The sheer amount of choice available can make it difficult to choose a commercial oven. Gas, electric, countertop, conveyor, convection… Which one is right for you?
This comprehensive guide will take you through the many different types of oven, what they’re best suited for, and the buying options you have.
Types Of Commercial Ovens
There are many different types on the market, and each will suit a particular kitchen’s needs. For instance, whilst a bakery would benefit from a deck or steam oven, a small café with limited space would probably get better use out of a convection model.
1. Oven Range
An oven range is a great all-round option for many commercial kitchens. They usually have a large internal cavity which is ideal for cooking a variety of foods such as meats, pastries, and desserts.
Most models have an electric hob or open gas burner on top, and higher end versions are available with induction hobs or built-in griddles. Having everything in one place helps maximise your oven’s versatility without compromising on space.
Convection ovens are one of the most popular choices for many kitchens. They’re usually more compact than full oven ranges, so they’re ideal for smaller kitchens or to be used as a supplementary oven.
An internal fan distributes heat evenly and thoroughly throughout the cabinet, which reduces cooking time and meat shrinkage. They’re often the most affordable option and work well in a variety of environments.
Some are so efficient they can run from a single 13A plug, so as well restaurants, bakeries, and cafés, they’re a great option for mobile catering.
Steam ovens produce a moist heat which is ideal for quickly cooking fish, vegetables, rice and many other types of food. This cooking method gives you the advantage of preserving flavour, vitamins, and nutrients, but they aren’t suitable for browning or crisping food.
The ability to cook a large range of foods at rapid speed makes them ideal for mass catering, such as in school cafeterias, hospitals, large restaurants, etc...
Often referred to as Combi Ovens, this type of oven offers more advanced cooking methods, as you can choose between steam (moist heat), convection (dry heat), or a combination of both.
You can save time and space by investing in an appliance that does the job of multiple cooker types, as well as reducing labour and running costs. Combi ovens are suitable for baking, roasting, grilling, steaming, braising, blanching and poaching, so they would suit almost any professional kitchen.
5. Conveyor / Pizza
If your kitchen needs to turn out food fast and in high volume, conveyor ovens offer a great solution for consistent cooking. You can cook the same type of food as you would in a standard model, but the opening on conveyor ovens tend to be a lot smaller at 3” to 5” (7,6cm to 12,7cm).
They work by slowly pulling food past powerful cooking elements, and are ideal for quickly cooking dishes such as pizza, tacos, pies, etc… They don’t require as much attention as some other types of oven, but you probably won’t achieve the same texture or flavour as you would from convection or combi ovens.
An accelerated oven combines convection cooking with a microwave. Essentially, the food is cooked in a hot oven and blasted with microwaves to make the cooking process five times faster than conventional ovens.
They can help you save money, time, and boost profits by allowing you to cook food at a much faster rate. You can cook a wide range of foods such as burgers, pizzas, sausages, kebabs, roast potatoes, pies, and much more.
Rapid ovens offer an even faster cook time and combine accelerated technology with impingement cooking. This type of oven is ideal if your customers are standing whilst they’re waiting for food, as they offer the fastest cook times.
7. Finishing Oven
These ovens are designed to give cooked dishes a quick zap before serving or to quickly melt cheese. As it has heating elements on top of the unit focusing downwards, it’s perfect for browning or melting surfaces of cooked dishes.
They’re quite versatile and easy to install and usually come in wall mount, countertop or built in.
Whilst the first thing that springs to mind is probably chicken, you can cook a variety of foods in a rotisserie oven, including turkey, prime rib, and pork. As well as offering an appealing visual to your customers, they offer a fast cooking time and great taste.
Rotisserie ovens cook off most of the fat whilst the product rotates on a spit, allowing the meat or poultry to stay moist by maintaining its own juices. Models which are easy to clean and have a low energy output are becoming increasingly popular in convenience stores, restaurants, and catering businesses.
