If it’s an all-in-one culinary machine you’re after, cookers are a kitchen essential. From cooking full Sunday roasts, baking batches of fairy cakes, to frying pancakes, grilling and beyond, you can make fuss-free meals that are sure to impress with the right cooker for your home. Depending on your kitchen space, you can choose from freestanding, built-in, single, double and range cookers. The Good Housekeeping Institute has rigorously tested 18 models to find the best cookers, and these are 10 of the top performers for any home chef.

There’s a lot to consider when choosing a new cooker. While most are quick and easy to install, the type of cooker you get will be largely determined by your kitchen’s fuel supply, whether it’s gas, electric or dual fuel with a gas hob and electric oven combined.

You will also need to take into account your kitchen space. Can you slot a standard-sized 60cm wide cooker between your work surfaces, or do you need something smaller? Perhaps you’re after a range cooker with a width of 90cm or more? Is one oven enough or do you have more mouths to feed? Perhaps a second (or third) oven may be more up to the task.

Not only should you consider how many ovens you require from your cooker, but it’s also important to know the difference between the range of hob types available on the market. You’ll have to choose between gas, electric, induction and ceramic hobs, so it can be confusing to work out what’s best for you and your cooking needs.

Installing a freestanding cooker is relatively uncomplicated, as they’re designed to fit in a space between your cabinets and work surface where there is a fuel supply. The type of cooker you get will be largely dictated by the fuel supply in your kitchen, whether gas, electric or dual fuel (a gas hob combined with an electric oven).

You’ll need to make sure the cooker is the right size for the cavity you intend to use and that the surrounding space will accommodate the oven door/s being fully opened. You should also check the cavity is near the power supply you wish to use, be it gas or electricity, and have enough space around the power supply to be properly installed. Standard dimensions are a height of 90cm, a width of 60cm and a depth of 60cm, but you can also find cooker widths of 55cm and 50cm. A cooker with an eye-level grill is about 150cm tall, so make sure you have enough space before you start looking at different models.

Electric cookers require installation by a qualified electrician, as they need to be wired into a 30amp socket (a conventional electric socket is only 13amps) and gas options should be installed by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Gas is still the most popular choice with home cooks. The heat is visible, easy to control, fast, responsive and can be used with all pan types. Gas hobs can be dismantled for easier cleaning, but they can still be time-consuming to keep looking their best.

If you're a fan of gas but get fed up with mess and spillages that are difficult to clean off a traditional gas hob, this could be a better option. Gas burners are mounted on top of ceramic glass, making the surface much easier to clean. The burners don't heat up as quickly as on an electric ceramic glass hob, but you'll get that precision heat and control of a regular gas hob.

With electric ceramic hobs, the heating systems are hidden underneath the tough ceramic glass surface. Patterned zones on the glass surface indicate the size and position of the heat source. All have a safety device that prevents the ceramic glass from overheating. The smooth and easy-to-clean surface makes them a popular choice. However, the heat distribution around the bottom of pans isn’t as good as when cooking on gas.

Induction hobs heat the pan directly via a spiral copper coil beneath the glass surface, which transfers energy directly to the pan. The coil isn’t activated until an iron-based magnetic pan is placed on to it, so the glass itself doesn’t need to heat up for cooking. When the pan is removed, the hob cools, reducing the risk of burns. Induction hobs are becoming increasingly popular as they’re easy to use, highly responsive, very energy efficient, and quick to clean.

Having a hob that’s easy to wipe down and clean is useful if you spend a lot of time cooking. Induction and ceramic hobs are usually the easiest to clean as they have smooth surfaces. Induction hobs are also designed to stop food from spilling over or burning on the surface, so they shouldn’t need to be cleaned as often.

Gas and electric hobs are more difficult to clean. If you have a gas hob, some pan-supports and spillage wells are dishwasher-safe. Otherwise, a cream cleaner and damp cloth should be enough. For electric or ceramic hobs, stubborn stains and burned-on deposits should be removed with a special hob scraper that won’t damage the glass.

