reduction.
It can be extremely frustrating when you set your oven to a specific temperature but it drops in temperature throughout the baking process.
While this can be caused by opening the oven door too prematurely, it also comes back to the internal thermostat.
If that thermostat isn’t accurate in the first place, then neither will the baking temperature be throughout.
The reliability of electricity maintains the same temperature during the entire baking process, give or take.
- Dryer Heat Produces a Crisp Baked Good
When baking in an electric oven, the dry heat that’s generated is quite beneficial for making certain baked dishes.
For instance, if you want a dark, crisp pizza crust, an electric oven is a great choice.
The same is true if you want to bake a pie with a beautifully browned and buttered crust or if you like cookies that get nice and brown around the edges (but aren’t burnt!).
Electric Oven Cons
- Takes a While to Reach the Desired Temperature
If you’ve ever used an electric oven before, you know you can’t simply turn it on and begin cooking or baking with it right away. It needs to preheat.
How long will it take the oven to preheat? That depends on several factors. One is the size of your oven.
The more oven you have, the more surface area that needs to warm up, which increases your preheat times.
Another factor is what temperature you’re preheating to. It will obviously take an electric oven of any size longer to reach 500 degrees than it will 325 degrees.
Generally, you can expect an electric oven to preheat to 350 degrees in about 12 or 15 minutes.
Bakers and cooks usually prepare for the downtime by preheating first while they’re doing their mixing and such. This way, by the time the oven dings or beeps, you should be about ready to put in your delicious treat.
- Lacks Humidity
Humidity is something that gas ovens have in spades, which I’ll talk more about in the section to come.
Sure, the dry heat is great for pizza or pie crust, but that’s about it.
Fortunately, you can incorporate more liquid ingredients into cookie or cake recipes to ensure a fluffy, never flat result.
- More Expensive Than Gas Ovens
Between gas and electric ovens, the latter is costlier.
An electric oven generally retails for anywhere from $600 to $3,500 while a gas oven might cost about $1,500.
Gas Oven Pros
- Fast Heating
Do you sometimes forget to preheat? It happens to us all, that’s for sure.
A gas oven is far better for those who perpetually skip or wish they could skip preheating.
A gas oven reaches its desired temperature fast so you can prep your ingredients first, turn on the gas oven when you’re about midway through prep (or further along than that), and slip your baked good right onto the baking rack.
- High Humidity
The gas ignition process leads to the accumulation of water vapor. The water vapor is retained in the oven, where it imparts moisture to whatever you happen to be baking.
If you absolutely detest hard, dry crusts, then the high humidity of a gas oven will be the best thing ever. You won’t get nearly as much crispness when baking in this kind of oven.
That can sometimes lead to blonder pizza crusts, which you can accommodate by baking them with a pizza stone. That will cause the bottom of the crust to become darker and crispier.
For all other sorts of doughy desserts and treats though, bread especially, the humidity in a gas oven will lead to a much lighter, airier dough that many people find desirable.
You’ll also love how fluffy your cakes come out and how chewy your cookies are.
- Less Expensive
As I addressed above, between gas and electric ovens, gas is usually the lower-cost alternative. You’re not saving a lot of money by choosing gas over electric, but there are some cash savings to be had.
Gas Oven Cons
- Inconsistent Baking
Getting into what’s not so great about gas ovens, one of the biggest issues is how inconsistent the baking experience is.
As I talked about earlier, gas ovens are a lot more prone to hot spots and cold spots.
The hot spots can cause parts of your dessert (or even your entire dessert depending on what you’re baking) to cook too fast.
If you know a cookie recipe like the back of your hand and always leave the cookies in for 10 minutes, with hot spots, they should have baked for maybe six or eight minutes.
You didn’t realize that though, so the cookies end up burning.
Cold spots are just as annoying. You give your recipe the necessary time and yet it still comes out underdone.
More than likely, when cooking in a gas oven, you’ll experience a combination of hot and cold spots, so you end up with a half-overdone, half-underdone dessert.
- Temperature Inaccuracy
I’ve already alluded to the fact that gas ovens are not very accurate when it comes to temperature, but exactly how bad are we talking here?
Gas ovens can have an inaccurate thermostat reading by about five degrees. Sometimes it’s a little more, and sometimes, it’s a little less.
Going back to my point from before, when you bake at 375 degrees, you want the temperature as close to 375 degrees as possible. You can’t promise that when using a gas oven.
That fact combined with the hot spots and cold spots can lead to some wildly underbaked or overbaked dishes.
- Bottom Heating
The last downside of using a gas oven is that the oven’s main heat source is not from the top or sides of the oven but from the bottom.
A convection gas oven can distribute this bottom-rising heat, but if yours isn’t a convection oven, then guess what happens when all the heat rises up from the bottom?
That’s right, the bottom of your dessert cooks first. If you can’t see the bottom of your treat while it’s baking, such as the case when baking a pizza crust, a pie, or a cake, then you can overbake the bottom and even burn it without realizing it!
In the meantime, the top of the dessert is perfectly done, but the treat is inedible as a whole.
Baking Tips When Using a Gas vs. Electric Oven
Both gas and electric ovens have their issues, but none of these problems are insurmountable. Here are some baking tips that will help you with any shortcomings your oven happens to have.
Do Not Open the Oven Door
This tip goes for whether you’re baking in a gas or electric oven.
When you open the oven door, you release all the heat that the oven has trapped in. You also introduce cooler air into the oven.
This can cause the oven to lose its temperature. In the case of a gas oven, where maintaining the temperature is a challenge even with the oven door closed, you could cost yourself a dessert, as it won’t bake correctly.
Electric ovens will have to rise back to the temperature you set. For however many minutes that takes, your dessert is underbaking.
Rotate Your Dessert Midway Through, Especially When Using a Gas Oven
It’s a good habit to get into turning your dessert pan or tray around midway through the baking time, and this tip goes double for gas oven users.
By rotating the dessert, you can overcome the hot spots and cold spots these ovens are so known for. If your dessert was in a cold spot before, now it can be in a hot spot.
The parts of your dessert that were in a hot spot are now exposed to a cold spot so they don’t overbake.
Choose the Middle Rack
For a gas oven especially, and for electric ovens as well, the middle rack is your friend.
When using a gas oven, the heat rises from the bottom, so cooking anything on the bottom rack could lead to too much doneness, as I talked about.
Electric ovens have a heating element on the back wall lower to the bottom as well, so cooking on the bottom rack won’t necessarily overdo your baked goods but will make them crisper faster.
The upper rack can take even longer to bake while the middle rack is a good go-between.