Charcoal ovens are a great alternative to open grills, which often aren’t practical in a commercial kitchen environment. They have a much lower charcoal consumption, cook faster, and are much cleaner than conventional open grills.
They offer the perfect way to impart that delicious, unique flavour from cooking over coals but without all the hassle. Some models collect the ash in sealed cabinets beneath the oven which makes them very simple to clean. You can expect to consume between 7kg and 18kg of charcoal a day, depending on the size of your establishment.
10. Low Temperature / Cook And Hold
The great thing about cook and hold ovens is that most don’t require extraction, which means you can place it anywhere in your kitchen. Cooking food at low temperatures reduces shrinkage and increases flavour, making them ideal for cooking cheaper cuts of meat.
They offer great versatility, as you can use a low temperature oven to cook, roast, reheat frozen food, and hold. You could also cook food slowly overnight and then hold until service. They’re a popular choice for carveries, banquets, cafeterias, and outside catering.
Commercial smokers are similar to cook and hold ovens, but also enable you to impart a similar taste in food as you would achieve by barbecuing, without the hassle of outdoor cooking.
They’re available in a variety of sizes, such as countertop, half size, and full size, and the right one for you will depend on the type and amount of food you need to smoke.
Some ovens also have a cold smoking capability, which is suitable for smoking foods which don’t need to be cooked (such as cheese or salami).
12. Deck Oven
Deck ovens are considered to be the best options for cooking crispy loafs of bread and are a firm favourite amongst bakers. Unlike convection ovens, these use conduction heat which travels from a hot stone or deck, and they usually have the ability to add steam too.
Although they’re usually quite large and take up a fair amount of space, they have a good recovery time and hold temperature well. Electric models allow you to set the temperature for each deck, so you can bake a variety of products at different temperatures. This isn’t usually possible with gas versions.
13. Brick Oven
Although these tend to have more upfront installation costs, brick ovens are considered to offer the best quality pizza. As most are custom built to fit your particular space, the combination of skilled labor and expensive materials means mostly high-end, specialised restaurants choose them over conveyor or deck ovens.
Depending on the size, you can fit about 10 to 12 pizzas at a time, they’ll cook in about 5 minutes, and provide crispier crusts and smokier flavours. It’s best to consider the amount of pizzas you’ll likely be serving at peak hours, your clientele’s tastes, and how much you’re looking to spend on a pizza oven if you’re considering a brick oven.
Brands Available IN Australia
To give you an idea of what’s available on the Australian market, here is a list of some of the most popular commercial oven brands:
Unox ovens offer quality, innovation, efficiency, and reliability. Established in Italy in 1990, this brand has gone from strength. With offices and branches in 25 countries and distribution in over 110 countries worldwide, they’re considered one of the best choices for commercial kitchen equipment.
They believe in increasing performance whilst simplifying their designs and eliminating complexity. This means you’ll spend less time training your operators and can really help free up your resources.
All their ovens are made with materials which come from sustainable production and are almost 100% recyclable at the end of their life cycle.
This model belongs to Unox LINEMICRO range. It’s a compact oven designed for more simple pastry and baking processes, but it’s quiet, reliable, safe, and fast. It has a steel chamber which offers maximum hygene, optimal thermal insulation, and can fit up to 4 trays (46cm x 33cm).
- Maximum temperature: 300ºC
- Dimensions (cm): 60w x 58,7d x 47,2h
- Power: 10Amp, 2.4Kw, 230V - 1N
- Price: $1.200 excl. GST
This oven has a built-in water pump which allows you to introduce steam to the cooking process. It has over 70 cooking programs and manual operation to suit your needs. It offers great versatility as you can choose from 20% up to 100% humidity, and it fits 4 trays (46cm x 33cm).
The LINEMISS range is ideal for bakeries and pastry shops but will suit all baking needs. It offers the same results as a large oven but takes up much less space in this practical compact format.
