How to choose the right cooking appliances for big families
These larger-capacity kitchen appliances are great for a crowd.
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Getting dinner on the table is hard enough when you’re cooking for one. I mean, there’s a reason most of us stuck to microwaved ramen noodles and frozen meals while in college! As your family expands, or if you regularly cook for a crowd, it becomes more crucial to cook at home to save money and stay within your monthly budget. Unfortunately, you may find that your appliances are cramping your cooking style. They’re either not large enough to create the right amount of food, or they’re not up to the task of handling the heavy use your family demands.
That’s where these larger-capacity appliances come in. They’re designed to fit in your existing layout, so you can maximize output without redesigning your kitchen. Even replacing one of your current appliances with some of these options may make it that much easier to meal prep for the week or create healthy weeknight dinners.
What to look for in cooking appliances
Until recently, induction cooktops were rare in the U.S., but they’ve been growing in popularity. Induction cooktops are more efficient than electric and gas. While they usually cost more initially, you’ll save money in the long run on your utility bill. They’re also quicker to heat up, can handle higher highs and lower lows, and they heat the pans more evenly. As a bonus, the cooktops aren’t hot to the touch, so you don’t have to worry about little hands getting burnt.
Get the right number of burners
A standard cooktop has four burners, but most of our top-rated ranges cooktops are built with five burners. That extra burner means you can simmer, boil, saute, and sear, all at the same time.
Many cooktops have additional features, like warming zones, griddle burners, or dual- and tri-ring burners. Depending on your cooking style, these extra features may come in handy. No matter how many burners you choose, just make sure the cooktop has a good range of heat options. You’ll want a power burner for boiling water quickly, a few medium burners for regular use, and a low burner for simmering and keeping food warm.
Choose appliances that are easy to clean
Stainless steel not only looks classy and sleek, but it’s also easier to clean. Most stainless steel appliances have a smudge-proof finish that prevents the unsightly build-up of fingerprints. You may get drawn in by black stainless, a new finish that looks even prettier than stainless. These appliances also resist fingerprints, but keep in mind they’re easier to scratch, revealing the stainless underneath the black finish.
Convection ovens can cook meals more quickly
Getting dinner on the table—fast—is a priority for most families. It’s the difference between cooking a home-cooked meal and grabbing take-out on the way home. We love convection ovens for large families because they reduced cooking times and cook your food more evenly. These ovens feature a fan at the back of the oven that circulates hot air around the cooking food.
You’ll see some ovens labeled as “true convection” or “European convection,” and they’re usually more expensive. That’s because they contain an additional heating element, which helps your food cook more evenly.
Newer ovens also have air fryer or speedcook settings, too. The fans used in these settings usually run more rapidly than regular convection. That doesn’t mean they get hotter, but the extra air circulation helps to crisp up foods like fried chicken or French fries.
You may need a double wall oven
Wall ovens are a fantastic option if you have the space, especially if you have room to install a double oven. They provide twice the cooking space, so you can cook several dishes at once. That’s great for meal prepping for the week or cooking for a crowd. Double ovens also have separate settings, so you can cook at two different temperatures or bake and broil at the same time. Many of them have smart features like remote-start and Wi-Fi connectivity, as featured in many of Bosch’s smart home devices.
If you don’t have space for a wall oven, don’t fret: Some manufacturers make slide-in ranges with double ovens.
The best cooking appliances for big families
The Frigidaire FGIH3047VF was our favorite induction range when we tested gas, electric, dual-fuel, and induction ranges. It’s the perfect fit if you’re making the jump from electric to induction because the auto-adjusting burners help shorten the learning curve. The cooktop heats up quickly and stays cool to the touch while the oven has quick-cooking options like air-fry mode and true convection. Put it all together, and this range may help you get dinner on the table just a little bit faster.
If you have the space to install a large induction cooktop, the five-burner, 36-inch Bosch Benchmark NITP669UC Induction Cooktop is the way to go. This cooktop has a built-in flexibility feature that we haven’t found in many cooktops, and that makes it perfect for anyone cooking for a crowd. Instead of having several separate cooktop spaces, Bosch’s FlexInduction allows you to combine two or more cooking zones to accommodate pots and pans up to 9 inches wide and 15 inches long. It also has a SpeedBoost function to speed up the cooking process, boiling water faster than a standard burner.
