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Choosing a new cookware set or single piece is as much about the kind of cooktop you have as it is about the aesthetic, size, shape and function of the cookware itself.
Smooth, flat top ranges require a certain kind of cookware to ensure an effective cooking experience and a well-preserved cooktop without scratches and scrapes.
We’re here to help you figure out what kind of cookware is best for smooth top ranges…
Table of Contents
What are smooth top ranges?
Smooth cooktops are generally made from ceramic or glass, with an electric coil beneath, supplying the heat. This differs greatly from gas stoves which have a strong, cast iron grate over each gas burner.
These grates are hardy and durable, meaning you don’t need to be delicate or careful with your cookware choices. Smooth top ranges are far more prone to scratching, staining or even smashing.
Heat transference is an important feature of all cooktops. Gas stoves emit heat from the gas flames, easily heating the cookware bottom even if it’s slightly uneven on the stove. The heat will rise up and bring the cookware to temperature.
However, smooth top ranges heat the cookware by coming into direct contact with the bottom surface. This means that the cookware bottoms need to be both flat against the stovetop and a compatible material for optimal heat conduction.
Smooth cooktops are fantastic because they are so easy to clean. If you’ve had a gas stove in the past, you’ll understand how tricky they can be to clean. Food falls and spills on and around the grates, becoming stuck and fiddly to remove.
You have to lift up each grate after each bout of cooking to keep the stove beneath nice and clean. A smooth stove simply needs a wipe with a compatible cleaner and you’re done.
Best cookware for smooth top cookware
Stainless steel: We think the best bet is smooth-surfaced stainless steel cookware. It won’t melt and ruin your stove top, it won’t scratch and scrape, and it will sit skin-tight against the heat source.
You don’t need to go for all-out stainless steel, as long as the bottom is lined with stainless steel. You could go for a nonstick, copper or aluminum set with a flat stainless steel bottom disk.
Aluminum: Hard-anodized aluminum is a fantastic choice for a smooth stove. It won’t melt and stain the surface, and it grabs onto heat really effectively. As long as the bottom is smooth (no ridges), and reinforced to resist warping, it’s ideal.
What to be wary of
Heavy cast iron: Cast iron has a rough, scratchy texture and a heavyweight which is only truly safe for gas stove grates. If you drag cast iron across a flat stove, or place it down a little too heavily, you risk serious scrapes and further damage.
Enamel coatings or colored cookware: While a high-quality enamel or color-coated pan might be totally fine (as long as it’s not left to overheat and burn), it pays to veer away from such cookware.
This is because there is a risk that the enamel or colored coating can melt and stick itself stubbornly to your lovely smooth stove top. The risk is even greater if you let your cookware dry out and overheat (i.e. a forgotten pot or not enough liquid).
Copper: Copper is a little on the fence here, as it can be a perfectly fine material for smooth stoves as long as the heat is kept under control. A dry and overheated copper bottom can leave stains on your smooth stove, so be wary.
Anything flimsy or warped: a thin, cheaply-made pot or pan is likely to warp and become uneven on the bottom. This creates a wobbly situation as it sits on your stove, totally compromising the heat transfer, causing hot spots and a sub-par cooking experience. Look for well-made, thick-bottomed, warp-resistant cookware.
Features to look for
Flat, heavy bottom: Cookware which has a thick, layered bottom will resist warping and will always sit flat on top of the stove. A decent weight suggests a thickly-clad bottom disk for a snug fit on the heat source. Look for brands which specify a “warp-free” design and reinforced bottom.
Smooth surface: The external bottom of the pan needs to be smooth or else you risk scraping and scratching your stove. Scratchy stone or iron cookware is gritty as well as heavy, a bad combo for glass or ceramic stoves.
Check out the marketing photos to get a good look at the bottom. Watch out for rings of raised ridges, as those can leave ring-shaped stains as well as scratches. What’s more, they create gaps between the heat source and the bottom of the pot, compromising the heat transference.
We want the pot to be totally flat and in 100% contact with the heat source! Look for even, smooth surfaces without little raised details.
Ways to care for smooth top stoves
- Make sure that you find out the best way to clean your particular stove top. Certain flat top stoves need very specific cleaning products and shouldn’t be cleaned with regular kitchen spray. Check with the manufacturer of your stove top.
- Clean up marks and stains quickly, don’t let them sit for long or they’ll become harder to remove
- Don’t drag your cookware along the stove, pick it up and lift it to avoid scratches. If your pot or pan is super heavy and hot, be prepared with tea towels or oven mitts and use two hands to lift. Otherwise, you could drop the heavy pan onto your stove (smash!) or slop sticky food everywhere (clean up crisis).
Stick with stainless steel or aluminum cookware to use on your flat stove. That way, you avoid having a sticky, colored mess melted onto your range top. Find flat, smooth bottoms with reinforcements to keep them even and sturdy.
Always keep an eye on your cookware while it’s on the heat source, as a dried-out, overheated pot or pan can cause burn marks and stains on your stove.