There is a lot to consider when getting a new cooker, as you'll want one with an accurate oven, a sensitive yet powerful hob and a great grill. Use this guide to learn more about the various features cookers offer.
These rough surfaces inside the oven are designed to catch, absorb and break down food spills. When you use your oven at around 200°C or higher, the food spills get burned away. All you should need to do is brush away some ashes.
Note that catalytic liners will only clean the parts of the oven they are attached to – they are most commonly found on the sides, but there are some ovens that have catalytic liners on the back or ceiling.
Ceramic hobs work thanks to radiant heat generated by heating elements underneath the glass surface. These warm up and transfer heat to the selected cooking zone. Ceramic hobs are very easy to clean.
Two cooking cavities, usually with a larger oven below and a smaller, second oven above, which also contains a grill. On more expensive freestanding cookers you'll also find a grill and other heating options in the main oven.
This is the most popular heating method for freestanding cookers. An element around the fan distributes the heat evenly and quickly throughout the oven, which should mean that you get same temperature at all points in the oven.
If you set the burner of a gas hob on very low, there is a danger that the flame will be blown out. An FSD shuts off the gas supply if the gas either fails to ignite or is blown out.
Halogen hobs are a quick-heating type of ceramic hob. Halogen hobs emit a dazzling bright red light. The heat travels out from the halogen lamp at the speed of light, instantly warming the cooking surface above it. The cooking surface is made from specially toughened glass that can withstand such sudden high temperatures. Halogen hobs are similar to ceramic hobs, but are quicker to heat up.
This is the newest type of hob. Induction hobs work using an induction coil (a strong electro-magnet) underneath the ceramic surface to generate heat. They heat quickly and are very easy to control.
With induction cooking, you’ll need to use iron-based pans, such as certain types of stainless steel. Before you buy an induction hob, check whether your saucepans are compatible by using a fridge magnet – if the magnet sticks, there is enough iron in your pans to work on an induction hob. If your pan is much smaller than the ring it's on, it won't heat.
Cookers with induction hobs used to be the most expensive type of cooker on the market, but they're becoming cheaper and more widely available. We've tested cookers from , , and that have induction hobs.
Many cookers now come with a multi-function oven that has a range of cooking options alongside conventional and fan oven cooking. You can use the options independently or together. For example, you can use the oven fan and heat from the lower element for pizzas, or the grill and fan together for meat.
Pyrolytic oven programs burn off dirt and grease at more than 400°C. All you do is sweep out the ash afterwards. Pyrolytic programs can take two hours, and for safety the oven door will lock during this time. Pyrolytic cleaning programs aren’t yet standard on freestanding cookers but are a feature to look for if you hate cleaning your oven. Bear in mind you will still need to clean the shelves and door manually.
These make cooking easier as the shelves glide in and out smoothly. They have a mechanism which stops them from being pulled out completely, making it safer to get cookware in and out.