Potayto, potahto. Tomayto, tomahto. Ovens, stoves, and ranges.

Are they just different ways of saying the same thing?

Find out the real differences between them in this article!

This is an all-too-common question, so I’ve dove into some research and found out just exactly what each of these three appliances are.

Here are the differences between ovens, stoves, and ranges in short:

  • An oven: A closed chamber that cooks food
  • A stove: An appliance that heats food. Not all stoves cook food, some only provide heat.
  • A range: A combination of an oven and stove
Bakes, broils, & roasts 
Heats, but doesn’t always cook food 
Heats enough to cook food 
Uses gas/electricity

As you can see, ovens, stoves, and ranges are very different indeed! What do you call the appliance that you have in your kitchen? Let’s figure out exactly which one you have (or need).

What Is An Oven?

Do you like simple explanations? Good, because so do I! Here’s the definition of an oven in a nutshell.

An oven is a closed compartment used to heat food.

There you have it. If you blinked, you missed the explanation. An oven is a sealed area used to keep food warm and to cook food from scratch. Most people use an oven for the following tasks:

  • Baking
  • Broiling
  • Roasting
Ovens are perfect for roasting, broiling and baking food!

So what is an oven not? It is not anything outside of that enclosed chamber.

An oven does not include a grill, stove, or burners.

Now, aside from your bog-standard oven, there are other types of ovens available to you. They are the following:

  • Convection ovens. These are like regular ovens, but they use a fan that helps to circulate the hot air in the oven. These are great at cooking food evenly.
  • Microwave ovens. These are perfect at reheating and defrosting food quickly.
  • Oven toaster grill. These do exactly as the name entails. They are awesome for toasting bread and for grilling food.
  • Wall ovens. These are the same as regular ovens but are built into your wall cabinets. They are not freestanding.
  • Earth ovens. Do you like the taste of an original Italian pizza? Then there’s no better way to enhance the authentic flavor than to make it in an earth oven!

What Is a Stove?

You’ve heard it said before, less is more. So here comes the most stripped-back explanation of a stove.

A stove is an appliance used to heat food. Some stoves are enclosed like ovens. But the difference between them is that some stoves will not cook food, they merely heat it.

Most people use a stove for the following tasks:

  • Keeping food warm
  • Heating a room
Wood burning stove
Stoves will heat food but not cook it completely and keep a room warm

So what’s the difference between an oven and a stove? An oven on the one hand can heat food enough to cook it. But, while a stove does heat food, few get hot enough for them to cook it.

Stoves come in the following varieties:

  • Coal stoves. These stoves use coal as their fuel. They are mainly used for heating the environment around them.
  • Wood-burning stoves. These are primarily used for heating a room. They are normally made from cast iron or steel.
  • Pellet stoves. Pellet stoves are primarily used for heating. They burn pellets of compressed wood.
  • Gas stoves. You can use these stoves to heat food. Gas powers them.
  • Electric stoves. These are most often found inside homes. They’re used to heat food.

Traditional stoves used coal, wood, and pellets to generate heat. Nowadays, you will more often than not find that stoves heat using natural gas or electricity. Traditional stoves were often used to heat rooms while boiling water to drink or to use to wash.

What Is a Range?

We’ve arrived at the final hurdle! And you sailed over the first two, so this one will be a doddle. Here comes a dead-easy explanation of a range.

A range is a combination of an oven and a stove in one appliance. Gas or electricity fuel ranges.

Most people prefer to buy a range as it saves them from buying an oven and a stove separately. It is an all-in-one cooking appliance that has its own fuel and a direct connection to an oven.

When talking about a range, most people are also referring to the cooktop. Some people say that a range has to have 6 or more burners for it to technically classify as a range. But most people aren’t that bothered. I’m one of them.

You can use a range for the following tasks:

  • Baking
  • Broiling
  • Roasting
  • Keeping food warm
  • Frying
  • Boiling
  • Sauteing
All in one units, ranges can do it all!

So what kind of options are available to you when it comes to choosing a range? Here are some of the most popular varieties:

  • Electric ranges. These ranges are easy to clean. They’re powered by electricity. They boil fast and simmer controllably.
  • Gas ranges. These heat up immediately. They use natural gas as fuel.
  • Dual-fuel ranges. These ranges have a gas cooktop with an electric oven.
  • Induction ranges. Induction ranges use electromagnetism to heat the cookware directly. They create an evenly heated cooking surface.

The kind of range that will be best for you depends on your cooking style. Some people prefer electric ranges if they do a lot of baking. But gas cooktops are best for flame control and adjusting cooking temperatures.

What Is The Most Common Cooking Appliance?

Ovens, stoves, ranges… and the list goes on! There are so many cooking appliances to choose from. So what is the most common cooking appliance and why?

Ranges are by far the most commonly sold variety of cooking appliances. Why? Here are a few reasons.

  • Increased convenience. Ranges are all-in-one cooking appliances. That means you have everything you need to cook a meal in one area in the kitchen. Instead of dancing around from the oven to the cooktop, everything’s within arm’s-reach.
  • Space-saving. Ranges are perfect for small kitchens with limited wall and cabinet space. A range puts everything you need to cook into one compact space.
  • Money-saving. Ranges are usually a lot cheaper than cooktops and wall ovens. You’ll save yourself from buying new cabinets to accommodate a wall oven. You’ll also spare yourself the hassle and expense of installing a new gas line for a cooktop.

What Came First In Homes?

What came first? The chicken or the egg? -Oh no wait, we’re talking about cooking appliances and not what we put in them. Ok, so what came first, the stove, the oven, or the range? Take a look at how kitchen appliances changed over time.

Ancient Times

The Ancient Egyptians and Romans cooked in fire-heated brick ovens. Funnily enough, some of the most authentic restaurants still use similar methods for cooking the best pizza dough.

The 1700s

In the 1700s cast iron stoves were popular. Not only were they used for cooking, but also to heat the home. They were normally fueled with wood and coals. It wasn’t until the late 1700s that these cast iron stoves started to get a little more sophisticated. This included temperatures that could be regulated.

The 1800s

The 1800s saw the beginning of gas stoves in houses. They soon became popular because they were easier to clean than wood or coal stoves.

In the late 1800s, electric stoves came into play. They were modified over time, bringing us the cooking ranges we have today.


What kind of cooking appliance do you have at home? Is it an oven, a stove, a range… or a combination? It can be confusing to tell these apart. This is especially true because there doesn’t appear to be a system to it. People seem to pick one of the 3 names out of a hat and roll with it.

This article has shown you the official terms for some cooking appliances. This has no doubt made clearer to you which you have at home. But if in doubt, pick one of the three, and I am sure everyone will know what you’re referring to!

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Have a great day!