Got extra kitchen space to spare? A double oven may suit your needs if you entertain often or have a large family. They are two distinct ovens, each with its own set of functions, but they are stacked one on top of the other into a larger unit.

What sets a double oven apart from a single? (besides the obvious)

Double ovens allow you to bake and grill different dishes at the same time on different temperatures and settings – such as a roast and a meringue. Dinner AND dessert! The only drawback is that they take up a fair amount of space in the kitchen, and some smaller secondary ovens come with limited functions and only one shelf.

Little and large, or large and large?

The main thing you'll need to decide on is the configuration of your double oven. Some are actually two full-sized ovens, and some are a smaller half-oven on top of a full-sized one. Consider how much space you have in your kitchen, and what you'll be using the second oven for.

I can't wait to bake two things at once! What do I need to look for?

Controls

These should be intuitive and easy to use.

Functions

Check that the functions in the half-oven suit your needs, as they tend to be limited – generally, top and bottom element (convection bake) and grill. Only some have fan-forced, fan-assist or other extra functions.

Shelf positions

Three or more shelves can be handy, especially if you want to cook several things at the same time. Check the half-oven has enough shelf positions to suit your needs. Most half-ovens come only with one shelf and one grill tray or baking tray.

Safety stops

Shelves should have safety stops to prevent them from being pulled out accidentally, and shouldn't tilt when pulled out with a load.

Grill element

The element should be recessed into the top of the oven or have a shield so that it isn't exposed and can't be accidentally touched. This is particularly important if you place the oven under the bench.

Grill tray

This should be easy to slide in and out, and come out far enough 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 will trap fat and grease below it, rather than under a wire rack.

Exterior

A stainless-steel exterior should be fingerprint-resistant as it will save cleaning time.

Self-cleaning surfaces

Yes, we really said self-cleaning! Pyrolytic ovens need a heat of 500°C to make a dent in the baked-on food, but it will turn to ash when exposed to that heat. Alternatively, catalytic liners are removable cleaning surfaces that can be stuck to the oven walls, so when the oven is heated to 250°C for an hour it will burn off the splatters, needing only a wipe when cool. Pretty neat, huh?

Installation

Installation height is important, so choose according to the shortest cook's height. If a half-oven will get the most use, choose one that's located below the main oven and install it at the right height for easy access. Shorties of the world, we salute you!

Cost

The double ovens we tested ranged from $1399 to $3299, but they can even cost up to $8000.