In some parts of the world, having a full-sized oven in your kitchen is almost unheard of. But in America – land of casseroles and bake sales – it’s not unreasonable to consider that the standard full-sized oven built into your range might not actually be enough. Dual-oven ranges are great for multi-course and make-ahead meals, letting you cook large quantities of food not only at the same time but also at different temperatures. But it’s important to consider how much oven you really need – and how much space you’re willing to sacrifice to get it.
How Much Do You Use Your Oven?
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The first step in figuring out how big a range you need – and how many ovens – is to really consider how much you really use the oven you have. For starters, think about the biggest meal you’d cook in the oven (probably for a holiday gathering), and an average sized one. Is there a big difference? If you’re the type to make a lot of roast meat, roasted vegetables or casseroles, and bread on a regular basis, you probably want a little more room to work with – either a wider range with a bigger oven or one of the multi-oven ranges below. If not, a relatively small range with a compact oven is probably plenty, and as an added bonus means you’ll have more counter space for supplementary appliances, like a crock pot or bread maker.
Don’t Forget Your Range Top
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Keep in mind, though, that because the vast majority of cooktops and ovens are sold as a single unit, the size of one will determine the size of the other. Wider ranges not only have more oven space, but also anywhere from one to four additional hobs, or even a built-in griddle on the cooktop. Depending on your cooking style, this added versatility can be worth the extra width all on its own. Lots of professional-style ranges are extra wide to accommodate a roomier, more responsive cooktop, but that also means they frequently come with…
Two Ovens In One
…two separate ovens rather than one larger one. Now, this is a feature that’s becoming increasingly popular, and for the aforementioned person who cooks big, multi-course meals on a regular basis, it can be a real lifesaver. Depending again on the width of your range, “two ovens” can mean anything from an average sized oven plus a smaller oven for side dishes all the way up to two full sized ovens side by side. The real beauty here is that in addition to having a whole lot more room to bake, the two ovens can be controlled separately – meaning you can bake dishes at two different temperatures at once.
Multiple Doors Doesn’t Always Mean Multiple Ovens
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That said, be aware that just because an oven has two (or more) doors on the front, you can’t necessarily assume that means two individually controlled ovens. Often, wider ranges will include storage for pots, pans, and bakeware built into the range itself, rather than a second oven. Now, this is a great option if you want a roommier cooktop but don’t actually need a double-oven setup, because it allows you to get those extra burners without sacrificing storage space you’d get from having cabinetry in place of that unused oven.
Not All Warming Drawers Are Created Equal
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Warming drawers are a ubiquitous feature of ranges of all shapes, sizes, styles, and fuel types – they’re that little drawer at the bottom of your range beneath the oven. Their actual intended use is for keeping prepared dishes warm or heating plates, using the residual heat from the oven to passively warm anything you put in the drawer, but often they get used instead for storing cookie sheets, because the heat in the drawer can be a bit inconsistent and the drawer itself difficult to clean. That said, some high-end ranges make warming drawers that are actually worth using as intended, with a roomier, more accessible design, separate temperature control, and even humidity control to keep your food in peak condition while you’re getting everything ready to go to the table.
Other Ways To Double Up
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But what if you need more oven space, but don’t want a wide range or a five, six, or eight burner cooktop? If the oven is your primary cooking appliance and you’d rather keep your cooktop to a minimum, and especially if you’re worried about sacrificing cupboard and counter space, you might want to forego the idea of getting a range entirely and instead opt for a standalone cooktop and a separate, wall-mounted oven. As with ranges, wall mounted ovens come in both ones and twos, but they can be installed either side by side or one on top of the other, making them a little more flexible in terms of your kitchen layout. Pair that with a cooktop installed on top of your counters (as big or as small as you want), and you have all the functionality you need in a package better suited to your space.
What makes “the perfect range” depends a whole lot on how you cook and how you use your kitchen, but the good news is that there’s probably a setup out there that suits your needs – you just need to take the time to look!
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