Oven reviews - $850 to $1900

Modern ovens do a lot more than just bake.
 
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04.What to look for

Clean machines

While it sounds almost too good to be true, all the models in this test, except one, offered some kind of self-cleaning function. However, although ‘self-cleaning’ does what it says you’ll still have to do some of the work as you’ll still have to clean the glass, shelves, racks and runners.

The different types of cleaning offered with these models are:

Catalytic liners

Often referred to as ‘self-cleaning’ surfaces, these liners work by absorbing fat splatters. For the liners to work well, you need to regularly heat the oven when it’s empty (shelves and runners removed too) to 250°C for an hour to burn off the splatters. If they become heavily soiled they’ll need to be removed and soaked in warm soapy water for at least two hours and then wiped clean with a soft cloth. If you care for them well they should last a long time, although they will need to be replaced eventually, although Bosch claim their liners ‘regenerate’ and won’t need replacing at all. While some of the models on test come with the liners as part of the purchase price, others are available at an additional cost.

Pyrolytic cleaning

A true self-cleaner, a pyrolitic oven heats up to about 500°C when it’s set on self-cleaning mode, turning any food residue into ash which you wipe away when the oven cools. But you'll need to remove the shelves and runners first.

Door

  • Light, easy to open and stays open in any position without falling fully open or slamming shut. Be sure to check that the hinges are in the right place to suit your kitchen layout.
  • A large enough window that allows a good view inside.

Useful interior features

  • Check the usable space by measuring inside the oven rather than going on the stated capacity. You can measure from runner to runner and bottom shelf to grill element. You’ll also need enough space at the sides to move your baking dishes in and out.
  • Interior light — check that the bulb is easily replaced before you buy.
  • Shelves should have a safety stop to prevent them from being pulled out accidentally.
  • A good range of shelf positions. Three or more shelves can be handy, especially if you want to cook several things at the same time.
  • Tilting Check that the shelves that don’t slope down when they are pulled out with a heavy baking dish on them. If the shelves do slope, a guard at the front of the shelf will help stop dishes from falling off but will make it harder to slide heavy dishes in and out.
  • Moulded runners are easier to clean than metal pull out runners.

Useful grill features

  • A grill tray that’s easy to slide in and out and comes out far enough so that you can place food towards the back. Look for a safety stop mechanism to stop it from pulling right out.
  • A smokeless grill tray traps fat and grease below it, rather than under a wire rack. This is important for an internal grill as spattering and smoking fat can be messy.
  • An element that’s set high into the ceiling or has a shield so that it isn’t exposed and can’t be accidently touched. This is particularly important if you place the oven under the bench.
  • At least two grill tray heights are best.

Display

  • Look for something that is easy to read. Digital displays can be difficult to read if they are not bright enough and may be awkward to read if you set your oven under the bench.
  • Many dials are marked with ambiguous symbols so make sure you can recognize them easily and understand what they mean.
  • If you don’t have the best eyesight, stainless steel ovens with low contrast labeling can be difficult to read. You may prefer a plain white model with easy to read labels.
 

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