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Home & garden.

22 November 2021

How to buy the best built-in oven

Our buying guide explains how to choose the best oven – and avoid one that will burn your food
JD
Jane Darling
White-and-wooden-kitchen

A good oven should last you a decade or more, so you'll want to pick one that fits well with your cooking needs.

Modern ovens can include a host of hi-tech features. But if you don't get the basics right, you could end up with one that's slow to heat up or cooks unevenly.

The best ovens will heat up rapidly to the correct temperature and spread heat evenly throughout the oven.

Read our round-up of Best Buy built-in oven recommendations and discover the perfect oven for you.

Video: how to buy the best built-in oven

Watch our video to help you decide which type of oven is right for you.

Types of built-in oven

One of the first decisions you'll need to make is whether a single oven will be enough or whether you'd be better off with a double. 

Single built-in oven 

Single built-in oven

While single ovens have just the one oven to bake, roast and grill in, there’s usually enough space to cook most things. Single models are around 60cm tall and can fit pretty much anywhere in your kitchen, such as under a counter or in an eye-level cabinet. 

Pros You'll find more single ovens than any other type in the shops, particularly if you go for an electric model, and the oven in a single model is bigger than either of the ovens in a double. 

Cons Only having one oven to cook with will be a limitation for some, particularly if you’re looking to bake and grill at the same time, or if you’ve got a lot of cooking to do. 

See our top five best single ovens for 2021  

Double built-in oven 

Double built in oven

Having two ovens gives you more cooking options. There will always be a grill in the smaller top oven and, on higher-spec models, you’ll sometimes find one in the main oven, too. Double fitted ovens are about 90cm tall and need to be slotted into cabinets at eye level.

Pros: You can use the grill in the top oven and cook in the main oven at the same time. Or you can have two ovens on the go simultaneously, cooking dishes that need different temperatures. 

Cons: It takes up more space in your kitchen than a single oven, and there are fewer models to choose from. 

See our top five best double ovens for 2021

Single compact built-in oven

Single built-in compact oven

A compact oven is smaller than a single oven, at just 45cm tall. It's around the same size as a large built-in microwave. Compact ovens usually come with a grill inside the oven compartment. You can also buy compact steam ovens, although these are more likely to be used as an additional cooking option rather than the main family oven.

Pros: A good option if space is at a premium in your kitchen. 

Cons: The trade-off for its compact size is that there’s not much room inside, so don’t plan to cook Christmas dinner for a crowd in a compact oven.

Double built-under oven

Double built-under oven

If you need the flexibility of two ovens but kitchen space is limited, a double built-under oven could be the best option for you. Double built-under ovens are around 72cm tall and can fit into an under-counter unit, or be positioned at eye level.

Pros: You still get two ovens, but without taking up the extra space of a full-sized double oven. 

Cons: Double built-under ovens might be smaller than you’d expect, particularly the main oven. This is because manufacturer has fitted two ovens into a space only 12cm taller than a single oven.

Built-in oven and grill

If you buy a single oven, it will also have a grill in the same compartment. This means you can't bake at the same time as grilling. 

If you go for a double oven or a freestanding cooker, however, there will be the option to do both at the same time. Some double ovens even have a grill in each oven compartment.

Built-in oven and microwave

Combination microwaves are bigger-than-average microwave ovens that can also cook with convection, and have a grill. Some combi microwaves are built in rather than freestanding, so look neater and more like an oven than a regular microwave. 

You might consider buying one of these if you regularly run out of space in your oven, as it gives you an extra cooking compartment.

Use our built-in oven reviews to find the right oven for you.

Electric vs gas ovens

Cooking in a gas oven

Most of us have a preference for the type of fuel we cook with, while some of us might not have a choice. For everyone else, here’s our assessment of the good and bad points of cooking with an electric or gas integrated oven. 

Electric ovens 

These are by far the most popular ovens. As with gas ovens, most electric ovens need to be installed by a professional. You do still come across models that can simply be plugged in, but these are relatively few and far between.

