Even for those among us who do not consider themselves culinarily endowed, buying a good oven is an investment worth doubling down on. There's nothing worse than an oven that's too hot or too cold, or that which doesn't seem to want to do what it's told.
Technology has brought all sorts of advances to the kitchen, and with so many extra appliances and add-ons to choose from, our decisions are now more than just aesthetic. So whether you're looking for a free standing oven, a built-in oven, speed ovens, one that has combi-steam functionality, gas, electric, stainless steel or brightly coloured – we've put together a comprehensive buyers guide to the best ovens for every type of home cook.
Best oven to buy: for the aspiring chef
About you: Your idea of heaven is a well-stocked deli, and spending three hours of your Friday night making ramen from scratch, or raising your own sourdough. It's not to say you don't love and appreciate the simple stuff, but cooking is more than just a necessity for you – it's a hobby. You like to spend your money on nice kitchen gear, and appreciate a top-of-the-range appliance. Pasta machines and Thermapens aren't auxiliary tools to you – they're used frequently, and expertly.
Best oven to buy: SMEG's Dolce Stil Novo. Designed and produced in Italy, these are peak-performance ovens with a streamlined look and feel (both stainless steel and copper finishes are available). Multi-functionality combines traditional, steam and microwave oven settings with a vapour cleaning system, and Wi-Fi connectivity. You won't have to compromise on your energy bill either – it's ranked A+ for its low energy consumption.
Best oven to buy: for the budding baker
About you: You're never too fussed about what gets served at dinner because your mind is always on dessert. If you're to be found in the kitchen, it's likely over a stand mixer or whisk, pouring brownie batter into tins or frosting birthday cakes for friends. You don't need an oven to do all the fancy extras – what is a sous-vide and how do you use a grill? You just want an oven that will be reliable and true to the times and temperatures of your favourite pav or soufflé recipe.
Best oven to buy: Bosch Serie 8 Built-in Oven. With 4D Hotair technology, heat is distributed evenly and quickly throughout the oven's interior, making baking more reliable and true-to-time and temperature. You can place your tray on any of the four levels and still enjoy consistent, perfect results. Or bake cookies on the top and bottom levels of the oven at the same time with consistent results. You'll also enjoy simple, touchscreen controls, a special mechanism that prevents the oven door from slamming, and more stable, telescopic rails that fully extend your oven shelves.
Best oven to buy: for the amateur home cook
About you: You're an every-day cook who knows how to throw together a basic bowl of pasta or a slow-cooker stew – you might even attempt a roast on special occasions – but you're not exactly reaching for the stars. You want something simple, well-priced and reliable. Nothing too flashy, with too many extra settings – they just get in the way. You don't want a space shuttle, you just want an oven that does what it says on the tin.
Best oven to buy: Westinghouse 60cm Multifunction Oven. This Australian-built Westinghouse oven is one of the country's best-sellers for a reason. It's fast-heating, for those of us who don't want to wait too long for our dinner after a long 9-5, and it also has a set-and-forget timer that switches off the oven after that time – great for those amateur cooks among us prone distraction or burning their tray roast veggies. Oven trays come in and out with ease, and oven doors remain cool to the touch.
Best oven to buy: for the dinner party host
About you: You simply don't know how to cook for less than 15 people, and you consider cooking one of your love languages. You regularly host dinner parties, and love nothing more than to make a vat of food on a Sunday in your brightly coloured Le Creuset dutch oven.
Best oven to buy: Fisher & Paykel 90cm Freestanding Dual Fuel Cooker. The ultimate in space and versatility – you can choose between gas and induction across a five-burner gas cooktop (with three wok burners). The cavernous 140L capacity convection oven has nine different functions – not including a rotisserie and pastry bake mode. Its Pyrolytic self-clean functionality also means less time spent cleaning out the oven after dinner, and more time enjoying a plate of dessert or a digestivo with your guests.