5 cooking appliance features you can’t live without

5 cooking appliance features you can’t live without

When’s the last time you shopped for a range? If it’s been at least a decade the good news is that manufacturers get that you’re busy and have added features that save time and add flexibility. And while the best features start out on high-end ranges, cooktops, and wall ovens, over time they show up on lower-priced models. Zero in on these features when shopping.

On the rangetop or cooktop

Feature: High-power electric elements or gas burners
Why we like them: They quickly bring pots of water to a boil and are good for searing and stir-frying. One high-power burner is good, but more are better.
Consider: The top-rated LG LRE3083SW electric smoothtop range has two high-power elements. This $ 800 range is a top pick. We show it in a white finish but it comes in stainless too. And here’s a thought: Electric coil-top ranges aren’t loaded with features but our top-rated model, the $ 430 Kenmore 94142, has two high-power burners and is a top pick.
Feature: Expandable elements
Why we like them: They let you switch from a large, high-power electric element to the small, low-power one within it, changing from fast heat to a gentle simmer, and from a large skillet to a small saucepan.
Consider: The Samsung NE594R0ABSR, $ 850. This smoothtop range has two expandable elements (you’ll also get two high-powered).  While this range didn’t make our top picks, it came close. We just saw it on sale for $ 700.
Feature: Induction cooktops
Why we like them: Induction uses an electro-magnetic field to deliver precise simmering and control, and brings water to a boil about 25 percent faster than smoothtops and even faster when compared to gas. You’ll need magnetic cookware for the induction to work its magic.
Consider: The Kenmore 95073 induction range. Induction models are expensive, but the Kenmore, at $ 1,530, is the least expensive of the ones we tested and this top pick was superb overall.

In and around the oven

Feature: Convection ovens
Why we like them: It can speed up cooking by using one or more fans to circulate the oven’s hot air. Using convection takes some practice, and you’ll want to read the manual to pick up some tips.
Consider: Take a look at the Maytag MER8770WW, an $ 800 electric smoothtop that’s impressive, or the Frigidaire Gallery FGGF3032MW gas range. It’s $ 775 and a CR Best Buy.

Feature: Warming drawers
Why we like them: Keeps that creamy potato gratin warm while you broil steaks, or when your teen straggles home after you’ve eaten but just in time to load the dishwasher.
Consider: The LG LRE3025S smoothtop range. This top pick is around $ 1,250 and has a warming drawer, convection, and other timesavers. The Kenmore 74332 gas range also has a warming drawer and convection. It’s $ 800.
Our ratings of dozens of electric, gas, and pro-style ranges list features and the compare-model tool let’s you do just that. You’ll also see plenty of double-oven ranges in our ratings. This configuration allows you to roast a chicken in one oven while a pie bakes in the other. Most of these ranges pair a smaller top oven with a larger oven below, but some we’ve tested have two same-size ovens.
—Kimberly Janeway

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