What Is An Oven?
This oven guide sets out to break down all you need to know in simple terms, so when you come to buying your next oven, or even your first oven you can make wise decisions.
Our first fundamental, and it would seem we don’t all know is Oven or cooker – what is the difference? Well, an oven is a built-in cooking chamber that sits either under your cabinets or in an eye-level space. It is standalone, with no hob on the top, so you will need a separate hob.
As they are built-in, you will have to find a new oven that will fit the dimensions of your existing space (unless you are having a new kitchen installed or are willing to undertake quite a bit of moving work).
Electric vs Gas Ovens
If you have an existing electric or gas oven, then there is a good chance you will just buy a straight swap for it rather than changing the fuel type. However, if you are having a new kitchen installed, you may have a bit of free reign. You may also feel you want a change if you simply don’t get on with your current oven style.
Electric ovens are by far the most popular pick. They are either hard wired or plugged into a dedicated socket, and can come in single electric oven cavity or double electric oven cavity styles.
They’re popular because they’re easy to use, can be installed in almost any house, and easy to install too. Electric ovens also usually offer more in the way of cooking functions.
- Distributes heat more evenly thanks to fan power
- Electric grilling is more effective
- Can be installed in most homes, unlike gas
- Often more budget-friendly to buy
- Can take longer than gas to heat
While gas ovens are less common, we found a fair few standouts during our reviews to find the top 10. People like cooking with gas as it is a bit faster at heating up and cooling down, and allows for more control over the heat intensity.
That being said, if you aren’t used to gas cooking, it can be hard to get things precise, and you do have to get the knack of lighting the flame and ensuring it remains on.
If you already have a gas supply in your home rather than electric, it makes sense to replace with a like-for-like. As with electric ovens, you can purchase a single gas oven or double gas oven.
- Often quicker to heat
- More flexible with precise heat settings
- Gas is cheaper than electric for most so will be cheaper to run
- Usually pricier to buy outright
- People may have concerns about having gas in their home
- Can struggle to get an even heat as they’re prone to hot spots – often hotter at top than bottom
Single or Double Oven?
A single oven is one cooking chamber. The grill is incorporated into this, so everything is together. A double oven is two separate chambers, so you can use both ovens at the same time, and the grill is often in one chamber so you can use it as a grill and oven simultaneously.
Double ovens are understandably longer and take up more space, but are the most popular option if you will be choosing an eye-level cabinet oven. Single ovens are also available for this positioning but tend to be best suited if you are going for an under-counter design.
Which you prefer is ultimately down to the space you have in your kitchen, but also what you prefer. If you cook a lot of things at the same time, such as the roast beef along with the roast potatoes and veg on a Sunday, a double oven makes sense. Smaller homes may only need one chamber, though.
Eye-Level or Under-Counter Oven?
As mentioned above, your kitchen will either have one or the other. Under-counter ovens sit lower down, built-in under the main kitchen cabinets and workspaces. An eye-level oven sits in a tall cabinet, often halfway up, and may be easier to access for some.
Eye-level ovens will not be able to be fitted under a counter, as most are too tall, but there may be some under-counter options which are pretty flexible with their positioning. Always check the specifications if you are limited.
What is a steam oven? It is an electrically-fuelled option which uses steam to cook the food of choice (but don’t worry – most can also cope with conventional cooking too). There is a huge choice of steam ovens around, as they become popular among bakers and healthy eaters.
Just pop some water into the dedicated chamber, which will either be on the inside or outside of the oven, and allow the oven to do all the work. Because you refill the water manually, it doesn’t need plumbing in, and there is often an alarm which alerts you if the water needs topping up.
It isn’t just for steaming vegetables and rice. Meats, bread, fish and cakes can all be steamed. It is also great if you want to reheat food as it keeps things moist, or if you want to defrost food in the oven because it evenly heats everything for safer results.
You may want to cook with steam as it is a much healthier way of cooking, able to retain up to 25% more vitamin content than food cooked in the ordinary way.
Compact ovens are much smaller than conventional models at just 45cm tall, but are still around 60cm wide. This makes them generally the same size as a built-in microwave.
They often still have grills inside, but many can also be used as microwaves, so they are a good choice for anyone who wants to keep clutter to a minimum yet efficiency and easy to the maximum.
Many people will purchase them as an additional cooking option, perhaps a dedicated baking oven or if you simply need more space. But some models are surprisingly spacious, so it could be worth buying one if you’re trying to save some electricity and only heat a smaller chamber versus your huge main oven on a weeknight.
While most ovens now have catalytic liners which absorb any grease and make it easier to wipe away, some more advanced models now have technology such as Pyrolytic cleaning or steam functions. These self-cleaning ovens keep the work you need to do to a minimum.
Pyrolytic cleaning is our favourite. It uses exceedingly high temperatures to burn away any dirt, reducing it to ash or powder, so you can wipe or brush it away without having to scrub. The door will be locked during this cycle so it is safe.
Steam cleaning, or Hydro Clean as brands such as Hotpoint refer to it, makes the dirt a bit less ‘sticky’, loosening it and allowing for an easier clean once it has cooled.