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What Is The Difference Between Roasting and Baking?

What Is The Difference Between Roasting and Baking?

Last Updated on 20th August 2021 by

A lot of us use the terms baking and roasting interchangeably, and you might think they mean the same thing, but there are subtle differences between the two terms you should know. If you come across either of these terms in a recipe, you need to know the difference between roasting and baking. If you don’t, you could end up ruining the food you’re making.

The Temperature Difference

When looking at the difference between baking and roasting, one of the key factors is the temperature the food is baked at. Cooked at a certain temperature, that food is being roasted, while at another temperature, it’s considered baking.

What’s the temperature guidelines then for these two cooking methods? When it comes to baking, 375°F or around there is considered baking. Anything under that temperature is still baking. A great example of that would be the Easy Bake ovens that are made for kids.

These were a big deal back in the ‘90s, and they are still being made today, but not as frequently. They use a small light bulb to slowly cook food over time- usually cookies or some other bakery item.

The food cooked in those ovens was never considered roasted, and it couldn’t be since roasting requires cooking at a much higher temperature. If you ever get confused as to which is which and the difference between roasting and baking, just think of the Easy Bake ovens.

So, what’s the correct temperature for roasting then, and when is a food considered to be roasting rather than baking? That would be at 400°F or higher. At that point, the food is being roasted, and that results in a different texture or taste. The higher temperatures create different dishes that look and taste different, so pay close attention to what the recipe calls for- roasting or baking.

The term that’s being used might not make a difference as to which temperature you decide to cook the food at. You still have to follow the recipe, after all, but knowing the terms gives you an idea of how the food will turn out before you even cook it.

If you see that a chicken dish will be roasted rather than baked, you know it will have a different texture to it, and you may want to choose a different recipe that lets you bake it instead. Are you starting to see how useful it can be to know what is the difference between roasting and baking?

The Heating Method Difference

The way food is heating via either roasting or baking is different as well. You can’t just stick food into an oven and set it to a high temperature and say that the food is roasting. It’s not that simple, because how the food is heated is part of the definition of both of these methods.

What’s The Difference Between Roasting and Baking Heating Methods?

Baking – This uses a dry heat and no contact between the food and the flame. You can use either a hot surface or an oven to bake your food.

Roasting – This method cooks the food on all sides at once by using hot air and dry heat to surround the food. An open flame may sometimes be used, as can an oven and other heat sources too. The heating method used changes the texture and state of some of the ingredients. Roasting can cause the food to brown and the ingredients to caramelise.

When roasting, the recipe may call for you to cover the food in its pan, to help the heat get trapped inside and cook the food more thoroughly.

Baking usually doesn’t require the food to be covered while it is cooking. This allows for a more gradual heating process and a more even cooking method. If you were to try to cook a cake with roasting methods, when you pull it out of the oven, it would be gooey on the inside and not completely cooked.

This is why you use specific methods of cooking at different times- based on whether you want an even or uneven heating.

The Types of Food to Roast or Bake

One difference between baking and roasting is the kind of food you would typically use for either method. You can roast or bake chicken and potatoes, for example, but those are the rare foods you can cook either way. A lot of foods would only be either roasted or baked.

Foods mixed up from a batter or dough will have to be baked- like cake, pie, bread, and others. If you roast them, they won’t turn out properly.

Roasting, on the other hand, is typically reserved for when you’re cooking up veggies and meats. A slow, gradual cooking method isn’t necessary for them most of the time, so roasting works fine.

If you are trying to come up with your own recipe, you will want to think about how all of these factors work together and what kind of effect roasting or baking would have on your food. The terms might have seemed interchangeable to you before, but they have very different meanings, even if the difference between roasting and baking seem minuscule.

Any time you are making baked goods, you will want to bake them, obviously- it’s right there in the name. If you wonder what’s the difference between roasting and baking, you might not think too much of it, though. We imagine you could make some truly strange cake by roasting it.

When to Bake or Roast Chicken

The difference between roasting and baking chicken is worth paying attention to. Baked chicken can come out a bit dry, if you’re not careful. It’s easy to leave the chicken in too long and make it dry all the way through, having thoroughly baked out all the juices. Of course, dry chicken isn’t only less juicy, it is also less flavourful.

You can run into the same problem with roasting, though. If you roast the chicken for too long, you can dry it out and burn it to a crisp. Remember that roasting takes place at a higher temperature with heat on all sides, so a mistake in temperature or duration can be awful for your cooked bird. It can turn out not just blackened but so black it is burnt.

You would use roasting for your chicken if you are trying to make a crispy outer skin. You don’t really get that so easily with baking, and if you do bake the chicken so thoroughly that the skin is crispy, then you have probably dried the bird out completely. That’s the advantage of roasting a chicken- you can get that crispy skin and still have a succulent, juicy bird meat to enjoy on the inside. That is a great combination that is practically mouthwatering.

To roast a chicken, you can use a roasting pan, which is a deep dish pan usually, like what is used for roasting Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey. Why wait until the holidays to have delicious roast fowl? You can get that tasty experience anytime you like by using a roasting pan and simple roasting methods. You can roast a chicken in your oven and not have to use special heating apparatus to pull it off.

When to Roast or Bake Potatoes

What’s the difference between roasting and baking potatoes? Either way, you can end up with some tasty potatoes, but there are definite advantages to using one or the other. You’ll pick one method based on what kind of potato dish you are going for, so let’s look at a few ways you can fix potatoes that would require either baking or roasting.

You can roast potato wedges or pieces, which is a great way to get a crispy outer skin and a nice, soft interior. Your potatoes will give a little resistance on the outside and then be pleasantly mushy on the inside.

Like we talked about with chicken up above, baking can make the potatoes drier and not as succulent. You may feel the need to pour some extra ketchup on dried out, baked potatoes. Roasting them gives you a chance to enjoy all the juicy flavour and maybe go lighter on the ketchup or not use it at all.

You can try roasting or baking whole potatoes as well, but you have to cook them just right for whole potato roasting to work. You want them crisp on the outside and soft and tender on the inside, and if you roast them for too long or at too high a temperature, you can end up with burnt potatoes. No one wants that, so try to follow a recipe for whole roasted potatoes when you attempt this delectable dish.

Baking works very well for French fries and other thin potato dishes. The baking can be enough to cook them thoroughly without fully drying them out. For thicker potato dishes, you may want to go with roasting.

If you want to speed up the process of roasting or baking your potatoes, you can parboil them, which means cooking them partially in hot water. Just heat water over a high flame until it is boiling, add the potatoes to that and cook them for about 10 minutes. From there, you can put the potatoes in the oven and cut down the cooking time by 50-75%.

Is Baking Or Roasting Faster?

What’s the difference between baking and roasting when it comes to cook times? Generally, roasting will be much shorter. You are cooking at a higher temperature after all, but keep in mind that not all foods can be either baked or cooked. You won’t always have both options, but if you are looking for a quick way to cook your foods, roasting is the way to go.

Just make sure you are really roasting, by using the right setting on your oven, by using the right kind of cooking dish, and by heating at the right temperature. If you have never tried roasting some dishes you eat often, like potatoes or chicken, you may want to try that next time to see what the difference is like. You may just open up some entirely new flavour opportunities.

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Pauline Loughlin
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I'm Pauline, a mother of four grown children, my passion for cooking stemmed from the joy i get cooking for my family. I love to try new dishes, especially when dining out but creating and sharing my own recipes is my favourite thing to do!