Get cooking quick with this buyer's guide to ovens!
A kitchen simply isn't a kitchen without an oven! An absolute cooking essential, you can create all kinds of meals using just an oven, from simple stews to delicious desserts. But with all the different features and fuel types available now, buying one can be complicated. That's why we've created this buyer's guide.
Whether your old oven has just given up the ghost, you're moving into a few houses or you want to revamp your kitchen, this buyer’s guide is here to help. We’ll discuss the different types of ovens available, explain different features and even give you advice on how to fit yours in your kitchen. By the end of this guide, you should have all the information you need to make an educated decision on which oven is right for you.
Types of oven
The first thing you need to consider when buying an oven is what type of oven is right for your needs. There are five types of ovens popular today, and each one has advantages and disadvantages that you should think about before making a purchase.
Electric ovens are an excellent and reliable choice when it comes to cooking, offering precise temperature control, even heating and consistent results. Electric ovens are better than gas ovens at baking as they can provide more consistent heat and offer more precise temperature control.
However, electric ovens can take longer to preheat and cool down than gas ovens due to the nature of their design. This can make them more expensive to run.
Gas ovens are known for providing greater heat intensity and faster preheating times than electric ovens. This makes them ideal for roasting meats or quickly browning the top of a dish. However, gas ovens can be harder to control when it comes to temperature regulation, making them less suitable for delicate tasks such as baking cakes or pastries.
Gas ovens are cheaper to run than electric ovens right now, because less energy is wasted in the warm-up period. However, that gap is quite small, and growing smaller all the time as electric ovens become more efficient. Gas ovens also have a higher carbon footprint than electric ovens because they give off a lot of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
Dual fuel ovens
Dual fuel ovens are a great choice for anyone looking for the best of both worlds. They combine the faster heating times of a gas oven with the precise temperature control and quieter operation of an electric oven. Dual fuel ovens are more expensive than either gas or electric models.
Convection ovens are also known as fan ovens, and they're a great way to cook food quickly and evenly. They have a fan at the back of the oven that blows hot air evenly around the inside of the oven, which keeps the temperature the same in every spot. This ensures that all your food is cooked evenly and with fewer hotspots. Convection ovens can be powered by either electricity or gas (although they tend to be electric ovens).
A potential weakness of convection ovens is that they can be noisy when the fan is running. The noise level can be an issue if you're trying to prepare a meal in a quiet environment or while entertaining guests. Additionally, because convection ovens cook at higher temperatures than traditional ovens, foods may burn more easily when using this type of appliance. However, this is traditionally avoided by setting convection at a lower temperature (most recipes say to set your fan oven 20°C lower than normal).
Steam ovens are electric ovens that cook with steam instead of air. They release water vapour into the oven compartment, tuning it into a kind of giant pressure cooker. Some steam ovens only let you cook with steam but most are combination models - regular electric ovens with a special steam cooking mode. You can cook dishes normally or you can activate the steam mode.
The steam cooking mode is great for healthy meals, since it locks in nutrients that are lost in traditional ovens, and they don't use oil. Steam ovens are extremely versatile and can be used to bake, steam, poach, braise, and more. Most steam ovens have a setting that allows you to control how much steam is added for the best results.
The drawback with steam ovens is their high price, since the steaming setting requires extra parts. The inside of a combination steam cooker is also smaller than an ordinary electric oven, so they may not be suitable if you cook very large meals.
Built-in vs built-under
As well as different kinds of fuel types and cooking methods, you need to decide whether to have a built-in oven or a built-under oven. Which one you choose has an effect on how and where you can install your new oven, so it's best to decide early.
Built-in single ovens
Built-in single ovens are the most popular type of oven. They have a single cooking compartment, which makes them quite small. They'll comfortably fit into most spaces in your kitchen. The downside is that the single compartment means you can't cook multiple dishes at once, and some models lack a true grill.
Built-in double ovens
Built-in double ovens are larger and more powerful than single ovens. They have two compartments, a main oven and a smaller oven on top. The smaller compartment often has a grill for browning cheese dishes or cooking meat. However, they're very big – too big to fit inside some kitchen units. They're traditionally more expensive than single ovens, as well.
