KitchenAid KSGB900ESS review: Good looks don't come cheap with this KitchenAid range
There is a lot to like about the KitchenAid KSGB900ESS 30-inch 5-Burner Gas Convection Slide-In Range with Baking Drawer -- just check out the features in that mouthful of a name. KitchenAid gives the KSGB900ESS a wealth of settings and bonus features that makes it easy to add versatility to your cooking, whether you want to add steam when you're baking a cake or slow-cook a roast in the baking drawer. And this stainless-steel beauty is a solid performer when it comes to baking, broiling and roasting.
These attractive features add up to an MSRP of $2,649 for the KitchenAid KSGB900ESS, a sizable price tag for a gas range. If you have the money and want a sleek, modern oven, purchasing the KitchenAid KSGB900ES is a better deal than the luxury ranges it emulates. But there are plenty of less expensive options that will give you more value from your investment, such as the Kenmore 74343 or KitchenAid's own KGRS306BSS freestanding gas range .
Stylish, functional features stand out
The KitchenAid KSGB900ESS is a slide-in gas oven designed to blend in seamlessly with surrounding countertops. This design choice streamlines the unit by placing the control panel and burner knobs on the front of the model rather than on a back panel. But slide-in models are more expensive than freestanding models, even if the features are nearly identical, because of the engineering it takes to move all of the controls to the front of the unit.
That said, the KitchenAid KSGB900ESS is indeed a good looking piece of kitchen equipment. The oven's straight lines, stainless steel finish and simple profile resemble the industrial design of luxury-brand ranges such as Jenn-Air and Dacor. The handles are straight rather than curved, which gives the range a more utilitarian look. The continuous cast-iron grates on the cooktop also enhance the range's streamlined look. The grates cover five burners that range from 5,000 BTUs on the smallest burner to 19,000 BTUs on the large burner. This is an average scope of power for a gas stovetop and provides enough versatility to tackle tasks such as boiling, melting and simmering simultaneously.
The oven cavity is a robust 6.5 cubic feet, the largest capacity gas oven we've seen in the test kitchen. Beneath the main oven is a baking drawer, a relative of the warming drawer feature we've seen on ranges such as the GE PGS920SEFSS and the Samsung NX58F5700 . But KSGB900ESS elevates the functionality of this narrow slice of real estate. You can bake, slow cook or keep food warm in the KSGB900ESS's drawer while you cook a dish in the main cavity. KitchenAid recommends using the drawer for frozen foods, so I popped a TV dinner in there for lunch. The meal was heated through, though the fish was a bit soggy. The oven actually did a better job toasting another CNET editor's sandwich. I'd put the drawer in the "nice to have" category, but it's not essential. The baking drawer is too small to be as versatile as a true double oven, so the addition of this feature doesn't help justify the KSGB900ESS's price.
The KitchenAid KSGB900ESS's design elements are as intuitive as they are attractive. The lightly textured edges of the five burner knobs make it easy to get a good grip on the knobs and adjust the burners. And the little pictures that tell you which burner each knob controls are located on the top of the control panel rather than next to the knobs. This small but thoughtful design choice alleviates the inconvenience of having to bend over to figure out which knob to use. The digital touchpad control panel is very responsive, but it can get a little tricky to navigate because of all the settings it controls. There are 11 cooking mode options along with the controls for the main oven and baking drawer. In the throes of cooking, it can be a little confusing when it's time to turn off the unit because there are two cancel buttons -- one for the main oven (called the "upper" on the touchpad) and the baking drawer (referred to as "lower").
Similar to the LG LSRG309ST , the KitchenAid KSGB900ESS comes with plenty of accessories that work well with the unit and fit into many cooking scenarios. The oven includes with three racks -- a gliding rack, a max-capacity rack for roasting large items and a standard rack with brackets to hold KitchenAid's steam tray. You fill the the tray with water and pop it under the rack before you bake something in the main oven. The water adds steam, therefore additional moisture, to the item that you're cooking. We liked the steam feature in the countertop Cuisinart CSO-300 Combo Steam + Convection Oven , and it's a great option to have on a full-size range. A batch of muffins I cooked with steam in the KSGB900ESS was slightly less brown but more moist and robust than a batch I cooked in the traditional bake mode.
The KitchenAid KSGB900ESS also comes with a griddle for the cooktop and a separate KitchenAid meat probe, which was pretty accurate when I compared it to our in-house thermocouples. But I was a little let down that the meat probe was not attached to the unit like I've seen in models like the Frigidaire FPEF3077QF .
Performance excels in the oven, lags on top
I go through a lot of biscuits to test ovens, a task that isn't nearly as fun as it sounds (a person can only eat so many biscuits). At a certain point, I get tired of seeing those raw disks of dough baking through the oven window. So for me to say I enjoyed baking biscuits on the KitchenAid KSGB900ESS says a lot about the oven's performance.
The KitchenAid delivered consistent baking performance across two racks of biscuits in both traditional bake mode and convection mode. In traditional bake mode, we usually see some disparity between the top rack of biscuits and the bottom rack. The biscuits on the bottom rack were a little darker than the dozen that baked above them, but the overall evenness was impressive. The KSGB900ESS did even better in convection mode -- all of the biscuits baked to an even golden brown thanks to the convection fan distributing the oven's heat more evenly.
I was eager to see how well KSGB900ESS's oven did on something more substantial than biscuits, so I found this recipe for roasted chicken and gave the oven a whirl. I used the convection roast mode, but I opted out of the EasyConvect feature that automatically decreases the temperature of your recipe by 25 degrees (convection cooking generally requires less cooking time and/or lower temperatures). Even without the conversion and still following the recipe, the oven yielded a juicy chicken. Though the skin was not as crisp as I've had with other ovens in the CNET test kitchen, the dish was a treat.
We like to test the broiler on ovens for the folks who enjoy a nice char on their food without dragging out the grill. The broil times on the KitchenAid KSGB900ESS were as impressive as the baking results. It only took an average of 15.88 minutes to simultaneously bring six hamburger patties to 145 degrees. The only other gas ranges to beat that time were the GE PGS920SEFFSS and another KitchenAid model, the KGRS306BSS .
Based on the oven test results, I expected a lot more from the KSGB900ESS's stovetop. It took an average of 16.2 minutes to boil water in a 3-quart pot, a performance that places this KitchenAid toward the bottom of the gas cooktop pack. I could've lived with that. After all, the KSGB900ESS did perform better than three other gas ranges (see the chart below). But the 14 minutes it took to boil water in a 5-quart pot was just plain disappointing, especially when you compare it to the Samsung NX58F5700 or the Electrolux EI30GF35JS , both of which boiled the same amount of water almost 3 minutes faster than the KitchenAid. I was disappointed with such sluggish boil times for a range that costs $2,649, especially when better performers cost $1,000 less.
There is a lot that I like about the KitchenAid KSGB900ESS. The range is attractive, it bakes and roasts food well and its interface is easy to use. But the looks of a slide-in model don't justify the price, especially since KitchenAid already has a cadre of gas ranges that have similar features at a lower cost. If you don't mind freestanding models, you can get a better bargain with the easy-to-use Kenmore 74343 for $1,399, the fast-broiling KitchenAid KGRS306BSS at $1,649, or the feature-rich Samsung NX58F5700 for $1,699.