In general, electric ovens do better in our tests. How well heat is distributed through an oven's cavity is an important predictor of reliable cooking results – and we've found that the best electric ovens beat the best gas models at spreading heat evenly.

Built-in ovens usually have a grill function, too. Again, electric grills outperform gas grills in our tests. The best spread heat evenly to more than 90% of the grill pan below.

Pros: The benefit of cooking with an electric oven, especially one with a fan, is that heat is distributed all around the oven. Electric ovens also tend to stay at a more accurate temperature than gas models. There are also plenty to choose from – you'll find more electric single ovens in shops than any other type. 

Cons: Electric ovens are more expensive to run. 

Gas ovens

There are far fewer built-in gas ovens on the market than electric models, but you can still find good ones. Gas ovens can be cheaper to buy and run, too. So if you've got gas installed, and don't want the hassle and expense of going electric, don't despair.

Pros: Gas is the cheapest fuel to cook with, so you’ll definitely save money if you cook this way. But the savings aren’t massive – there’s around a £25 annual difference between the cheapest-to-run gas oven and an average electric oven. 

Cons: Gas built-in ovens aren’t as effective as electric models at spreading heat evenly around the oven.

Confused by your oven's control panel? See oven symbols and controls explained.

Conventional, fan or multifunction cooking?

Putting cakes into an oven

There are several ways an oven can provide heat, and it helps to understand what these mean so you can choose the right option for you.

Conventional ovens

A standard, conventional oven supplies heat from two heating elements: one towards the top of the oven and the other near the base. This can result in hot and cold spots, and food placed nearer the top of the oven tends to cook more quickly than food near the bottom. 

Conventional cooking can sometimes have the edge over using an oven with a fan. Cakes, soufflés and flans fare better with just top and bottom heat, and anything liquid you want to cook slowly, such as a casserole, doesn't get any special benefit from fan cooking. 

Fan ovens

Most electric ovens come with a fan, which helps to distribute the heat evenly. Some gas ovens can also be fan-assisted. True fan ovens have a single heating element around the fan, while a fan-assisted oven is essentially a conventional oven (two heating elements) with a fan set into the back.

Food cooks faster in a fan oven, as warm air is constantly moved around the cavity. You'll need to reduce the cooking temperature, too.

In double ovens, the larger main oven usually has a fan and the other operates as a conventional oven, so you can choose the option that suits your dish best.

Multifunction ovens

Multifunction ovens usually include top and bottom heat, a grill and a fan. They allow you to cook with these heat sources independently or in combination. So you could use just the top heat to give your lasagne a bit of extra browning when it's cooked through, or use bottom heat only for a pizza or quiche to get the perfect crispy base. 

Multifunction ovens often also have a defrost setting. Some models use just the fan to move unheated air around, while others introduce a little bottom heat at the same time. Either way, the job gets done far more quickly than defrosting in a fridge.

Multifunction ovens are becoming increasingly common. They can offer more flexible cooking options, but be sure to check how easy they are to use, as more options means potentially confusing controls.

Or, what about a steam oven? See our steam oven buying guide for more information, or head straight to our steam oven reviews.

Are built-in ovens a standard size?

No, all four types of built-in ovens are around 60cm wide, but their heights vary.

Oven sizes compared
  • W 60cm x H 90cm - Full-height double fitted ovens are usually positioned at eye level, making it easier to get food in and out.
  • W 60cm x H 70cm Built-under double ovens are designed to go under a hob or kitchen worktop.
  • W 60cm x H 60cm - Single ovens are more flexible, and can fit either under a hob or at eye level. 
  • W 60cm x H 45cm - Compact ovens are handy for either smaller living spaces or as part of a setup alongside or above a single oven.

We review built-in ovens of all four sizes - see the best built-in ovens we recommend. 

What is the standard oven capacity? 

