A Cook 6 Tips for Buying Kitchen Appliances

1. Does more expensive really mean better?

In general, yes. I found that more expensive dishwashers had better settings and service plans, and luxury-brand ranges had higher BTUs and a wider range of flame settings.

But there was one appliance that stymied me: the oven. During the renovation process, we stayed in two rental homes. One had a high-end oven that lost so much heat that it turned the kitchen into a sauna. The other had a midrange oven that functioned perfectly.

The secret: the door. While it’s true that fancy convection settings will go a long way toward cooking your food properly, nothing impacts the cooking process more than the heat itself

So when shopping for an oven, spend extra time in the showroom opening and closing the oven doors. Look at how they seal and ask the salesperson about the differences between seals and springs.

When in doubt, you’re likely to be happier with a less expensive oven with a proper door than with one that has a lot of bells and whistles but a mediocre seal.

2. What’s a good guideline for BTUs?

This is another case where more is not necessarily better. Unlike restaurant chefs, who require a lot of power on every burner for plenty of high-heat cooking, you’re more likely to want a wide variety of heat options for cooking all the different components of your meal.

3. Do I really need a double oven?

If you like to bake or entertain, then yes, a double oven is a worthwhile investment. But if you have a small family and don’t have people over very often, you can likely make do with a single oven and a microwave convection oven.

4. Will I ever use a warming drawer?

Does the sun rise in the east? Yes, you will use a warming drawer! You’ll use it to warm plates before serving family-style sides. You’ll use it to keep the kids’ omelets hot when they take forever to shower in the morning.

5. How high should my vent hood be?

This one took a while to figure out. Although the fan we chose was powerful, we felt the low end of where our manufacturer suggested placing the hood was too low, and I was wary of placing it on the high side, because I sear meat often.

6. Help! I don’t have enough space for a side-by-side fridge.

I love to prepare large meals ahead of time and freeze them, so I nearly had a heart attack when I discovered that our space wouldn’t accommodate the side-by-side fridge I’d been dreaming of.

Our solution came in the form of a pair of freezer drawers in our kitchen island. They aren’t as deep as the drawer on a bottom-mounted freezer-refrigerator unit, but pairing them up means that I have ample space for all of my gallon bags of homemade chicken broth and giant balls of cookie dough.