What's hot in the world of ovens right now? Our experts recently scrutinised almost a dozen of the latest models on the market, assessing their performance, how easy they are to use, and any features that make certain ovens stand out from the rest.
They put the ovens through their paces by cooking scones, meringues, roast chicken and pizza, and by toasting bread, looking at each oven's ability to perform over a range of temperatures, times and functions.
With prices ranging from around $500 to over $9000 (yes, really), our kitchen experts say there's more than just price and performance that sets ovens apart. If you're in the market for a new oven, here's a few of the most interesting things they found.
Do you just whack the temp up to 180°C on auto-pilot and pop the baking tray in without paying attention to the various oven settings you're using? You're missing out, says CHOICE kitchen expert Fiona Mair.
"Most new ovens have multiple cooking functions and various cook modes for specific foods which can help you achieve much better results," she says.
"We're now seeing more ovens with auto-cook functions for things such as roasts, pizza or focaccia – these modes give you step-by-step instructions and prompt you on everything from cooking time to temperature settings and shelf position. They really help you get the most out of your oven and get great cooking results."
Auto-cook functions for things such as roasts, pizza or focaccia really help you get great cooking results
Fiona explains how you can use the different settings.
"When cooking on multiple shelves you'd use the fan-forced mode. The fan has an element around it so it distributes the heat evenly throughout the cavity.
"But, if you're cooking pizza, you want the base to be crisp and the top cooked, so you'd use the top and bottom element or bottom element and fan force (pizza mode). On some ovens, you can select pizza mode and it will create the perfect setting for you."
So, if you feel like you need a bit of a helping hand in the kitchen, an oven that has more of these settings available would be the better pick for you.
Despise cleaning your oven? In great news for housework-phobes everywhere, most top-range ovens, and some mid-range ones, now come with pyrolytic cleaning features. This means they literally clean themselves with minimal human input by heating up to 400–500°C, which burns off baked-on residue.
"An oven with a pyrolytic cleaning function will make cleaning your oven easier," says Fiona.
"Depending on the model, you may need to remove the shelf supports or other internal hardware unless they're compatible with the pyrolytic cleaning function.
"Since the majority of ovens have the grill inside the oven, if you grill and roast a lot of meats and vegetables then you should definitely consider a pyrolitic oven.
"Many of the models we tested in our latest wall oven review, priced from $1000 and upwards from brands such as Ikea, Smeg, Bosch, Miele, Fisher & Paykel and more, have a pyrolytic function."
If you love the look of sleek glass, you're in luck. Most of the new wall ovens we tested rocked an elegant glass front and glass touch controls, as opposed to stainless steel with dials.
"It doesn't make any difference to the performance of the oven, but you may prefer the look of a glass oven in your kitchen design, says Fiona.
"The controls and labels are behind the glass so they're less likely to fade and the control panel is easier to clean as you can just wipe over it.
"If you prefer a stainless steel oven, look for fingerprint-resistant stainless steel, which means that smudges will be less noticeable.
"Avoid choosing a model with overly reflective glass as this will make it harder to check on your food while it's cooking – although it is a handy mirror to have in your kitchen!"
Will spending more mean you get a better oven? Not always, according to our experts. While all the wall ovens that we recommend are priced above $2500, this doesn't mean that the more expensive models are always the best.
"Generally we do find that some of the more expensive ovens that cost thousands get great scores for performance and ease of use, but that's not to say that more expensive always equals better," says Fiona.
"We certainly do see cheaper models outperforming more expensive ones, so it's important to do your research before you buy.
We certainly do see cheaper models outperforming more expensive ones, so it's important to do your research before you buy
"There are a few models we've reviewed that cost around $1000 to $1500 that just missed out on being recommended, so if you have a lower budget, you may want to consider those."
Fiona says that when choosing a cheaper model, make sure it has at a minimum fan force, top and bottom element, fan grill and grill functions.
"You will achieve better results and have a greater variety of cooking options," she says.
Inbuilt air fryers, defrost functions, meat probes… the list of high-tech features and accessories that come with the latest ovens is extensive!
While some can certainly be useful (our kitchen experts rate a digital meat probe for checking the internal temperature of your roast pork or beef as a handy one to have), there are others that are just gimmicky and likely won't add a lot to your oven experience.
Some features are just gimmicky and likely won't add a lot to your oven experience
"Before buying an oven, really think about how you'll be using it and what you'll be cooking," says Fiona.
"Rather than being wowed by a specific cooking function on a new oven model, I'd recommend focusing on the overall performance and aspects such as how easy it is to use and how efficient it is.
"You also want things like some good accessories such as multiple wire shelves and flat shelves (not lipped) so they're easier to use and more versatile," she says.
For more helpful advice, check out our guide on how to buy the best wall oven.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.