Roasting and baking are similar forms of cooking that use hot, dry air to cook foods. While the words are often used interchangeably, they actually mean too different things. The main difference: the temperature used when cooking. Baking is done at a much lower heat than roasting and is better for more delicate food that can’t handle a high blast of heat for a long period of time. Roasting will typically give you more color on your food than baking, which is ideal for something like potatoes, but not necessary for something like a cake.
Roasting is typically done at a temperature of 400° or higher and is most often used on foods that require longer cooking times because of their size or thickness. It’s a cooking method that will result in soft centers and crispier, dark golden outsides. A roast chicken, for example, is often cooked at around 425° and comes out of the oven with juicy meat that’s falling off the bone with crisp golden skin on the outside.
Some meats start off roasting at a high temperature and drop lower to finish cooking at a lower one—this would still be considered roasting. This technique is great for veggies to give you fork tender insides while developing some more texture and color on the outside. It’s my favorite way to prepare Brussels sprouts and cauliflower!
Baking is done at a temperature of 375° or lower and is typically for food that is not solid before being cooked. Think: cakes, cookies, and breads. These examples change greatly while being cooked and transform from batters and doughs into the fluffy, cake-like confections you know and love.
There are, of course, exceptions to this. Most people prefer to bake seafood instead of because it cooks more quickly than most large pieces of meat and won’t dry out at the lower temperatures. Baked salmon is a great example of this.
While baking will develop some color on your products, especially for those that need a longer bake time, it doesn’t develop as deep of golden hue like roasting does. However, your banana bread is going to bake for an hour and come out much more golden than when it went in!
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