Loading... Please wait...

A Beginner’s Guide to Cooking with an Aga


The AGA is back in fashion, especially as the cost of energy rises. Many are realising the benefits of an oven that has a dual purpose. The modern AGAs tend to run on oil, especially when out in the sticks yet there is still a lot of demand for the solid fuelled variety too.

AGAs can be adapted to heat the water or incorporate the central heating making them the main hub of the home for warmth. This being said, cooking on an AGA can seem like an art form!

The more modern AGAs do have temperature control which eliminates much of the guess work but if an AGA runs on oil or coal, the temperature can be hit and miss. Here are some tips from an AGA cook on how to get to grips with this popular oven.

Trust Your Instincts

An old style AGA will never be capable of cooking precision meals that require timings by the minute and precise temperature control to the closest degree. You may have to wave goodbye to the soufflés until you get to know your oven. It’s a good idea to almost start from scratch, to learn to cook in a new way, rather than by precision, by your own instincts.

If it looks cooked it probably is, if it smells cooked it probably is, if you think it’s been in long enough, check on it.

Recipe books are still useful for giving lists of ingredients and ratios but when it comes to timings and temperatures you may have to trust your instincts.

This isn’t so far removed from moving into a new home with a new cooker. You’ve probably already had experience of getting to know a new oven. Despite the numbers on the dials all ovens are different and as cooks, amateur or professional, we do automatically adapt our recipes to suit over time. The difference with an AGA is, that the variations are more obvious. What can take an hour in a normal fan assisted oven can take half that in an AGA and vice versa depending the temperature.

Add a Gadget

You can buy gadgets such as an oven thermometer that will help you get close to the correct temperature. Of course, with an AGA, until you get used to it, it can be guess work knowing how much or how little to turn the dial (or stoke up the fire). Now, there are also disposable pop up timers available for almost any type of meat which can help avoid overcooking too.

A Whole New Relationship

Getting to know your AGA is akin to falling in love with a friend. You find out all the quirks and nuances while discovering incredible features that give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside. With an AGA you can boil a kettle on the stove. You always have a slow cooker or plate warmer to hand. You can dry clothes above it as it cools down. Bread will bake beautiful while nothing else crisps crackling quite like the AGA. Roasting is a delight and the hotplate can be used for baking all manner of treats from homemade crumpets to naan breads.

You’ll also find that friends and family gravitate to it, especially on a cold day. There’s something quite comforting about leaning back against an AGA while hugging a hot toddy and having a chat. It’s the place where wet shoes dry out, slippers warm and fresh towels hang, and with a little skill it can even do your ironing for you!

It may be temperamental, difficult to understand at first but the more you get to know your AGA the more rewarding your whole relationship will be. It doesn’t take long to become a convert!