Oven Symbols and Functions Guide

Most modern ovens come with a range of cooking settings and additional features to help you do more than just heat food. Using the appropriate oven setting for each dish helps you prepare food perfectly.

This means avoiding the temptation to put everything at 200°C and being more accurate when it comes to settings and temperatures.

In this guide, RDO explores the most common* oven symbols, how to spot them and how to use them to enjoy delicious dishes every time.

*Some oven models may use variations on the symbols featured in this guide.

What do the oven symbols mean?

Oven symbols represent the different cooking settings, temperatures and additional features available by adjusting the dials or digital buttons on your appliance.

Most ovens use universal symbols for common settings, like fan oven and grill, to make it easy to find the exact feature you need for accurate cooking results.  


What are the symbols for cooking?

  • Fan oven – the fan oven symbol is a square containing three blocks in a triangle formation to represent the fan blades. This setting is used to distribute hot air around the cavity evenly, providing consistent heat across both shelves – cooking quicker and using less energy.


  • Conventional heating – the conventional heating symbol is a square with horizontal lines at the top and bottom to represent the two heating elements. This setting cooks food evenly throughout.

  • Bottom heating/base heating – this symbol is similar to conventional heating, but with just the bottom line – as only the lower heating element is active. This setting is most suitable for foods like pies, pizzas and pastries, which require greater heating from underneath to cook the crust or base.


  • Steam oven – this symbol, available on steam ovens, features a cloud icon with protruding lines to represent the jet of steam that rises upwards in the oven cavity to cook food.


  • Microwave – the microwave setting, available in built-in combi microwaves, features multiple horizontal squiggly or jagged lines. This setting is perfect for quickly reheating dishes or cooking vegetables or ready meals.



What are the symbols for grilling?

  • Grill – the oven grill symbol is a jagged line at the top of a square, representing where the grill heating element sits. This setting applies intense heat from above, making it ideal for browning or crisping dishes or cooking meat (flipping regularly for consistency).

  • Bottom element with grill – this symbol combines the zigzag line from the grill setting, with the bottom horizontal line of conventional heating – representing the two heating elements applied together to provide greater coverage for foods that require intense heat to crisp or brown.

  • Grill and fan – this symbol combines the zigzag line from the grill setting with the fan icon to represent the two heating tools that work together to distribute heat from the grill element around the oven cavity. This setting softens the intense heat of the grill to provide even coverage.



Non-cooking features

  • Defrosting ­– the defrosting symbol features a snowflake icon above a water droplet. This setting is used to safely defrost frozen foods at a low temperature, more quickly than thawing them in open air.

  • Plate warming – the plate warming symbol features three horizontal lines with curved ends, depicting stacked plates. This useful feature gently warms the oven cavity to heat plates without cracking them or making them scolding to touch – so, you can plate meals on warm surfaces to preserve heat.

  • Food warming/oven warming – this symbol features the plate icon from the plate warming symbol, with three vertical lines above to represent steam evaporating from food. This feature keeps food hot without cooking it any further, so it’s served at the right temperature.

  • Oven light – this symbol features a classic lightbulb icon and allows you to operate the interior light independently from any cooking features.



Safety functions

  • Child lock – the oven child lock symbol is represented as a key or padlock icon and prevents access to any other settings until the button is used to unlock the oven.

  • Minute minder – the oven minute minder symbol features a classic clock icon and is used alongside buttons or a dial to set a timer which sounds an alarm upon completion, for accurate cooking results.

  • Self-cleaning – this function, available on pyrolytic self-cleaning ovens, is represented as nine blocks or circles decreasing in size with each descending row. This setting heats the oven cavity to around 500°C, turning any leftover particles to ash and making them effortless to wipe away to maintain a clean and hygienic oven.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • What do the symbols on my oven mean?
    Most ovens feature a series of universal symbols to help users select the right cooking setting or feature on their appliance. Some of the common symbols include fan oven, conventional oven, grill and bottom heating element, and are used alongside a temperature dial to achieve accurate cooking results. Additional feature symbols include child lock, oven light, minute minder and self-cleaning mode.
  • What oven setting is used to bake?
    The conventional oven setting is most commonly used for baking, as it emits heat from the top and bottom of the oven cavity for even and consistent cooking. The bottom heating element helps to cook through the base of baked goods like cakes and pies.
  • How do you tell if your oven is cooking at the right temperature?
    You can check your oven is cooking in the right setting at the right temperature by placing a thermometer in the centre of the middle rack of a preheated oven to check it matches the desired temperature.