Even the most basic cookers have a range of programmes and settings. New features are always being created, so it’s worth thinking about what functions and extras you really need.
Here we’ll outline some common cooker features to help you know what to expect, and we’ll explain any technical terms too.
Many cookers have double or triple-glazed glass doors, which improves the energy efficiency as they help to retain the heat. They also keep the outside surface cool to the touch, so you don’t have to worry about burning your hands on the door.
Some high-end models feature powerful lights in the oven to give you an excellent view of your food. This will also save you energy, as you won’t have to keep opening the door to check on your dishes.
Warming drawers are another useful addition. Often found underneath the main oven, these provide an easy way to heat up your plates. They can also be used to gently defrost frozen items or for proving dough.
Some models may feature cavities with rounded edges which helps the hot air to move around to cook your dishes evenly.
You should also look out for ovens with adjustable shelving, as you’ll be able to move the shelves to fit in larger dishes if needed. Telescopic shelves make using your oven safer too, as they slide out smoothly and can support heavy dishes even when fully pulled out.
Many cookers have double or triple glazed glass doors, which improve energy efficiency by retaining the heat.
Many freestanding cookers have grills, either in a separate compartment or as part of the oven itself.
A good grill will cook food evenly to give you a golden, crispy finish. Keep an eye out for variable and full-width versions. Variable grills allow you to adjust the temperature, while full width or double models cover the whole cavity so you can fit in more food.
There are also some gas models with eye-level grills from brands like New World. This style doesn’t look as modern and minimalist, but it does make it easier to see how your food is cooking.
Brands like Smeg and Hotpoint sometimes feature a tilting grill, which can be pulled out and down towards your food. This also makes the grill easier to clean when cool.
Variable grills allow you to adjust the temperature, while full width or double models cover the whole cavity.
Cookers often have a range of controls, including rotary knobs or touch controls for the hob, plus dials and buttons for the oven. Touch controls are often found on electric, ceramic, and induction hob cookers. They give you precise control of the heat settings, display the power level, and let you adjust the settings for each zone.
If you choose a gas hob, ignition dials are quite common. Rather than having a separate button to light the flame, these allow you to turn on the gas and ignite the flame in one easy movement.
Oven controls can also have touch screens which let you set the temperature, programme, timer, and other options. Alternatively, you may find an LED display with separate buttons placed on either side.
Digital minute minders, clocks, and timers are handy extras to help you keep an eye on how long your food has left. Some models of cooker even allow you to turn the oven on and off automatically at a set time.
Several high-end models from brands like Bosch feature smart technology. You’ll be able to control your cooker from an app or even a voice-controlled speaker. Set up a timer, change the settings, and even find new recipes to try out. Bear in mind that as this is relatively new technology, you’ll likely have to pay extra for these features.
Some models of cooker even have options that let you turn the oven on and off automatically at a set time.
The features your hob has will depend on the type – solid plate, induction, ceramic, or gas.
Whichever you choose, you can expect different sized cooking zones designed to suit a range of pan sizes. Some hobs are designed with the zones further apart from each other to give you room to use multiple pans and pots at once.
Some gas hobs have an extra-large burner especially designed for woks that can reach very high temperatures in a short time. If you’re a fan of stir-fries or often make large one-pot meals, this is a really useful feature to have.
Cast-iron pan supports are often used with gas hobs as they’re durable, strong, and can be easily cleaned. These are generally found on slightly more expensive models.
You can also find hobs with special settings for different cooking methods.
New sensor technology, such as Gorenje’s BoilControl helps to stop the risk of pans boiling over and spilling onto your hob. Sensors monitor the pan’s heat and adjust the temperature to reach the boiling point at a quicker rate. They even make a noise when the water’s boiling and maintain the desired temperature to prevent the pan from boiling dry or overflowing.
You can also find hobs with special settings for different cooking methods, such as gently melting chocolate.
Cookers can come with different types of ovens. These all have different features and cooking modes, but most are multifunctional.
A ventilated or fan oven is a great option if you want food cooked as evenly as possible. Fans move the air around the oven to create an even heat distribution and a consistent temperature.
Large capacity ovens allow you to fit in bigger amounts of food, whether it’s a roast dinner or multiple trays at once. The extra size also improves air circulation on all levels.
Multiple cooking levels mean you can cook more things at the same time, so you can start baking a dessert while the main course is finishing off.
Storage drawers are a handy feature if you don’t have much kitchen space as you can store larger pots and pans with ease.
Many cooker ovens have several programmes to choose from, like top heat, bottom heat, fan, and grill. Some models may also have fast heat-up or self-cleaning settings.
Look out for a model with a steam cooking function if you value healthier cooking methods. This programme will also produce more succulent, flavoursome food.
Warming programmes keep your food at an even temperature until you’re ready to serve up, without drying it out or causing a crust to form. Plate warming settings also allow you to gently warm your dishes before you serve up dinner.
A defrost setting is a great time-saving feature, as the oven will safely thaw out your frozen food in a short amount of time.
Some ovens also have set programmes to choose from, to ensure your food is cooked exactly right depending on its size and weight.
Most cookers come with built-in safety features designed with your family in mind.
Gas models may have a Flame Failure Device (FFD) which automatically turns off the gas supply to the burners if the flame blows out. Models with a lid may also have a feature that turns the gas off if it’s closed.
A feature you’ll find more often on electric cookers is a child lock. This ensures little fingers can’t alter any settings while your back is turned.
You should also look if the cooker has an automatic turn off function, as this will switch the appliance off after a certain amount of time. Some hobs will also have a similar feature where they will turn off if no pan has been placed on a hot burner for a period of time.
A feature you’ll find more often on electric cookers is a child lock. This ensures little fingers can’t alter any settings.