Kristen Hicks on February 23, 2016 1 Comment For any restaurant, bakery, cafeteria or other business that relies on being able to feed a large number of people quickly and effectively, finding the best commercial oven is crucial. Someone who picks an oven that doesn’t suit their needs for a home kitchen will suffer some cost and inconvenience, but when your business is dependent on getting good food to people fast, the stakes are much higher. Table of Contents Gas Ovens vs. Electric Ovens Types of Commercial Ovens Factors to Consider While Shopping Popular Brands of Commercial Ovens You need an oven that works dependably at the temperature levels and consistency needed for the food you serve. You need it to fit comfortably into the space you have available in your kitchen, be easy enough to use that it won’t slow down your rushed kitchen staff, and fit reasonably into your budget. Luckily, you’ve got a lot of options, but that makes figuring out which commercial oven is just right for your needs a little trickier. Especially since there just aren’t as many resources out there to help you in your search as there are for home ovens and ranges. Gas vs. Electric Ovens There are a lot of categories for you to consider and none of them is inherently superior to another. The best pick all depends on your kitchen’s particular needs. The first big decision you have to make is whether to go with a gas or electric commercial oven. Depending on the set up of your kitchen, the decision may already be made for you. You need the proper hookup to even consider gas, unless you’re willing to make a big investment to get it set up. In terms of which is better, different people have different opinions – it all depends on your preferences. Click Here to View All Commercial Ovens Gas As a fuel source, in most places, gas will cost you a considerable amount less over time than electric. But, if you don’t already have a gas hookup, getting one set up will mean much higher upfront installation costs. For many businesses, this can be a deal-breaker. Chefs also tend to like gas ranges because the flame provides a handy visual of the different heat levels the burners on a stove reach. That won’t matter as much if you’re getting just an oven, versus a full kitchen range, but many kitchens prefer to go for the oven and stove in one piece. To summarize, the main benefits offered by gas are: Gas is a cheaper fuel source. If buying a range, chefs often prefer the visual flames of gas. Electric Electric commercial ovens have cheaper upfront costs, but cost more over time because electricity is more expensive than gas. They’re usually very easy to install – it’s as simple as fitting them into a space near an outlet and plugging them in. They have a reputation for cooking more evenly, which means they’re popular for bakers. They’re also safer than gas, as you don’t have to worry about gas leaks and the risk of fire is slightly less (although still present). To summarize, the main benefits of electric commercial ovens are: More even cooking – better for baking. Cheaper to purchase and set up. Considered safer to use. Types of Commercial Ovens Beyond fuel type, there are several main types of commercial ovens to consider, each best suited for certain types of kitchens and food being served. Deck Ovens Deck ovens have heat elements from the top and bottom, so you can set different heat levels for each dish, as well as different heat levels for the different dishes you’re making at one time. This makes them better for any type of baking where you’d want the top and bottom to be baked at different rates – say a quiche or pie where the dough on the bottom should be done enough to be crispy, but you don’t want the top to burn. They’re widely considered the best choice for baking breads and popular for pizzas as well. Single and double deck models are the most common deck ovens you’ll see, but you can find models that stack even more decks so you can accomplish more for the amount of floor space they take up. They’re a good option for letting you accomplish a lot in a limited space. Convection Ovens Convection ovens are one of the most popular types of commercial ovens on the market. They have a fan that circulates the air in the oven to ensure the food you’re baking heats very evenly and thoroughly. That makes them a great pick for many types of pastries that benefit from even, consistent cooking. They also cook things very quickly in comparison to other types of ovens, a big perk for busy restaurants or bakeries that need to keep their baked and cooked items coming up fast. Commercial convection ovens are one of the most affordable options on our list, meaning they’re the most practical choice for a large number of smaller restaurants and bakeries that need to find the most functional option that fits into their budget. Brick Oven Brick ovens are regarded by many as the best possible choice for making pizza, but they’re also one of the most expensive ovens in terms of upfront costs. They’re very costly to install, so they only really make sense for high-end restaurants that specialize in pizza. But if your clientele includes pizza connoisseurs, the ovens produce crispier crusts and smokier flavors that can make your food a hit. Conveyor Oven Conveyor ovens are a popular choice at restaurants where producing a lot of food fast is the top priority. They use forced air to cook items faster and heat food consistently, so they don’t require as much attention from busy cooks. The results won’t necessarily have the flavor and texture that picky chefs and eaters appreciate from other oven types, but conveyor ovens are the best choice for efficiency. Factors to Consider When Buying a Commercial Oven Every kitchen looking to add or replace a commercial oven has distinct needs. The right oven for a small, local bakery won’t be the same as the right one for a school cafeteria or an upscale restaurant. Before you can figure out which commercial oven is right for you, you should consider a few key factors that will help you make the best decision. Reliability If the stove or oven stops working in a commercial kitchen, the results can be disastrous. It’s not a minor inconvenience – it will cause a serious dent in your profits (or mean they dry up entirely) until you manage to get it fixed or replaced. That makes durability and reliability extremely important factors to consider in finding the right commercial oven. Make sure you spend some time researching the reputation of the brands you consider and talking to other chefs and restaurant owners about their experiences. You want to go with a commercial oven that you can count on to do its job every day, as long as you provide it with the proper maintenance. Size Size considerations will play one of the biggest roles in determining what commercial oven makes the most sense for you. You both need to determine what will fit in the space you have available and how much food you need to be able to fit into your oven at once to provide your customers with reasonable service. This means carefully considering: How many items on your menu will need to spend time in the oven? How long will those different items be in there? How many customers will you be serving at full capacity? How long can you reasonably keep them waiting before losing them as repeat customers? Does the size of your stove leave space for the