≡ Menu

The Ultimate Guide to Oven Temperatures

Super Easy Moussaka

A few months ago I got a question from one of the members from my done-for-you meal planning service I call ‘Soupstones’.

It’s went something, well actually, it went exactly like this…

Hey Jules,

Tonight’s dinner was divine: The Satay Curry from Soupstones (meal plan) 99. MUST make it again!

Anyway, tonight’s plan was actually Italian Sausage Supper + Divine 4 Ingredients Cheesecake.

I chickened out.

Can I cook them in the oven together, even though one is 170 and the other 200 degrees celsius. Are there guidelines i can use as dictate what can be cooked in the oven, and what temps?

Bella

FYI. Cheesecake is in the oven now. Sausage supper is for tomorrow. :-)

My answer was yes you can absolutely cook them in the oven together. Best to set the temp to 170C to make sure the cheesecake is fine. And expect the sausage supper to take longer than the recipe.

As I responded to Bella, I realized I haven’t ever written about oven temps here on Stonesoup.

So it’s time we changed that!

Here’s what you need to know.

The Stonesoup Guide to Oven Temperatures

Things cook faster at higher temps.

Of course you already knew this. So if you need / want to cook something in a hotter oven you expect it to take less time and start checking earlier.

Where it gets tricky is for larger pieces of meat or baked goods like Bella’s cheesecake. If the temperature is too high the edges will start burning before the middle is done.

Not a good look.

So in Bella’s case I’d choose the oven temp to suit the cheesecake and let the sausages just take longer to cook.

Most savoury dishes are flexible with temp.

Cooking sausages at 170C (325F) instead of 200C (400F) isn’t going to make a huge difference apart from the time.

Most sweet baked goods aren’t so flexible.

Two reasons for this. First as I mentioned above is the potential for uneven cooking (burnt edges).

The second is that baked treats tend to have a smaller window of time between ideal and under or over baked. Another reason to prioritize the cheesecake.

It’s OK to use different temps to the recipe.

Just expect the timing to be different and you’ll be fine.

Generally fan assisted ovens will cook quicker.

Which is why most recipes will tell you to reduce the set temp by 20C / 50F with fan ovens.

The theory is the fan moves the air in the oven to redistribute the hot air that rises so you get more even cooking. A fan definitely helps so I pretty much always use the fan but still find some unevenness with my current oven.

Some ovens are fast and some are slow.

Having lived with many different ovens over the years I’ve found some ovens just tend to run ‘hot’ and cook things quickly. And of course others are slower.

Use the middle shelf when baking.

Just so you’re more likely to get good air circulation around your baked treat and therefore more even baking.

Oven thermometers aren’t worth it.

I’ve tried a few different ones and they tended to cause more trouble than their worth. Falling over and generally getting in the way. I prefer to just use the oven settings and go from there. After all the aim is to have properly cooked (and delicious!) food. There aren’t any prizes for baking at exactly 180C for exactly 30 minutes.

Although if your oven doesn’t have any temperature markings on it (and I’ve lived with those) a thermometer can be helpful.

How to cook 2 things with different temps

It’s simple. Use the set point for the most delicate item or for the one with the lowest temp. And expect the other item to take longer than normal.

I’d probably put the more delicate / lower temp dish on the lower shelf as well.

Too easy!

My Favourite Oven Temps.

100C / 200C – super slow cooking for meats etc. similar to a slow cooker.

180C / 350F – for most baked goods, cookies, cakes, pastries etc.

200C / 400F – for cooking everything else. Roasting veggies, fruit, cooking baked dishes (like the moussaka below) and reheating food.

250C / 480F – aka ‘cranking it’. For pizza, fast roast fish and times when I’m running super late.

Did you find this helpful?

Or got another question? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!


Super Easy Moussaka-2

Seriously Easy Moussaka

I’ve never really thought about moussaka until recently when I was craving lasagne but wanting a low carb alternative. The only downside is that like lasagne this is a bit time consuming but I’ve kept it as simple as possible!

enough for 3-4
takes an hour

3 medium eggplant
450g (1lb) minced (ground) beef or lamb
700g (3cups) tomato passata (puree NOT concentrated tomato paste)
300g (1 1/4cups) sour cream
2 handfuls grated parmesan
baby spinach or salad leaves, to serve

1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F). Slice eggplant about 1/2 inch (1cm) thick. Place on an oven tray and drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

2. Roast eggplant until really soft – about 30 minutes, turning about half way.

3. Meanwhile, brown meat in a hot pan with a little oil. Then add the tomato and simmer for 10 minutes or so. Taste and season with salt if needed.

4. Cover the base of an oven proof dish with the meat. Layer over the cooked eggplant and top with remaining meat.

5. Mix sour cream and Parmesan then spread carefully over the top. Depending on the size of your dish it may not completely cover so I leave some space around the edges (see photo).

