The Best Selected Cooking Ranges

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The Best Selected Cooking Ranges

The Best Selected Cooking Ranges
The Best Selected Cooking Ranges

 

After 40 hours of research—including interviews with three kitchen architects, four chefs, and three luxury-appliance specialists—we’re convinced that the Wolf Dual Fuel Range is the best 36-inch pro-style range for most people. For kitchens that can fit a 48-inch range, we recommend the Thermador Professional Series Pro Grand Dual Fuel range. Both ranges offer the best balance of features, power, aesthetic potential, and long-term service reliability we’ve found.

Our research showed that most people designing a luxury kitchen want a 36-inch pro-style range with dual fuel—namely, a gas cooktop and an electric oven. The Wolf Dual Fuel Range (DF366) combines one of the most spacious ovens in the category with one of the most versatile cooktops; it has a 20,000 BTU power burner, the lowest simmer output we’ve seen (300 BTU), and more convection options than other ranges its size. We like that it has straightforward physical controls, and we think the simple but timeless stainless steel design will look great in a variety of kitchens. It comes with an above-average five-year warranty, and our research into years of service records shows that Wolf has one of the best records for dependability among several competitive brands. This range also comes in 30-, 48-, and 60-inch versions (which we also recommend). Because it’s made in the US, parts are reliably available for maintenance.

For 48-inch spaces, we suggest the Thermador Professional Series Pro Grand Dual Fuel (PRD48JDSGU). The gas cooktop is even more powerful than that of the Wolf Dual Fuel, with six burners, including a 22,000 BTU power burner and unrivaled low simmer temperatures. It has two ovens and is one of the only pro-style dual-fuel ranges we’ve found with full steam-cooking capabilities (in the smaller oven). The Pro Grand Dual Fuel also has an elegant stainless steel design and easy-to-use physical controls. Like Wolf, Thermador manufactures its appliances in the US, so maintenance issues are slightly less of a hassle than for some import brands.

i- Steam oven, less timeless design

Miele 36″ Dual Fuel Range (HR 1934 G)

Miele 36″ Dual Fuel Range (HR 1934 G)
Miele 36″ Dual Fuel Range (HR 1934 G)

 

ii-Strong performer, less powerful cooktop

Wolf 48″ Dual Fuel Range (DF486G)

Wolf 48″ Dual Fuel Range (DF486G)
Wolf 48″ Dual Fuel Range (DF486G)

 

The Miele Dual Fuel Range (HR 1934 G) is another strong choice for 36-inch spaces, but its digital controls and cooktop look slightly less impressive compared with the Wolf Dual Fuel. Miele is one of the few brands (along with Wolf and Jenn-Air) to offer dual convection, and this oven has a modified steam feature that’s good for baking artisan breads, steaming vegetables, and making roasts. Miele also enjoys a strong reputation for long-term reliability.

Wolf’s 48″ Dual Fuel Range (DF486G) is a great option for 48-inch spaces, although we ultimately preferred the Thermador’s cooktop and secondary steam oven. The Wolf 48-inch Dual Fuel is very similar in features and specs to the 36-inch version, plus it includes the option of a fixed griddle, charbroiler, or French top. Like the smaller version of this range, it has a 20,000 BTU power burner, a low output of 300 BTU on all the burners, a timeless style, and Wolf’s record of reliable customer service.

Also great

 

An excellent 30-inch range

Wolf 30″ Dual Fuel Range (DF304)

Wolf 30″ Dual Fuel Range (DF304)
Wolf 30″ Dual Fuel Range (DF304)

For smaller kitchens, we recommend Wolf’s 30″ Dual Fuel Range (DF304). It’s the same width as a standard slide-in or freestanding range—but compared with the gas range we recommend for most (nonluxury) kitchens, it’s about six times the price. This model is narrower than Wolf’s other dual-fuel ranges and has only four burners, but it basically comes with the same features as you’ll find on the larger models. The cooktop has a 20,000 BTU power burner, and all the burners go down to 300 BTU for simmering, plus it has dual convection in the oven. You get the same style, design, reliability, and service as with the other Wolf ranges in this guide.

