Is Your Oven Sick?

Let’s just be honest: no matter how talented of a cook you are, kitchen disasters are inevitable. Even celebrity chefs who present themselves as poised and put-together on television have their share of catastrophes. We’re all human. Therefore, we all make mistakes.

Although it’s comforting to know you’re not alone in your occasional culinary fiasco, it doesn’t make it any less disappointing when one occurs. You want to make the best food you can, and you usually go into it with high hopes. So when things go wrong, it can be frustrating. I know there have been times when I’ve been devastated by recipes gone awry, ready to through the unfortunate disaster dish right out of the window. Things don’t always work out the way I want them too.

Exhibit A: slightly too dark Garlic Pull-Apart Loaf

One of the most disgruntling mishaps for me is when I burn food. Why is this so frustrating? Because it is completely my fault. You see, some disasters are inevitable; you have no control over them. Those are the kinds of things you can’t beat yourself up over too badly (although, I usually find a way). However, burning food is typically preventable. As long as you pay attention, you can cook your food to perfection.

Or so I thought.

You see, I’ve had a reoccurring problem with burning things in the oven. I tried desperately to swerve around this roadblock in my kitchen adventures. I stayed glued to the oven, followed cooking times exactly, and covered my various dishes with aluminum foil to prevent premature browning. Now, of course I had my moments where I would leave the oven’s side for just a moment too long, but those occurrences only accounted for about 25% of my over-cooked dishes.

Out of all my cooking blunders, burning things drives me most insane. I kept blaming myself; if I had only taken the food out of the oven a moment sooner…It was so frustrating.

One day, my mother decided to get a thermometer to test the oven’s temperature. So we tested it out, and do you know what we found?

Our oven has a fever. It is 25 degrees too hot. When I set the oven to 350 degrees, it was actually at 375. When I set the oven to 400 degrees, it was actually at 425. In a way I was relieved; it wasn’t my fault everything was burning! I felt much better about myself and my cooking abilities. On the other hand, this presented a whole new kind of frustration. I couldn’t just run out and buy a new oven. What was I to do?

Well, the solution is simple enough: I set the oven 25 degrees lower than what’s stated in a recipe. So, if I’m supposed to bake a cake at 350 degrees, I set it to 325 instead. The thermometer we placed in the oven then reads 350, and the oven is at the desired temperature (instead of 25 degrees hotter). It’s a bit of an inconvenience, but at least it solves the problem!

A reminder to turn down the oven.

The reason I’m telling all you little cookies this is because you may be having the same issue without even knowing. Your oven doesn’t have to be an old piece of junk for the temperature to be off. I highly recommend getting a thermometer and checking the temperature to be sure. You can save yourself one less catastrophe and avoid a sick oven. Even if you can’t get a new one, you’ll know how to at least heal your oven’s fever by lowering or increasing its temperature as necessary.

Take your oven’s temperature! It could be very sick. In which case, it’s not just your oven that will suffer; your food (and your sanity) will too.

Posted in The Smart Cookie Cook.

Colleen Bierstine


  1. haha this post is adorable! I love the little sick oven picture! My oven’s sick too… :( He’s been burning up by 15 degrees since we bought him. It took me forever to figure out why I kept burning everything! Great post!

  2. What a cute (and very important) post! My oven tends to get a fever in the summer, but gets the chills in the winter. I guess it’s very sensitive to the outside temperature. I have a gas oven, and I’ve found that keeping a baking stone on the floor of the oven helps to prevent the fluctuations in temperature as the flames go on and off. As you can tell, I’ve spent tons of time watching the thermometer inside the oven. 😉 But I haven’t had any major disasters since!

  3. My oven has the chills! It always runs about 25 degrees cold, so we have the opposite problem in our home. I always keep a thermometer in my oven to make sure its on par. Very finicky! This is a great tip for anyone struggling with oven disasters!

  4. Thanks for the reminder. I keep an oven thermometer in my kitchen drawer to check my oven temp every now and then but I haven’t done it in awhile. Going to get er done!

  5. That is a really good idea! A couple of weeks back my oven fritzed out and was so cold! I am going to check the temperature more often for sure!

    Choc Chip Uru
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  6. You’re right on here–my last oven would heat differently in different places. Sadly, I cannot blame the oven for my last cooking disaster because we now have a new one!

  7. My oven definitely has this problem! I usually end up just cooking everything on the bottom shelf. We took the temperature but no matter how low I turn the temp. dial it still cooks everything at about 220!

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