6. Bake 200C for about 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly and browned on top. Serve with salad on the side.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Variations

vegetarian – replace beef with cooked lentils or beans.

dairy-free – replace the sour cream and parmesan with a few handfuls almond meal or soft bread crumbs. Scatter over the top to give a lovely crust.

vegan – combine the vegetarian and dairy-free options.

more veg – feel free to layer in other cooked veg like roast zucchini, capsicum (bell peppers) or mushrooms.

carb lovers – add in a few layers of lasagne sheets and expect to cook for longer.

Video Version of the Recipe.
Big love,
Jules x

instagram-icon Pinterest_Badge_Red facebook_icon

Share
{ 37 comments… add one }
  • Aileen ONeill 24 May, 2016, 7:17 am

    Another helpful tip is where you place the food in the oven. The temperature is higher on the top shelf than on the lower shelf. I always do my roast potatoes on the top shelf! :-)

  • Wendy Bradley 24 May, 2016, 7:20 am

    Yes. Enjoy your simple “get comfortable with thinking for yourself” cooking tips like this!

  • Bill Sonsin 24 May, 2016, 7:30 am

    This was interesting. But, what is the elevation where you are? I (and others no doubt) are at higher elevations – about a mile high here in Arizona in the US (where its also very low humidity – another factor people tell me.)

  • Carol 24 May, 2016, 8:20 am

    Great post. Thanks for the hints Jules and the recipe. Will swap the eggplant for zucchini but it sounds both healthy and yummy.

  • Larina 24 May, 2016, 9:02 am

    Hi Jules, thanks for the oven tips. I have another question (feel silly for asking this) but when you cook a sweet and a savoury together in the oven at the same time, like the sausage supper and the cheesecake, will the cheesecake take on a sausage taste?

    • Ellis Aldridge 24 May, 2016, 11:12 am

      See my comments below.
      That was an important question at the Smeg training…..the answer is “NO the flavours don’t usually transfer. Mind you, I probably wouldn’t cook a garlic pie at the same time as a lemon meringue!
      Cheers, Ellis

  • Ruth 24 May, 2016, 9:25 am

    Hi Jules – I have a kid who won’t eat eggplant and doesn’t like zucchini all that much either. So I do one third of the casserole dish with sliced potato or mashed potato if I have it in the fridge. The other two thirds is eggplant moussaka as usual for the adults.

    • Jen 24 May, 2016, 3:59 pm

      That’s a great idea. Mine’s not super keen on eggplant either.

      • Jos 26 May, 2016, 6:56 am

        OMG – same here – why are these two veggies so loathed by kids and teens? Bizarrely – if I grate either of them the teen will eat it up without a comment – as long as it is in a dish like this or a tomato sauce etc – not solo. I think it is the texture of both that irks him as they are similar on the soft/mush front. Try it and see – you never know?!!!!!

  • Oscar Cartaya 24 May, 2016, 10:04 am

    This is useful, thank you.

  • Anthea 24 May, 2016, 10:43 am

    This is great – thanks Jules. I have to agree about the oven thermometer – it is painful – but a necessity for me as our gauge is completely off. Took my a long time to figure out that I wasn’t such a bad cook after all – it really was the oven’s fault!! = )
    On another note, I wonder if you have many interesting dairy, gluten and nightshade free recipes? Of course, there’s the good old stew (no potatoes or tomatoes etc.) and trusty stir-fries, but as the weather cools I’m looking for more comfort food options. Anything up your sleeve?

  • Ellis Aldridge 24 May, 2016, 11:06 am

    In a previous life I was a kitchen appliance salesman. The Omega/Smeg suppliers provided hands on training which involved cooking. At the class that I attended there were around 15 participants and the exercise/demonstration was to prepare and cook main and sweets for all 15 in one oven at the same time. The oven used was a basic 600 mm, 3 shelf and fan forced model. As you can imagine, the thing was packed but, boy, the food (roast meat and veg were superb. If you use the baking trays that came with your oven you’ll maximise the space.
    Cheers, Ellis (a VERY amateur cook)

  • HeatherG 24 May, 2016, 12:20 pm

    Thank you so much, Jules (and Bella). I’ve often wondered about oven temps and had chosen to use a mid-way temp of 375F when cooking a 350F dish with a 400F dish. Now I know better. Plus, I used to use the lower shelf rack, thinking closer to the oven element was hotter. :( Thanks again for this info.

  • Suzanne 24 May, 2016, 3:50 pm

    Hi Jules!
    This is some super helpful information! I’ve always been a bit unsure about oven temps but from now on I’ll know what to do. Thank you!!
    Also, that Moussaka looks divine – gotta give it a go!
    You really inspire me to get in the kitchen and try new things. :-)

  • Jen 24 May, 2016, 4:00 pm

    I was going to cook moussaka tomorrow eve but will now use this recipe. Saves having to make a white sauce to go with too.

