Range cookers are the SUVs of the cooking world. They're a sizeable hob and a semi-pro oven, in one peer-group-pleasing package.
If you're looking for a new one but haven’t a clue where to begin, you can stop right here because we’ve done our homework. And our cakework.
What is the best range cooker?
After much deliberation – washed down with an icy Hook Island Red – we’ve settled on these five excellent models. They all perform with gusto but the frontrunner has to be the exquisite looking , hotly followed by the small yet amply equipped and highly regarded John Lewis JLFSMC613.
How to buy a range cooker
The term ‘range cooker’ refers to the combination of a hob (or 'stovetop' if you're American) and an oven in a single kitchen appliance. They are, to all intents and purposes, the classic style of cooker and have been in existence since the 1850s.
Range cookers come in a variety of widths, from 60cm (often referred to as a mini range or, if you're sniffy about these things, 'a cooker') up to a kitchen devouring 2.2 metres.
The smallest range cookers might have just two ovens (one on top of the other), a grill and a four-burner gas hob or similar sized electric induction hob while the largest will have up to four ovens, a grill, two warming or storage drawers and as many as seven gas burners or induction zones.
Fitting a range cooker is relatively easy since all you need is a space between the kitchen cabinets and either a gas or electricity supply or, in the case of dual fuel cookers, both.
However, when it comes to the electrics, it’s absolutely essential that the cooker is given its own separate ring main and that it’s capable of withstanding the cooker’s electrical load; as much as 13.5 kilowatts if you’re going for all electric. Boy did I find that out the hard way.
Range cookers are available in three main configurations: all gas, all electric and dual fuel. Duel fuel is usually the preferred choice since it offers the best of both worlds: an electric oven and an efficient gas hob.
Besides, a range cooker simply looks more traditional with gas hobs fitted. Many home chefs love their gas ovens but the general consensus is that electric fan ovens are more efficient at cooking food evenly and the dryer heat they emit produces better visual results. That’s why you won’t see a gas oven here.
When it comes to choosing an all-electric range cooker you have two main hob choices: ceramic and induction. I advise against ceramic hobs since the system is so much slower and more energy intensive than either gas or induction.
If you wish to embrace the very latest trend in cooking technology, go for an induction hob. This high-tech magnetic system is ultra fast to heat and is as instantly controllable as gas.
Induction hobs are a doddle to clean and safe as houses since the cooker top remains lukewarm to the touch even after removing a hot pan. The drawback is that you may need to change a lot of your pots and pans to ones made from magnetic ferrous metals.
1. Rangemaster Elise 110
Best range cooker
Type: Dual fuel | Width: 110cm | Ovens: 2 (both fanned) | Grill: Yes | Hob: 6 gas burners | Storage drawer: Yes
Available in seven gorgeous hues, the stunning 110cm Elise is superbly built and attired in a swathe of gorgeous enamel with brushed chrome trim and the best looking control knobs since the boiler room of the Titanic.
It’s exceptionally well equipped, too, and comes with two 73-litre ovens, a separate grill with easy-glide rack and a storage drawer. Both ovens are fan-assisted but the left one also provides up to seven different cooking functions and an incredibly useful roast rack attached to the swing-out door. This rack makes checking a roast a lot easier than having to slide out the entire roasting tray and dropping it all over your feet.
The right hand oven is equipped with three racks – more than enough acreage for 36 cup cakes or a squadron of mini Yorkshires. Catalytic linings in both ovens make cleaning pretty effortless, too.
Let’s take a trip to the top shall we? Blimey, six gas burners, two of them wok friendly – quick, grab the noodles.
The Elise has been thoughtfully designed to include only the cavities and functions you are most likely to use. Even the storage drawer’s a handy addition – a perfect space for all your roasting and bakery tins.
Rangemaster is one of the hotter brands in the kingdom of cooking and this writer has no hesitation in urging you to slap this stunning model straight at the top of your shopping list. An all-electric version with induction hob is also available, priced just shy of £2.5K.
2. John Lewis JLFSMC613
Best budget buy
Type: Dual fuel | Width: 60cm | Ovens: 2 (one fanned) | Grill: Yes | Hob: 4 gas burners | Storage drawer: No
This John Lewis-branded mini rangecooker is a Which? Best Buy winner and deservedly so. It’s the same width as all white appliances (washing machines, dishwashers etc), so all you need is a 60cm gap between the cabinets, a gas connection for the hob and a 5.3Kw electricity ring main for the ovens and grill.