Why you should trust us

I spent more than 40 hours researching high-end ranges, looking at how they’re used, who buys them, what makes a good one, and why anybody should buy one. We compiled data for more than 50 different pro-style ranges, comparing the results and following up on inconsistencies with retail experts, specialists, and manufacturers. To get an idea of what someone should look for in a luxury range (including whether the appliance is worth the price), I interviewed the following experts:

  • Steve Sheinkopf, CEO of Yale Appliance and Lighting in Boston
  • Nicole Parmenter, resident chef at Yale Appliance and Lighting
  • Nick Failler, lifestyle experience advisor at Pirch
  • Sam Sifton, food editor of The New York Times (parent company of The Wirecutter and The Sweethome)
  • Ryan Fujita and Chris Netski, architect and interior designer, respectively, at Fujita + Netski Architecture in Honolulu
  • Susan Reid, chef and editor at King Arthur Flour
  • Nick Johnson, account manager at House of Appliances in South Florida
  • Bradley Cashin, lead designer at New England Design & Construction in Boston
  • Brian Rizzo, product and marketing chef at Wolf
  • Michael DiLauro, independent consultant for the restaurant and appliance industry

I’ve written and reported about large appliances for several years now, and I wrote The Sweethome’s guide to the best electric and gas freestanding ranges. Before joining The Sweethome, I worked as a staff writer and product tester for Reviewed.com.

Who should get this

You don’t have to be a pro chef to own a pro-style range, but you should probably know what you’re doing. These are big, powerful machines that take up a lot of space and can dramatically alter the aesthetics of your kitchen. They also cost a lot of money—like, upward of $8,000. But if you’re willing and able to spend that much, the value that a pro-style range can add to your cooking experience is pretty great. It won’t necessarily improve your cooking skills—that’s on you—but it will add power and versatility to your craft, and it will improve the look of your kitchen in the process.

Whereas the average freestanding or slide-in range features four cooktop burners at a 30-inch width, pro-style ranges typically fit into 36- or 48-inch spaces and have at least six burners. Compared with average freestanding ranges, pro ranges almost always have more powerful burners (typically 18,000 to 22,000 BTU) and offer accessory options for griddles, charbroilers, and French tops. Most have dual-fuel capability, which consists of a gas cooktop and an electric oven (really, the best of both worlds), and the bigger ones (48 and 60 inches) tend to have two or three ovens. All this adds up to a cooking device that is comparable to ranges in most professional kitchens, offering slightly faster boil times, more responsive burners, more consistent oven temperatures, more space for pots and pans, and more options for grilling and griddling. These machines are for serious cooks and bakers with serious budgets. Oh, and they look beautiful, too.

For smaller budgets

The Best Freestanding Ranges

 

But as far as practical considerations go, that’s about it. If you’re an avid cook and you can’t bring yourself to spend this much money on a pro-style dual-fuel range, you can still find plenty of 30-inch slide-in and freestanding ranges that are almost as powerful as the most luxurious machines available. Remember that high-end ranges are as much about “luxury” as they are about cooking. They are made from premium materials and designed with spacious, upscale kitchens in mind.

You really need to think about how you cook before deciding which type of range is right for you—just as you would with freestanding ranges. Steve Sheinkopf, CEO of Yale Appliance and Lighting in Boston, said he always tells people “to focus on how they cook and what they would use, versus what they would never use.”

And this factor is important, because it directly influences the relevance of specs like cooktop power, convection type, oven capacity, controls, and griddle configuration. To that end, all the same characteristics that define a good average range apply with equal measure to high-end models; the key differences are in size (or counter width), power, and design. Our intent with this guide is to cast the widest net possible while still keeping our sights thoroughly on upscale homes and kitchens.

Why you should buy from a showroom

Most people who buy a pro-style range do so as part of a remodel, and they work with their kitchen designers and builders to pick it out. If you’re purchasing the range yourself, we recommend going through a local showroom, which you can often find through the manufacturer’s site. You won’t find these appliances at a typical big-box retailer like Best Buy, Home Depot, or Lowe’s. We have found some high-end ranges on AJ Madison’s site, but that company has a spotty reputation when it comes to shipping and handling. These ranges are just way too expensive to risk damaging at such an early stage. And AJ Madison charges a 30 percent restocking fee—which could cost you thousands on a return of a high-end range.

