How to buy the best range cooker
By Jane Darling
There are hundreds of range cookers to choose from, including dual-fuel, gas and electric. Use this guide to find the best range cooker for you.
A range cooker can be the focal point of a kitchen, so you'll want to choose one you like the look of. But pick a model that values style over substance at your peril as you could end up lumbered with inaccurate ovens, a tiny grill, or a hob that's a horror to clean.
Range cookers come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colours and can be all-electric, all-gas or - the most popular option - dual-fuel. You can even find traditional-looking ranges that feature an ultra-modern induction hob.
If you're not yet sure whether you want a range cooker or standard cooker, our video guide explains how to choose the right cooker for you. On this page, you'll also find advice on the key things to consider before you buy, and the extra features that could make your life easier.
You can also browse our range cooker reviews and filter down models by size or fuel type to get straight to the best option for you.
Buying the best range cooker for you
Our interactive tool will guide you through the key features you'll need to think about when choosing a range cooker. Find out more about the options available and their pros and cons to help you track down the right cooker for you.
How much should you spend on a range cooker?
You shouldn't need to part with much more than £1,000 for a good range cooker - we have found a couple of Best Buy range cookers available for less than this, but you'll need to choose wisely as not all range cookers available for around this price do a good job of heating food.
Cheaper range cookers may lack some of the trademark cooking accessories, such as griddles, hotplates and roasting trays, that you might normally expect to find on a range cooker.
Paying more usually gets you extra features or stylish finishes, but doesn't guarantee great cooking results
More expensive range cookers may have fan-assisted or multi-function ovens. Electric models will usually have quicker-to-heat induction hobs. Accessories such as griddles, wok rings, and roasting trays attached to the inside of the doors, are more common. Some models will come with catalytic oven linings that break down spills at high heats, so you don't need to clean the walls.
Range cooker prices can run into thousands of pounds, but you shouldn’t need to pay more than £2,000 to get a feature-packed model. We've found some pricey range cookers can prove disappointing at the basics of cooking too, so make sure you check our range cooker reviews before buying.
What type of range cooker do you need?
Range cooker size
Most range cookers are 90cm, 100cm or 110cm wide, and come with between five and eight hob rings or burners, two ovens, a grill and a warming or storage drawer. What size you go for depends on what you can fit in your kitchen, and how much cooking space you need.
Larger range cookers tend to have four separate compartments, comprising two ovens, a large grill compartment and a heated warming drawer or storage drawer for pots and pans. They generally have six to eight burners.
Smaller range cookers generally have two ovens, a grill and a five or six-burner hob. 90cm models usually have one standard oven and one tall thin oven on the side. You can find some range cookers with just one large oven, but this provides less of a true range-cooking experience.
Mini range cookers are styled to look like range cookers, but in terms of size they are the same width as a standard freestanding cooker (60cm). If you don't have the space for a full range cooker you can see how mini ranges compare to other options in our freestanding cooker reviews.
Range cooker oven space
While you'll usually get more space in a range cooker than other cooker types, the amount you get for your money can vary. Manufacturers stated capacities don't tell the whole story either, as they often quote the total internal volume, which includes areas such as the space beneath the lowest shelf, rather than the actual usable space you can cook with.
The usable capacity of a cooker can be substantially less than the stated volume
When we test range cookers, we measure how much space there is to cook with, and we use a variety of different food templates to see what you can actually fit in, including a family-sized plastic turkey and a tray of roast potatoes.
Some cookers may have an awkwardly configured space, which means that you'll need to cook with two ovens at once when one might have done, therefore wasting energy. Or you might find you're getting less cooking space than you bargained for.
It's worth thinking about how often you'll need to cook for a crowd, or have several things on the go at once, as this can help you to figure out what size and shape of range cooker you'll need. Our range cooker reviews can then guide you to the most spacious options.
Range cooker fuel options explained
You've got four main options to choose from, although this may be influenced by the fuel supply you have available to your home, as switching will mean extra expense.
Gas range cookers - these models have gas ovens and hobs, and are the cheapest to run in terms of energy costs. The hobs on gas cookers are easy to control and provide instant heat when you need it.