  • sue 24 May, 2016, 5:21 pm

    Greetings, found the blog interesting but as I have an Aga, not really useful! Recipes that say ‘put on the middle (or top, or bottom) shelf for x amount of time have always stumpted me, as middle of the oven is Gas mark 5/6 (sorry, never had an electric oven), top is mark 8/9 etc.
    One day we may move and have a normal cooker!

  • Sue 24 May, 2016, 8:44 pm

    I can juggle most temperatures that are reasonably close, but I find the biggest challenge is slow-cooked roasts with roast potatoes. because the difference in temperature requirements is significant. I cook the meat very slowly at about 160 F because that’s what it needs, but the potatoes are best at high temp. I can’t quite cook the spuds in the resting time after I take the roast from the oven.

  • Easymedico 24 May, 2016, 9:30 pm

    Beautifully written, really thought provoking. In India you can get health products at affordable rates on Easy Medico (https://easymedico.com).

  • Clare 25 May, 2016, 4:28 am

    Yes, very helpful. My oven cooks very unevenly, so sometimes I have to rotate things halfway through. Also, the gas company seems to give gas that delivers different BTU’s from day to day! Not at all helpful.

  • Dorothy Karman 25 May, 2016, 5:10 pm

    Lovely photo of young Finbar.

  • Heghineh 26 May, 2016, 6:12 am

    This is really good to know! Thank you so much for sharing this.

  • Cass 26 May, 2016, 10:19 am

    Thanks Jules! I wonder, if substituting the eggplant with mushrooms, (if eggplant is out of season) would mushroom need prior cooking? (I did try a quick and unsuccessful Google on this!)..

  • Rita 10 June, 2016, 8:49 pm

    I made this Wednesday and it was delicious and even more delicious the day after! I replaced sour cream with a fermented oat based creme fraiche to make it dairy free. Thank you Jules!

  • Stone Sample Boards 15 June, 2016, 1:59 pm

    Looks so delicious.feel hungry…

  • li 6 July, 2016, 12:41 pm

    Thank you for the simplicity, ease and flavour of your recipes Jules. I love the above moussaka recipe and also the lentil balls for a vegetarian option – both asking for ‘tomato passata’ which we do not have on our shelves. What do you suggest as a fresh and healthy alternative – maybe made with fresh tomatoes to quick and easy sub the tomato passata? Thank you x li

  • Susan 11 August, 2016, 5:44 pm

    I made this last week ,yummo is all I can say :)

  • debbie bently 5 October, 2016, 6:31 am

    Wow! This looks phenomenal. Big fan of your blog, always entertaining to read. :)

  • Annik 7 November, 2016, 8:20 am

    Made this recipe tonight. I added some onion, garlic, and fresh basil to the lamb/tomato mixture – but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. It was absolutely delicious and my dinner guest was very complimentary! Thanks Jules :)

    • jules 17 November, 2016, 3:12 pm

      Glad you and your guest enjoyed Annik!
      Jx

  • Brendan 16 November, 2016, 11:41 am

    Found the advice very helpful !

    • jules 17 November, 2016, 2:59 pm

      you’re welcome Brendan!

  • Joao 23 December, 2016, 5:01 am

    Jules, I have a question: I need to cook at 100ºC and the minimum temperature of my oven is 125ºC. Is there anything I can do to lower it while roasting? I thought of introducing a tray with water at the bottom but not sure it’ll do the trick. Thanks

  • Jess Smith 5 April, 2017, 11:15 am

    Hi Jules!
    I know you posted this recipe last year and I’m finally getting around to making it! ( You’re post on FB the other day reminded me of it), but I just wanted to note I added a few teaspoons of ras el hangout to the meat mixture as every time I’ve had mussaka in the past it’s always had a hint of spice, so as it’s baking in the oven, it smells wonderful and can’t wait to take a bite!
    Oh! And I wanted to add my grocery store here in the US has finally started carrying a proper tomato passata! I was so excited since I’ve been following your blog for years now and have never been able to find that ingredient until now!
    Thanks for everything!
    Jess

  • Sue 23 June, 2017, 8:15 am

    I’ve done a moussaka with a cauliflower béchamel this week. Seriously yum.

  • James 27 June, 2017, 9:17 pm

    Hi Jules,
    I have used this base recipe and changed the eggplant for thin slices of uncooked pumpkin. It takes a little longer to cook, about an hour, so I put the sour cream topping half way through.
    Might take longer to cook but much easier than having to cook the eggplant first.

Leave a Comment

[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet_bg']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']
[data-image-id='gourmet']