This report looks at:
- The pros and cons of gas vs electricity.
- The different oven layouts to consider.
- Self-cleaning ovens.
- Steam ovens and automatic cooking programs: a roundup of the latest in oven technology.
You could spend hours walking around kitchen showrooms, admiring the increasingly sleek ovens on offer. You can take your pick from fingermark-proof stainless steel, aluminium or iridium finishes, ovens in country-style green or cream, or authentically commercial-looking stainless steel freestanding stoves with gas hobs and cast iron trivets.
But while looks may be important, they're only one of many things to think about when buying an oven. There first thing to consider is whether you want a gas or electric oven.
Please note: this information was current as of May 2008 but is still a useful guide to today's market.
Gas or electric?
If you’re open to either option, here are some things to consider.
Older electric ovens have a reputation for taking longer than gas ovens to heat up and cook, but in fact they’ve markedly improved over the years, so this is no longer relevant.
- Most electric ovens these days are multifunction, meaning you can use a combination of top, bottom, grill and sometimes rear elements plus a fan to optimise different cooking, baking and grilling needs, so they tend to be more versatile than a gas oven.
- The price range for electric ovens starts lower.
- Gas ovens don’t dry food out as much as electric ovens (unless they’re fan-assisted), so they’re ideal for roasts, casseroles and heavy cakes that require moisture.
- Gas ovens are naturally hotter at the top and cooler at the bottom, so unless there’s a fan, food will need to be rotated to get even cooking and browning if you’re doing any multi-shelf cooking. However, it does mean you can cook several different foods at once. For example, after a roast has been in the oven for some time, you can move it to the bottom, turn the heat up, and use the top shelf to crisp the potatoes.
- There’s no direct heat from the top in a gas oven (unless it has an internal grill) so it may not be as good as an electric oven for foods that need browning or crisping on top.
- A gas oven may have electronic controls and/or an electric grill, in which case you’ll need an electrical outlet nearby.
- There are only a few brands of gas oven on the market, meaning less choice for you.
- The bottom line is, if you’re willing to experiment with your oven, you’ll learn how to get a good result regardless of its fuel.
Video: What to look for - Ovens
Fiona Mair shows us what to look for when buying an oven.