When buying a new oven, you have a bewildering array of brands and features to choose from - here are a few basic points to help simplify your decision.
Electric or gas
Most Australians choose electric ovens - they make up over 80% of ovens sold. They tend to be more versatile, with multiple heating elements to give a variety of cooking modes. Gas ovens can keep food a bit more moist, but may not distribute the heat as evenly unless they have a fan.
60cm is the typical width for ovens, but 90cm models are also available for the cook who likes more space. Ovens of either width don’t always have as much internal space as you might expect, so take your largest baking dish to the store to see how well it fits. If you do a lot of cooking, a double oven might give you the space and options you need, while in a small kitchen or holiday home you might find a benchtop oven or convection microwave is all you need.
Electric ovens can be cheaper to buy than gas models. You’re usually looking at about $600 for a basic model; prices quickly reach $2000 and over for some brands, and for models with more features. As with most appliances, our tests have found that a higher price doesn’t guarantee better performance - we’ve found models priced under $1500 that outperform models priced at $3000. But you can safely assume that most ovens will do a good job of standard cooking tasks, such as baking cakes or roasting meat and vegetables. The ovens recommended in our tests are not only great at cooking, but are generally also easier to use and clean.
Cooking modes, cool-touch doors, shelves and runners; these features and more are explained in our full oven report. At a minimum, we think an oven should come with a smokeless grill tray, two oven shelves and a baking tray, and should offer these cooking modes: classic (bottom element only), top and bottom elements together, fan-forced, and grill.
One feature worth considering is a self-cleaning function. Pyrolytic ovens have a special high-temperature setting to convert food residue to ash, which is then easy to wipe away. Catalytic ovens have liners which absorb most of the fat splatters. Both these types make cleaning the oven easier, though you’ll still have to do some of the work yourself, and catalytic liners will eventually need replacing.
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