How to buy the best halogen oven
By Jane Darling
Find out what to look for when you're buying a halogen oven, and whether an air fryer is worth considering instead.
Sick of turning the whole oven on just to cook a meal for two? Halogen ovens are cheap tabletop cookers that claim to cook food faster and more efficiently than in your main oven. Read on to find out how to buy the best, and if a halogen oven is right for you.
Halogen ovens use a bright halogen light to create heat. The hotter you want the oven, the more the light will be on. The heat from the light is spread around the halogen cooker by a fan, and the temperature is controlled by a thermostat, so the light won’t be on all of the time.
We've tried out some popular models - you can get straight to our halogen oven first look reviews, including the Andrew James Premium halogen oven, the Argos Cookworks Digital halogen oven and the JML Halowave halogen oven, or find out more about halogen cookers below.
Buying a halogen oven
If you’re new to cooking with a halogen oven, look for a bundled package of a halogen oven and enough cooking accessories to get you started. The bare minimum you’ll need will be low and high cooking racks, tongs to remove the racks and a lid stand.
We'd also recommend you look for a package that includes a baking tray, steamer tray and a spare bulb. Individually these items will cost between £8 and £10, so it's best to buy a package if this is the first time you've bough a halogen oven. If you shop around, you can expect to pay between £60 and £70 for a halogen oven bundle.
Airfryers vs halogen ovens
It's worth considering whether you might get more use from an airfryer than a halogen oven. Here's what you can expect from each.
Airfryers lightly coat food with oil before circulating hot air around the fryer. The best models turn out tasty, well-cooked food using just a tiny amount – often less than a teaspoonful – of oil. If you are making chips, the results are comparable to oven-cooked chips, rather than deep fried.
But it needn't just be chips on the menu: some airfryers can be used for other cooking jobs, such as baking cakes, so may be more versatile than you imagine.
Airfryers can be quite pricey – most of the ones we've looked at cost more than £100.
If you'd like to learn more about airfryers, go to how to buy the best fryer for our expert advice. Or if you know an airfryer is definitely for you, head to best buy fryers to find out which ones impressed us the most.
The light in the halogen oven creates instant heat, which is then spread around the oven using a fan. Halogen ovens beat airfryers in terms of flexibility – you can cook lots of things in them, from vegetables to joints of meat, sauces, pies, bread and pastry.
Halogen ovens are also cheaper than airfryers – you can pick one up for less than £40.
Could a halogen oven or airfryer replace your normal oven?
Airfryers and halogen ovens can be faster than conventional ovens as they only need to heat a smaller space and are, of course, cheaper to buy. They are also portable, so you could take them on holiday with you. However, neither has the capacity or flexibility of a standard built-in oven so, for most of us, neither would be a realistic replacement.
Halogen oven sizes
Halogen ovens consist of a big cooking dish with a heat supply and a fan. The cooking dish is typically around 12 litres and can be extended to 17 litres with an extender ring. The base of a halogen oven is around 41cm in diameter and the lid will be about 31cm.
You’ll need counter space for the oven and somewhere to stow the hot lid when you unload, and it will need to be close to a power point. So, before you buy, think about where you’ll put your halogen oven.
Halogen ovens: things to consider
Controls: Most halogen ovens have manual controls made up of two rotary dials, though some, such as the Argos Cookworks digital halogen oven, come with touch-panel digital controls.
Cord length: We’ve noticed differences in the length of mains cords, with some measuring less than a metre and others around 20cm longer. This could be the difference between being able to reach the plug or needing to use an extension cable. Read our first-look reviews of halogen ovens to find out more about cord lengths on different models.
Extension rings: These expand the capacity of halogen ovens from around 12 litres to 17 litres, so allow you to cook more food in one go. They’re made of metal and sit on the rim of the halogen oven.
Frying basket: If your halogen oven comes with a frying basket, you’ll be able to airfry your fish and chips without using oil.
Lid stand: This is a very useful accessory – the lid will be extremely hot after cooking and you’ll need somewhere for this to rest while you unload the food. Lid stands allow the lid to rest in an almost vertical position, which means it won’t take up valuable counter space when you’re dishing up the dinner.
Oven baking and steaming trays: Something like a pizza will be much better if you cook it on a baking tray. And steaming trays can extend the range of foods you can cook. Baking and steaming trays aren’t usually supplied as standard with a halogen oven, but they’re worth investing in.
Storage: When you’re not cooking with one, a halogen oven will be too bulky to live permanently on the counter in most kitchens. So think about where you’ll store it. The best way to store it is with the lid off – with the lid on, it will be too tall for some cupboards.
Tongs: These are essential for taking hot food out of your halogen oven. Unlike conventional ovens, you need to reach down into the halogen oven to lift out cooked food, so tongs help you to lift out the cooking racks and avoid burning your hands.
Now find the right halogen oven for you with our halogen oven first-look reviews.