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Best oven: The best ovens, hobs and cookers from £350 |

Best oven: The best ovens, hobs and cookers from £350

If you thought buying a fridge, dishwasher, washing machine or dryer was a headache-inducing predicament, wait till you reach the oven department. Do you opt for a cooker, a range cooker or a built in oven and separate hob? Should the oven itself be gas or electric powered? And, while we’re at it, what’s the best type of hob? Gas, ceramic or induction?

As you can see, buying something to cook the dinner on isn’t as straightforward as perhaps it should be. Luckily, we’ve done all the homework for you and broken down all the cooking elements into one easy-to-digest guide.

How to choose the best cooking system for you

What is a freestanding cooker?

This is one of the most popular types of cooking systems since it encompasses both an oven and a hob in a single 60cm- or 55cm-wide unit. Freestanding cookers might not have the sleek appearance of a built-in oven and hob combination but they’re much easier to install since all you need is a maximum 60cm of space between the kitchen cupboards and, of course, either a gas or electricity supply or both, depending on the model chosen.

Freestanding cookers are available in three main configurations – all electric, all gas and dual fuel (gas hob, electric oven) – and are generally cheaper to buy than a built-in option. Most freestanding cookers are comprised of a large fan-assisted oven (if electric) with room for a giant turkey and some trimmings, and a smaller conventional non-fanned oven-cum-grill. If, like the vast majority of us, you have a small kitchen or one that isn’t festooned in luxury shelving and kitchen units, then a 60cm freestanding cooker is the way to go.

What’s a range cooker?

A range cooker is basically a larger version of a freestanding cooker. Range cookers usually start at 70cm in width and go up to a humongous kitchen-swallowing 2.2 metres wide. Most 90cm models will have two ovens (one fan assisted) and a separate grill. However, the bigger you go, the more options become available. For instance, a 180cm model might feature two static ovens, a large fan oven and two simmer ovens.

Most range cookers come with five-burner hobs, including a centrally located wok burner. Range cookers are most suitable for larger kitchens and are available in either a country-style cast iron look or modern stainless steel. If you have a large family kitchen, love cooking and have the financial wherewithal, then a range cooker is pretty much all you need for all your cooking eventualities.

Tips for buying a built in oven package

If your kitchen cabinets have been installed by a professional fitter, consider a built-in oven and hob combo. These systems are becoming increasingly popular and are de riguer in any premium-priced household. After all, what could be neater and more unobtrusive than a cooking system that you hardly notice. Built in ovens and hobs can also be mixed and matched between brands though most people opt for the same brand, if only for reasons of aesthetics. Bear in mind that built-in systems require wooden framework and that means employing a carpenter at extra cost. Mind, this isn’t much of an issue if you’re about to commission the build of a new kitchen.

What’s the best type of oven? Electric or gas?

This is very often a case of preference and whether you’ve used a gas or electric oven in the past. The majority of gas ovens don’t have a convection fan so they won’t cook as evenly or as quickly as their electric, fan-assisted counterparts. Most modern electric ovens have fan assistance and this greatly improves cooking efficiency. Indeed, you could theoretically cook savoury and sweet dishes at the same time without any intermingling of flavours. Vanilla-flavoured roast potatoes anyone? No, didn’t think so. Another bonus with fan ovens is that they can cook at lower temperatures, saving energy in the process. For instance, an item which would normally cook at a conventional temperature of, say, 180°C, will cook at 160°C in a fan oven.

When it comes to baking, the jury is out on which is best. Gas ovens heat up more quickly and produce moisture during the cooking process while electric ovens take longer to reach temperature and emit a much dryer heat. Some bakers swear by gas because their breads and cakes come out nice and moist and without dried-out crusts. Conversely, just as many bakers say they much prefer electric because it browns breads and cakes more appealingly. The general consensus, though, is that electric ovens are easier to use, more efficient and quicker, even if they are a mite more expensive to run.

What’s the best type of hob? Electric, gas or induction?