And speaking of ovens, this understated looking but versatile model comes with two. Reaching below, there’s a swing-out door leading to a 79-litre fan-assisted electric oven big enough for two medium chickens and some trimmings. Above that there’s a smaller conventional 34-litre oven that also serves as a grill.
Both ovens have very accurate temperature readings – better, indeed, than many competitors – and that’s a major plus if you do a lot of baking. They are also fast to heat up – certainly quicker than Smeg’s equivalent model.
Up top there are four very responsive gas burners and good quality cast iron pan holders. The fold-down glass lid is a nice touch, too, since it gives the whole package a clean look and also serves as extra worktop space when the hob isn’t being used.
If you’re looking to replace your existing 60cm dual-fuel cooker and require a model that trumps it in most disciplines then get your skates on and head down to your nearest John Lewis branch.
3. Stoves Sterling 1000Ei
Best modernist range cooker
Type: All electric | Width: 100cm | Ovens: 2 (one fanned) | Grill: Yes | Hob: 5-zone induction **Storage/warming drawer** Yes
If you’re after an induction hob but don’t fancy the thought of having a built-in oven and hob combo (the route many choose to go), consider this silvery modernist brute from British cooker creator Stoves.
The Sterling measures 100cm across. On the oven side of things it has a large capacity grill, two 62-litre ovens (one fanned and with a defrost function) and a low-power, warming-cum-storage drawer.
The hob is one large swathe of shiny, easy-to-clean ceramic glass housing five induction zones. Features include a touch slide control panel, power boost, a pause function and timer but, sadly, no bridge function for joining two zones together for large casseroles and fish kettles. Bad times.
Induction hobs look a little out of place on most range cookers but this model gets away with it by dint of its minimalist design. Well worth a gander.
Traditionalists will be pleased to note that it also comes in black.
4. Belling Cookcentre Deluxe 90DFT
Best 90cm range cooker
Type: Dual fuel | Width: 90cm | Ovens: 3 (one fanned) | Grill: Yes | Hob: 5 gas burners | Storage drawer: No
This dual-fuel Belling comes with an interesting oven combination that makes full use of the unit’s 90cm width and 93cm height.
Let’s take a little tour: top left we have a small conventional oven-cum-grill; bottom left is a 62-litre multifunction oven with a defrost feature; and on the right is the model’s piece de resistance, a large, full-length 91-litre fan-assisted oven with 25 shelf positions.
That’s enough real estate for two large chickens and a tray of roasted veg while the left oven sorts out the lemon meringue pie.
The hob, meanwhile, is comprised of five burners including one designed specifically for wokking, though the jury’s out on the quality of the shiny plastic control knobs.
Granted, this model is a bit cluttered in appearance but they’ve configured it to near perfection and at a great price. If you can’t stand cooking with gas, there’s also an induction option.
5. Smeg TR103IBL Victoria
Blackest. Ever. Range cooker
Type: Electric | Width: 100cm | Ovens: 2 | Grill: 1 | Hob: 5 zone induction | Storage drawer: No
If you’re looking for a traditional looking range cooker with the latest cooking smarts, look no further than the all-electric Smeg TR103IBL. The over-sized retro knobs may look more Aga than Buck Rodgers, but they actually control a high-tech induction hob, which is easy to clean and offers a turbo mode for boiling water in the amount of time it takes you to say, 'boil some water'.
Going down below you’ll find three large cavities; a grill, main oven, and side oven. The grill features a highly useful grillpan on castors, while the side one has a rack for warming plates, making use of that extra height.
6. Smeg Portofino CPF9GPOR
The best 'coming soon' range cooker
Type: Dual fuel | Width: 90cm | Ovens: 1 (fanned) | Grill: Yes | Hob: 6 gas burners | Storage drawer: Yes
This new Smeg model should be in stores any day now, although that's been the case for quite a while now so who knows?
It measures just 90cm so it’s a good size for smaller kitchens. Unusually, the Portofino comes with one truly massive fan oven with a real-world capacity of 115 litres – big enough to feasibly lose a whole tray of roasties and perhaps never find them again. The top half of the oven is used for closed-door grilling and there’s also a stumpy storage door tucked away at the bottom, just in case.
The hob’s a stonker, too, and comes with six gas burners nestling beneath a mantle of black cast iron for holding pots and pans in place.
Smeg’s Italianate design flourishes are everywhere, from the solid soft-close oven door to the quality of its control knobs. Just be sure you’ve got the readies ready because cheap it ain’t.
Possibly our favourite element is that the Portofino is available in eight highly vibrant, very Smeg-ish colours, instead of the usual black or grey.