  • Stated oven capacity can range from 51 to 76 litres.
  • The average capacity of a single oven is 64 litres.
  • The average capacity for a double oven is 62 litres for the main oven and 35 litres for the smaller one.
  • Layout and shelf positions also affect how much you can fit in an oven.
Oven capacity comparison

Manufacturers generally quote the total internal volume of their ovens as a guide to size. But this isn't especially useful. You can't use all that internal space to cook with, and the layout and positioning of shelves also makes a big difference to how much you can fit in. It's possible for an oven with larger dimensions to have less space available for cooking than a smaller one.

'The usable capacity of an oven can be 27 litres less than the stated capacity'

We measure the actual usable volume of each oven, ignoring any space that won't count when you're cooking, such as the top 3cm of the oven, and any space under the lowest shelf position. If you cram food into these spaces, you prevent hot air circulating properly, which will affect cooking results.

We also use our collection of life-sized foods (a fake turkey, chicken and beef joint on roasting trays) to check what you can realistically fit in each oven. The biggest ovens will fit in a large turkey and still leave space for a tray of roast potatoes or veg. Smaller ovens might fit in a turkey but leave no space for extras, while others can be too narrow to even fit in a turkey on its own. 

Some single ovens have a special divider that allows you to split the internal space and cook at two different temperatures. This is handy if you don't have space for a bigger type of oven but want a more flexible cooking space.

How to measure for a built-in oven 

As we explained above, the standard width of all integrated ovens is 60cm, so all you need to worry about is measuring the height. 

Oven cabinets should all be built with space for ventilation, too. But if you're planning a new kitchen then you'll need to factor in a 5mm space along each side and 35mm at the back. Some cabinets are also built with 20mm at the top but it's not a necessity - most fitted ovens sit flush with a top cabinet.

If you’re replacing an old oven it's even easier: just measure its dimensions and pick a new oven that matches. 

Find out what else you need to consider before installing a built-in oven

How much should you spend on a good oven?

Installing a built-in oven

Built-in oven prices vary from around £130 for an ultra-basic single oven to more than £1,000 for one with all the bells and whistles. We test ovens at all prices to find the best options for every budget. Many years of oven testing has taught us that you'll usually need to spend more than £250 to get a decent single oven, and at least £350 if you're after a good double oven. 

We've found some respectable ovens from budget brands such as Beko, Belling and Hisense, as well as some mediocre ovens you'll want to avoid. If you're looking for a higher-spec oven from brands such as AEG, Bosch, Neff, Miele, Samsung or Smeg, you'll want to be doubly sure the oven will cook to perfection. Paying more doesn't always guarantee brilliant results, as our tests have shown.

'We've found several Best Buy single ovens for less than £250'

Some pricey ovens do an expert job of cooking, as well as offering useful extras such as steam cooking or self-cleaning. But we've also tested models costing more than £1,000 that do a worse job of cooking than ovens costing less than half that amount. Our in-depth testing roots out the most accurate and efficient ovens, which are also easy to use and clean.

Our round-up of Best Buy built-in ovens will help you find a good oven at the right price.

How much do ovens cost to run?

Ovens aren't typically as energy-hungry as other large kitchen appliances such as fridges, freezers or tumble dryers, but it’s still worth checking their energy efficiency before making your choice. 

Electric ovens tend to cost £50-60 a year to run. Currently the cheapest we’ve tested costs £34 a year and the priciest £73, based on typical use. 

We measure energy consumption using a special standardised test that simulates roasting a whole chicken. We take into account the energy each oven uses to heat up to temperature and stay there for the time needed. 

The table below combines upfront costs alongside annual running costs, so you can pinpoint which models will leave you least out of pocket for the lifetime of your oven.

We’ve also introduced the Eco Buy logo to highlight the most efficient and reliable ovens we’ve tested.

Eco Buy Logo

As well as being energy efficient, Eco Buy ovens impress in our lab tests and come from brands that have done well in our annual longevity survey.

To find a more sustainable oven, visit our oven reviews and filter on Eco Buys.

