You’re buying a new house and it comes with a built-in cooktop or a stove. Is it gas, electric, or induction? Does that even matter? What’s the difference anyway?
Each type of cooktop has fans and naysayers, based on experience and preference.
Most professional chefs prefer gas cooktops. With a gas cooktop, the flame is exposed. The reason people like gas stoves is because the heat is very responsive. In other words, if you turn the heat down, it automatically lowers the temperature that is going to your pan. If you turn the heat up, it’s automatically cooking faster. There’s no lag time. Another plus is that as soon as you turn off the heat, it’s essentially gone, which is not the case with traditional electric cooktops.
The downside of gas stoves or cooktops is they take more work to clean because they don’t have a flat surface.
Before you choose a gas cooktop, check to make sure your house has a gas line running to the kitchen for the hookup.
Electric cooktops have a flat surface, generally with 4 circles that indicate where the heating elements are underneath. They have a streamlined appearance, and are pretty easy to clean because food only stays on that flat surface, unlike gas cooktops where food can fall into the area housing the gas element.
Electric cooktops are designed to be energy efficient by holding the heat longer, which is good for the environment and your energy bill. The downside of this feature is they take longer to respond when changing the heat temperature. If you are cooking food on high, then want to turn it down, you may have to remove the pan from the surface until the heating element cools down enough or you may burn your food. Conversely, they tend to take longer for the heating element to get hot and transfer that heat to your pan.
Another issue with electric cooktops is when they are turned off, the heating element stays hot for a substantial amount of time and there is usually only one small button that indicates that the surface is still hot. Be careful not to put a recipe on a hot cooktop or you could have a kitchen fire.
A newer form of cooktop or stove is the induction cooktop. Induction cooktops have beneficial properties of both gas and electric cooktops. They are flat and look like electric cooktops, but the heat source and response times are completely different. In an induction cooktop, a magnet field causes iron in the cookware to move faster which heats up the pot. Induction cooktops are very responsive, like gas cooktops, heating and removing heat quickly. The added benefit of induction is that the cooktop itself doesn’t get hot, and only a little heat from the pot itself heats the glass cooktop, so spilled food doesn’t burn onto the cooktop making wiping up spills a breeze.
The downside of induction cooktops is the requirement to have pots with enough iron in them to be able to work with the magnets. This could necessitate purchasing all new cookware if your pots and pans don’t have enough iron content. Ceramic coated pots tend to heat more slowly even if they have iron content in them.