When it comes to hobs, gas is still the restaurant chef’s favourite fuel. The heat a gas hob emits is instant and easy adjustable. You can also easily shuffle the wok or frying pan above the flame when cooking stir fries, etc. Moreover, gas hobs rarely go wrong and if one burner doesn’t work as well as it should, you’ll still have three that probably will. They’re also among the cheapest to buy and run. What’s not to like?

Electric hobs come in three configurations: hot plate, ceramic and induction. We’d say to avoid electric hot plates since they’re slow to reach temperature and they’re anything but instant when it comes to regulating heat. Ceramic hobs, too, take a while to heat up and use quite a lot of electricity during the cooking process since they heat the entire plate irrespective of the size of pan put on it.

That leaves one more electric option, the induction hob, and it’s a sci-fi corker. Read on for the lowdown…

What on earth is an induction hob?

Induction hobs have only been around a few years but they’ve already revolutionised the home cooking process. Granted, they are the most expensive type of hob to buy and install but they’re amazingly efficient, both in terms of speed (some say 50% faster than gas) and energy consumption. They are also far and away the safest option if you have kids around the house.

Flat-topped induction hobs are easy to clean and they give a kitchen an attractive streamlined look. But it’s the way they work that impresses most. Instead of heating the entire hot plate, induction hobs use magnetism to heat only the pan and its contents – not the hob. This process is so efficient it will boil water quicker than a kettle. And because only the pan is heated you can actually put your hand on the hob without burning it. Indeed, some chefs have even been known place a dishcloth between the hob and the pan to help mop up any spills.

The downside is that induction only works on pots and pans made out of ferrous metal like iron so you may need to change some, if not all, of your current collection. Thankfully, there’s an easy way to see if your current cookware is compatible. Simply place a magnet on the bottom of each pot and pan and if it sticks you have the correct style; if not, you’ll need a new one. Another thing worth noting is that most induction hobs have a toughened glass coating and some have been known to crack if a heavy pot like a Le Creuset is dropped on it. Tread carefully or you might need to replace the entire unit. Also, because the system uses magnetism, people with heart pacemakers fitted are advised to check with their doctor first.

If speed, safety, convenience and energy efficiency are your prime concerns then jump on board the induction train – you won’t be disappointed.

Is there anything else I’ll need?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t just end at cookers and hobs since you will also almost certainly need an extractor fan (or cooker hood) fitted above the hob, unless you don’t mind a kitchen full of fatty smoke. Extractor fans come in a variety of sizes with prices starting at around £100 and rising to upwards of £1,000 for a sleek, high-powered stainless steel model.

Installation tips

It stands to reason that you are going to need some form of fuel source for your newly-bought cooker. If you’re going all electric, then be sure to have a separate ring main fitted as cookers use a lot of electricity and don’t like sharing the power with other household appliances. If you’re going down the gas route, you’ll need the services of a certified gas engineer to install both the gas line and the cooker; you can’t just ask Bob the Builder to install it for you.

The best ovens, hobs and cookers to buy

1. Newworld NW601DFDOL Dual Fuel Cooker: The best budget freestanding cooker

Price: £370

Cookers don’t come much cheaper than this. Granted, Newworld isn’t a brand one would normally gravitate towards but this dual fuel option has gleaned some very favourable reviews from both professionals and users.

Available in three colours (red, black, silver), the Newworld has similar specs as the Stoves model reviewed above. Its main oven is fan assisted and has a useable capacity of 65 litres and a temperature range of 80˚C to 240˚C. The top oven, meanwhile, is of the conventional variety though it does also double up as a grill. A transparent glass top provides extra workspace and shuts off the gas automatically when closed, though it is easily breakable so go easy when opening and closing.

Granted, the enamelled pan supports are a bit on the cheap side but the package as a whole looks more expensive than it actually is. From a distance, anyway. If value is of prime concern, then you can’t really go wrong with this model. It does what a cooker’s supposed to do with little fuss and with generally great results.

