In this article, we’re going to explore AGA cookers. We’re going to find out what an AGA cooker is and whether you should buy one.
Of course, an AGA is a cooker that many passionate cooks covet, but how do they work? Are AGA’s costly to run? What are the popular models of AGA?
If you want to know more about AGAs, the history of the company and a great deal more, this is the cooker article for you.
Let’s jump right in, shall we?
What Is an AGA?
An AGA is a cooker that stores heat. Granted, AGA’s employ some very clever methods of heating your food, but it is still a cooker none the less. The original AGA was invented in 1922. it was invented to be an easy alternative to other forms of cooking.
While there is a learning curve with AGA’s, once you know the ins and outs of these cookers, it is actually extremely easy to use and really fun too.
AGA’s can have a few ovens. Most models have two, but some of these cookers do have three and even four or six. Modern AGAs can also have a range cooker top, but traditionally, they would have two hotplates.
There are still AGA models being built today that have the hot plates. Although the design of an AGA is beautifully traditional, they look fantastic in a modern kitchen.
Of course, an AGA never looks out of place in a country kitchen either. But how does an AGA work? Well, despite their reputation for having one of the steepest learning curves of any oven, AGA’s are pretty simple.
How an AGA Works (Briefly)
The way that an AGA works is really interesting and allows it to do loads of tasks. The entire body of an AGA is cast iron which distributes heat incredibly well.
Throughout the cast iron body, there are air channels that pass hot air around the frame. These air channels use the natural spread of hot air in such a way that they create hot and cool ovens and hotplates.
The heat generated in this way is gentle and consistent. This means that an AGA is extremely versatile. It may not look it, but thanks to this cleverly designed airflow system and the cast iron frame, you can do amazing things with an AGA.
What Can an AGA Do?
Here are some examples of what an AGA can do and why they are so beloved by anyone who has ever used one of these fantastic stoves.
1. Keep your kitchen warm
My little toes are not the only thing that an AGA keeps warm. As an AGA is always on and producing heat, it keeps your kitchen lovely and warm throughout the winter months.
It is a great heat source because it is designed to store heat extremely efficiently. So, an AGA can actually replace several radiators in your home.
2. Locks in moisture
The heat of an AGA is gentle on food. The food never comes into contact with flames or direct heat in an AGA. So, unlike the harsh heat in gas or fan ovens that dry food out, AGAs lock in moisture and flavour.
A roast cooked in an AGA is the best you have ever eaten because it locks in the flavour and moisture and makes everything taste incredible.
Roast one chicken in an AGA and you will be a lifelong fan, I promise! If your roast chicken is as good as my mum’s anyway!
3. Baking made easy
While there is certainly a learning curve with an AGA, once you know how to use an AGA, it makes baking and cooking really simple.
Most AGAs have a roasting oven, simmering oven, and some have a baking oven too. The AGA in my family home only had two ovens, yet it was still awesome for baking bread and cakes.
Thanks to the gentle heat, AGAs are baking royalty, and everyone knows it. Check out this amazing AGA cookbook by Lucy Young and Mary Berry, who show you how easy, fun, and awesome baking in an AGA can be.
4. Slow cooking
Whether it is a pot of soup on the stovetop or some of the best slow-roasted pork you’ll ever hope to put in your mouth, your AGA can do it all.
Simmering ovens are your best friend if you love slow cooking. Simply pop whatever you’re slow cooking into the oven and walk away.
The oven will lock in the moisture and cook it for as long as you want it to. Stews, pulled pork, soups and curries all taste incredible from an AGA.
How Does an AGA Work?
An AGA works on the principle that the frame of the cooker (which is made from cast iron), absorbs and holds heat. This means that an AGA uses a continuously burning heat source to heat up the frame. However, because the frame of an AGA holds heat so well, the heat source has a very low-intensity.
As we said above, AGA’s can have many ovens and at least two hotplates. One of the hot plates is hotter than the other, and the ovens work with the same idea.
Typically, the bottom ovens of an AGA are cooler than the top ones. This means that the bottom oven of an AGA can be used for slow cooking or keeping things warm. The top oven (or ovens) are where the main cooking takes place.
The hot plates can be used together when boiling veg, for example. You can use the hottest plate to get the veg boiling, and then move the pan over to the cooler plate to finish off simmering the veg without the pan boiling over.
As we said above, there are many different models of AGA now. The one we spoke about above was actually from my memory when I was a child. My family home had an AGA, and I loved it!
It was amazingly quick for making toast, making my parents a cup of tea, and my mum even used to it to actually cook us meals too! Plus, in the winter, it warmed the house so nicely.
There can be a learning curve with AGAs. However, as long as you remember that the left hot plate is typically the hottest and the top ovens are usually the hottest, you’ll be fine!
If you now think that owning an AGA would be a great idea, you may want to know how much one may cost. Let’s look at that next.
How Much Do AGAs Cost?
The initial cost of an AGA does vary depending on the model you buy. There are so many modern AGAs on the market now too.
AGA makes cookers with range tops, really modern looking cookers and so much more. They even make fridges! We’d love to give a breakdown of every cooker that AGA makes, but it simply isn’t possible in this article. Instead, let’s look at a traditional AGA.