Best oven features to look for

  • Self-cleaning Pyrolytic ovens use a high-temperature program to reduce burnt-on cooking grime to ash. Catalytic liners help to break down fatty spills and splashes when you cook at high temperatures.
  • Digital controls These can be more precise than dials. They can also offer more flexibility and guidance, and give a more streamlined look. 
  • Extra shelving Cheaper ovens tend to be less generous with extra shelving, so you might find yourself shelling out for more. Some pricey ovens also have fewer than you might expect, though, so check what you get before you buy, especially if you want something specific such as a grill pan and grid.
  • Removable glass panels Many ovens are designed to let you remove one or more glass panels for cleaning, which is useful if grime has built up over time. If you do this, handle the glass carefully during removal, cleaning and replacement. The corners are particularly vulnerable. 
  • Programmable timer This lets you set the oven to cook for a specific time. The oven automatically turns on, cooks and turns off afterwards.
  • Telescopic runners These make it smoother and easier to pull out shelves and push them back in again.
  • Steam cooking Some ovens come with a water tank that you can set to steam cook or to inject bursts of steam. Moisture settles on your food, then evaporates, which causes the surface to crisp up. 
  • Automatic cooking controls You select the dish you're cooking and the oven sets the temperature, heat sources, moisture levels and time.
  • 'Smart' connected ovens These allow you to control certain functions or check on cooking progress using an app on your smartphone or tablet.
  • Triple or quadruple-glazed doors Multiple layers of glass insulate the space, preserving heat and saving energy.
  • Slide-away door This is unique to Neff ovens and allows the oven door to slide underneath the oven. Handy in tight spaces.

Our built-in oven jargon buster explains tricky oven terminology.

​Choosing the best oven for your needs

If you’re finding it difficult to use your oven – because of impaired vision, reduced strength or dexterity in your fingers, or if the oven is too low or the hob too high – there are a few features that might make things easier. 

  • Eye-level installation Consider installing your oven at eye level so you can easily see what's inside without bending down. 
  • Large visual display Choose a large, clear display and position it so you can read it easily.
  • Integrated oven timer If you don’t hear well, check that your oven's timer is suitably loud and at a frequency/pitch that you can hear. As you might not be able to check the sound before you buy, look out for mention of volume control in the oven's specifications.
  • Pull-out shelf under the oven This can make a useful temporary resting place for hot dishes, but it's a feature that only works if you have an oven with a retractable oven door such as the Neff Slide N Hide.

See more information on how to stay independent in your kitchen

Should you buy a self-cleaning oven?

Chicken cooking in an oven

Cleaning the oven is a messy, unpleasant job, so an oven that's promised to clean itself is a tempting prospect. There are several options available:

  • Pyrolytic cleaning The priciest option. Pyrolytic ovens have a special program that super-heats the cavity to around 500°C, burning off spills until all that's left is a fine ash that you can wipe away.
  • Catalytic liners These can be found on the sides, back and sometimes roof of the oven. They have a special surface that absorbs fat splashes and spills, gradually breaking down grime when you cook at temperatures of more than 200°C.
  • Steam cleaning Less common. This usually involves adding some water to a small dip in the base of the oven, which then creates steam to loosen burnt-on grime.
  • Nano-cleaning Some brands, such as Beko, offer their own additional cleaning features. In this case, the glass in the oven door has a coating designed to repel dirt.
  • Easy-clean enamel The most basic option. These are simply wipe-clean enamel surfaces.

Pyrolytic ovens are becoming increasingly popular and they can be very effective. The best ones clean the glass door, too. Some models have a choice of shorter or longer cleaning cycles depending on how grimy your oven has become. Bear in mind, though, that you'll need to remove the shelves and clean them by hand.

While ovens with a self-cleaning feature will generally cost more, they will save on elbow grease and money spent on oven-cleaning products over time. Also, we've seen prices for pyrolytic ovens tumbling lately as they become more mainstream.

