An oven is a kitchen essential, and a purchase you'll want to get right the first time. It should not only cook all your dishes to perfection, but also be easy to use and clean. It should be reliable and able to last through endless hours of food preparation. Find one that ticks these boxes and you'll be a happy customer.
Need a new oven? Read oven reviews from CHOICE's experts to find out which models bake, grill and roast to perfection.
Our home economist from the CHOICE test kitchen, Fiona Mair, knows what makes an oven easy to use and has put hundreds through her gauntlet of tests to see how well they roast, bake and grill. Here, we tell you how we put them to the test for our freestanding oven reviews, wall oven reviews and toaster oven reviews.
There's no doubt that Fiona knows her way around a kitchen and has endless knowledge about kitchen appliances. With 30 years of experience, she's seen lots of new technology enter the kitchen space – from the rise in pyrolytic ovens for ease of cleaning, to useful control panels with automatic programs built in. She's put many to the test over the years and has homed in on the factors that make an oven a breeze to use. Our test officer Chantelle has also joined the team so we can put more and more popular kitchen products like ovens to the test.
How we choose what we test
With so many to choose from, what makes us choose one oven to test over another? As with most of our product testing, our aim is to test the most popular models on the market and what you're most likely to see in the retailers.
We survey manufacturers to find out about their range of models and check market sales information, and we also check for any member requests to test specific models. From this information we put together a final list that goes to our buyers. They then head out to the retailers and buy each product, just as a normal consumer would. We do this so we can be sure they're the exact same product any consumer would take home and not 'tweaked' in any way.
Some freestanding ovens cost well over $6000 and in order to cover the market as well as meet our budgets, we occasionally request one-off loans for higher-end models to see how they perform. These are always returned to the manufacturer after the test period.
How we test
The kitchen lab puts ovens through their paces by cooking scones, meringues, roast chicken and pizza, and she also toasts bread. By doing this she tests the oven's ability to perform over a range of temperatures, times and functions.
Video: How we test high-end ovens
On most ovens, we carry out the following performance tests:
Multi-shelf cooking: Scones are baked over two shelves to test how evenly the ovens perform at a high temperature over a short time.
Low temperature cooking: Meringues are baked to assess cooking ability at a low temperature for a long period.
Roasting: Our testers roast a whole chicken to assess baking performance on a non-uniform food at a moderate to high temperature over a long period, while retaining moisture and crisping the skin.
Base cooking: We cook a freshly prepared pizza at a very high temperature for a short period to assess the ability to crisp and brown the base and evenly cook the toppings.
Grilling: We toast bread to assess the grill area for how quickly it toasts the bread and how evenly the heat is distributed.