12 burning questions about ovens

how to choose the right oven for you
Maggie Westhead,-Digital Editor

Whatever your household size and tastes, you’ll need an oven that’s fit for purpose. Let our experts guide you

Choosing an oven is an important decision. Think about your wants and needs. Do you live in a flat and mainly use it to cook for two people? Are you vegetarian and interested in a steaming option? Are you a keen baker or mad about roast potatoes? Do you have a huge family and need it to work hard, cooking for the masses day in, day out? There are options to suit all types of living situations. The John Lewis & Partners cooking appliances buying guide should be your starting point.

What are the best value for money ovens?

Set a budget and work within it. For under £400, an excellent option according to our buyers is the Bosch HBS534BS0B Built-In Single Oven, £399. For under £700, our buyers recommend the Neff B3ACE4HN0B Slide & Hide Built-In Single Oven, £649 and for under £1,000 the Miele H2265-1BP 1 Degree Accuracy, £829, offers excellent value for money.

What sort of oven is best for making roast dinners?

Whether you favour chicken, beef, lamb of a veggie option, a classic roast is when your oven comes into its own. According to Simon Bentley, Partner & Assistant, Large Electrical, Buyer, ‘Gas ovens are really responsive and the temperature will heat up quickly. Heat rises inside gas ovens so the top of the cavity gets hotter than the bottom. This is a benefit when you need to cook food at different temperatures all at once, such as a roast dinner.’

Shall I go for a dual-fuel oven or electric cooker?

'Dual-fuel is particularly popular in the large Range cooker sizes as it provides the speed of gas cooking on the hob with the consistency of an electric fan-assisted oven. Electric cookers have a fan oven that circulates hot air ensuring that your food is evenly cooked,’ says Simon. ‘Induction is the growing sector of the market, where the hob only heats when the pan is present. The benefits include no flames or ignition and a reduction in energy consumption.’

Do I need a single or double oven?

‘If you need increased cooking capacity and the ability to cook a wide variety of dishes at the same time, then a double oven is perfect,’ recommends Simon. ‘Single ovens take up less space and offer the consumer more choice in terms of price, design and innovation.’

What if I need/prefer a freestanding cooker?

Freestanding Range cookers are still a popular choice for classic kitchen designs and come in a wide variety of styles, colours and fuel types to suit your taste and preference. According to Simon: 'They have the advantage of a range of sizes that you can slot into an existing space and you can opt for a single or double oven variety.’

Do I want an oven at eye-level oven?

According to our buyers, eye-level ovens are currently popular and very easy-to-use. Consider having a totally bespoke set up so that you can arrange various ovens as you want them on a feature wall. ‘The benefits of positioning a series of appliances together such as one or two ovens, a built-in microwave and a warming drawer can not only assist you with handling hot dishes at the right height but can also deliver a more contemporary, smarter, cleaner look to your kitchen,’ says Simon. 

What about smart ovens?

As more of our homes become connected the logical next step would seem to be our ovens (read our feature on smart homes). ‘Most of us are short of time and smart ovens can be used to control the appliance remotely or to set automatic functions. They can link to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and companion with an app that can be controlled remotely from your device,’ says Simon.

I’m vegetarian, which oven is best for me?

Consider an oven that provides steam cooking as it delivers excellent tasting food since steam helps retain the minerals and nutrients of food. ‘Steam cooking is also great for baking bread,’ says Simon. ‘As it keeps the crust soft during the first few minutes so the loaf gets that final expansion but helps achieve a glossy, crisp crust at the end of the baking process.’

How do ovens self clean?

To some an oven that cleans itself is the most important factor and for that reason, there's a wide range of self-clean ovens available at John Lewis & Partners. The quickest solution is a pyrolytic oven that incinerates the residue leaving just ash to wipe away. Below are four self-cleaning ovens that will help avoid you getting out the elbow grease.

What about the hob?

Hob technology has come along way in the last few years with sleeker and more consistently good options. Gas and electric are still the main options. The former heating up instantly but the latter looks slicker and is easier to clean.

I’m cooking for 12 this Christmas. How can I ensure I have a big enough oven?

This is crucial because you may have a treasured roasting tin or favourite Le Creuset that you can’t cook without. You need to ensure that they fit into your new oven – how wide and deep are the shelves? John Lewis & Partners measure oven capacity in litres. Here's what you should do when considering whether the oven has enough capacity for your needs:

  • With the oven rack in its lowest position, measure the oven height from the top of the rack to the top of the oven’s interior.
  • Measure oven width between the inner edges of the oven’s rack support (not the walls).
  • Measure oven depth from the back wall to the front, accounting for how far the oven door sticks into the interior.

How do I ensure it will connect OK?

If you are upgrading your oven or switching from gas to electric induction hob, it’s always worth asking an electrician whether your existing circuitry is suitable. Electric cookers and ovens draw a great deal of power hence its always best to consult with a professional before making a purchase.

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