Buy the Newworld NW601DFDOL from Currys

Image of New World NW601DFDOL 60cm Wide Double Oven Dual Fuel Cooker In Black

New World NW601DFDOL 60cm Wide Double Oven Dual Fuel Cooker In Black

£449.99 Buy now

Key specs – Style: Freestanding dual-fuel cooker; Width: 60cm; How many ovens: 2; Main oven capacity: 65 litres; Fan assisted: yes; Grill: integrated oven/grill; Storage drawer: no; Timer: no; Hob: 4 gas burners; Energy rating: A

2. Stoves Sterling 600DF: The best freestanding cooker

Price: £560

Stoves is a British brand and all of its appliances are made here in the UK. We were recommended a Stoves model by, of all people, a Miele engineer and if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for us.

The 600DF is a 60cm dual-fuel cooker (electric oven, gas hob) with a large 65-litre fan-assisted oven below and a smaller capacity 37-litre static oven-cum-grill above. The grill itself is of the open-door variety, which is said to allow air to circulate so the food is grilled rather than baked. Aside from having the usual temperature range (100˚C to 250˚C), the main oven also features a defrost function which is something you don’t always see. Both ovens have very accurate temperature regulators and that’s a big bonus if you’re a baker. They also heat up to full temperature within a few minutes. Another bonus. A clearly legible clock and timer completes a very decent oven package.

You get the obligatory four hob burners with this cooker (one small, three medium) and a separate gas igniter on the side. The hob also comes with a hinged glass lid that makes things look tidy and even provides a bit of extra worktop space.

Any negatives? The vast majority of users are extremely happy with this cooker though some have highlighted a number of issues relating to build quality, most notably the wobbly plastic knobs and the easily erased lettering around the control knobs. Other than that, we wholeheartedly recommend this all-in-one model to anyone looking for a stylish, reliable and efficient British-made cooker. Great value, too.

Buy the Stoves Sterling 600DF from John Lewis

Key specs – Style: Freestanding dual-fuel cooker; Width: 60cm; How many ovens?: 2; Main oven capacity: 65 litres; Fan assisted: yes; Grill: integrated oven/grill; Storage drawer: no; Timer: yes; Hob: 4 gas burners; Energy rating: A

3. Rangemaster Professional Deluxe 110 DF: The best range cooker 

Price: £1,819

Got a shade under two grand and decent slab of kitchen space to spare? Step right this way. Rangemaster is another British company of note. It invented the range cooker in 1830 and, amazingly, all of its products are still made in the same Royal Leamington Spa factory.

The 110cm Rangermaster Professional Deluxe comes with two spacious ovens, one programmable multi function, the other fan assisted, plus a separate slide out grill and a handy storage drawer at the bottom. The main fan oven door opens horizontally and features a unique roasting rack that attaches to the door so that, as you swing it open, the roasted joint can been checked without sticking your arms in the oven. So simple, so clever. The Rapid Response feature is also handy when in a rush since it heats the oven up 30% quicker.

The hob has five burners in four different sizes so rest assured you’re never likely to run out of cooking space even if whipping up a Henry VIII-size banquet. The larger burner will also accommodate a wok ring while the two side burners are perfect for installing the optional griddle plate.

Users have nothing but praise for this premium, 110cm wide behemoth. They love the build quality, the ease of use and how easy it is to clean. And who are we to disagree?

Buy the Rangemaster Professional Deluxe 110 DF from John Lewis

Key specs – Style: Dual-fuel range cooker; Width: 110cm; How many ovens: 2; Main oven capacity: 65 litres; Fan assisted: yes; Grill: yes; Storage drawer: yes; Timer: yes; Hob: 5 gas burners; Energy rating: A

4. Miele H2265B Active Oven KM6115 induction hob: The best built-in Oven/Hob combo

Price: £549 (KM6115), £849 (H2265B)

When it comes to high-quality home appliances, few manufacturers hold a candle to Miele. Granted, there are many excellent oven and hob combos on the market (Neff and AEG are too such stalwart manufacturers), but this Miele package takes some beating.