- Maximum temperature: 260ºC
- Dimensions (cm): 66w x 65,1d x 50,9h
- Power: 15Amp, 3Kw, 230V - 1N
- Price: $1.980 excl. GST
If you’re looking for a combi oven, this is a great choice that allows for maximum cooking uniformity to help you achieve consistency for every single dish your kitchen produces. It’s designed to make the cooking process as simple as possible, has a capacity for 12 trays, and is available in both gas and electric.You can set the humidity from 48ºC to 260ºC so you’ll able to select the optimum cooking process for every dish on your menu. They’re suitable for roasting, grilling, baking pizza, braising, baking off bread, and baking off frozen pastry.
If you’re considering buying an accelerated oven, Turbochef offers a wide range of products which are versatile, user-friendly, and energy efficient. Established in 1991, the company has grown steadily and now supplies large chains such as Subway.Turbochef accelerated and rapid ovens are a great choice for any establishment that needs to cook food fast whilst producing consistent results.
The High h Conveyor 2020 has a compact 20” (50cm) design which offers the same throughput as larger 28” (71cm) conveyors but requires less energy consumption. It has a stainless steel exterior with covers and panels which stay cool to the touch, and a stainless steel interior which is easy to clean.This oven has a high heat transfer rate which would allow you to cook 60 pizzas (12”) in an hour. It’s suitable for a large variety of food including chips, subway sandwiches, chicken wings and fish. Cook times vary from 30 seconds to 15 minutes, and it’s also one of the only ventless models on the market.
- Maximum temperature: 288ºC
- Dimensions (cm): 122w x 90,7d x 43,2h
- Power: 3 Phase, 5 wire, 32Amp
- Price: $25.750 excl. GST
If your establishment needs to turn out food at a rapid pace you could benefit from investing in an accelerated oven. This model would allow you cook a fresh pizza in about 3 minutes, and is suitable for a variety dishes.It has a smart menu system which allows you to store 200 recipes and offers a single or multi temperature interface. It has a large cavity size, but takes up less space and consumes less energy than many other brands. This oven includes handy accessories such as an aluminium paddle, oven cleaner, oven guard, trigger sprayers and Teflon baskets.
- Dimensions (cm): 71,4w x 71,8d x 61,8h
- Power: 3 Phase, 5 wire, 400 - 415V, 50Hz
- Price: $29.870 excl. GST
Charcoal ovens are the best way to create authentic barbeque flavours without having to resort to outside cooking. Designed in Spain, Mibrasa offers a wide range of high-quality ovens which will adapt to the needs of any commercial kitchen.Their design provides an efficient way of cooking, as you can control the airflow to the closed grill, change the intensity of the embers, and consume less charcoal in the long run. They’re a firm favourite across a variety of establishments, from high-end Michelin Star restaurants to mobile food trucks.
This model is designed for establishments with lower volume (about 35 diners). It can produce 25kg of food in an hour and uses 7kg of charcoal per day. It’s suitable for a variety of food such as meat, fish, and vegetables, is faster and cleaner than using a traditional open grill, and provides more control over heat output.
- Maximum temperature: 350ºC
- Dimensions (cm): 70w x 49d x 88h
- Grill dimensions (cm): 50 x 35
- Price: $15.565 excl. GST
Designed for large venues catering for 110 diners, this model is similar to the HMB Mini but allows for a bigger food output. It fires up in about 30 minutes, can handle 100kg of food per hour, and consumes 18kg of charcoal per day.
- Maximum temperature: 350ºC
- Dimensions (cm): 92w x 70d x 112h
- Grill dimensions (cm): 70 x 60
- Price: $21.173 excl. GST
If you’re short on worktop space this model may be ideal for you, as it stands alone and includes a storage cupboard below. It has the same features as the HMB 110 Worktop oven but has a slightly larger grill, and also includes accessories such as a grill, oven tongs, charcoal ember poker, ash shovel, and grill brush.