You don't have to splash out on self-cleaning for an easy life, though – some ovens don't have fancy self-cleaning features but still proved easy to clean in our tests. We've also found that not all pyrolytic ovens are worth paying for, so make sure you check our built-in oven reviews before buying.

For tips on manual oven cleaning, see how to clean your oven.  

How do I choose the best built-in oven brand? 

Some oven brands have a reputation for being good for a particular job, or especially reliable. Neff ovens, for example, are a regular feature in ThGreat British Bake Off tent, which has made them a popular choice among keen bakers. But is their reputation deserved?

As well as picking an oven that fits with your needs and does a great job of the basics, it's worth checking that the brand you choose has a good record for this type of product in terms of reliability and customer satisfaction. 

Our list of the best oven brands reveals which brands remain trouble-free for years

Is it possible to repair an oven?

Repair technician working on a built-in oven

An oven can be a costly outlay, so it’s sometimes worth repairing it rather than buying a new one. 

Occasionally, you’ll be able to do the job yourself, for example replacing a light. But in most cases, calling in a professional is the right thing to do, and certainly for anything electrical or a job that requires any dismantling. 

To find a local oven engineer, head to Which? Trusted Traders which has a list of companies we have endorsed.

Larger retailers such as John Lewis and Currys offer a guarantee - usually two years - on oven purchases. If your oven is still within guarantee, the fix should be free or they should offer you a replacement product. You’ll need to contact the retailer in this instance, and they'll assess the problem. 

If you've bought a faulty product, read our guide on how to get a refund, repair or replacement.

Should I buy an ex-display, refurbished or second-hand oven?

Occasionally, you’ll see an ex-display oven offered at a knockdown price. Any difference between it and a new model should be superficial and aesthetic. You'll also get the same guarantee as with a new model.

A refurbished oven is usually one that has been returned to the manufacturer because it’s faulty, or because a previous buyer didn't want it. This should also be a safe bet.

It is possible to buy second-hand ovens - you’ll find plenty of sites with them on offer, such as eBay and Gumtree. Exercise caution if you go down this route, though. You’ll want evidence that the oven has been safety checked. If it hasn’t, you'll need to get it tested yourself before you use it. 

Most modern electric ovens need to be hardwired, but if it’s one that can be plugged in using a 13 amp connection, it should also be PAT tested (an electrical safety test for portable appliances).

If you buy second-hand, try to use a seller that offers a guarantee, as this will stand you in good stead if there are any safety issues or a problem with the electronics. Whether you have a guarantee or not, ensure you get your oven installed by a professional. Also, don’t forget to register your guarantee to ensure it remains valid.

Additionally, it's worth checking if a product has been recalled before you jump in and buy. Head to Electrical Safety First for more.

Find out more about your rights when buying second-hand goods.

Getting your oven installed

Installing a built-in oven

Don't forget to factor in oven installation costs when buying. Changing fuels can be quite costly, but if you're replacing like for like, then John Lewis offers oven and cooker installation services for £75-110, and it will remove and dispose of your old model for an extra £20. Currys' current cost is £75-90, and it charges from £15 for removal and disposal.

Go to Trusted Traders to track down a local tradesperson endorsed by Which? who might be able to offer you a cheaper deal.

More more information, see our guide to Installing ovens, cookers and hobs

How should I dispose of or recycle my old oven?

These days, there’s no excuse for electrical goods to go into landfill, but according to Recycle Now, about two thirds still end up there. This is a waste of valuable resources as well as storing up environmental problems for the future.

Major retailers, such as Currys and John Lewis, will take away your old oven for a small charge when you buy a new oven or cooker from them. They are obliged to dispose of them responsibly under the terms of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive. 

Alternatively, you can take your old oven to a local authority recycling centre. Go to Recycle Now to look up your nearest recycling centre that accepts electrical appliances. Most councils will also pick up for a fee, and some stores also accept old electrical goods.

If there’s nothing wrong with your oven, consider donating it to a charity – many will come and pick it up. You also have the option of selling privately. 

To find out more, visit our guide on How to recycle electrical items