A range cooker is the essential ingredient for any keen cook’s kitchen, filling it with character – and sometimes heating it, too – while making you a better chef in the process
No appliance is coveted quite like a range cooker. For many, it’s treated as another member of the family, and in return it faithfully turns out tasty dishes year after year. You just can’t help but feel drawn to a range – whether the model you choose is the ultimate in modern technology in a colour hot off the catwalk, or a traditional heat-generating cooker in Wedgwood Blue or Racing Green that entices everyone from Grandad to the dog.
A seven-course tasting menu? Meat and two veg? Beans and fish fingers? There’s a range cooker out there for you whatever you like to cook. We’ve spent hours researching to find one that’s the perfect match for your cooking (and sense of) style.
1. Best under £1000
Revamped and back with a sizzle is Belling’s Cookcentre, based on the brand’s archived ‘Cookcenter’ from 1997. This time it’s a beautiful blend of modern design, spacious cavities and robust build quality, all at a price that won’t bust the budget.
Opt for the dual-fuel model and you’ll be able to whip up tasty stir-fries on its 4kW wok burner, plenty of pizza and cake in the 91-litre tall oven and gooey cheese-on-toast under the grill.
Dimensions H900 x W900 x D600mm Cooktop 5 x gas burners Ovens 2 x fan ovens, grill Key features Easy clean enamel interior, slow cook and defrost functions, Maxi-clock programmer
2. Best for families
Stoves Richmond 1100Ei range cooker
A hard-working yet flexible range cooker is a must for busy households, and this Richmond model will tick a lot of boxes. It boasts an A-rating for energy, making it cheaper to run than its power-guzzling cousins, as well as a keep-warm function so even late arrivals can have a hot dinner. A pan overheat function means that distractions don’t result in burnt food. Not so keen on the Champagne finish? It’s also available in black, and in seven further colours – hello, hot pink! – from selected retailers.
Dimensions H900 x W1096 x D600mm Cooktop 5 x induction zones Ovens 1 x multifunction, 1 x fan oven, 1 x slow cook oven, grill Key features Easy-clean enamel interior, telescopic runners, intensive bake, defrost function, child lock
3. Best for keen cooks
Rangemaster Encore Deluxe 110 dual-fuel range cooker
Combining several of Rangemaster’s most popular features, the Encore Deluxe has everything you need to cook up a storm, whether you love entertaining or fancy yourself the next Bake-Off champ. As well as a deluxe slide-out grill and a dedicated bread-proving drawer, you’ll find an impressive gas hob that has five burners plus a multi-zone griddle – perfect for healthy seared steaks, bacon, burgers and fish.
Dimensions H905 x W1092 x D608mm Cooktop 5 x gas burners Ovens 1 x multifunction, 1 x fan oven, grill, proving drawer Key features Catalytic and enamel oven interiors, defrost function, multifunction oven, 3.5kW multi-ring burner
4. Best for small spaces
Everhot 60 range cooker in Dusky Pink
If you love the range look but can’t spare the room, Everhot’s mini model is a great way to combine traditional good looks with cooking capacity. Unlike similar heat-storage cookers, it doesn’t require a flue and is plug-and-play – simply power it with a 13amp socket. Even better, it’ll still fit into a standard 60cm cooker space despite including two ovens and a grill.
Dimensions H970 x W598 x D600mm Cooktop Electric hot plate and simmer plate Ovens 2 (top functions as grill) Key features Eco mode, separate control box, mild steel cavities
Find a stockist: Everhot 60 range cooker, £4,995
5. Best for modern kitchens
Britannia RC-9TI-QL Q-Line induction hob range cooker
With its simple, chunky handles, clean lines and sleek induction cooktop, this range is the perfect fit for a chic contemporary kitchen. It’s not just a pretty face, either. The main nine-function oven has a unique quick-start feature, so you can throw a meal together in a hurry and start cooking it straightaway. Next door, the smaller cavity features a rotisserie for melt-in-the-mouth meat.
Dimensions H915 x W895 x D600mm Cooktop 5 x induction zones Ovens 2 x (both multifunction with grill) Key features Rotisserie, quick start pre-heating (left oven only), enamel liners, removable oven doors and inner glass
6. Best for smart features
Smeg CPF9GPYW Portofino 90cm dual-fuel range cooker
It’s not just the luscious colour pop shades that make the Portofino ultra-desirable. It’s also Smeg’s most high-tech cooker, with 12 different functions (including defrost, rising and Sabbath) and pyrolytic cleaning. Want to up the hi-tech factor even more? This one has gas burners, but you could go for the version with an energy-efficient induction top.
Perfect for whipping up a feast for friends, the single oven also provides a versatile 115 litres net capacity, and has three fans to keep the temperature inside degree-perfect.
Dimensions H890-920 x W898 x D600mm Cooktop 6 x gas burners Ovens 1 x multifunction with grill Key features Rotisserie kit, telescopic rails, 12 functions, 20 automatic programmes, closed-door grilling, enamel interior
7. Best for colour co-ordinating
Steel Cucine Ascot 100 range cooker
None of the off-the-peg range cookers fitting into your kitchen colour scheme? You haven’t met Steel’s Ascot. As well as being able to specify its standard colours of gloss black, cream, anthracite, burgundy and stainless steel, it’s also available in limited edition Le Creuset shades of amethyst, mineral blue, cotton and sisal. Even the traditional knobs can be swapped for brass, nickel, gold or stainless steel finishes, plus it’s available in a choice of four hob configurations.
