How to buy the best range cooker
By Hannah Fox
Our expert guide can help you find the best range cooker and turn your kitchen into a chef's dream.
A range cooker can be the focal point of a kitchen, so you'll want to choose one that will enhance your kitchen's appeal.
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.
Three of the best range cookers
If you're a one-pot recipe fan, you'll love how quickly this cooker's hobs heat up pans - but you'll need induction-compatible cookware. It's a very good choice, but it's worth mentioning that neither oven has a window, so it's hard to keep an eye on whatever you're cooking.
Its induction hob heat up pans really quickly, and is great for simmering food gently too. The ovens are also pretty good, but they're not the very best we've seen - so it's possible to find an even better (and cheaper) range cooker than this Best Buy.
The electric ovens heat up quickly, and the temperatures reached are very close to what you set the thermostat to. It's a generally excellent all-rounder, though the gas hob is pretty slow at warming up pans. It's also one of the most expensive Best Buy range cookers, so it's worth checking out the cheaper ones.
None of these quite right? See our full round-up of the best range cookers.
Also in this article:
- Video: how to buy the best range cooker
- Types of range cookers
- How much is a good range cooker?
- Best range cooker features to look for
- Range cooker size
- Range cookers compared
Watch our video to help you decide which type of range cooker is right 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.
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, and 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 will 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.
Make sure you check our range cooker reviews to find out which models you should buy.
You'll probably need to part with at least £1,000 for a good range cooker – we have found a couple 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, hotplate's and roasting trays, that you might normally expect to find.
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 and accessories such as griddles, wok rings and roasting trays attached to the inside of the doors, are more common.
How much will a range cooker cost to run?
The cheapest option is to stick with the fuel type that your current cooker runs on. Although gas is cheaper to cook with, if your current cooker runs on electricity, it will take a long time to recoup the outlay of swapping over to a gas connection.
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
Price doesn’t guarantee quality, so check our range cooker reviews to find the best for your budget.
Some range cookers come packed with features, such as a wok burner, griddle and pyrolytic cleaning, while others are more basic. Go to our range cooker jargon buster to find out more. Here are some of the main features you may come across:
- Catalytic liners - these linings absorb oven spills and splashes, breaking them down and burning them off during cooking.
- Fan oven - most electric or dual-fuel range cookers come with a fan to distribute the heat evenly around the oven.
- Griddle - these are large cast-iron slabs on part of the hob that are excellent for searing meat or veg and can be used for making pancakes or frying eggs.
- Multi-function oven - 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 - a program that heats the oven to more than 400°C and incinerates any burnt-on food spills. All you need to do is sweep away the ash afterwards.
- Roasting tray - some have roasting tray holders fitted to the door, so that when you open the door it swings out with it. This avoids having to reach into the oven.
- 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 best buy range cookers.
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.
- Small 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 - often they 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 large gathering, 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.
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.
If the budding masterchef in you is tempted by the idea of a range cooker, we've tested all the top models from the likes of Britannia and Rangemaster to help you choose.
Below, we've outlined key specs and features for a range of models at different price points.
Alternatively, head straight to the best range cookers to see the models we recommend.
Rangemaster Professional Plus 90 FSD Dual Fuel stainless steel, £1,380
Type: Dual fuel
Features: Griddle, roasting shelf, wok ring
Rangemaster's Professional+ range cookers offer a more contemporary look than its other offerings such as the Rangemaster Classic cooker line. It runs on dual fuel and includes features such as a wok ring, griddle and telescopic runners.
Find out if this range cooker can live up to the demands of a modern kitchen in our full Rangemaster Professional Plus 90 FSD review.
Falcon Continental Dual Fuel, £2,579
Type: Dual fuel
Features: Wok burner, storage drawer, catalytic linings
This retro-styled Falcon Continental dual-fuel range cooker has catalytic linings inside its two ovens which absorb oven spills, break them down and burn them off during cooking. It also has a handy storage drawer. But does it perform well enough in our lab tests to make it worth the high price?
Read our full Falcon Continental review.
Britannia RC-9SG-QL-K, £1,849
Type: Dual fuel
Features: No extra features
The Britannia range cooker is different to most on the market as it has just one large multifunction electric oven. Available in black, burgundy, cream and stainless steel, this range cooker has six gas burners, but doesn’t come with lots of extra features like some others we’ve tested.
Find out how this good-looking cooker fared in our tests by reading the full Britannia RC-9SG-QL-K review.