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The oven is arguably the most important kitchen appliance, so make the right choice with our expert tips
Ovens are an essential piece of kitchen kit, so make sure your cooker can stand the heat, be it a chic, built-in oven or a traditional range-style model. With countless programmes, easy-clean functions and huge capacities, cooking has just got a whole lot simpler.
Check out our buyer’s guide on how to buy an ovens for everything from pricings to pros and cons.
How to buy a range cooker
What is it?
Range and range-style cookers are a versatile choice for larger kitchens, but before you buy, it’s important to understand the difference between them.
A traditional range constantly radiates heat into its ovens and hob plates, so it’s always ready to use, and in some cases can provide heating and hot water for the household. On the other hand, a range-style cooker works like a conventional oven, so it won’t heat your home and you turn each oven and hob on and off as you use it.
ProsRange-style cookers offer a multitude of functions for the keen cook, such as large-capacity ovens, up to six hob burners, grill plates and a fish kettle. They come as standard gas and electric models, but for even greater flexibility, consider a dual-fuel option that offers a gas hob combined with electric ovens.
They can be expensive to buy and run.
How to buy a fan oven
What is it?
Also called convection ovens, these have a fan (or two) set into the rear wall and surrounded by
a heating element. Many have a grill and a defrost setting, too.
ProsThey heat up quickly and ensure an even cooking temperature throughout. As fan ovens can reduce cooking time by around 10 per cent, they save energy and offer good value.
Convection cooking can dry food out, particularly cakes.
‘Standard fan ovens are not changing in performance terms but, as customers want the flexibility of extra space, we are seeing models with larger capacities,’ says Vic Sinclair, buyer for John Lewis.
How to buy a multifunction oven
What is it?
With heating elements at the top and bottom, plus a grill and fan, these ovens cover a variety of cooking options. Some even have functions for pizzas, defrosting, and (on top-end models) steaming.
Cooks food in the most appropriate way, eg conventional for cakes, fan grilling for a roast. Will please old-school chefs, while the automatic programme technology will appeal to busy cooks.
Some offer a mind-blowing list of settings, from rotisserie to keep-warm, so you may feel you’re paying for functions you won’t use.
Top-of-the-range multifunction ovens can select the perfect cooking sequence for your food through ‘intelligent’ automatic programming technology, eg defrosting meat and then cooking it or cooking and then crisping the top of a dish.
How to buy a steam oven
What is it?
Usually featuring a removable, integral water tank (although some are plumbed in), steam ovens use water vapour to cook food – fast. Pressurised models cook at 1000˚C higher than conventional ovens.
A speedy, healthy way to cook, as steaming seals in flavour and vitamins. Great for vegetables and fish, steam cooks gently, allowing dishes to retain their nutrients and texture.
Steam-only ovens can’t brown or crisp food. Pressurised models can be too powerful for fish and desserts.
Steam cooking is becoming popular as an option in combi-microwaves, multifunction and compact ovens. So what started as a specialist product is moving into the mainstream.
How to buy a single oven
What is it?
Single ovens are made up of one single cavity. A compact 45cm design offers around 40 litres of space – more than enough for a roast chicken. A regular oven can now squeeze in 70 litres – the capacity of old double ovens. Professional designs can offer 100 litres plus.
Not only does it slip seamlessly into your fitted scheme, but the latest designs also offer unrivalled capacity and features to make your mealtimes much easier. As well as the basic fan cooking, grilling and top/bottom heat, single ovens can boast rotisserie spits, pizza stones, steam injection, microwave, self-cleaning modes and even pre-programmed timers, temperature settings and sensors to take the guesswork out of cooking.
Only having one oven to cook with has its limitations, particularly if you need to grill and bake at the same time.
Thanks to standardised dimensions, the vast majority of new single models will fit into your existing oven cavity, making it quick and easy to update without starting your kitchen from scratch. Some ovens now even come with pre-set temperatures and timings for a selection of popular dishes.
How to buy a double oven
What is it?
Double ovens are made up of two separate cavities – usually a conventional oven and grill above (with a 30-35l capacity) combined with a multifunction or fan oven below (with a 45-70l capacity).
Each oven works independently so they can be used together at different temperatures, or alone
to cook small meals economically. The joint capacity is greater than that of a standard 50-60l oven.
If you have two ovens, you’re likely to use both of them, which will increase your fuel costs.
‘Compact ovens that deliver both capacity and flexibility are becoming a popular alternative to standard double ovens,’ says Les Wicks, head of product and buying at Beko. These include rows, blocks and columns of everything from steam ovens to warming drawers.
Take a look at our pick of the best ovens on product finder for more inspiration.