Dimensions H945 x W998 x D655mm Cooktop 4 x brass gas burners (one wok) and a fry top Ovens Three Key features Rotisserie, telescopic runners, pizza stone, deep tray trivet, enamelled cavities
Make an enquiry: Steel Cucine Ascot 100 solid door range cooker, from £3,850
A buyer’s guide to range cookers
If you’re in the market for a range cooker (you lucky thing), read on and get clued up on what to look for.
Is it really a range?
It happens less and less nowadays, but you may notice manufacturers labelling what you know as a range cooker to be ‘range style’.
That’s to distinguish their modern versions – one or more electric or gas ovens topped by a gas, ceramic or induction hob – from the traditional cast-iron models that have their have their roots in open-fire kitchen ranges with an oven at one side.
In the 1920s, a Swede, Dr Gustaf Dalén, invented the AGA – a closed cast-iron range with ovens that stored the heat rather than losing most of it up the chimney – and traditional range cookers from AGA, Rayburn and Esse still work on this principle.
Powered by gas, oil or wood, they’re always on, warming up the kitchen and sometimes providing hot water, too.
Decide on a width
They say size isn’t everything – but we’d beg to differ, particularly when it comes to range cookers. You could be replacing an old model or fitting one for the first time – either way the model you buy will be dictated by whether you have a tight gap or gaping chasm to fill.
Don’t worry though, as range cookers come in so many configurations that you’re sure to find one that’s the perfect match for your cooking (and sense of) style.
The most common widths of range cookers are 900mm, 1000mm and 1100mm, but you can get cookers as wide as 150cm, and there are a growing number of 60cm-wide ‘mini ranges’ out there.
Choose your fuel
Modern range cookers typically come in two guises – all electric or dual fuel (a combo of gas burners and electric ovens). All-gas versions are a rarity these days, but are the cheapest to run, and their ovens give off water vapour as they burn, resulting in succulent meat and fluffy cakes.
Most modern ranges have electric ovens – the majority will be static or fan ovens, but if you up your budget you can expect at least one of the cavities to be a multifunction oven. This uses combinations of top, bottom and fan heat to achieve different results. A specialist pizza setting, for example, will crisp the base and melt the topping perfectly using bottom heat and the grill.
Your big decision will be whether to go for a gas or electric cooktop, and this may be influenced by your budget, since induction hobs can add hundreds of pounds to the price:
- Plump for induction, and you’ll be rewarded with a hob that’s hugely efficient and speedy, can be wiped clean in seconds and is supremely safe – the hob only gets hot if the pan is in place, and you’ll be warned about any residual heat with lights.
- Gas burners are more affordable, and although they’re more fiddly to clean, they give instant heat that’s easy to control. Look out for extras, such as hotplates for stir fries and a griddles for searing meat – they’re a boon if you like a bit of kitchen theatre!
- Electric ceramic hobs are another option that will work with any pan, but they aren’t as reactive as induction or gas.
Look at layouts
The question to ask here is ‘what sort of cook am I?’
- Do you live for your Sunday roast with the extended family? Then pick a cooker with just a single large cavity for your joint of choice, or a side-by-side model with a second oven for roasties and Yorkshires.
- An L-shape layout, with a grill, a main oven and a tall oven, is made for batch bakers. Tall ovens have lots of shelving, so they’re ideal for cupcakes or sausage rolls.
- For dinner-party enthusiasts, a Farmhouse-style cooker like the one above is a popular choice. These have two ovens, a separate grill, and either a slow-cook oven or a storage compartment.
Make cleaning your cooker easier
The only real issue with range cookers over a smaller oven is that there’s more of it to clean. You can save yourself a lot of time and elbow grease, however, with easy- or self-cleaning ovens.
- Enamel liners can be wiped down with a mild detergent and a cloth but look for ‘easy-clean’ enamel to save on scrubbing.
- Rough catalytic liners absorb spills so they can be burnt off during the cooking process, ready for you to wipe away afterwards.
- Gold standard is a pyrolytic function that heats the oven to 500°C, reducing grease and grime to ash that can be swept away.
Check for any extras
Before you buy, check what extras your oven comes with, or can be bought separately. Most come with simple baking trays and shelves, but also look out for these!
- If you can, treat yourself to a range with a rotisserie, which cooks poultry (and also delicious pork) to perfection. It works via a motor hidden in the walls of the oven, which gently turns the spike. This makes for a really succulent bird with a crispy skin, and there’s minimal spitting, so your oven cavity will stay cleaner for longer.
- An electronic meat probe is another accessory that will take the pressure off. Push it into your joint of meat and you’ll be able to monitor the precise temperature inside so there’s no risk of over or under-cooking.
- Telescopic runners support shelves as you pull them out, so you won’t need to perform a careful balancing act to check or remove hot dishes.
- Finally, a storage drawer is handy for stowing bakeware and included accessories, for example, that rotisserie kit.