Choosing the Best Kitchen Range

During the pandemic, many of us have refocused our lives at home—and, specifically, in the kitchen. If you’ve been honing your skills as a home chef, your cooktop and stove might have gotten a little more wear and tear in recent months. Maybe something broke down—or maybe you’re just pining for a new or more powerful range.

So where do you start? The choice between gas and electric ranges is largely dictated by your current setup. Gas ranges require you to have either natural gas or propane service at your home, while an electric range will work in any house, provided you have a 220-volt electric line in your kitchen. An electrician can install one if you don’t. 

If you’re replacing an existing range, buying a new model of the same type and size ensures that the new range will fit. Slide-in ranges—where the top will slightly overlap existing countertops—are definitely on trend. However, if you buy one to replace an old freestanding range, you may want to add a backsplash if the wall behind your old range is unfinished. If you plan to switch from gas to electric, or vice versa, you’re likely to need an electrician or a plumber to run new lines. Same goes for upgrading to a dual-fuel pro-style range, which partners gas burners with an electric oven and requires both the standard gas and electrical connections.

How about “trading up” to a pro-style range? Well, you might be surprised at how little you get for the money. “Even basic conveniences that you’d take for granted on a regular range, like a digital oven display or preheat light, are often missing on pro-style ranges,” says Tara Casaregola, CR’s test engineer who oversees range testing at Consumer Reports. 

If you’re replacing an older radiant electric range, consider an induction range. These appliances run on the same standard electric line as a regular electric range, but their burners use electromagnetic pulses to transfer energy directly to your cookware, causing pots and pans—but not burners—to get hot. The ovens in induction ranges work just like those in regular electric ranges. Induction ranges cost a little more than radiant electric ranges, but they tend to boil water faster and simmer more steadily. As a group, induction ranges outperform all the other types of ranges in our ratings. 

Keep in mind that we’re still dealing with a shortage of major appliances, including ranges. You may need to allow extra time for delivery. If you’re unable to secure a range quickly, a freestanding burner and a countertop toaster oven with convection can help you get dinner on the table in a pinch. 

What to Consider

Freestanding ranges are the most widely sold and easiest to install. Typically the oven control panel is on the back of the range, above the cooktop surface. Slide-in ranges give a custom, built-in look and easily slide in between surrounding cabinets. The oven controls are on the range front, and there’s no back panel, so your backsplash can be showcased. These are designed to fit between countertops, and some aren’t finished on the sides, so they cannot be used in freestanding fashion like a typical range.

Most electric and gas ranges are 30 inches wide. Most pro-style ranges start at 30 inches wide but can climb to 48 inches if you custom-configure them with extra burners and ovens, or add-ons such as integrated grills, griddles, or woks. We test 30-inch and 36-inch pro-style ranges. They’re big on style but aren’t the best-performing ranges in our tests. Even regular ranges now typically have at least one high-power burner and a dedicated simmer burner. Plus, frequently they also have a convection function, which uses a fan to more evenly heat the oven cavity. (In case you’re curious, we’ve evaluated when and why to use convection as well.) All these features used to set pro-style ranges apart, but that’s no longer the case. 

A roomy oven comes in handy when baking or entertaining. We measure oven space you can actually use—some manufacturers include space below the lowest rack position, so check the capacity scores in our range ratings. The smallest ovens in our tests are a little more than 2 cubic feet; the largest are almost 4 cubic feet.

One Oven or Two?
Many ranges now come in single- and double-oven configurations. Double-oven ranges typically have a smaller oven up top and a larger one below. They’re great if you want to bake or roast two different foods at different temperatures. If you’re reheating, say, pizza or chicken nuggets, you can activate just the upper oven and save some time on preheating. Just know that when you cook a large roast in the lower oven, it can be more difficult to remove because the door is close to the floor, so you’ll need to bend farther down. And there are several other factors to think about, which is why we’ve created a breakout guide to what to consider before purchasing a double oven. 

More on Ranges

Which Type Is Right for You?

Ranges are electric, gas, or dual-fuel, which pairs a gas cooktop with an electric oven. Both gas and electric have their advantages.

An electric smoothtop range.

Electric Smoothtop Ranges

Ranges with radiant electric smoothtops are the popular pick. All the models in our tests have at least one high-power burner. Most have expandable dual or triple elements that let you switch from a large, high-power element to a small, lower-power element within it. Some ranges have a warming element in the center to keep side dishes warm.

A downside to radiant electric models is that they hold a lot of residual heat, so after reducing the temperature, burners will take a few minutes to settle at the lower setting. 

Electric smoothtop ranges Ratings
An electric induction range.

Electric Induction Ranges

Electric ranges with an induction cooktop use magnetic coils below the ceramic glass surface to send pulses directly to cookware. They boil faster and simmer more steadily, and any adjustment you make to a burner happens immediately because the elements themselves don’t get hot. 

Magnetic cookware is needed for induction to work. If a magnet strongly sticks to the bottom of a pot, the cookware will work with an induction cooktop. Some stainless steel cookware is induction-capable, and some isn’t—and anyone in the market for an induction range should read our summary of pros and cons

Electric induction ranges Ratings
A gas range.