Built-under ovens are the compromise between a built-in single oven and a built-in double oven. They have two compartments but both are a little more compact. Their name is a bit misleading, because they can also be installed inside a kitchen unit at eye level. Choose this option if you want the flexibility of a double oven but can't fit it in your space.
Ovens are always installed into your kitchen, rather than being a freestanding appliance. If you'd rather have the flexibility of a cooking appliance you can move about, browse through our range of cookers. They combine a small oven and set of hobs into a single package that may be more convenient, but you lose out on the form-fitting sleekness of a regular oven.
Once you’ve decided which type of oven is right for your needs, it’s time to look at some of the features available in each model so that you can make an informed decision when purchasing one. Here are some key features you should look out for:
Traditional ovens are controlled through old fashioned knobs and switches. They work fine for the most part but they can be imprecise, which isn't ideal when you're cooking something delicate like souffle.
Digital controls are much more precise. They're usually a combination of digital display and a set of buttons or a touchpad that can be used to navigate through menus, select cooking modes, and input temperature and timing settings. You can set ovens with digital controls at exactly the right temperature that the recipe calls for, reducing the chance of something going wrong.
Self cleaning ovens are great because they make cleanup much easier. Hate scrubbing at your oven with a brush? Simply press a button and the oven will take care of it for you! There are two oven self-cleaning techniques:
A catalytic self-cleaning oven uses a special lining on the oven walls that is coated with a special lining made from a mixture of metals or ceramics. The catalytic lining works by breaking down food spills and splatters that happen during cooking, into smaller molecules that can be easily burned away during the self-cleaning cycle.
Pyrolytic cleaning ovens use much higher temperatures to burn off grease and debris, converting them into ash which can be wiped away. This is the most efficient type of cleaning, but it requires more energy and can take longer than other methods.
Although self-cleaning modes are very effective in most cases, they won't work in every scenario. It's important to always read the instructions that comes with your oven and follow them exactly.
Some ovens allow you to switch between cooking modes that heat the oven in different ways for different types of cooking. Common cooking modes include:
Energy efficiencyIn the UK, every oven has an energy efficiency rating from A+++ to G. The higher the energy efficiency rating, the less energy your oven will waste when it's cooking your food. That means you save money and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time.
Slide away doorSome ovens have doors that slide under the oven's bottom. This gives you full access to the inside without having to reach over the door. It's a great feature for small, narrow kitchens.
Smart featuresSome ovens are smart home appliances. They can connect to your home's Wi-Fi and be controlled by your smartphone or tablet. You can preheat your oven when you're on the way home to save time, use smart speakers to control the oven with your voice and more!
There are many popular brands to choose from if you want an oven that you know you can rely on. Some are kitchenware and home appliance brands, while other produce a range of smart appliances:
Can I install an oven myself?
No, you should not install an oven yourself. Ovens are complex appliances that require proper installation to ensure they function safely and efficiently. Also, depending on where you live and what fuel type you've chosen, it may be illegal for you to install your oven – this is particularly common for gas ovens because of gas leak risks.
What is the best way to preheat an oven?
The best way to preheat an oven is to set the desired temperature and allow the oven to heat up for at least 15-20 minutes before putting in the food. This allows the oven to reach the correct temperature and helps ensure that your food is cooked evenly. Additionally, you can check the temperature using an oven thermometer to ensure that it has reached the correct temperature before you start cooking.
Is it safe to leave food in the oven after cooking?
It depends on the type of food and the length of time it has been in the oven. Some foods can be left in the oven as they cool, such as a roast or casseroles, as the residual heat will continue to keep they warm. Some recipes, like lasagne, are best left to rest in the oven for 20 minutes or so to rest and set.
However, you should not leave food in the oven for many hours at a time, since the warmth will encourage harmful bacteria to grow. If you want to keep leftovers it's best to let your food cool and then transfer it to tupperware to store in the fridge or freezer.
How do I know if my oven isn't working properly?
There are some signs that your oven isn't working properly:
- Your oven makes strange ticking, whirring or buzzing noise
- Your oven is giving of weird smells when you cook
- Your food is often burning your food, or food keeps coming out cold or uncooked
- I takes longer than usual to preheat your oven
If you think there is something wrong with your oven, you should call a certified repair technician to get the problem assessed. Ovens are too complicated to safely fix on your own.