Picking the Right Cooker Type
If you’re in the market for a new cooker, the sheer number of options available can be baffling. Should you go with a range cooker? A freestanding model? Dual fuel, electric or gas? We explain all the options here to help you decide.
A cooker combines an oven and a hob into one convenient appliance.
This allows you to keep an eye on your bacon cooking under the grill while you fry your eggs. Cookers are freestanding appliances, whereas ovens can be integrated into kitchen units.
However, cookers can still be incorporated into your kitchen surfaces for an unbroken, seamless appearance.
Conventional freestanding cookers tend to come in 50 cm, 55 cm, and 60 cm widths, though they sometimes vary a bit. Make sure the model you’re after fits in the space you have available.
Cookers are freestanding appliances, whereas ovens can be integrated into kitchen units.
If you have plenty of space and are after something with real wow factor, it’s worth considering a range cooker.
These are significantly wider than conventional freestanding cookers, frequently measuring 90 cm, 100 cm or 110 cm in width. They often feature four separate cavities, though some models have more, and not all the cavities are used for cooking. The most common arrangement has two ovens, one grill and one warming or storage drawer, and between 5 and 8 burners on the hob.
Some of the more traditional models use wood, coal or oil for fuel, and can heat the house and even your hot water. However, these often need to be left on all the time (even in the summer) and can be difficult to install. You can get a similar look and plenty of cooking space with a gas or electric range-style cooker.
These appliances are ideal for multi-tasking cooks that love to host dinner parties or have large families to cook for.
Another type of cooker you might consider is a table-top model.
These appliances are around the size of a large microwave, measuring around 50 cm in width, and can sit on your kitchen counter.
They often have a single shelf and offer much of the conventional cooking you’d expect from a full size appliance, but with the benefit of being smaller. Pop in a whole chicken to roast or use it as a backup for your main cooker when you have lots of food on the go.
Modern microwaves sometimes allow conventional cooking and grilling too.
Pick Your Fuel
One of the most basic decisions you’ll have to make when deciding what kind of cooker you want is the fuel type.
Unless you’re after a solid fuel or oil-fired range cooker, you’ll have two options: gas or electric.
Gas is efficient and provides heat very quickly on the hob. It also lets you control the flame very precisely, making it an excellent choice. However, it can provide rather uneven temperatures in the oven.
An electric cooker, on the other hand, offers consistent temperatures in the oven, especially if it has a fan. Conventional electric hobs are less efficient and cook more slowly than gas, but modern ceramic and induction hobs are much more practical.
You can get the best of both worlds if you purchase a dual fuel cooker. These feature electric ovens and gas hobs, letting you fry, grill, bake and roast your way to culinary perfection. The extra flexibility of these appliances tends to be reflected in the price though.
Different cookers vary in terms of what ovens they’re equipped with.
Many cookers are twin cavity, but there are some with only a single cavity. This is usually a large single oven, occasionally equipped with a drawer beneath to hold extra shelves or a grill pan.
If you want greater flexibility than a single cavity oven offers, twin cavity models are probably more suitable. Double oven cookers have two ovens, often with a grill in the top one, or you can get a twin cavity model that has one oven and a separate grill.
There are four main types of hob that cookers come with – gas, solid plate, ceramic and induction.
One of the most common type of hob, these feature gas burners with enamel or cast iron pan supports. These models offer great control and speed, but can be quite difficult to keep clean.
Conventional Electric (Solid Plate) Hob
This type used to be quite common, but is gradually being replaced by more high-tech versions. These hobs have electric coil filaments that are raised above the main surface of the cooker. They tend to be fairly cheap, but are quite slow, inefficient and difficult to keep clean.
Ceramic hobs have a sleek, stylish ceramic glass surface. These are electric, and while often slower to heat up than gas, are aesthetically pleasing and easy to wipe down.
These are incredibly efficient hobs that produce little waste as they heat the bottom of the pan directly. However, these models can be more expensive and need iron or steel cookware to work.