Most ovens have triple or quadruple-glazed glass doors which can be removed for easy and efficient cleaning. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines for details of your particular oven as this can vary.Many ovens have enamel liners, which are generally easy to clean as it’s harder for food residues to stick to the smooth surface. With enamel lining, it’s best to clean these regularly to avoid a build-up of food residues that make your oven less efficient. With the right tools and techniques, this can be effortless. We have a thorough guide on how to clean your oven - and keep it clean.

A pyrolytic cleaning programme is an automatic cleaning mode available on some higher-spec models. Using a combination of pressure with very high temperatures, the oven converts grease and food residues to ash. This collects on the floor of the oven, and you can sweep it up when the cleaning has finished. You can't find this feature on a range cooker, so keep this in mind when weighing up your options.

Many ovens have catalytic liners that transform the oven into a self-cleaning machine when it's set at high temperatures. These liners absorb and break down grease and food residues, which then burn away during cooking. Cookers with this feature should never be cleaned manually, and the liners may need replacing during the lifetime of the cooker. You may need to ‘service’ the liners sometimes, by putting the oven on its highest heat setting for about an hour.

Sometimes we’re so busy cooking up something delicious on the hob that we forget all about the extractor fan above us, which has been busy eliminating smoke, steam and odours produced from cooking. It’s one of those forgotten areas of the kitchen that doesn’t get as much attention in the cleaning routine as it deserves or needs. While we may remember to wipe down the hob after use, the extractor fan gets progressively grimier and greasier and gets clogged with dust and dirt. For our foolproof guide, here’s how you can give your kitchen extractor fan a thorough clean.

At the Good Housekeeping Institute, we put every cooker through a series of cooking trials. We cook a full roast dinner including a chicken, roast potatoes and apple crumble. We use the grill to see how well it toasts a full tray of bread, we bake batches of fairy cakes and we make a rich fruit cake. We look at how hot the oven door gets, how well our cakes rise, if our potatoes crisp up, and if cooking on many shelves at the same time affects our cooking.

Not only do we put the built-in ovens through their paces but we also test the performance of the hotplates. This involves timing how long it takes to boil water on the different cooking zones and testing the heat retention of each hotplate. We also assess whether the heat from the cooking zones is evenly distributed, and how easy it is to clean up after cooking.

This single cooker from Smeg is dual fuel with an automatic gas ignition for easy lighting and the power output from the burners range from a more gentle 1.0kW to a powerful 3.5kW, useful for a range of cooking needs. Meanwhile, the oven is electric and comes with seven functions, including a grill, static cooking, fan assisted and eco settings. It also has a vapour clean cycle that uses steam to clean the oven's interior, reducing time spent scrubbing off burnt-on food residues. It produced fantastic baking results with well-risen, light and fluffy cakes and the grill was speedy and evenly grilled a full tray of bread. It’s worth noting the oven door reached a height of 51C when the interior was running at 200C for an hour which is not ideal if children are around, although we were pleased to observe that the oven’s thermostat was exactly true to temperature.

Key SpecificationsOven type: ElectricOven capacity: 70 litresHob type: GasNumber of functions: 6Warranty: 2 years

This double freestanding cooker from Hotpoint is spacious and practical with a four-burner gas hob and two gas ovens, with the top oven housing a gas grill. The four burners emit power ranging from 2-3 kilowatts, making it fuss-free to cook different dishes simultaneously, and the automatic gas ignition makes it a breeze to operate. The glass hob lid can be opened up and used as a splash guard to save your kitchen walls being splattered with food deposits and it’s simple to wipe clean after cooking. The gas ovens produced fantastic baked treats, giving us moist, well-risen and evenly baked batches of fairy cakes and a rich fruit cake with a crunchy crust. The grill worked fast and proved faultless when it came to even grilling coverage. We love the two large glass viewing windows, allowing you to keep an eye on cooking progress without having to open the doors.