- Maximum temperature: 350ºC
- Dimensions (cm): 92w x 70d x 112h
- Grill dimensions (cm): 72 x 60
- Price: $23.832 excl. GST
Turbofan offers an extremely wide range of products suitable for all foodservice and bakery situations. Their ovens are designed for ease of use, and provide consistent, high-quality results.Whether you require equipment for roasting, baking, proofing, steaming, or cook and hold, this brand has you covered. Their user-friendly website also provides detailed explanations about the different applications that Turbofan covers.
This digital, electric convection oven is a great all-round option ideal for a variety of venues such as bakeries, cafés, kiosks, convenience stores, restaurants, hotels, and supermarkets.Its bi-directional reversing fan system ensures even cooking and baking with every use. It has a digital display with time and temperature controls and 20 cook programmes to choose from. Its safe-touch door also helps minimise the risk of burns.
- Maximum temperature: 260ºC
- Dimensions (cm): 75w x 81d x 73h
- Power: 230 - 240V, 30Amp, 6.5Kw
- Volume: 4 pan capacity (46 x 66)
- Price: $6,072 excl. GST
If you have limited space available, this half size convection oven is a great option. It’s powerful, versatile, and cost-effective. Its compact size has enough capacity for 5 gastronomy trays, and allows energy savings and minimal food loss.It has electronic controls to provide time and temperature accuracy, has a 2 bi-directional reversing fan system to ensure an even cook, and large easy view displays. This model can also be double stacked so you can maximise on space.
- Maximum temperature: 260ºC
- Dimensions (cm): 61w x 68d x 73h
- Power: 230 - 240V, 25Amp, 6Kw
- Volume: 5 GN1/1 (Gastronomy Tray)
- Price: $5,300 excl. GST
The E27M3 offers dependable performance and is simple to use. It features a mechanical thermostat for time and temperature settings, and a single bi-directional reversing fan system to circulate heat effectively and efficiently.
It’s suitable for a variety of baked and cooked goods, and is often used in bakeries, patisseries, cafés, and convenience stores.
- Maximum temperature: 260ºC
- Dimensions (cm): 81w x 76,2d x 60,7h
- Power: 230 - 240V, 19.6Amp, 4.7Kw
- Volume: 3 Tray (60 x 40)
- Price: $3,630 excl. GST
Lincoln specialise in conveyor ovens. They have distribution points all over the world and are known for their “Impinger” line which cooks twice as fast as standard convection and deck ovens.Conveyor ovens offer great versatility; they can be used to cook almost any product and are considered to be the simplest to operate.
Small, versatile, and powerful, the Countertop Impinger (CTI) offers a large oven capacity but is small enough to fit on most commercial countertops. They’re also stackable (2 maximum) so they’re ideal if you’re tight on space.This model has digital controls and temperature display, 4 pre-set menu options and a push-button reversible motor. Hot air which is under pressure surrounds food and allows for rapid cooking, heating, baking, and crisping of food. Bake time can be set from 30 seconds to 15 minutes.
The CTI is also available as Ventless, which provides more flexible installation options as it doesn’t require a venting hood.
- Maximum temperature: 315ºC
- Dimensions (cm): 127w x 79,7d x 45,7h
- Power: 230 - 240V, 25Amp, 3Kw, 3 Wires
- Price: $13,042 excl. GST
With Fastbake technology, this conveyor oven can bake 35% faster than other conveyors without increasing noise output or loss of quality. This model can be stacked 2 high for maximum cook capacity, and each can replace up to 3 full size deck ovens.The conveyor belt is 81,3cm wide and it has a 101cm baking chamber, so it will have no problem handling larger volume. The conveyor speed can be adjusted from 1 to 30 minutes cooking time, and it’s available in gas or LP as well as electric.
- Maximum temperature: 316ºC
- Dimensions (cm): 198w x 147d x 132h
- Power: 3 phase, 38Amp
- Price: $24,500 excl. GST
Industrial ovens vary greatly in price, and you can expect to spend anywhere from $500 to $20,000. Fortunately, you don’t always need to shell out everything at once. Here are some the most popular buying options:
1. Used / Second Hand
The secondhand market offers a lot of choice at lower prices, you just need to make sure you gather as much information from the seller as possible to make sure you’re purchasing the type of equipment that will suit you best.
