Dual-fuel ranges are the best bet for serious cooks who prefer the accuracy, responsiveness and visual cue of a gas cooktop along with the even and consistent temperatures of an electric oven. They can be pricey -- dual-fuel ranges typically start at $2,000 -- but they're usually loaded with high-end features and quality components.
In this category, the KitchenAid KFDD500ESS (Est. $2,300) looks to have a nice blend of performance and value. This freestanding model combines a gas cooktop with dual electric ovens for maximum flexibility. The lower, larger cavity has convection cooking capabilities, and features such as the ability to automatically adjust cooking times in conventional recipes to convection cooking, though in CNET's testing that feature, called EasyConvect Conversion -- proved not to be all that easy -- or accurate -- to use. No matter, says CNET's Ashlee Clark Thompson, who adds that these and other small bobbles don't change the fact that "the KitchenAid KFDD500ESS is a strong option for the home cook who multi-tasks at mealtime."
The gas cooktop has five burners -- four circular and one center oval one -- that range in power up to 17,000 BTU. A griddle for use with center burner is included. The oven boasts a total capacity of 6.7 cubic feet, split between a 2.5-cubic-foot upper cavity and a 4.2-cubic foot lower one. Both ovens work independently for flexibility. "Smells stay contained within each oven -- no need to worry that the bacon you cook in the lower oven will make the sugar cookies in the top taste like pork," Thompson says. In addition to convection, there's a steam rack that lets you add moisture to your cooking.
Performance is a little uneven, but not so much so to dissuade potential buyers. The cooktop can get water to a boil quickly, in about the same time as for most gas cooktops. The oven excelled when roasting a chicken was put to the test, but baking biscuits in convection mode yielded lackluster results. Broiling took longer than Thompson would have liked, and burgers never got the char that broiling often imparts, "but the patties stayed juicy, a nice surprise when you consider that long cook times often result in dried-out meat."
Dual-fuel ranges don't typically get much in the way of user feedback, and the KitchenAid KFDD500ESS is no exception, but we did find more than two-dozen reviews at HomeDepot.com (including many that were originally posted at the KitchenAid website). These owners are largely a happy bunch, with only a single 1-star rating breaking the range's record of 4-star and, mostly 5-star reviews. One issue that might be a concern for some is that a couple of owners complain that the gas stovetop can't be lit during a power outage. These owners still rate their KFDD500ESS highly, however, and it earns a 4.7-star score. Other sites attract only a handful of unique reviews -- one problem with manufacturer-sourced reviews being syndicated across the Internet and appearing at multiple sites -- but those, while limited, fall in line. As an example, a handful of owners posting at BestBuy.com result in a 4.7-star rating.
If you have a much bigger budget, consider the KitchenAid KDRS407VSS (Est. $4,200). This is a commercial-grade dual-fuel oven that's styled like a slide-in (with no backsplash), but is freestanding to fit into the space of a conventional 30-inch oven. It's been professionally tested by an independent reviewer, and scored well in most regards to earn a recommendation; the only hiccup is in broiling, where it only rates Very Good. With a capacity of 4.1-cubic feet, the single convection oven is on the small side, too. The cooktop has four burners, with a maximum output of 20,000 BTU.
Despite the high price, and the lack of much in the way of features -- there's a temperature probe, but no warming or storage drawer and no center burner -- users love this KitchenAid commercial-grade dual-fuel range. We found more than two dozen reviews at HomeDepot.com (including reviews posted at KitchenAid's site) and universal praise. It earns 4.9 stars and recommendations from every owner. Other sites have few unique reviews, but as is the case with the KFDD500ESS, what's available is similarly positive.
The GE C2S985SETSS (Est. $2,300) is worth considering for those that need a slide-in range. We only spotted one professional review, and it was rather lackluster, especially when it came to baking performance. However, user reviews are plentiful and positive. As is typical, the feedback at HomeDepot.com includes a lot of reviews that were posted at GE's web site, but nonetheless, this dual-fuel range earns a 4.5-star rating following more than 480 reviews.
The electric oven in this GE dual-fuel range offers a large, 5.4-cubic foot main cavity and a small, 1 cubic-foot baking drawer. The main cavity includes induction cooking, along with features such as a temperature probe and a cook and hold feature that will keep food warm for up to three hours (there's no warming tray or warming elements on this range, however). The lower drawer is for conventional baking only, and is suitable for baking biscuits, rolls, frozen pizza and the like.
The gas cooktop includes four circular burners and an oval center one that's ideal for odd-shaped cookware, such as a griddle -- and one is included. There's also a three-in one tri-ring burner with a maximum output of 20,000 BTU.
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