What all those symbols on your oven actually mean and how to use them best

If you've ever wondered why your pizza always burns on the bottom, or your leftovers don't heat up evenly, then you're not alone.

The secret to better cooking could lie in your oven settings. And although the symbols may look different depending on the brand, most ovens will have similar settings.

So if you want to become an oven whiz and use it to its full potential, you need to check out our handy guide below.


The fan distributes heat evenly throughout the oven - it's great for when you have a crowd over and need to cook food fairly quickly and on several different trays.

Lower heat

This setting means all the heat comes from the bottom element of the oven. It's great for cooking food at a high temperature or to heat up food without burning it, but you should only use one oven rack with this setting.

Upper heat

Use only the upper heating element when you want to bake the top of items that are already cooked - like the meringue on a lemon meringue pie when the base has already been baked. With this setting, you won't burn the top of the dish.

Upper and lower heat

This setting uses both the top and bottom elements - perfect for baking that needs to rise, but you should only use one oven rack to ensure it gets heat from above and below.

Use this setting when chucking in your cheeky Christmas pav to get it to rise to perfection.

Full grill

This setting enables the whole grill - it's great if you're going to grill a whole tray of food, like roast capsicums or fish fillets. But don't use it for thicker pieces of meat as they won't cook through without burning on the outside.

Part grill

Some ovens let you use part of the grill to cook smaller amounts of food - such as individual puddings or small plates of leftovers. Just make sure you put your dish in the right place, usually in the centre.

Grill and fan

This setting will alternate between using the grill and the fan, which means the hot air will circulate and your food will cook evenly.

If you want to reheat the casserole your mum left on your doorstep, this is the setting that will leave it perfectly cooked without any cold spots.

Pizza setting

This setting uses the fan and the lower element to make sure your pizza gets a crispy crust. You can use this setting for other dishes that need extra heat from the bottom element.

This article was first published on the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.