Whenever you can, carry out a thorough pre-sales inspection so you know exactly what you’re buying. If you know there’s a problem with the oven but you’re keen to buy it anyway, check how much the repair is likely to cost with the manufacturer. This way you can include repair costs in the purchase price to help make your decision.
Because gas ovens tend to have simple, durable designs, they’re often a better choice if you’re considering second hand equipment as they’re less likely to need repairs. Whilst electronic or computerised controls offer useful functions, they can easily break and often cost more to repair.
Bear in mind that older models tend to have fewer features and be less energy efficient than new ovens, but this is the trade off you get for a lower price.
Places to look for second hand commercial ovens:
Whether you’re just starting out or upgrading your current kitchen, purchasing commercial equipment for your hospitality establishment can mean investing a large sum of capital upfront.
Many businesses prefer to rent equipment through specialised suppliers, as it helps spread the cost over a longer period of time. Once you’ve found the oven that best suits your needs, it’s worth contacting several dealers and finding out if they offer rental solutions or try-rent-buy.
Places that offer commercial equipment rental:
Another popular buying option when it comes to purchasing commercial kitchen equipment is to use financing companies. Many suppliers partner with their preferred finance provider, so it’s best to compare payment plans to find the best deal.
There are many different solutions available, such as renting and upgrading equipment throughout a specified term or owning it at the end of the lease. Payment plans usually range from 12 to 60 months, so large upfront costs can be spread out into manageable payments.
Payments for business equipment may also be tax deductible, so it’s always best to check the details with your tax advisor.
Places that offer financing for kitchen equipment:
Now that you have a better idea about what type of commercial oven might best suit your needs, here are a few additional points to consider:
Gas or Electric?
One of the biggest decisions you’ll be faced with when deciding on the right type commercial oven is whether to go for gas or electric. If your kitchen isn’t already equipped with a gas installation this decision could be made easy for you, as installation costs can be high and just not viable.
There are pros and cons to both types of power supply, but it’s generally agreed that gas ovens are more economical in the long run as gas is cheaper than electricity. The decision will depend on your specific needs and kitchen setup, but here is a breakdown of both fuel sources:
Powered By Gas
- Allows control over the intensity of the flame and provides a visual of different heat levels
- Won’t be affected by a power outage
- Quicker cool down period than electric equipment
- Higher installation costs but lower running costs
Powered By Electricity
Size also plays a big role when it comes to choosing a commercial oven, both in terms of kitchen space and the amount of food you’ll need to fit in at any given time. In order to provide good service, you’ll need to be able to get food out quickly. If your oven is too small to handle the pace, you’ll end up with a backlog of orders and hungry customers.
Asking yourself these questions can help you decide on the right size:
- How many items on your menu will need oven time?
- How long will each dish need in the oven?
- How many customers are you expecting at full capacity?
- What is an acceptable time to keep customers waiting?
- Will the size of your oven allow enough room for staff to work safely?
An oven is one of the most important pieces of equipment in a professional kitchen, and
regular cleaning ensures it functions properly and will help prolong its life. Cleaning guidelines vary greatly from model to model, so it’s always best to read through all cleaning and maintenance instructions associated with your particular oven.
Most ovens will need an interior clean every day to wipe away spills and crumbs which can begin to burn, and can do with an outside clean on a weekly basis. A thorough cleaning should be done every month, but remember not to use any abrasive products on stainless steel as they can cause damage.
Installing a commercial oven isn’t as simple as plugging one it at home, especially for models which are powered by gas. Most suppliers offer professional installation when you make your purchase, but if this isn’t the case, it’s always best to use an installation company which is familiar with your brand.
Experienced installers will ensure your equipment is properly calibrated, positioned correctly to work alongside your refrigeration system, help you achieve an energy-efficient kitchen, and ensure you’re complying with commercial kitchen regulations.
