When I first purchased my house three years ago, it was a full-on renovation project.
It was a four-bedroom detached period house but the eighties had not been kind to it and the house came complete with Harlequin avocado bathroom suite, fake pine kitchen with laminated tile flooring and decades of grime.
The previous owners had taken the 60cm-wide electric cooker and given all the renovation work ahead, I didn't want to splash out on a replacement ahead of ripping everything out and eventually installing a smart gas 90cm-wide range cooker in a more sensible location.
In the early days, in the absence of a cooker, I used a second-hand electric portable hob like this £21.95 one on Amazon. It worked but after a while, the lack of oven and having only one hob did have its downsides when cooking for more than just myself.
The long-term solution was a stroke of genius from a family member — a nifty mini portable cooker. And it was so handy that I ended up spending THREE years cooking on it, only recently decommissioning it for a permanent gas range cooker. The one I purchased was a Beko mini cooker with two hobs on the top. This particular model has been discontinued but you can still buy this similar one from Russel Hobbs or this one from Cooks Professional where you can see into the oven, both on Amazon.
Here's why I highly recommend anyone investing in a mini cooker if you're renovating a house while living in your home. I'll certainly be keeping mine in the cupboard, ready for my next renovation or self build project.
You can position your mobile kitchen anywhere
Initially, the mini cooker was simply a cheap oven that I positioned on the old laminate countertop. But when I had raised the funds to rip out the old kitchen and fit a new one, it was simple to move my drop-leaf dining table into the hallway and pop the mini cooker on top, beside a plastic washing up bowl for dirty dishes. A temporary setup those who have to renovate on a budget might also want to consider.
The mini cooker was repositioned again several more times as my new kitchen, which was actually a second hand in-frame kitchen, was installed. It took a long time for the quartz countertop to arrive so the mini cooker sat on some old granite for a while.
Then there were issues with getting new jets for the second hand range cooker to convert it to bottled gas... then getting the LPG gas connected.... It all took time and having a little mini cooker that could adapt to a frequently changing situation was a lifesaver.
I cooked a few roast dinners in it
You can fry, boil, oven bake and grill with most mini cookers. In the three years I had my little mini cooker in operation, I cooked all sorts of things on it, including several roast dinners. You won't fit a Christmas turkey in it but you can fit a whole chicken. The key thing is that doing so takes far longer than with a larger, conventional size oven so you will need to start cooking earlier.
The top two electric hobs also operate at a lower heat than a gas or induction hob, so it's worthwhile boiling the kettle for hot water to save time. To state the obvious, there are only two hobs, so if you want to cook Brussel Sprouts, boiled potatoes, carrots and gravy, you'll have to time it so the quicker items go on the hob last, while keeping already cooked veg warm in the oven.
Some items don't turn out quite as well on the hob for this reason too. Poaching eggs for instance, can end up rather messy if you don't allow the water to get up to temperature, harder when the hobs aren't as hot.
It also has a grill function inside the oven for bacon or halloumi and sweet chilli sandwiches, essential building work fodder.
Deals on mini cookers for Black Friday
There's a real range of prices on mini cookers, from a cheap £69.99 to a more pricey air fryer mini oven model. There are some cracking cut price deals for Black Friday too, with up to 20% off in the deals we've seen so far.
Cooks Professional 34L Mini Oven & Hob
£199.99 NOW £169.88 (SAVE 15%) from Amazon
This mini cooker has a 34L capacity and uses 1500Watts of power, making it reasonably energy efficient. It has a timer setting for the oven and can cook between 100 and 230 degrees. There's a bell for when the timer ends too.
Tower 32L Mini Oven with Dual Hot Plates
£119.99 NOW £99.99 (SAVE 17%) from Amazon
This 32 litre oven is still large enough to fit a chicken in it. The mini cooker has a timer and heats between 90 and 230 degrees. It also comes with a baking tray.
MY mini oven £69.99 from The Range
This isn't on offer but it is cheap with a miniscule £69.99 price tag so worth inclusion. The oven cooks at up to 230 degrees and has a timer that automatically shuts off.
Ninja Foodi mulfi-function mini oven, airfry, roast
£249.99 NOW £230 (SAVE 8%) from Amazon
This one doesn't have any hobs (you'll have to buy them separately) but it does have an air fry option for healthy cooking as well as a faster cooking function on its fan oven. It can also other cooking functions such as dehydrate, bagel, pizza, toast, grill, bake and more.
It comes with air fry basket and baking trays.
Double Hot Plate, CUSIMAX Electric Hob
£86.99 NOW £69.59 (SAVE 20%) from Amazon
This separate double electric hob and ceramic hot plate uses 2400W for an infared burner so in theory it should be much hotter to cook on, with a dial to increase and decrease the heat output.
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Amy spent over a decade in London editing and writing for The Daily Telegraph, MailOnline, and Metro.co.uk before moving to East Anglia where she began renovating a period property in rural Suffolk. During this time she also did some TV work at ITV Anglia and CBS as well as freelancing for Yahoo, AOL, ESPN and The Mirror. When the pandemic hit she switched to full-time building work on her renovation and spent nearly two years focusing solely on that. She's taken a hands-on DIY approach to the project, knocking down walls, restoring oak beams and laying slabs with the help of family members to save costs. She has largely focused on using natural materials, such as limestone, oak and sisal carpet, to put character back into the property that was largely removed during the eighties. The project has extended into the garden too, with the cottage's exterior completely re-landscaped with a digger and a new driveway added. She has dealt with de-listing a property as well as handling land disputes and conveyancing administration.