KitchenAid's clever features and professional style make for a baker's delight
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We gave the KSDB900ESS a thorough evaluation, measuring performance in a series of lab-based cooking tests. From preheat speed to air flow in the oven cavity, we examined many key functionalities. Our overall takeaway is positive: The oven bakes reasonably well (if you use convection), and the rangetop can reach both high and low temperatures. Our main complaint is the oven’s slow preheat—largely a function of the thermal mass of all those extra features.
This review was updated on July 19, 2016 to include data from a new multi-rack convection test.
When you’ve tested and cooked on hundreds of ranges, the endless parade of stainless steel cooking contraptions can start to blend together. It takes a special range to draw real praise, and we think the KitchenAid KSDB900ESS dual fuel slide-in range (MSRP $2,949) is worth gushing about.
This new KitchenAid has that sleek, sturdy, pro-style look—all knobs and shiny stainless steel. It bakes and boils well too. But more impressive is its clever array of features, including a steam rack, a wireless temperature probe, and a dedicated baking drawer. None of those extras get in the way of cooking. On the contrary, they should help you make more delicious meals.
Although sale prices dip around $2,600, the KSDB900ESS is still no budget range. But if you’re willing to shell out for some sweet extras and you love to bake, we doubt you'll regret the purchase.
In our oven testing, we typically bake a sheet of 12 cookies and measure variations in browning across the sheet. We also bake two cakes side by side and see how they fare. With standard bake, cookie doneness varied across the cavity—no more than the average oven, but more than most ovens in this price range.
When we ran the same bake test with multi-rack convection, cookies still emerged overdone towards the rear left, regardless of which tray they were on. This isn't a deal breaker—but it's a surprise in such an expensive range that hits nearly every other test out of the park. We test with dark baking sheets, so if you buy this KitchenAid, consider a light-colored sheet to help keep thin items from burning on the bottom.
Across all tests, cakes fared much better.
Preheat times were slower than we like to see: 16 minutes 38 seconds with standard bake and 14 minutes 47 seconds with convection. If you want to speed things up, remove a rack.
The broiler, on the other hand, was quite speedy, heating the area below the broil element to 605°F in just 4 minutes 45 seconds.
As a whole, the rangetop is quite versatile, able to reach high and low temperatures alike and boil water reasonably fast. But no single burner is the complete package. For example, the two left burners are the only ones that can simmer, but the two front burners are the only ones that can quickly boil water. If you're stir-frying or searing, stick with the center or rear right burners.
It's a lot to remember, and we wished for at least one burner that could do it all. That said, it's nice to be spoiled for choice, and the included griddle is a nice touch. Looks-wise, sturdy control knobs combine with continuous cast iron grates to give the rangetop a professional aesthetic.
Performance aside, KitchenAid packed in a ton of extra features, which include a steam rack, baking drawer, and AquaLift self-clean. There’s also a wireless temperature probe, which allows you to set temperature alerts to keep track of a roast, even when you step away from the kitchen.
Combined with the baking drawer down below the oven, the KSDB900ESS offers a whopping 7.1 cubic feet of baking space.
But, how does it bake (and roast)? As it turns out, pretty unevenly. Some of the food we cooked turned out absolutely perfect, while other results were just fine.
If you’re looking for a fast preheat, be forewarned: the KSDB900ESS will keep you waiting. The broiler, however, takes less than five minutes to reach scorching temps.
Bake tests showed the KSDB900ESS does its most even baking with its true convection enabled, although you can give standard bake a try without too many adverse effects. Controls are straightforward and set in front of the rangetop.
We were a bit confused by the results of our standard and multi-rack convection cookie bake tests. Unlike the good results we got from nearly all other tests, all cookies we baked turned out unevenly browned.
We did test after test and still got the same result—brown in the left-rear corner, underdone towards the front. Even on multi-rack convection, both racks of cookies showed the same issues. Cakes, on the other hand, were just about perfect.
We measured maximum and minimum temperatures and boiling speed for each of the rangetop’s five gas burners. We found that the burners were overly specialized—with different strengths and weaknesses that limit how you can cook on each burner. Still, the rangetop as a whole is capable of reaching both hot and mild temperatures, and can boil reasonably quickly. You just have to remember which burner can do what.
The two left burners are the only ones that can reach low temps for simmering/melting, bottoming out at 94°F in the left rear and 104°F in the left front. All other burners reach their lowest temps closer to 200°F or even 235°F for the right rear burner.
The center and right rear burners are the only ones that can reach the high temperatures you’ll want for stir-frying or getting a nice sear on a pork chop. The center burner maxes out at 414°F, while the right rear burner manages to hit 454°F. The front burners reach their maximum temperatures around 350°F, which isn’t terrible, but the left rear burner doesn’t manage to break the 300°F mark.
The two front burners are the only ones that can boil six cups of water in under 10 minutes. In our tests, the left front burner boiled six cups of water in 5 minutes 30 seconds, while the right front burner took just over 6 minutes. Don’t try to boil water anywhere else on the rangetop, or you’ll be waiting a long time.
Cooking with steam has been gaining popularity over the past few years for its efficiency and ability to keep food moist. It's great for baking bread with a fluffy interior and crispy crust. But if you’d like to try steam without springing for a specialized steam oven, the KSDB900ESS counts a steam rack among its 3 oven racks. Pour water into a reservoir attached to the underside of the rack and join the revolution.
Sure, you won't have the same level of control as a dedicated steam oven would offer, but you will get the chance to experiment with your baked goods.
If you want to perform multiple baking functions at once, or if you’re just looking to use a smaller cavity, there’s also a baking drawer that can bake, slow cook, and keep warm. Sometimes that extra space just comes in handy, whether you’re keeping dinner warm or baking a pie while your Thanksgiving turkey occupies the oven.
With the KSDB900ESS, KitchenAid does away with the smelly, time-consuming, and prevalent pyrolytic self clean cycle in favor of AquaLift technology. It’s not as rigorous as a traditional pyrolytic self-clean, but it does mean you’ll be able to run a self clean cycle in under an hour without stinking up your kitchen.
For one year from the date of purchase, KitchenAid will pay for repair work and replacement parts to address any defects in material or workmanship. This is a fairly standard home appliance warranty. For more information, please see the manual.
KitchenAid clearly put a lot of thought into the features that come with the KSDB900ESS, and it shows.
A pro-style slide-in range should be sturdy and straightforward—and at a glance, the KSDB900ESS is both of these things. It’s only when you look more closely that you notice neat extras like the steam rack and baking drawer. Useful extras like these make the $2,600 sale price more palatable, and won't get in the way of your cooking.
The combination of gas burners and an electric oven make for a versatile range that we recommend for those who love to bake—but also sauté and sear. In other words, this KitchenAid has it all.