As I mentioned earlier, many establishments prefer to use gas equipment over electric due to their lower long-term fuel costs. However, newer, energy-efficient electric models are a great choice for many kitchens.
To help you get a feel of which brands and models perform best in terms of energy use you can check their Energy Star rating. You’ll often find models with these ratings are 20% to 30% more efficient than those which aren’t rated, which could have a large impact on your bottom line.
Ease Of Use
A commercial kitchen can be a chaotic, stressful environment, so whenever possible it’s best to choose equipment that won’t slow you down. If your oven requires specialised skills, bear in mind that this may limit the amount of people who know how to operate it. You may have to provide training for your entire kitchen staff in order to streamline service.
Conveyor ovens are considered to be the easiest to use, as they require very little input from operators and deliver consistent results.
To successfully operate a commercial kitchen you’ll be relying on lots of different equipment, and ovens can pose a serious risk of burns, exposure to hot liquid, and in the case of gas powered ranges, open flames.
It’s always best to provide training for your staff when you introduce a new oven and to ensure the right pots and pans are used to avoid spillages. Make sure your oven is turned off when it’s not in use, never leave the door down or unattended, ensure it’s not overloaded, and always use dry oven mitts to handle trays, pots, and pans.
In order to keep your oven functioning properly, it’s important to carry out proper care and maintenance. Some models require more than others, so it’s always best to find out as much as you can before you make your purchase to avoid surprises down the road.
For instance, fans in convection ovens need to be checked over monthly, and their intake fans and flues require weekly cleaning and monitoring. Steam generators in steam ovens need to be cleaned every day, and any deposits left on the walls should be removed monthly, so they tend to require more attention.
All ovens need to be checked regularly to ensure the door seals tightly, that there are no loose or weak hinges, and that the thermostat is calibrated properly, as all these things can have a major impact on cook time and consistency.
Tip: to check the door seals properly, place a piece of paper in the door and try to pull it out.
If your oven doesn’t work, your kitchen may grind to a halt until you can get the problem fixed. It’s a good idea to sign up to a preventative maintenance plan with your supplier or installer, as many problems can be avoided with periodic tuneups.
Ovens use a variety of heat sources including conduction, convection, and radiant heat, and heat output is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Usage). The right one for you will depend on the type of food you’re cooking and your energy usage concerns.Ovens with higher BTU ratings will heat faster, have a quicker heat recovery time, but consume a higher rate of energy. Ovens with lower BTU ratings heat more slowly and have a slower heat recovery time, but tend to be more efficient.
Exhaust canopies help eliminate smoke, steam, grease, heat, and odours to provide a clean, healthy air environment. If you’re operating a commercial kitchen, the chances are you’ll need an exhaust fan or canopy to provide ventilation.That said, not all ovens require ventilation. Some convection units can operate without a hood, which makes them ideal for mobile catering, food trucks, and smaller establishments low on kitchen space. But most gas powered equipment does require ventilation, so it’s crucial to know what your setup will allow before deciding on an oven.
Each type of oven has a variety of accessories which will help your food turn out just right. Once you’ve decided on the best oven to suit your needs, you’ll have a wide choice of accessories to go with it. Here is a list of some of the extra bits and pieces you’ll need depending on the type of dishes you’re cooking:
- Roasting racks, roasting pans, roasting trays
- Wire shelves
- Baking trays, perforated baking trays
- Grill or pizza trays
- Metal skewers, stainless steel hooks, meat hooks
- Smoker racks
- Cooking baskets
- Aluminium paddles
The Bottom Line
When it comes to serving food, choosing the right oven will be one of the most important decisions you have to make. The perfect oven will help you turn out perfectly cooked dishes and keep your customers happy. The wrong type of oven will slow down service, make it difficult to produce quality food, and negatively affect your bottom line.
This guide should have helped you gain a little more insight into the world of commercial and industrial ovens, and I hope you found it useful.