Miele describes these two units as entry-level though most prospective buyers – this writer included – would consider £599 and £849 as, well, rather pricy. Nevertheless, the combined price of £1,448 notwithstanding, these two items perform impeccably and are well worth considering if you have a plush kitchen layout.

The A+ rated oven has a whopping 76 litres of roasting and baking space and comes equipped with a raft of operating modes, including defrost, an energy-efficient gentle bake function for succulent roasts, an intensive bake option for pizza and quiche, a fan grill for crispy outers and moist inners, and a rapid heat setting for busy times. It also has five shelf levels for optimum food placement and is a cinch to clean.

The hob is of the induction variety and it’s a cracker. It has four cooking zones, a TwinBooster function for express boiling (as if it isn’t already fast enough in default mode) and an easy-to-use touch panel embedded into its beguilingly beautiful black ceramic glass surface. We admit, we’re smitten though we may have to have a chat with the bank manager first.

Buy the Miele H2265B Active Oven from John Lewis

Buy the Miele KM6115 induction hob from John Lewis

Key specs – Style: Built-in oven and hob; Width: 554cm; How many ovens: 1; Grill: yes; Storage drawer: no; Timer: yes; Main oven capacity: 76 litres; Fan assisted: yes; Hob: 4 induction plates; Energy rating: A+

5. Neff FullSteam combination oven (B47FS34N0B): The best built-in oven

Price: £1,239

Have a peek in the kitchen of most premium homes and you’ll likely see a bank of Neff ovens; not for nothing is this brand the first choice of high-end property developers.

This grandiose black and brushed aluminium model is equipped with the best that Neff has to offer, including the company’s renowned SlideHide door. You may have seen this mechanism in operation during the last series of ‘Great British Bake Off’. Instead of the open door getting in the way so that you have to crane over the oven, this one opens out and slides back into the bottom of the oven leaving completely free access to the oven and its contents. Ingenious!

The oven has a capacious 71-litre capacity and uses Neff’s patented CircoTherm technology to ensure perfectly even cooking results. The Comfort Flex shelf system is another major plus, since all three of its racks are mounted on their own smooth-running rails.

If you’ve never cooked with steam, you’re in for a pleasant surprise with this model. Steam-aided cooking is a firm favourite with pro chefs since it produces succulent roasts and deliciously moist breads and cakes. The top control panel articulates upwards to expose the water reservoir required for steam cooking.

Despite the high price and installation requirements, this oven delivers in spades. It’s easy to use, easy to clean and it performs all functions with aplomb.

Buy the Neff FullSteam combination oven from Appliances Direct

Key specs – Style: Built-in oven; Width: 596cm; How many ovens: 1; Main oven capacity: 71 litres; Fan assisted: yes; Grill: yes; Storage drawer: no; Timer: yes; Hob: no; Energy rating: A+

6. AEG MaxiSense induction hob (HK654400FB): The best induction hob

Price: £497

You’ve probably already our introduction to induction hobs above so there’s no point in us harping on again about how amazing this revolutionary cooking system is.

However, most induction hobs have preset cooking zones pre-measured to fit different sized pots and pans. This is fine for everyday use, but what happens if you have an oblong Le Creuset casserole dish that is simply too large for any single zone? With this oven you simply tap the Bridge button and two zones are automatically linked together to form one large cooking surface. You won’t use it too often but it’s nice to know the feature’s there when you need it.

As with most induction hobs, the AEG looks extremely stylish and is an absolute doddle to clean. Its responsive Direct Touch slide control panel is extremely easy to use and provides instant temperature variations with a slip of a finger.

Perhaps this user quote sums it up best: ‘The speed and control is mind boggling, it is just a great way to cook on a stove top. It’s a bonus how easy it is to keep looking clean and sparkling too.’ So, what are you waiting for?

Buy the AEG Maxisense induction hob from John Lewis

Key specs – Style: Induction hob; Width: 560cm; Timer: yes; Cooking zones: 4 plus bridge function; Energy rating: A+

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