Why You Should Always Preheat Your Oven

Whether you're baking cookies, roasting veggies, or cooking a casserole, there's one thing that all of the above have in common. They all require an oven. And chances are high that any recipe that involves the trusty kitchen appliance starts with the same step: preheating the oven. It's often the first direction in baking recipes, before you start mixing, blending, and assembling.

However, it's also an incredibly easy step to overlook. Maybe it's because you're so used to seeing it that you barely even register the step or maybe it's because you're already thinking ahead to what ingredients you need in what amounts. Regardless, it's one of those things that you only realize you've forgotten when it's time to put your dish in the oven and you scramble to get it to the right temperature ASAP. It might not seem like a big deal (after all, a hot oven is a hot oven, no matter how it gets heated up, right?!), but preheating your oven is actually incredibly important — and here's why.

Not preheating your oven could ruin your food

Think you can just leave your cookies or muffins in for a few extra minutes if you forget to preheat the oven? Think again. While you can do that, the final result won't be as good as if you had allowed the oven to heat up first. According to Food52, putting food in a cold oven can mess up the texture and flavor, especially when it comes to baked goods like cookies, bread, etc. That's because baking requires heat right at the start to spark the rising and browning process. If you forget to preheat your oven, your cookies could come out dry, flat, and hard. Yuck.

Does the same rule apply to other foods, though, like casseroles, meat, and veggies? Epicurious says it depends. Because these foods simply need to get cooked through (and don't require rising or leavening), it's not as important to preheat the oven, although it's still a smart idea. The culinary site says a good rule of thumb is to make sure you always preheat for any recipe that involves eggs, flour, baking soda, or baking powder.