Cooking in the oven is something not everyone is comfortable with or has mastered, but it’s a wonderful way to cook if you enjoy baking, roasting, indoor steaks, and frozen meals. Cooking things in the oven can be quick and toasty or prolonged, allowing you to do other things while the food bakes. But there’s one thing that can throw off any oven game, pro or amateur, in the kitchen: uneven cooking. The oven is supposed to heat all contents evenly, from the bottom or top heating elements, or both at once. However, when the heating elements are not heating evenly or when the oven is somehow otherwise producing unevenly cooked food, it’s time to troubleshoot. Some uneven cooking problems you can DIY resolve at home, while others will require a technician to perform the necessary repairs. In most cases, you can figure out what’s wrong with a little experimentation. Check out the top seven reasons why ovens cook unevenly and see if you can find your solution.
The Oven Feet Are Not Level
Most ovens are free-standing, set into a slot in the countertop. This means the oven is set on its own four feet, but those feet might not be even. Appliances tend to have self-leveling feet, which means the front feet are adjustable and the back feet are designed to adapt. Grab a bubble-level and test the top surface and bottom edge of your oven. If they are not level, then you’ll need to adjust the front feet. This can be done with a simple twist. The feet are each a screw, so unscrewing the foot makes it taller and the reverse makes it shorter. Adjust until the top and bottom of your fridge are level.
Bonus Tip: If the top and bottom lines of your stove don’t line up, the appliance may have warped with time and heat. This is a common sign of a slightly defective model and usually needs to be replaced.
Crooked Oven Rack
A similar problem relates to your oven rack. Even if the oven is level, your rack may not be. Racks can be bent, set crooked in the tracks, or warp over time. Grab that bubble level and test whether your racks are flat. Then test the racks and tracks separately. Lay unimportant towels on the counter and set the oven racks on them. The counter will show you if the racks can lie flat without wobble. From there, you can inspect the tracks for obstructions, warping, and design flaws.
The three solutions to an uneven oven rack are to re-set the racks, clean the oven, or replace the racks.
Gas Ignitors can get weak
Oven ignitors can get weak over time and while they will get hot enough to glow they might not be getting hot enough to light the gas in the oven to start raising the temperature. Replacing the ignitor is the only way to solve this issue.
Leaving Pans in the Oven
In some households, the oven is a perfectly good place to store pans. Whether those pans are forgotten from quick toasting or are clean and stored, having extra pans in the oven while cooking is never a good idea. You see, the pans absorb some of the heat and block it from reaching your cooking dish. Uneven distribution of pans can, understandably, result in an uneven distribution of heat causing your food to cook unevenly.
The solution? Get those pans out of there. If you do use your oven for storage, clear the space before pre-heating. If you tend to forget pans, check every time before you turn on the oven.
Cooking Multiple Oven Dishes at Once
Another problem can be trying to multi-task too much with your oven. It is possible to cook multiple items at once, but you must do so strategically. Ensure that each dish is capable of receiving the necessary heat and distribution. Baking, for example, is best done with dishes that are side-by-side so that heat from the top and bottom aren’t blocked. You can also warm items in the oven on the same or nearby pans.
However, it is often necessary to increase your oven temp and cook times for everything to cook through. You should also simultaneously cooking dishes of drastically different consistency and that might block heat from one another. If you’re not sure, just cook one dish at a time.
The Oven Control Circuit is Busted
The most insidious problem is one involving your oven computer. most ovens have one circuit control board that determines the correct temp, runs the timer, and so on. The newer your oven, the more complex this built-in computer will be and the more ways it can malfunction. If the circuit board is not sending the right signals, then your heating elements will not activate properly. This will need to be identified by opening the oven and applying a multimeter to determine if the circuits are sending the signal correctly.
Your Temperature Sensor is Broken
Finally, it’s possible that your oven’s internal thermometer is broken or malfunctioning. If so, the oven would not heat to the correct temperatures based on your settings and might not be able to maintain temperature. This can result in irregular and potentially uneven heating, sure to cause dishes to come out less than optimal.
A broken temperature sensor is surprisingly easy to replace, simply switch the wire harness from the old piece to a new one. The trick is to clamp the internal wires to the oven wall so it doesn’t fall back.