Top five best freestanding cookers
By Jane Darling
Our expert pick of the five best freestanding cookers - including gas, electric and dual-fuel cookers.
The best cookers ace our tough lab tests, so you can be sure that the top models that we recommend cook evenly, grill beautifully and come with a hob that can boil quickly as well as simmer gently.
To help you avoid spending money on a cooker that will make preparing meals a frustrating ordeal, we've rounded up five models that scored well in our tests. We've picked out some of the best cookers around, whether you're looking for a gas, electric, induction or dual-fuel cooker.
Best cooker overall
This freestanding cooker is packed with features including the option for an oven programme that the manufacturer claims will ensure food is golden and crispy. We bake a batch of shortbread and a sponge cake to see how well the ovens distribute heat and bake. The best create well-risen, evenly cooked foods. Read the full review of this freestanding cooker to find out if it can deliver on this front.
Best electric cooker
A speedy cooker is a must for a keen cook and this freestanding cooker has an induction hob, which is known for heating up food and liquids quickly. We've tested this cooker to see how long it takes for the ovens to heat up, and whether they're accurate. Read the full review to find out what they're like, and if this freestanding cooker is any good.
Best gas cooker
The oven on this all-gas cooker is incredibly quick to heat up - it takes just four minutes to get to 180°C (gas mark 4) - and keeps to the set temperature very accurately. The hob spreads heat evenly and is easy to control. The only downside is the grill - you'll need to move food around to get it evenly browned.
Best dual-fuel cooker
Decent dual-fuel cookers can be hard to track down, so we were pleased when this one came out of our tests with a Best Buy. Both electric ovens are very accurate and the grill in the top oven is good, too. The gas hob isn't exceptional, but does the job well enough.
Good value induction cooker
While not quite a Best Buy, this cooker, with its sleek induction hob, has lots to recommend it including its price. Both ovens are accurate, and the top one especially so. The induction hob is excellent for gentle simmering, but it also supplies enough power to heat up large volumes quickly too. The grill will brown most of what you put underneath.
Please note that the best gas cooker (New World NW550TSIDLM) was tested to a different test programme so isn't directly comparable with the other cookers.
To get the full list of models we recommend, see Best Buy freestanding cookers.
Why our cooker reviews are better
When setting your oven to pre-heat, you reasonably expect that it will hit the set temperature accurately. But many cookers miss the mark, veering away from your chosen temperature by as much as 40°C. To help you avoid buying a cooker that will leave you with half-baked cakes or overly charred chicken, we record how closely each oven reaches and sticks to a set temperature. We also time how quickly it takes them to get there, to single out the ones that won't require you waiting around forever.
We also look at things you'll encounter in everyday use, such as how easy the settings are to manage, how clear the markings are and whether you have a clear view into the oven while your food is cooking. We test the usable oven space in each cooker to give you an idea of how much you can actually fit in the oven. We think this is a more useful measure than the manufacturer's stated capacity, which includes the whole internal area and can't all be used for cooking.
Our expert baking, grilling and cooking tests
To test how evenly each oven cooks, we bake a tray of shortbread. This delicate bake clearly shows how effective the cooker is at spreading heat evenly throughout the oven cavity. Ovens that leave pale parts or burnt corners get marked down in our tests, while those that turn shortbread an even golden brown across the whole tray get top marks. We also bake a large sponge cake. If it's well risen and evenly browned, it gets a high score, but flat, sunken or unevenly baked cakes lose points.
For grilling, we cut the crusts off white bread and cover the grill pan with them, to see how far and how evenly the grill spreads its heat. We also test how rapidly each hob will heat up a panful of water from 15°C to 90°C. Quick hobs take less than five minutes, but the slowest will keep you waiting three times as long. Best Buy hobs also excel at the other end of the scale, allowing you to simmer delicate ingredients.
To look at our full range of reviews and compare models, head to our freestanding cooker reviews.