Oven symbols: that's what they mean

Oven symbols
What the signs stand for

© Daniel Jedzura / Shutterstock

Have you ever wondered what the oven symbols mean in detail? here you'll find answers!

Do you feel like a layman in the cockpit in front of your oven? No problem, most oven symbols are self-explanatory. We will introduce you to the most common ones.

This is what the oven symbols mean – an overview

  • Upper and lower line: Top and bottom heat
  • One line above: Top heat
  • One line below: Bottom heat
  • Fan in circle (or bracket): Hot air
  • fan: Circulating air
  • Fan in a circle and underline: Pizza level
  • Jagged line / jagged top: Grill
  • Jagged line and fan: Grilling with hot air / convection
  • Ice crystal / star and drop: Thawing
  • Little cloud: Steam cooking
  • Wavy lines: Microwave function
  • Circles or angles that are getting smaller: Pyrolysis (self-cleaning function)
  • Lamp: Light in the oven has no other function

The functions in detail

Oven are small, large marvels and offer a multitude of functions. The symbols for the individual types of cooking differ depending on the manufacturer, although some kind of standard has already been established for some. What you can use the individual functions for:

Top and bottom heat

For the upper and lower heat, the symbol with an upper and an underscore has largely established itself. With this function, the heating coils heat up above and below, so the heat comes from above and below. Suitable for a dish or a baking level, as the heat is not evenly distributed everywhere. If there are dishes on all three levels, the top and bottom will burn while the food in the middle is not yet through. Top and bottom heat is often specified as standard on ready meals or in recipes.

Top or bottom heat

With some models it is possible to choose between top and bottom heat, so here only the top or bottom area is heated.

  • Top heat is suitable for gratinated foods, as this is where the top gets the best heat.
  • Bottom heat cooks dishes particularly gently, also suitable for sheet cakes, for example, where the top should not get too much heat.

circulating air

The fan stands for circulating air, some manufacturers still have upper and lower lines in the symbol. With this function, the furnace chamber is heated up again with top and bottom heat, but the heat is distributed by means of a fan. This has an advantage over top and bottom heat: with convection, several dishes can be cooked on different levels in the oven.

Hot air

With hot air, the ring heating element on the fan heats up and distributes the directly heated air in the cooking space. This way you can save yourself having to preheat the oven with this function. The hot air can also dry out baked goods and other dishes, but is excellent for dishes with a lot of liquid.

Pizza level

The pizza function combines hot air and bottom heat, which should ensure a crispy base for the Italian classic.


With the grill function, strongly heated air comes from above and should be suitable for steaks, grill skewers, sausages, but also for gratinating vegetables or toasting bread. It is best to test whether your oven can replace a real grill with this function. Otherwise, you can use them as a supplement to the other programs and, for example, switch them on towards the end of the actual cooking process (e.g. for a crispy crust).

Good to know: some models still differentiate between large-area and small-area grills.

Grilling with hot air / circulating air

Depending on the manufacturer, the symbol stands for grilling with convection or hot air. In this function, the fan switches on again and is intended to replace the rotisserie. In this variant, large pieces of meat, such as roast beef or legs, should be grilled.


With this setting, food is defrosted at a low temperature without being cooked.

Steam cooking

Steam is fed into the furnace chamber at different intervals. Steam cooking is considered to be gentle on the preparation of food, as it preserves valuable vitamins and minerals. The steam function can be switched on and is suitable for all dishes for which the oven is otherwise too dry.

Microwave function

The integrated microwave function is suitable for quickly heating meals.


Modern ovens have a pyrolysis function. In this case, very high temperatures ensure that dirt and residues are burned and turned into ashes. An alternative self-cleaning function is hydrolysis, which uses steam to dissolve food residues. However, there are no uniform symbols for the cleaning function (yet).

Does your stove not have a pyrolysis program? Never mind Here we show you how you can clean your oven – without any chemicals.

Not all symbols are used in the same way by the manufacturers, sometimes they also differ slightly from one another. If you are not sure, you should take a look at the operating instructions for your device.

Do I have to preheat the oven?

Oven symbols: What the symbols stand for

Have you ever thought about preheating the oven? Or did you just do it? It is included in many recipes, and you often just take it over. But with the hot air function, you can actually give yourself preheating and save some energy. You can find out in the video why it is still recommended in many recipes and when you shouldn't do without preheating.

Oven dishes, one-pot pasta or quick dishes: Are you in the mood for new recipe ideas? Then take a look at the BRIGITTE community!