Our pick for a 36-inch high-end range

The best 36-inch pro range

Wolf 36″ Dual Fuel Range (DF366)

Wolf-36″-Dual-Fuel-Range
Wolf-36″-Dual-Fuel-Range

 

If we were buying a brand-new 36-inch pro-style range, we would get the Wolf Dual Fuel Range (DF366). It has the right combination of burner power and simmering potential, with the lowest output (300 BTU) we’ve seen on a cooktop. It has one of the biggest ovens in the 36-inch category, and it’s one of the few ranges we liked that also comes with a stand-alone convection mode. Its simple push-button controls are more intuitive, timeless, and, according to some of our sources, less likely to break than panels with digital frills. This Wolf model also has an attractive stainless steel design and style that will look good in any kitchen for years. We consistently found Wolf to be one of the most reliable brands making high-end ranges, with one retailer showing just 16.4 percent of units sold in 2016 requiring service. Although we didn’t actually cook on this range, we did look at it up close, and we were impressed by its sturdy build and subtle, professional look. We also recommend the 30-inch version of this range for smaller kitchens.

 

A 36-inch option with steam cooking

 

Steam oven, less timeless design

The 36-inch Miele Dual Fuel Range (HR 1934 G) has a lot going for it, but despite all its strengths it doesn’t quite measure up against the Wolf’s timeless design, versatile cooktop, intuitive controls, or impressive warranty coverage. More than anything else, we don’t like the Miele’s electronic touch display, which may function smoothly now but adds a bit of a timestamp to a device you want to last for decades. We think the cooktop is slightly inferior to the Wolf’s, too, in that it has five burners with a max output of 19,500 BTU and one 12,500 BTU burner (compared with the Wolf’s variety of burners ranging from 5,000 to 20,000 BTU, including an industry-low simmer output of 300 BTU)—not a huge difference, but worth noting. The Miele also comes with only a one-year warranty.

 

Our pick for a 48-inch high-end range

The best 48-inch pro range

 

If we had the space for a 48-inch pro-style range (which our research showed is the second most popular size among buyers), we would get the Thermador Professional Series Pro Grand Dual Fuel (PRD48JDSGU). Although it doesn’t offer the widest selection of cooktop configurations, it does have one of the most powerful gas cooktops and some of the lowest advertised simmer temperatures we’ve seen. It has one of the most spacious double-oven arrangements, and the only oven we’ve found in a 48-inch range with a full steam function. We also really like the sleek stainless steel design (more so than the Wolf’s); it’s timeless, and we imagine it would look good in any kitchen.

A 48-inch range with true convection in both ovens

Strong performer, less powerful cooktop

 

Wolf’s 48-inch Dual Fuel Range (DF486G) is a scaled-up version of our 36-inch main pick. It’s every bit as capable and impressive as the 36-inch version, and nearly as impressive as the Thermador 48-inch model. Ultimately we gave the Thermador the edge in this size category because of its more powerful, more dynamic cooktop and the steam-cook option in its smaller oven. We also like the look and feel of the Pro Grand just a bit more. But even then, the discrepancies are slight and partially subjective.

The 48-inch Wolf Dual Fuel offers five cooktop configurations: a four-burner with a charbroiler and griddle, a four-burner with a double-size griddle, a four-burner with a French top, a six-burner with a charbroiler, and a six-burner with a griddle. Each is powered by a 20,000 BTU power burner, as well as one or two 18,000 BTU burners, one or two 15,000 BTU burners (depending on configuration), and a 9,500 BTU burner. As on the 36-inch model, each sealed burner is capable of simmering at 300 BTU.

Care and maintenance

Whether you go with Viking (less reliable) or Wolf (more reliable) or something in between, the possibility of something breaking is very real. The best way to prevent this outcome is to periodically clean, calibrate, and service the range—but even then, a lot of it comes down to sheer luck of the draw. Fortunately, every bit of advice we included in the maintenance section of our freestanding range guide applies with equal measure to the high-end category. We recommend reading through that section to learn about properly calibrating the range, “burning out” manufacturing residue, and using the self-clean cycle.

What is different, when it comes to the high-end category, is how you get the thing serviced. A lot of these high-end machines feature imported parts that are difficult to find or impossible to replicate. (This was a key reason why we slightly favored domestically produced ranges.) Import brands, such as AGA, Bertazzoni, Lacanche, La Cornue, Miele, Smeg, and Verona, tend to have a longer lead time to complete a repair.

 

 

 

 

 

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