Infrared ovens generate a form of radiation heating that uses invisible waves of electromagnetic energy to cook food. In theory, this makes it possible to heat food more quickly while using less energy.
Infrared energy is different from many forms of heating because it is not absorbed by air. Instead, the object being cooked has to absorb the energy before the infrared waves become heat. The process is similar to the way that a microwave works.
The infrared radiation causes the molecules of the food to vibrate at speeds high enough to create friction. This friction generates heat that is penetrated directly into the food's surface, which is used as a conduit that slowly directs heat to the center of the food. Many infrared ovens also use convection heat to ensure food is cooked through properly.
Infrared appliances can reach temperatures as high as 700 degrees Fahrenheit in just seven minutes, meaning that they have the capability to cook more quickly than conventional convection ovens. It takes practice to get the best results, since the intense heat can make cooking with them a challenge. For example, fish and vegetables are often too delicate for infrared heat. It works best with high density meats.