Gas Ranges

If you prefer cooking with gas, you’re not alone. The flame makes it easier to judge the heat and provides a level of sensory feedback that electric models just can’t match. Most gas ranges have four to five burners of different sizes, typically with at least one high-power burner and one simmer burner. Also, you don’t need to spend a fortune; see our guide to the best gas ranges for under $1,000.

Response time is particularly quick, especially when compared with a radiant smoothtop. When you turn the knob from high to medium on a gas cooktop, the pot and the food in it experience that change almost immediately. And with most gas burners, you can strike a match to light them when your power is out. But you should know that gas burners tend to be slowest to bring water to a boil. 

Gas ranges Ratings
A pro-style range.

Pro-Style Ranges

Pro-style ranges in our ratings are either gas or dual-fuel, meaning they partner gas burners with an electric oven. They tend to be beautifully built, with heavy-gauge stainless steel, well-insulated ovens, and cast-iron continuous cooking grates. 

But these touches don’t translate into better performance—the best gas and electric ranges in our ratings outperform the best pro-style models. Plus pro-style models are pricey; expect to pay two to 10 times what you’d spend on a comparably equipped traditional range. 

That said, the best pro-style models are a work of art and a tool that can leave you feeling empowered in the kitchen. If that’s your rationale for wanting such an appliance, we think that’s pretty hard to argue with. 

Pro-style ranges Ratings

Features to Focus On

Some features save time and boost convenience. Typically, the more features, the higher the price. Here are some to consider. 

Kitchen Range Brands to Consider

This midlevel mass-market brand sells appliances priced between $500 and $1,500. The Frigidaire cooking line includes gas and electric ranges with time-saving and high-performance features and a classic design.
This midlevel mass-market brand sells appliances priced between $500 and $1,500. The line includes gas and electric ranges with a timeless look and up-to-date features that offer performance and value. GE also owns the lines below. Previously, they were sold with the GE name, but now, you’ll find them without it: Profile instead of GE Profile, Monogram instead of GE Monogram, and so on. Profile This midlevel mass-market brand sells gas, electric, and dual-fuel ranges priced from $1,000 to $2,000. The line includes a wide variety of prices and features, possibly the most in the industry. The appliances are sold in matching kitchen suites. Café This upper- to midlevel mass-market brand sells gas and dual-fuel freestanding ranges priced above $2,000. The latest brand from GE, the Café line is characterized by stainless steel exteriors and updated styling. Think modern restaurant kitchen. Monogram This high-end line offers pro-style ranges priced from $5,000 to $7,000 for gas, electric, and dual-fuel. The appliances are sold in matching kitchen suites and are available at independent appliance retailers.
This high-end line offers appliances priced between $1,500 and $6,000. Jenn-Air makes cooking appliances in a choice of stylish collections that include stainless steel and other finishes.
This midlevel mass-market brand sells appliances priced between $500 and $1,500. Introduced in 1927, Kenmore has earned a solid reputation with consumers. The appliances are sold through Sears stores. Kenmore also owns these brands. Kenmore Elite This midlevel mass-market brand sells appliances priced between $500 and $1,500. Kenmore Elite offers more innovative features than the Kenmore line. The appliances are also sold through Sears stores. Kenmore Pro This high-end line sells cooking appliances priced between $1,500 and $6,000. Taking inspiration from professional kitchens, Kenmore Pro offers pro-look gear with styling and features such as stainless steel construction, heavy-duty knobs, and other premium features. The appliances are sold through Sears stores.
This high-end brand sells a broad range of cooking appliances priced between $1,500 and $6,000. Its Architect Series II collection includes electric, gas, and dual-fuel ranges; built-in wall ovens; induction, gas, and electric cooktops; and microwave-hood combinations. Its pro-style ranges have convection and steam-assist technology.
This midlevel brand sells cooking appliances priced between $1,000 and $2,500. New to cooking appliances, LG is known for high-tech design and technology, and its freestanding ranges have a large capacity. LG claims its Dual Convection System has a 30 percent faster preheat time for ovens.
This midlevel brand sells cooking appliances priced between $1,000 and $2,500. Newer to the market, Samsung continues to innovate and has introduced some high-end features to the midpriced market.
This high-end brand sells cooking appliances priced between $1,500 and $6,000. Thermador is known for its innovation and aims to combine state-of-the-art cooking with style. The ranges are sold through independent appliance retailers.
This high-end brand sells cooking appliances priced between $4,500 and $6,000, including gas, electric, and dual-fuel ranges. Viking ushered in the pro-style look more than a decade ago and is considered the benchmark for gourmets. The company adds premium features to its ranges, including high-output burners. Viking offers the Professional and Designer series, both sold through independent appliance retailers.
This midlevel mass-market brand sells appliances priced between $500 and $1,500. Whirlpool’s freestanding ranges offer features such as hidden bake elements, power burners, and convection technology. Whirlpool offers a range designed specifically for the Hispanic consumer that features both English and Spanish controls.
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