Key SpecificationsOven type: Double gasOven capacity: 77 litres (main oven), 32 litres (top oven)Hob type: GasNumber of functions: 3Warranty: 2 years

This electric cooker from Indesit is a dual fuel freestanding electric cooker with ceramic hobs. It performed well, scoring top marks for evenly browning batches of fairy cakes in both the top and main ovens. It also produced a well-risen fruitcake in both ovens with even browning, crunchy crust and a soft and moist filling. This cooker also coped well at full capacity in the main oven, having no problem at producing a succulent and golden brown roast chicken, crisp potatoes with soft and fluffy centres and an apple crumble with a crunchy crumbly crust and juicy filling. The responsiveness of the hob to reduce milk from boiling point to a simmer was less impressive though, taking four and a half minutes for the temperature to reduce after switching off the hob; although it took a speedy five minutes to boil water from cold on each of the hobs.

Key SpecificationsOven type: Double electricOven capacity: 74 litres (main oven), 39 litres (top oven)Hob type: CeramicNumber of functions: 3Warranty: 1 year labour, 10 years parts

If you prefer a gas hob combined with an electric oven, then this dual fuel cooker is a great choice. Intuitive to use, it features fan and conventional cooking settings only which will suit people who want a cooker that doesn't have an overwhelming amount of functions. There is a lid which covers the gas hob, and when closed it cuts off the gas flow to the hob for added safety. We were disappointed, though, that the oven doors get quite hot during cooking, particularly the main oven door which reached up to 71C when running the oven at 200C. We found the grill produced even browning and took just two minutes to toast a full tray of bread. The gas hob is speedy, taking a rapid 5 minutes 45 seconds to boil water from cold on the 3kW hob and 7 minutes 20 seconds on the 2kW hob. Each of the ovens made lovely fairy cakes, but the fruitcake in the top oven was a little too well-done on the base. Overall a great double oven, ideal if you want a combination of gas and electric settings.

Key SpecificationsOven type: Double electricOven capacity: 71 litres (main oven), 36 litres (top oven)Hob type: GasNumber of functions: 3Warranty: 1 year labour, 10 years parts

This double electric cooker from Hotpoint comes fully equipped with a double oven, variable grill and smooth ceramic hob with four burners. The digital display clock features a minute minder, allowing you to keep track of your cooking. The main oven capacity is not the most spacious; however, in our tests we found it more than sufficient for comfortably fitting a full roast with all the trimmings and even leaving enough space on the racks to cook up a crumble at the same time. The ceramic hob was responsive and took a rapid five minutes to bring a litre of water to the boil from cold, and we were pleased to note both ovens were true to the allotted temperature settings.

Key SpecificationsOven type: Double electricOven capacity: 65 litres (main oven), 35 litres (top oven)Hob type: CeramicNumber of functions: 8Warranty: 1 year labour, 10 years parts

This double electric cooker with induction hob from AEG is equipped with all the features you could possibly want in order to cook up a storm in the kitchen; plus the highly spacious capacity of 112 litres will make you a winning dinner party host. With a range of different cooking modes, including conventional cooking, full and half grill and fan cooking, as well as some more unusual yet useful settings including steam bake, browning and fan baking; there isn’t much this cooker cannot do. What’s more, we found the performance fantastic; in particular at baking well-risen batches of golden brown fairy cakes, crunchy-topped fruit cakes and at cooking a full roast dinner with all the trimmings which fit comfortably inside the main oven. We were disappointed with the uneven grilling performance in the top oven, but were pleased at how cool the doors remained, even with both ovens running simultaneously; with the hottest readings at just 37C and 42C respectively.

Key SpecificationsOven type: ElectricOven capacity: 73 litres (main oven), 39 litres (top oven)Hob type: InductionNumber of functions: EightWarranty: 5 years

This impressive dual fuel cooker from Smeg comes equipped with an electric double cooker with gas hob. We found the thermostat in both the top and main ovens to be true to their respective temperature settings. If you have a lot of mouths to feed or love to have the family round for a Sunday roast, this cooker will do you justice. With the main oven at full capacity, you can comfortably fit a three-course dinner safe in the knowledge that your food will be cooked evenly on every shelf. We did find the temperature dials fiddly to set as the markings are in 25°C increments, so if you want to preheat the oven to 180°C it requires a bit of guesswork. The electronic programmable timer will let you know when your food is ready and can be set to switch off when the time is up.

