Ovens have come a long way from old stone hearths with open flames – but the best of today's ovens combine that same brick oven character with modern efficiency. Whether you're a baking fanatic who loves to design cakes and sweet pastries or you consider yourself an amateur pizza chef, a quality oven is an indispensable part of your kitchen. But if you're in need of an oven, don't wander into your purchase blind. Make sure you know what's best for your kitchen and your cooking style.
Choosing the right style
What style of oven you choose is going to come down to two things: What it is you like to use your oven for, and how much space you have in your kitchen.
Some homes include an oven as part of a range – it's space efficient and convenient. But other people prefer to stick with a cooktop and invest in a double wall oven instead. The advantages of a double wall oven are clear: You have twice the space to bake, roast and broil. Better yet, you can get two dishes going at once, at totally different temperatures. Want to bake your chocolate cake while the chicken finishes? A double wall oven makes that easy. Generally, this is a great choice for folks who like to entertain and often put together large spreads for holiday meals. Double wall ovens are practically a must for Thanksgiving hosts!
Wall ovens are mostly electric, and their width can vary between 24 and 30 inches, and since they can take up a lot of space, so they're not for every kitchen. But installed at waist or eye level, they do make for easier use than lower range ovens. Electric wall ovens will likely require a dedicated line, so ensure that your kitchen circuit has enough amps to dedicate to your new oven.
If you're the kind of cook who prefers meals fast, you might prefer an oven/microwave combination. This way you have the best of both worlds: There's an oven there for all your baking projects – like cupcakes for a weekend get-together, and also a microwave, so you can cook your breakfasts in a jiffy before running the kids to school or heading to work. Convenience and versatility are key with an oven/microwave combination.
The features you need
There are a lot of features to consider when you're shopping for either double wall ovens or oven/microwave combination units. For instance, do you want oven windows with clear glass or decorative grids?
You may want to invest in ovens that have self-cleaning options. Many turn up to a high heat to burn off any spilled foods or liquids, so you don't need to rely on chemicals to clean. Speed-cooking features are also popular in high-end wall ovens. These sometimes use microwave elements that work alongside the other heating elements to heat food more quickly.
Convection features – which use a fan to distribute heat more evenly – are also popular, as are broilers, which work a lot like grills and expose food directly to an open flame.
Some cooks like to further customize their wall oven cabinet space and add a warming drawer below their wall oven units.
Is a steam oven right for you?
Steam cooking is growing in popularity, especially as a health initiative. Built-in steam ovens are a great alternative to pressure cookers, slow cookers or steaming colanders. Steam ovens require a water line, but they don't take up much space, and as part of a double wall oven unit with a traditional oven, they're a great investment that still offer versatility.
Consider your kitchen, consider your cooking style and then begin shopping. Once you know what you need, finding the ideal oven for your home will be a breeze. In no time at all, you'll be baking, roasting, broiling and maybe even steaming!