Dual-fuel cookers - these are the most popular type of range cooker. They have a gas hob and electric ovens. These generally heat more evenly than gas ovens. Gas and dual-fuel range cookers will need to be installed by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
Electric range cookers - these have electric hobs and ovens. Most will have one or more ovens with a fan, which helps to spread the heat around the oven. If your oven has a fan, it’s going to heat up more quickly - this means cooking temperatures and times will be shorter.
Electric induction range cookers - these have induction hobs rather than conventional electric ceramic hobs, which means they'll heat more quickly and efficiently. But you’ll need iron-based pans, such as stainless steel. Test your current pans with a fridge magnet - if it sticks then they will work on an induction hob.
The cheapest gas range cooker we’ve tested costs around £14 a year to run, while the most expensive model is dual-fuel and costs around £50 annually
The cheapest option is to stick with the fuel type that your current cooker runs on. Gas is cheaper to cook with, but if your current cooker runs on electricity, it will take a long time to recoup the outlay of swapping over to a gas connection.
Dual-fuel range cookers are a popular choice. We've found good and bad options whatever the fuel type, though, so make sure you check our range cooker reviews to get the best option for your budget.
Range cooker or Aga?
Aga cookers work differently to conventional range cookers, using radiant heat from a steel core to provide heat to the ovens and hob. They stay on all the time, although more modern options include the option of switching to heat on demand when needed. We don't lab test traditional Aga cookers, but you can see advice and tips on what to look out for in our full Aga buying guide.
Aga launched a couple of conventional range cookers in late 2016. The Aga Masterchef XL range is available in 90cm or 110cm sizes, and either in all-electric (induction) or dual-fuel format. We've tested the 90cm dual-fuel version - get our verdict in the full Aga Masterchef XL range cooker review.
Are Rangemaster cookers any good?
In your search for a range cooker, the brand Rangemaster is likely to feature prominently as you browse the shops or the web. It's one of the biggest cooker brands around.
On average, you'll spend around £1,430 on a Rangemaster, but prices range from around £1,250 for an all-gas or dual-fuel model to almost double this for a large induction model.
In our 2016 reliability survey, Rangemaster did well, with a respectable reliability rating of four stars out of five. Its customers consider its cookers good value for money and more than three-quarters would recommend one to a friend, according to our survey of 251 Rangemaster cooker owners.
We've found some excellent Rangemaster cookers and a few duds, too. Head to our Rangemaster cooker reviews to see which models we recommend.
Range cooker features to look out for
Some range cookers come packed with features, such as a wok burner, griddle and pyrolytic cleaning, while others are more basic. Here are some of the main features you may come across. Go to our range cooker jargon buster to find out more.
Catalytic liners These linings absorb oven spills and splashes, breaking them down and burning them off during cooking. These are now quite a common feature and are usually found on the sides of an oven, and sometimes on the back or roof. They can't be cleaned with conventional methods, instead you may need to run the oven at high temperature every so often to help the process along.
Fan oven Most electric or dual-fuel range cookers come with a fan to distribute the heat evenly around the oven. On cookers with two electric ovens, one usually has a fan and the other is conventionally heated by upper and lower heating elements.
Griddle These are large cast-iron slabs on part of the hob that are excellent for searing meat or veg. Some are ridged, while others are flat and can be used for making pancakes or frying eggs.
Multi-function oven Many range cookers now come with multi-function ovens. These allow you to cook with a variety of heat sources independently or in combination, such as the grill and fan together.
Pyrolytic self-cleaning There are a few range cookers available that have a pyrolytic self-cleaning program which is designed to heat to more than 400°C and incinerate any burnt-on food spills. All you need to do afterwards is sweep away the ash. You'll usually pay extra for this feature, but it can save on elbow grease and cleaning products further down the line.
Roasting tray Some range cookers have a roasting tray holder fitted to the door, so that when you open the door it swings out with it. This avoids having to reach into the oven when you want to tend to your roast potatoes.
Telescopic runners These support the oven shelves and help them to glide out smoothly. This is especially useful when dealing with heavy or bulky dishes.
Wok burner Found on gas hobs, this is a fierce burner that is great for a stir-fry, searing meat or simply heating up a big pan of water quickly.
Now you know what features you need, head to our top-scoring options in our best range cookers for 2017.