I’ll admit; I’m not the most patient person. Most standard recipes will begin with the step to preheat the oven. But my growling stomach sometimes causes me to skip over that part and sneak the casserole in the oven before it “beeps,” alerting me that it’s preheated. The casserole seems to always turn out just fine, which makes me pose the question: Is it really necessary to preheat the oven?
Some foods don’t really mind being put in a cold oven, but other foods depend on that immediate heat. Temperature is part of the chemical reaction process for baked goods made with a leavening agent, such as baking powder. When baking powder is mixed in a batter or dough, carbon dioxide bubbles are produced, and unless you get it in a preheated oven quickly, the product won’t rise as it should. Yeast breads prefer a preheated oven, as well, which allows for a final “proofing” or rising. Putting it into a cold oven could make the bread dense, dry and crumbly.
Soufflés, egg dishes and meringues need a preheated oven. Otherwise, it will fall flat before it’s even cooked. It’s equally important not to open the oven door midway through, which lets heat out and inevitably sinks the dish.
While a preheated oven is necessary to produce a quality product for some foods, it’s really not going to make much difference in other dishes. Most vegetables, meats and casseroles don’t actually need a preheated oven. In general, those recipes that have a long, slow cooking time, such as a roast, will not require a preheated oven, but those recipes that have a quicker cooking time and higher oven temperature generally need a preheated oven. For instance, most pizza recipes instruct you to preheat the oven and cook at a temperature of 400?F or higher for a short period of time; this makes for a nice crispy crust.
So yes, you can get away with not preheating the oven for some dishes; they’ll simply be cooked at a lower temperature for the first 5-15 minutes, depending on the target temperature and the strength of your oven. Therefore, it will take longer to cook than what the recipe indicates. And if it takes longer to cook, energy really isn’t being saved. Best practice is to preheat the oven if the recipes says to preheat the oven!
Try these oven baked pork chops. Preheating the oven will aid in a crispier breaded crust!
Baked Pork Chops (Printable PDF)
Hot n’ Spicy Seasoning:
¼ cup paprika
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 Tablespoons dried leaf oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon red cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon dry mustard
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl and store in an air-tight container.
4 boneless pork loin chops
1 egg white
¼ cup skim milk
½ cup cornflake crumbs
1 Tablespoon Hot n’ Spicy Seasoning
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Trim off all fat from chops and discard. Beat egg white with skim milk in large bowl. Place chops in milk mixture. Let stand for 5 minutes, turning chops once. Mix together cornflake crumbs and Hot ‘n Spicy Seasoning in gallon-size plastic bag. Remove chops from milk mixture. Drop in plastic bag and shake to coat thoroughly. Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with nonstick spray. Place chops in pan. Sprinkle all remaining crumb mixture on chops. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn chops; bake 5-10 minutes more or until pork is at least 145ºF.
Yield: 4 servings
Nutrition analysis per serving: 205 calories, 6 grams fat, 205 milligrams sodium, 13 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams dietary fiber, 24 grams protein