Built-in oven reviews: Features explained
This guide will help you work out exactly which built-in oven features you need to make your life easier and which ones you can live without.
Is a single oven enough for you or do you need a double oven? What do self-cleaning catalytic and pyrolytic ovens do? And what does multi-function cooking mean?
Video guide: built-in oven features explained
This oven features video guide will help you to find out more about the most important built-in oven features.
If you already know what you need, head straight to our built-in oven reviews for impartial reviews of the latest built-in ovens.
Types of oven
Single built-in oven - Single built-in ovens are just under 60cm tall and will fit under a kitchen worktop or within a taller eye-level unit.
Double built-under oven - Double built-under ovens are taller, at around 72cm, and come with two ovens but can fit underneath a kitchen counter or higher up in a taller unit.
Double built-in oven - Double built-in ovens are just under 90cm tall and need to be fitted into eye-level kitchen cabinets.
For more on built-in oven sizes, go to our oven sizes advice guide.
Standard built-in oven features
Double built-in ovens - These offer you more cooking options and the ability to cook dishes at different temperatures simultaneously. Some have grills in both ovens for extra flexibility.
Built-in oven grills - Whether they’re at eye-level or part of the oven itself, good grills spread heat widely and evenly across the grill pan.
Fan-assisted built-in ovens - Most electric built-in ovens come with a fan that helps to distribute the heat evenly around the oven.
Multifunction cooking - Many ovens are multifunction, which allows you to cook with a combination of heat from the top and the bottom of the oven, the grill and fan.
Steam ovens - Some ovens also have a steam function with an integral water tank. The water is vaporised and provides a quick and healthy cooking method.
Built-in oven doors - Most of the ovens we've tested have drop-down doors. It can be inconvenient if you have to lean across a large door to place dishes on the oven shelves, especially if you have a bad back. Some oven doors have glass panels that can be removed, which makes them much easier to clean.
Advanced built-in oven features
Recipe function - This function automatically programs the optimum time, duration and settings for various foods. We cooked chicken using this function and found it worked well in most cases.
Turnspit - Few ovens have this function, which cooks food on a spit, like a rotisserie. When we tested it, we found the results were no better than roasting a chicken in the conventional way.
Meat probe - Plunge this probe into a joint and it tells you when its tip (and thus the centre of the meat) is at optimum temperature and the joint is cooked. Make sure the whole probe is buried or it will conduct heat from the oven, giving a falsely high temperature reading, and you’ll end up with undercooked meat.
Pizza mode - A pizza mode is designed to ensure a perfectly cooked pizza with a crispy base. When we tested it, we found in most ovens this gave slightly better results than just using the fan mode. It’s worth considering if you eat a lot of pizza.
Oven timers - A minute-minder function turns the oven off after a set amount of time, so is helpful when trying to avoid overcooking your food. Advanced timers let you pre-program start and end times, so you can return home and find dinner ready to be served.
Non-tip oven shelves - Non-tip shelves offer you some extra protection when dealing with hot and heavy dishes. Instead of reaching into the oven, you can pull out the shelf itself.
Telescopic oven shelves - Telescopic shelf runners are superior to non-tip shelves, as they enable the trays or shelves to be fully pulled out of the oven cavity without the risk of a heavy dish falling on to the floor. Only high-end models tend to have them as standard, but some manufacturers offer them as an accessory for upwards of £50.
Child lock - A child lock lets you lock the control panel – though not the door – so that the oven can’t be accidentally turned on.
Built-in oven innovations
Automatic oven cooking programs - Advanced built-in ovens now sometimes come with automatic cooking programs that allow you to cook at the touch of a button. Once you've selected the food type, sensors set the cooking temperature, heat sources and duration based on the weight of the food and moisture in the oven. When we tested this kind of feature, we found it was better with more simple foods like cakes and pizzas, rather than meat.
Fully-programmable ovens - Fully programmable ovens allow you set the cooking temperature, duration and heat sources. The oven turns on, cooks and turns off afterwards.
Memory functions - Ovens with memory functions allow you to create, save and name your own cooking programs so that they can be re-used.
Slide-away oven doors - Some of the Neff range of built-in ovens come with a slide-away door. Once opened, it slides in the bottom of the oven so you won’t have to reach too far in, making loading and unloading heavy dishes easier.
Built-in oven cleaning
Catalytic oven liners - Rough surfaces inside the oven catch absorb and break down food spills, which are burned away during normal cooking, making your oven walls easier to keep clean.
Pyrolytic oven cleaning programs - Pyrolytic oven programs burn off dirt and grease at up to about 400°C. All you do is sweep out the ash afterwards. They take around two hours, and for safety the oven door will lock while the cycle is running.
Oven cleaners - Specialist oven cleaners are made of strong stuff and can be corrosive, so be careful how you handle them. Always read the label and store out of reach of children.