The Difference Between Baking and Roasting

We've all seen the settings on our ovens for broil and roast, and we know that many things cooked in the oven are baked. If you're at a campfire, you roast a marshmallow to eat in your s'more, not bake it. And when you've made a cake, you say you baked a cake, not you roasted a cake! Most people think of "baking" in regards to sweets, while "roasting" is a method used for savory foods. However, while many of us know the different situations for each word, most don't know the actual difference between these common cooking methods. This begs the question, what is the difference between baking and roasting?

Bake vs Roast

bake vs roast

Although both baking and roasting are cooking techniques involving dry heat and high temperatures, there are some key differences between bake vs roast. For one, roasting is technically done at a higher temperature than baking. Roasting occurs at high heat, 400°F or higher, decreasing cooking time and resulting in a nicely browned dish. Baking involves a lower oven temperature than roasting, and it is done at medium heat, up to 375°F.

Another distinction when comparing bake vs roast is the structure of the food before cooking. When baking, you're taking a food that lacks structure to begin with but becomes solid as it's baked. Bread, cookies and cake all start as dough or batter, but by the end of the baking process you have fully-formed baked goods or bread! Roasting, on the other hand, involves a food that already has a solid structure, like veggies, fillets or a whole chicken. Roasting will add flavor and crispiness, but it won't change the food's structure.

When these two heat cooking methods first became prevalent in the English language, roasting described the method of cooking food over a fire, and baking always involved an oven. Now, of course, roasting usually involves some veggies on a baking sheet or a beef tenderloin in a roasting pan rather than an open flame. A few centuries after the words "bake" and "roast" were adopted, "broil" entered our vocabulary as a means to burn or char. Broiling now refers to exposing food directly to a heat source, like grilling.

Convection Roasting

bake vs roast

Many ovens have no distinction between the "bake" setting and the "roast" setting- in these ovens, roasting is done at a higher temperature, and that's how you distinguish it from baking. However, in convection ovens, the roast setting does change how food is cooked within. Convection is when the hot air is moved through the oven as food is cooked, making the cooking process faster and circulating a very even heat.

Oster Extra Large Digital Countertop Convection Oven


When you convection bake, the fan circulates the air as food is cooked. On the other hand, when you convection roast, the fan is used but the oven also cycles through the bake and broil elements to control the heat during cooking. Because of this, if you cook food by convection roasting, your end result will be crispier than it would with convection baking.

As much as I love knowing the differences between cooking methods, the most important part of cooking is the food. Whether your recipe calls for baking or roasting, let's hope it produces a delicious meal cooked to crispy perfection!

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