Will my cast iron pots work on a ceramic glasstop electric stove?
April 12, 2009 5:43 PM   Subscribe

Will our cast iron cookware (Le Creuset) work on an electric range with a ceramic glass cooktop?

Our apartment does not allow for gas stoves and we need to change our old stove which has electric coils. But we have heard different opinions on whether we will be able used our Le Creuset pots on the new ceramic glass cooktop which I understand uses radiant heat (not induction). This is despite the Le Creuset website stating that its products will work on glass cooktop.

The Kenmore stove which we are considering is described as having an "Easy-to-clean ceramic glass cooktop with one 12 inch Double, one 9 inch Turbo Boilâ„¢ Element and two 6 in. radiant elements". Any personal experience would be very much appreciated.
posted by serunding to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I used a Le Creuset Grill pan on a ceramic stovetop with no problems. I usually tried to leave the heat no higher then medium. I think this was both results driven and per the instructions with the pan. It made for very even heating compared with electric stove tops.
posted by emptyinside at 5:54 PM on April 12, 2009

It will work—there's nothing special heating-wise about a radiant-heat glass cooktop compared to a regular one with coils.

The reason people say you "can't" use a Le Creuset pot on them is because you could VERY easily scratch or shatter the cooktop with such a heavy piece of cookware. I know someone who scratched their glass cooktop with a cast iron skillet the first day they had it. But if you're a decent cook who pays attention to what they're doing, I think you'll be just fine.
posted by bcwinters at 6:04 PM on April 12, 2009

I use cast iron on my glass cooktop all the time. Never had any problems. I don't think you'd want to shake the pan around like you're popping corn, but under normal use you should be fine.
posted by bondcliff at 6:33 PM on April 12, 2009

Just adding another vote for the "yes, you can" column. I used my Le Creuset dutch oven on the glass cook-top in my old apartment with no problems at all.
posted by apricot at 6:48 PM on April 12, 2009

Yes. I use all manner of Le Creuset pots, pans and dishes on my electric range.
posted by jeffamaphone at 6:56 PM on April 12, 2009

I have cheap Chinese-manufactured cast iron cookware, but it works on the glass cooktop just fine.
posted by XMLicious at 6:59 PM on April 12, 2009

I broke the new glass cooktop my landlord bought the very first day. And again the next week.
After that I bought my own damned stove.
posted by Floydd at 7:06 PM on April 12, 2009

My experience with one of those was that really no cookware worked well with it. I hated my flat-top stove. The slightest boil-over or drip immediately turns to a smoky black crust because it falls directly on the hot surface and spreads out. It can't drip past the hot element like on a traditional design. I was forever chipping stuff off of it. Especially if it costs extra, my advice is don't waste your money. They are made for looks, not cooking -- and I bet your cast iron will scrape it up faster than lighter pans.
posted by fritley at 7:18 PM on April 12, 2009

I think the main reason you're not supposed to use cast-iron on ceramic glass is that there's a high likelihood of scratching the cooktop. If you're willing to have a scratched up cooktop, then go for it; otherwise you'll have to either stop using your cast iron or get a coil-top stove. (If they still made coil-top ovens that were designed with an up-to-date style or finish, i think this would be an easier choice to make!)
posted by Kololo at 7:53 PM on April 12, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the useful information. I am not quite sure if we are up to the care so we will have to consider our limited options.
posted by serunding at 9:25 PM on April 12, 2009

I work for a manufacturer of major kitchen appliances (and since you mentioned the Turbo Boilâ„¢ Element, I'd bet money you have a Kenmore stove)

We do not, nor does our competition (and Kenmore is one of our competitors), recommend using cast-iron cookware on radiant-top stoves or cooktops.

As others have mentioned, there's a very a high likelihood of scratching the cooktop. The cast iron means poor conductivity and it's very slow to absorb the heat. Plus, some cast iron cookware has a raised ring on the bottom that keeps the bottom from full contact with the hot surface. And finally--you're going to be very unhappy with the repair bill if you drop that heavy cast-iron piece on the cooktop and break the glass.

Le Creuset, IIRC, is enamel over cast iron. That's generally seen as okay since the bottom is smooth, thus reducing the chances of scratching. You may still have issues with the cookware getting hot, however, due to the nature of cast iron. And don't drag it across the surface--if you need to move your cookware, lift it up.
posted by magstheaxe at 9:28 PM on April 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

It will work. We have a flat-top in our current apartment, and although it does work with all our existing cookware, we hate it. Hate it. Like, if we owned the place, it would be sitting on the curb so fast it would break the sound barrier getting there.

