APPLIANCE GUIDES, OVENS

What Is A Multifunction Oven? – Kitchen Terms Explained

If you’re shopping for an oven, you’re likely to come across the term multifunction oven. But what does it mean? Is it a good thing?

In this post, I’ll explain what a multifunction oven is, its pros and cons as well as answer some popular questions about the topic.

Let’s get into it!

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In a hurry? Here’s my key takeaway:

👨‍🍳 A multifunction oven offers versatile cooking options with multiple heating elements and settings, providing flexibility and efficiency for home cooks and bakers, making it a cost-effective upgrade despite being slightly more expensive than conventional ovens.

Read on to learn more…

What Is A Multifunction Oven?

A multifunction oven is an oven that has multiple heating elements inside the oven cavity and a variety of settings to use these elements in a combination of different ways to give you more options when it comes to cooking.

If you have purchased a built-in oven for your kitchen over the past decade, it is likely a multifunction oven.

A multifunction oven not only provides steady heat from a bottom heating element, but also includes a fan for convection cooking, a top heating element, a grill, and even a defrost function. Use the control panel to select the cooking function you desire for each recipe.

This versatility provides more control over how food is cooked, enabling you to achieve specific cooking results that might not be possible with a conventional oven.

Other common multifunction settings include a pizza setting, dough proving, slow cooking, bread baking as well as various cleaning functions. The exact functions will vary depending on the make and model.

Multifunction ovens are available as free-standing range cookers and built-in appliances. They can be sold as electric or gas and as a single oven or combi versions. You can also order a double multifunction oven to expand your baking capabilities further.

You may think of a multifunctional oven as a luxury upgrade, but the majority of ovens produced these days include many multifunction options. It is harder to find a true conventional or simple fan oven.

An old-fashioned conventional built-in oven can be found for about £150. A multifunction can be purchased for as little as £200. Of course, you can totally splurge and pay in excess of £2,000 for an oven that matches all your appliances, has Wi-Fi capabilities, and all the bells and whistles.

Selecting a setting on a Multifunction Oven

Pros

  • Add flexibility to your oven-prepared recipes. Bake, roast, grill, and defrost with one appliance.
  • Includes conventional, fan, and grill cooking options.
  • Versatile cooking options
  • Programmable cooking times.
  • Top and bottom heating elements for more even cooking.
  • Fan convection setting speeds up cooking times.
  • Cost-effective upgrade
  • Available for gas or electric

Cons

  • Slightly more expensive than a conventional oven.
  • Complicated controls can confuse inexperienced cooks.
  • Could be more of an appliance than you will ever need or use.

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How Do You Use A Multifunction Oven?

Using a multifunction oven involves selecting the appropriate settings and functions to match the cooking method required for your recipe.

While the controls on multifunction ovens will vary slightly between manufacturers, the majority will be very similar in operation.

Are you a keen baker? You can bake like a conventional heating oven. Select the base heat button and set your temperature and time. If your cake recipe refers to 180F fan heating, you will select the bottom heat and fan button.

You may wish to roast a chicken or beef using the top and bottom heat with the fan. Depending on your model, you will either select all three buttons or use the digital menu to choose your setting. Using the fan with top and bottom heat provides faster and more even cooking.

Are you finishing off a steak with the grill? There will either be a small grill drawer at the top or you may need to move the racks to the top slot. Press the grill symbol with or without the fan. Some units allow you to heat just half the grill to sear smaller portions.

Your multifunction oven will likely have a pre-heat feature or rapid start setting that brings the oven up to temperature before you begin baking. The fan element speeds up the pre-heat cycle.

Use the defrost setting to turn on just the fan without heat. Your frozen food will defrost faster compared to leaving it on the counter.

Many will also include a pizza setting that uses the bottom heating element and the fan to evenly cook your pizza while making sure the doughy base gets cooked through fully to perfection.

Some multifunction ovens include a steam tray to help control the moisture level for roasts and bread.