kitchen staff to still comfortably and safely work? That’s a lot to balance in your consideration and some of the items on that list are hard to predict in advance, you may have to figure some things out via trial and error. But while you’re still in the research stage before you buy your commercial oven is the best time to try to think through all the potential issues that could come up so you can try to pick out the oven that will help your kitchen run as smoothly as possible. Types of Food As our section covering the types of commercial ovens makes clear, the right oven depends a lot on what you’ll be making with it. A brick oven only makes sense for a commercial kitchen that specializes in selling pizza, but for a high-end restaurant with customers that have especially high standards, it can be a worthy investment. A deck oven is a smart buy for a bakery that specializes in bread or makes some trickier types of pastry dishes, like soufflés or meringue pies. If you run a restaurant that makes a wide variety of dishes, the types of commercial ovens that are best for specialty items may not make as much sense. A convection commercial oven is usually the most affordable option and is pretty versatile besides. Deck ovens can also be very versatile, but will require more of an upfront investment. Conveyor ovens can also be used to make a lot of different types of food, but you’re usually trading off some of the quality of the oven’s baking ability for greater efficiency and ease of use (which is a worthy trade for many kitchens). If your commercial oven will be used for a lot of types of dishes, carefully consider the different items on your menu. Talk to your chefs and other kitchen staff about their needs, since they’re the ones who will be on the ground using the oven. A chef will know best whether or not that popular quiche on your brunch menu will be doable in a convection oven, or if the difference in making it in a deck oven is really worth it. Ease of Use Commercial kitchens can get downright chaotic. When your kitchen staff is trying to balance the thousand small tasks that all need to get done right away, you don’t want your oven to be the thing that slows them down. Conveyor ovens easily win when it comes to ease of use. One of their biggest selling points is that you don’t have to hire someone with specialized skills to run them. They’ll work fast and provide consistent results regardless of who’s at the helm. Part of ease of use is also how easy they are to clean and maintain. Commercial kitchens must maintain a high standard of cleanliness, so keeping the oven spic and span shouldn’t be a huge chore. Maintenance is also crucial for avoiding the lost profits that come with a broken commercial oven. If taking care of cleaning and maintenance takes a lot of time and work, you’ll have to pay your staff more to take care of it properly, or potentially deal with higher turnover. Cooking Speed Some types of heating technology, like convection cooking, are known for speeding up the process of how long it takes to cook something. As with ease of use, this can relate directly to how successful your restaurant is. If items on your menu take too long to cook and patrons are left waiting, you risk losing out on repeat business and inspiring negative reviews online. People are busy and often show up to a restaurant already hungry. How quickly your oven will allow you to get your food out to customers must be an important consideration for many businesses. Price Of course, few businesses can make their decision without taking cost into account. If you’re a small business owner, then purchasing an expensive, high-end commercial oven may be out of the picture, no matter how much it seems like the perfect fit otherwise. Figure out your budget before you go into your search, so you know which models you have to rule out before you get attached to them. In some cases, the improved product you get from an oven that’s better suited to what you’re making will end up netting you enough profit to justify the cost. In others, finding the most affordable functional option will be the smartest move for you to make. It all depends on the type of food you’ll be making, the kinds of customers you expect to have, and how much you have to spend. Energy Use While upfront costs may be the most obvious consideration right now, the long-term fuel costs involved in running your commercial oven should be taken into account as well. Energy Star does provide ratings for commercial ovens, so you can get a feel for which brands and models perform the best in terms of energy use. Energy Star commercial ovens are 20-30% more efficient than their counterparts, which can save you big over time. Popular Commercial Oven Brands There are a number of brands selling products in the commercial oven space, which can make it a little overwhelming to figure out the specialties and reputation of each. To give you an idea of the reputation some of the top commercial oven brands have, we looked what people are saying online. We also recommend talking to other chefs and restaurant or bakery owners you know to learn from the experience they’ve had with different brands. Baker’s Pride Baker’s Pride sells quite a few convection, conveyor, and deck commercial ovens. Their ovens receive positive reviews from customers, particularly for making pizzas and baked goods like cupcakes. Reviewers commented that their Baker’s Pride ovens were easy to use, easy to clean, and cook evenly. Royal Range Royal Range makes commercial convection ovens, along with the full ranges they’re named for. They value a commitment to customer service and producing quality products. While there aren’t too many reviews of their commercial ovens online, they may be worth considering for those looking for an affordable solution from a company that makes customer service a priority. Viking Viking is one of the familiar names to come up when you search for commercial ovens. While Viking is in general considered a high-end brand, many customers have reported having issues with their products that are expensive or difficult to fix. We didn’t find too many reviews of their commercial ovens online, so what we did find speaks more generally to the company’s reputation than to that of their commercial ovens specifically. Vulcan Vulcan makes commercial convection ovens and ranges that get solid reviews from customers for both their performance and their customer service. As with many of the other commercial oven brands we checked out, there aren’t a ton of customer reviews for their ovens online, but all the mentions we found of the brand spoke to a solid reputation for providing quality products. Wisco Wisco makes small convection ovens that fit nicely into spaces like bars that do minimal baking. Their commercial ovens get good reviews (many of them from customers that buy them for use in their homes). Customers say they’re easy to use, easy to maintain, and work well for a variety of cooking uses, including cookies, pizzas, and roasts. Conclusion The oven you use can make a big difference to how your food comes out and how efficiently your commercial kitchen runs. Depending on the budget you have, you may not be able to go out and purchase your ideal commercial oven, but you can at least make a measured decision on what will be the best oven for the price based on your particular needs.