At least the one we have is harder to clean than a regular electric range. You'd think it's easier because it's got that flat top, and that's what the manufacturers would like you to think, but it's not: you can't use real spray-on oven cleaner to take off burned-on crap (you have to use very mild cleansers and scrub baby scrub), you can't take the parts off and soak/dishwash them; ours looks like crap even when it's been cleaned because of crud you just can't ever get off. Crap seems to burn on more easily, too; like more of the stove surface, where food will hit during a boil-over, gets hot compared to a regular coil stove. Oh, and they scratch. Bottom line: our old coil-burner stove took far less time spent actually scrubbing to get clean. (The only way the old one took longer is if you counted time spent letting the parts sit with oven cleaner on them, in the sink soaking, or in the dishwasher as 'cleaning time.')

Also, ours will cut the burner off if it's turned up high under a pan that doesn't have a lot of food in it, as well. Apparently this is because the ceramic top can't take the full heat of the burner. So if you're heating a skillet up to sear something, and you want to get it really atomically smoking hot, on a regular range you'd just put the skillet there and light a fire under it for a while ... well on the flat-top that doesn't work: it'll get hot, but then the burner will click off, and it'll cool down a bit, and then go on again, and off, etc. The temperature in the pan fluctuates substantially as a result (I don't know how much because the upper end is above the range of my IR thermometer, but it's more than 100F). I initially thought the stove was broken until I found out this is just a common thing on glass-top ranges.

Also, if you are stir-frying or doing wok cooking on high or medium-high heat, and you pick the pan up to toss or work with it, the burner will go off. It'll go back on eventually when you put the pan down again, but not before you lose a lot of heat. Coming from a gas stove (where you can cook while holding the pan over the burner) this is downright obnoxious, but even compared to a regular coil it's pretty annoying.

Anyway ... I would really encourage you to think very hard about the flat-top in general. AFAICT they are absolutely inferior to not only gas (which is obvious) but to every coil-burner electric stove I've ever used. But if you do get one, god forbid, the cast iron will work: because of the large heat mass I think it actually works better than some lightweight aluminum stuff. (Does scratch the surface though, if you care about keeping it looking pretty.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:50 PM on April 12, 2009

Another person just chiming in with vehement hate for those cook-tops. We hate ours for cycling on and off as Kadin explains, and also because after you turn it off, there's not enough of a visual cue to the still-hot spots, so we tend to melt/scorch things (plastic cutting boards, dishes, hands, ingredients, once a precision scale...). Because of how much we hate ours, we tried very hard to dissuade my mom from buying one, but failed. Then, she told us how much she hated hers. Don't do it!
posted by daisyace at 4:42 AM on April 13, 2009

Another voice... yes it will work, yes you will hate it. If you have the option of just a simple electric stove go that route, I know no one who likes the damn glass top stoves. No one.
posted by togdon at 7:53 AM on April 13, 2009

Color me perplexed but I am amazed by the dislike for the flat-top ranges. It wasn't even my choice to get one but I definitely don't miss disassembling a normal electric range to try to clean underneath everything.

I'm also confused as to how anyone ends up scratching the surface with cast iron, much less actually shattering it. But on the other hand, although I'm pretty clumsy the weight of cast iron pans doesn't bother me like I know it does other people, and I don't think I can remember ever dropping one.

Are you sure the scratches aren't coming from the way you're cleaning it? "Chipping stuff off of it" like fritley describes I never do - I usually wipe some water onto it, or at most spray some kind of cleanser on, let it sit for a few minutes, then get the burnt stuff off with a normal, soft sponge. I never use a scrubber or a brillo pad or anything like that - I treat the surface like it's a teflon-coated pan and I save the harsh scrubbing for my cheap cast iron. I never have anything I can't get off like Kadin mentions. I would think if it does get all scratched up, that probably makes things stick to it more, though.

Like Kadin says the pulse-modulated cycling of the heating element is perfect for using with cast iron because of cast iron's high thermal mass, which essentially buffers the heat anyways, but I could imagine it being a problem with thin-shelled cookware.

I'm pretty low-brow in my cooking - cheap cast iron, chicken and fish from cans, I use butter and cheap oils, etc. - so I don't know if that makes a difference.
posted by XMLicious at 7:55 AM on April 13, 2009

I really like my smooth top stove also. I think it looks better and it has cooked just fine for me, although like XMLicious I am not a gourmet. I have used cheap pots and pans and some caphalon (however that is spelled), as well as a stainless steel frying pan, and they have all worked well. The enameled cast iron should work fine, I think.
posted by midwestguy at 10:55 AM on April 13, 2009

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