If you want a new, two-oven model AGA, it will cost about £5,500 fitted. That’s just a ballpark, though. It depends on fuel types, how easy it is to get the AGA into your home and many other factors.
How Expensive Is an AGA to Run?
As you know, traditional AGA’s are on all the time. This may make you think that AGAs are costly to run. Certainly, this type of cooker does burn a lot of fuel throughout the year. In fact, even AGA has stated that their cookers burn a hell of a lot more fuel than a normal cooker.
For example, an AGA will burn about 38% more gas than a normal gas cooker per year. This means that AGAs can be expensive to run.
However, here are a few things to consider about AGAs. Firstly, you can now buy models of AGAs that aren’t on all the time. They work on the exact same ideas as the AGAs of old, but the energy consumption is reduced a lot.
Also, if you covet a traditional AGA but are worried about the cost to run it, consider this. Because AGAs are on all the time, it is used far more than a hob or oven. For example, you will make toast on your AGA in the morning, you also can boil the kettle on the AGA.
Because AGAs give off radiant heat, you may be able to turn off some radiators in your home. You can hang washing up near the AGA, and it will dry quickly, saving the use of a tumble dryer.
There is no denying that AGAs are expensive to run. However, if you use them as the heat source that they were intended to be in all of the ways possible, they are actually extremely versatile and could save you money on your energy bills.
A Brief History of AGA
The first AGA was made in 1922. It was created by a Nobel Prize Winner, Gustaf Dalén. He was employed as the chief engineer of AGA at the time. There is a story that the inventor of the AGA was blind, and that is true.
Gustaf lost his eyesight trying to develop an earlier invention. However, this meant that Gustaf was forced to stay at home. During this forced vacation, he learned that his wife was really struggling with all of the cooking tasks she had to do, and he decided to do something about it.
Now, a man inventing a new cooker rather than just helping his wife with the cooking is perhaps the most male thing ever to happen. Most men would argue that because Gustaf was blind at the time, he could hardly help with the cooking. However, he also managed to invent a cooker that has gone pretty much unchanged in a hundred years while he was blind!
His idea was to throw a heat source into a cast iron frame with two hotplates and two ovens. This heat source could be small because the frame of the cooker would hold in a lot of the heat. The cooker was a success, although there isn’t much known about what his wife thought of the whole affair. But England loved this new cooker.
It was introduced to England in 1929. AGA saw so much success in England that by the early 30s, production in England had begun. Oh yeah, despite AGA being considered a very English company, the first AGAs were actually produced in Sweden.
Those first AGAs look and function very similarly to the AGAs of today. However, which are the most popular models of these cookers now? Well, I’m glad you asked!
Popular AGA Models
The most popular model of AGA is still the cast iron cooker. Now, there are many different versions of the cast iron cooker available. However, the only real difference is how many ovens and hotplates you get.
These are the traditional AGAs that we know and love. They have the looks, the same exceptional build quality and the same versatility that a blind man incorporated into the first one.
Of course, a country kitchen is always improved by the presence of an AGA. However, these traditional cast-iron cookers also look amazing in the most modern of kitchens. There is something about plonking a massive, yet beautiful, pile of cast iron in the middle of a modern kitchen that seems wrong, but so right at the same time.
Of course, AGA has moved on with the design of some of their cookers now too. Their range of AGAs with range tops are extremely popular too. These cookers offer a lot of the design aspects of the older models but have a lot more options on top.
If you do a big portion of your cooking on the hob, then an AGA with a range is a fantastic choice. Perhaps the most popular version of this sort of AGA would be the Masterchef Deluxe. There are subtle nods to the traditional AGA in the design.
Still, it is an AGA for this century with all of the cooking power you need in a modern kitchen. Once again, though, AGA has managed to create a cooker with a timeless design.
Should You Buy an AGA?
Of course! When I think of AGA, I always go back to my childhood home. I remember the winter mornings where I burnt toast on the cooker because I was too busy keeping warm by it.
I remember the amazing roasts that my mum used to make and how calm she was during cooking. I would own an AGA right now if my landlord would let me rip out the front of their house to install it.
Sure the costs of running an AGA seem a bit higher than a typical oven. However, the newer models from AGA are dealing with those costs. Plus, the amount of other uses for an AGA does mean that you’ll be saving this money because you aren’t using other appliances.
If you’ve always dreamed of cooking with an AGA, perhaps you grew up with one like me, and you have the space, go for it. Traditional AGAs and the newer ones are built to last.
I know for a fact that the cooker in my old childhood home is still there and still running perfectly, and it probably will be when I’m gone.
Sure, £5,500 is a lot to spend on a cooker, but if that cooker is going to last your lifetime, that is an investment worth making. You’ll have a lifetime of joy using that cooker too.
If an AGA seems too expensive, check out our roundup of the best range cookers to see some more affordable alternatives.
We hope this look at AGAs has been fun and insightful. I am really biased about AGAs, I love them and have only found memories of the one that I used when I was a boy. Please check out our other AGA articles for hints and tips if you do buy one. We have all the juicy info you need to make the most of your AGA!
Scott is a writer and a passionate home chef. His passion for cooking began when he was 10 years old. Scott has been writing professionally for over five years now and loves to combine his passion for cooking with his day job.