Find the right range for your cooking style

Recommended ranges, cooktops, and wall ovens for busy kitchens

Published: June 03, 2014 06:00 AM

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New ranges, cooktops, and wall ovens offer a dizzying number of features and finishes, and come in many sizes and configurations. So when it comes to picking appliances, you’re faced with a lot of decisions in addition to budget and space constraints. Your choices may be limited if you are just replacing one appliance with another but if you’re tearing your kitchen apart, you have the opportunity to better tailor your options to your lifestyle. Here are three scenarios.

I want a pro-style range


Gas or electric?
Gas.
Most pro-style ranges use gas or propane. Dual-fuel models pair a gas cooktop with an electric oven and top our Ratings. But with all of these high-powered burners, you need to pay attention to ventilation,
Electric. you can find a slide-in electric range with a glass cooktop and stainless finish with a sleek built-in look. Induction ranges, which use electromagnetic coils under the glass cooktop, deliver the fastest cooktop heat we’ve seen and offer precise simmering and control.

Pro or faux pro?
Pro. You’ll have fun choosing among the stunning colors available (and stainless), knobs that are chunky and others that are red status symbols, and ranges that are 30-inch, 36-inch, and wider. But don’t expect top performance; most 30-inch models we tested have small ovens, and baking and broiling were unimpressive; 36-inch models did better. The best offer superb simmering, fast cooktop heat, and impressive baking.
Faux pro. Many mainstream brands mimic the pro look with stainless steel and beefy knobs and grates; others offer sleek styling in stainless or glossy black or white. Another option is a slide-in range, which has a built-in look and doesn’t have a back panel. The controls are up front, so you can show off your backsplash.

What’s your budget?
$4,000 to $8,000. Lots of choices, but you might have to compromise a bit on performance at the low end of the range.
$2,000 to $4,000. Plenty of options in our Ratings of ranges and cooktops.

Recommended ranges
KitchenAid KDRS407VSS pro-style range, $4,000
This 30-inch pro-style outperformed all others, making it the only recommended model of the group. A dual-fuel range, it pairs a gas cooktop with an electric oven, delivering impressive performance overall. Superb simmering and fast cooktop heating helped put it on top, along with evenly browned cakes and cookies and very good self-cleaning. Timesavers include convection, which can cut oven time for some foods, and three high-power burners.

Samsung NE58F9500WS slide-in electric, $1,800
This electric smoothtop range is pricier than most in this category as it's a slide-in model, offering a built-in look since the cooktop is flush with the counters. There's no back panel and controls are on the front of the range. There are four surface elements, including two high power. Simmering was superb and cooktop heat was fast. There's a warming element to keep a side dish hot while you finish the rest of the meal. The large oven was very good at baking and excellent at broiling, and the convection option can trim cooking time.

I love to cook

 

One cook or two in the kitchen?
One.
look for a gas range with at least one high-power burner (about 15,000 Btu/hr.) or an electric range with at least one high-power element (about 2,500 watts) to deliver heat quickly. Continuous grates let you slide cookware between gas burners without lifting. Expandable electrical elements let you match the pot size to the element. Generous oven capacity with five or more rack positions lets you cook multiple dishes. Not all ranges are great at broiling, so check the results of our range tests.
Two or more. A separate cooktop and wall oven gives each of you space to work without bumping into each other. Plus wall ovens put food at eye level, so less bending and lifting are required.

Cooking for a crowd?
Yes. Double-oven ranges let you simultaneously cook different dishes at different temperatures. Larger, 36-inch cooktops also have more burners or elements; pair one with a double wall oven.
No. A single-oven range should be fine.

How important is styling?
Very. Check out our advice on pro-style ranges, above.
Not crucial. Read our “faux pro” advice.

Recommended cooktops and wall ovens
Thermador SGSX365FS gas cooktop, $1,900
Fast heating and superb simmering put this 36-inch gas cooktop at the top of this category in our cooktop Ratings. Features include five burners, three of them high-power, along with continuous grates and the high style of stainless trim.

Whirlpool WOD93EC0AS double wall oven, $2,500
This Whirlpool electric double wall oven offers very good baking prowess, excellent broiling and self-cleaning performance, and large oven windows. Oven capacity is large and the top oven has a convection option, which can speed up cooking by using fans to circulate the warm air. The numeric keypad makes it easier to set a precise temperature.

I’m pressed for time


Do you cook most meals from scratch?
Yes. Induction cooktops and rangetops bring water to a boil about 25 percent faster than electric smoothtops in our tests and even faster than gas models, though high-power burners or elements help. Convection can trim cooking time by using one or more fans to circulate the hot air in the oven.
No. Skip the fancy features and go for a basic range with fast cooktop heating. Then get an impressive microwave for reheating, fast cooking, and steaming.

Are you cooking for a family?
Yes. Get into multitasking mode with a double-oven range with convection. Some pair a smaller oven on top with a larger one below; others have two same-sized ovens. Read the manual to make the most of the time-saving convection feature. It’s usually in the bottom oven, but some have convection in both. Fast-heating burners help, too. Look for them on a cooktop if you’re pairing it with a wall oven with convection.
No. You can still choose a double-oven range and primarily use the smaller oven for everyday cooking and both for holidays, or get an induction range with for very fast cooktop heat and a convection oven.

Are looks important?
Yes. Stainless remains popular, but you’ll also see lots of gray finishes and glossy white and black. Handles are sleeker, and knobs are nicer.
No. There’s a reason white is still a big seller.

Recommended ranges
Samsung FTQ307NWGX induction range, $2,000
What's faster than induction? Nothing we've tested. The process uses an electromagnetic field to send most of the heat to the pot or pan, heating some 25 percent faster than the fastest conventional ranges. This one also excelled in simmering, baking, and broiling, and includes a generous oven with convection yet costs hundreds less than others we've tested. But you'll need magnetic cookware for induction to work.     

LG LDE3037SB double oven range, $1,300
The only electric smoothtop range to ace all of our tests, it's at the top of our Ratings of double-oven ranges. It was superb at simmering, delivering fast cooktop heat, baking, broiling, and self-cleaning. On the rangetop there are four cooking elements, including two high-power, and a warming element to keep a side dish warm while you finish the main dish. The oven has convection and steam-clean function for light cleaning.

—Kimberly Janeway

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