Manufacturers are quick to roll out new ovens loaded with impressive bonus features that drive the price of an appliance well into four (or even five) digits -- LED lights surrounding the burner knobs, specialized baking modes to cook foods like pizza or chicken, even Wi-Fi and connected apps. It's up to you to determine if you must have these sparkly extras in your next appliance purchase. But the GE JGB700SEJSS gas range makes a strong case for minimalism.
This $1,000 stainless-steel range is consistent in its ability to cook food well. It's also easy to use and includes some simple add-ons that make cooking a little easier, such as a convection fan in the oven and an integrated griddle on the cooktop. And its price makes this appliance more affordable than units with more features.
The GE JGB700SEJSS is slim on cooking modes and lacks the sturdy physical presence of more expensive stainless-steel units, but that's no surprise for a $1,000 large appliance. It also won't break any records when it comes to cooking times. Minor faults aside, the JGB700SEJSS is no slouch in the kitchen, and a worthwhile purchase for a home cook that cares more about functionality than flash.
Basic doesn't mean boring
Unlike more expensive ranges, the GE JGB700SEJSS doesn't aspire to look like a professional-grade appliance. This unobtrusive range resembles other freestanding models with back panel controls and a row of burner knobs along the front of the unit. None of the features seem particularly strong; the knobs feel light, and the touch controls for oven temperature take a little extra "oomph" when you press them.
The most notable feature of the oven is its five-burner cooktop. Cast-iron continuous grates cover the four burner on the left and right of the cooktop, and an integrated griddle covers the center oval burner. There aren't any included grates you can replace the griddle with, so you'd have to switch out one of the grates on the side if you want to cook something over the center burner but don't want to use the griddle. This is limiting if you don't often use a griddle or need a fifth burner for a particularly active day of cooking. However, the griddle is a good size (it can hold six sandwiches at a time), so folks who often cook items like pancakes, bacon or eggs will be delighted to have it.
Just a few features, but lots of quality cooking
The GE JGB700SEJSS performed well in all of the cooking tests through which I put it. None of the results were earth-shattering, but this appliance was no slouch. The range stands up to more expensive competitors when it comes to its ability to cook food consistently well in an average amount of time, even without special features.
Let's take a look at the GE's boiling performance as an example. Many more-expensive ranges I've tested include a burner that the manufacturer calls out with hefty descriptors like "Power Boil" or "Turbo Boil) to indicate its prowess with heating a pot of water. The GE doesn't have a special burner, but that didn't stop its large burner from bringing 112 ounces of water to a boil in a little over 13 minutes, a time that is average when you compare it to other gas ranges (keep in mind that some of the slower boilers like the KitchenAid KSGB900ES cost $1,000 more than the GE, which makes the less expensive option even more impressive).
The range showed off a similar, middle-of-the-road performance when it came to the time it took to broil hamburger patties. The range took an average of 18.28 minutes to cook six burgers, a decent time compared to other ranges. These patties, however, had the advantage of retaining plenty of juiciness without too much charring on the outside.
The oven on this GE also performed well with multirack baking thanks to the convection fan in the back of the 5-cubic-foot oven. Though there were a couple of noticeable hot spots, the biscuits came close to the same level of brown.
That said, the convection fan's success in keeping heat evenly distributed in the oven was no help when it came to roasting a chicken. Many of the ovens I've tested come with a convection roast mode during which the top and bottom heating elements turn on, along with the convection fan. The GE doesn't have this cooking mode, and the product's user manual recommends sticking with a normal bake setting when you want to cook a chicken.
The resulting bird wasn't bad, but it didn't have the same arresting bite as chicken from other ovens I've tested that have a convection roast feature. This was chicken that tasted like it was more appropriate for a weeknight meal than a weekend feast -- it was completely edible, but nothing to write home about.
GE removed the flashy features we've grown accustomed to seeing in newer ranges when it produced the GE JGB700SEJSS. But this $1,000 appliance shows that it doesn't take a lot of extras to perform the primary task of a range: cooking food well. The GE would be a wise purchase for someone who doesn't want to let a tight budget get in the way of a good meal.