The different cooking settings on a multifunction oven

Cleaning Functions

Many multifunction ovens come equipped with cleaning functions to make maintenance easier. The most common self-cleaning features found in multifunction ovens are:

  1. Pyrolytic Cleaning: This self-cleaning system heats the oven to very high temperatures, usually up to 500°C (about 932°F), to burn off food residues and grease. The process turns these residues into ash, which can be easily wiped away once the cycle is complete and the oven has cooled down.

    Pyrolytic cleaning is highly effective and eliminates the need for chemical cleaners. The oven door automatically locks for safety during the cleaning cycle.

  2. Catalytic Cleaning: Catalytic liners are coated with a material that absorbs and oxidizes grease and food splatters at regular baking temperatures. This process helps keep the oven cleaner during regular use.

    However, it may still require occasional manual cleaning, especially for spills and splatters that don’t come into direct contact with the liners. Catalytic liners are often found on the sides or back of the oven cavity.

  3. Steam Cleaning: Some ovens offer a steam cleaning function, which is a quicker and more energy-efficient cleaning method than pyrolytic cleaning. This method involves adding water to a tray at the bottom of the oven, which then generates steam to soften food residues.

    The softened residues can then be wiped away more easily after the cycle. Steam cleaning is less effective on burnt-on residues compared to pyrolytic cleaning but is suitable for regular, light cleaning.

Oven control panel showing multifunction setting options
Oven control panel showing multifunction setting options

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Is a multifunction oven worth it?

Personally, yes I think it is. 👍

A multifunction oven is worth it if you will make full use of its versatile cooking capabilities and advanced features, and if the investment makes sense for your budget and kitchen needs.

Consider:

  • Cooking Needs: If you enjoy experimenting with different cooking methods or often cook varied dishes, a multifunction oven can be a great asset in your kitchen.
  • Budget Considerations: Assess whether the additional cost aligns with your budget and if the benefits outweigh the initial investment.
  • Kitchen Space: For those with limited space, the all-in-one functionality can be particularly advantageous.
  • Simplicity vs. Features: Consider whether you value having a range of cooking options at your fingertips or if you prefer the simplicity of a single-function oven.

And to be honest, nowadays, most new ovens on the market are multifunctional, meaning you might not have much of a choice anyway.

FAQs

What is the difference between a fan and a multifunction oven?

A fan oven may or may not have a grill. The multifunction oven is more likely to have additional programmable functions such as a grill with a fan, top and bottom heat with a fan etc.

A fan oven may only have the option of using the fan with bottom heat (or lower element). The multifunction oven gives you greater flexibility and cooking styles.

What is the difference between a conventional oven and a multifunction oven?

A conventional oven uses only bottom heat with no electric fan to bake food. Some conventional ovens include a grill, but no fan.

A multifunction oven will have the ability for bottom heat, top and bottom heat, grill, fan, and possibly a multitude of functions. It is getting harder to find a true conventional oven in the UK as nearly every model features a fan and grill.

Does a multifunction oven have a grill?

Yes, nearly every multifunction oven comes with a grill.

Some higher-end models have the choice of doing half or double grill where you choose to heat foods with just half of the upper element.

This is great for reheating a slice of pizza or a single serving of leftover lasagne. Always check the function details when you buy a multifunction oven to ensure it has everything that you want and need. 👍

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Final Thoughts…

There you have it! Everything you need to know about the multifunction oven and if it’s the right choice for you.

Nowadays you’d be hard-pressed to find an oven that isn’t multifunction. Every manufacturer makes multifunction models as part of their line-up, even as part of their entry-level options.

While they may be fractionally more expensive than a conventional oven, In my opinion, the extra settings and cooking options far outweigh the extra cost. Conventional cooking is a thing of the past!

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Author

Michael from Kitchinsider.com

Michael is a kitchen designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new kitchen installations for over 10 years. Before that, he was an electrician and part of a team that fitted kitchens. He created Kitchinsider in early 2019 to help give people advice when it comes to getting a new kitchen.