Key SpecificationsOven type: Dual fuelOven capacity: 61 litres (main oven), 35 litres (top oven)Hob type: GasNumber of functions: 3Warranty: 2 years

When you picture an idyllic cottage interior, one of the first things that springs to mind is a range cooker. Designed with a country kitchen in mind, but with all the cutting-edge technology of the smartest of contemporary settings, range cookers can make any kitchen the heart of the home. Multifunctional and versatile, range cookers are much like regular cookers but with the added benefit of a wider hob, which can house anywhere from five to eight burners, different fuel options, multiple ovens – three of four is normal – and a range of oven capacities.

If you're cooking for a large household or love entertaining, a range cooker may be the best option. Not only can it steam, bake, roast, boil, fry and grill simultaneously, you’ll also have that kitchen centrepiece that’s sure to impress. Think twice, though, if much of it will go unused. We’ve tried and tested the best range cookers and here are our top three.

This range cooker from Leisure is sturdy, intuitive to use and performed well. There’s plenty of cooking space thanks to the two large capacity ovens and an additional smaller capacity oven with a separate grill; so if you have a large family or are partial to hosting dinner parties this is a great choice. However, the two main ovens operate as fan ovens only with no other functions available, so they are not as versatile as a multifunction oven. The five-burner gas hob has plenty of options in terms of burner size so you can comfortably cook a range of dishes simultaneously, and they rapidly heat water to a rolling boil so you don’t have to spend time waiting around. In general, all three ovens cooked and baked well and most of the thermostat temperatures were at an acceptable accuracy, even when all ovens were in use at the same time, ranging from 2.2C to 8C off their set temperatures.

Key SpecificationsFuel type: Hobs: Gas, Oven/Grill: ElectricOven capacity: 79 litres, 75 litres (main ovens), 38 litres (top oven)Hob type: GasNumber of burners: 5Number of functions: 4Warranty: 1 year

With five electric hobs, three ovens and a grill, this versatile range cooker from Leisure provides ample cooking compartments, so if space is usually an issue this cooker is an ideal choice. The oven temperatures are marked in clearly labelled 10C intervals and there are four different hob power settings ranging from 1.2kW-1.7kW which boil water in eight and a half and less than eight minutes respectively; which is very fast for electric hobs. They’re not too responsive, though, as they continued to heat the contents of our pans up to 120C from the 80C they were before we switched the power off. The cooking performance was good all-round, with the two main ovens being particularly strong at creating delicious roast dinners, rich and moist fruit cakes and batch-baking light and fluffy fairy cakes. The grill worked well too, evenly browning a full rack of bread in just over two minutes.

Key SpecificationsFuel type: Hobs: Ceramic, Oven/Grill: ElectricOven capacity: 63 and 79 litres (main), 33 litres (top)Hob type: CeramicNumber of burners: 5Number of functions: 3Warranty: 1 year

This dual fuel range cooker from Leisure is a complete culinary machine. Featuring three spacious electric ovens and a gas hob with five burners, it’s ideal for cooking up a storm for hungry guests. We were impressed with the accuracy of the thermostat, staying true to the temperatures set on each of the dials, even with all three ovens operating simultaneously. We were less impressed with the temperature of the oven doors when running at 200C; with one of the external doors reaching a very hot 80C. Each of the ovens have one cooking setting; two of which are conventional ovens and the third is a fan oven. There is an additional built-in electric grill in one of the ovens. The glass top lid can be opened and used as a splash guard to protect your kitchen walls from inevitable cooking splatters; and when not in use you can bring it down to cover the hobs for protection.

Key SpecificationsFuel type: Hobs: Gas, Oven/Grill: ElectricOven capacity: 63 litres, 65 litres (main ovens), 33 litres (top oven)Hob type: GasNumber of burners: 5Number of functions: 3Warranty: 1 year

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