Not quite ready to make the switch to induction? That’s OK! We loved the Bosch 800 Series HEI8054U electric range, which has now been replaced with the HEI8056U. The five-burner cooktop features a dual-zone burner, so you can use it to boil water or hold a sauce at a simmer. The oven has an impressive number of cooking modes, including Bake, Variable Broil (high and low), Roast, Warm, Proof Dough, Convection Bake, Convection Broil, Convection Roast, Multi-Rack European-style Convection with conversion, Pizza, and Fast Preheat). This range also has a warming drawer, which comes in handy if you need to keep some dishes warm while you finish the rest of the dinner.
The 36-inch Frigidaire Professional FPEC3677RF electric cooktop has the perfect balance between elegance and high performance. The five-burner cooktop has a lot of built-in functionality for large families, including a large dual-ring burner and a warming zone. We especially love the bridge burner that allows you to connect two elements to create a burner large enough for a roasting pan or a griddle plate.
If your kitchen is set up with a gas connection, you can’t go wrong with the Frigidaire FGGH3047VF gas range with built-in air fry. The cooktop features five burners ranging from 5,000 to 18,000 BTUs, so it has plenty of power to boil a pot of water quickly. The middle burner fits an oval griddle, making it easy to cook breakfast for a crowd. We also loved that the true-convection oven has an air fry mode. Using the Air Fry Tray (available for purchase separately), you can everything from chicken wings to french fries and tater tots (even from frozen!). Knowing the air fry mode works so well is a great way to free up your counter space and save you from having to buy another cooking gadget.
The GE Cafe Series CGP9536SLSS 36-inch built-in gas cooktop was our top pick when testing gas cooktops. It has a 20,000 BTU tri-ring burner that was able to boil water faster than most of the cooktops we tested, and we were impressed that the precise simmer burner was able to achieve low simmering temperatures. We also loved that the griddle spans the left two burners, so it’s much larger than griddle plates that fit over a standard oval middle burner.
Dual oven gas range
Having dual ovens is a great benefit for large families, but not everyone has the space for a wall oven. In that case, the 5-burner, double oven LG LDG4315ST gas range might be a good fit for your kitchen. It offers 6.9 cu. ft. of total oven space and the 4.3-cu.-ft. bottom oven has a convection mode to cook your food faster and more evenly. LG makes the ovens easy to clean, too, featuring a brief steam clean cycle as part of LG's EasyClean Express.
Dual oven electric range
For an electric range option with dual ovens, look to the Samsung NE59J7850WS Flex Duo electric range. We love that this oven doesn’t force you to choose: It can be used as a single 5.9-cu.-ft. oven, or you can slide in the partition to create two smaller options. The five-burner cooktop on this range doesn’t disappoint, either, featuring a warming zone and a tri-ring burner.
Double wall oven
To seriously increase your cooking capacity, you’ll need a double wall oven, like the Bosch HBL8651UC Double Wall Oven. These stacked ovens provide 4.6 cu. ft. per oven, easily doubling the oven capacity of a normal slide-in or freestanding range. And because the ovens function independently, you can roast or broil at different temperatures, cooking a massive Thanksgiving turkey or holiday brisket in one oven while using the other to bake cookies or side dishes. It also has an impressive array of baking modes, from traditional Bake, Broil, Convection Bake, Convection Roast, and Keep Warm to features like Variable Broil, Proof Dough, Fast Preheat, Pizza, and a built-in probe thermometer so you’ll never overcook a turkey again.
Feel like you need your microwave to cook for your large family, but you’re ready for a healthier alternative? You might want to consider a Bosch HSLP451UC Steam Convection oven. These combi-ovens can do almost everything a microwave can do, just a little better. They’re perfect for making tender-crisp vegetables, and they make reheated food tastes so much better. Bosch’s steam oven doesn’t require plumbing, either, containing a refillable 1.4-quart water tank instead.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.