Your user manual may disagree, but you can likely use your prized cast iron cookware on your electric range.
If you’ve ever made the switch from a gas range to an electric range with glass cooktop (willingly or unwillingly), you’ve likely been told the tragic news that you can’t cook with cast iron anymore.
Thankfully, we’re here to tell you (with the expert guidance of one big cast-iron brand) that you can indeed use your beloved Dutch ovens, skillets, and other cast-iron pans on your glass cooktop—with a few caveats.
“In the Lodge test kitchen, we use our cast iron on glass-top ranges every day,” Lodge Cast Iron, the country’s oldest manufacturer of cast-iron cookware, said in a Facebook thread.
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If these experts are doing it, it’s a pretty good sign you can too.
First, however, it’s good to understand why some manufacturers are hesitant to give the green light to cooks with cast iron:
Cast-iron pans, by themselves, are much heavier than lighter aluminum or stainless steel, and glass, no matter how strong, can break under the pressure of a weighty pan. Add food to those skillets or pans, and the weight increases. Most glass cooktops, however, can handle the weight of everyday cast-iron cookware.
Cast-iron pans don’t always have flat bottoms. Some have a circular ridge around the outside edge. Others may be relative flat, but they’re not perfectly flat. That can slow heating and make hot spots in the bottom of the pan.
Most cast-iron pans are seasoned—that’s part of the magic—but that seasoning (oil) can leave grime on the outside of the pan. During cooking, it can transfer to your glass cooktop and stain the glass.
Now, with these elements in mind, you can learn the best and safest ways to cook with cast iron on your electric range.
Don’t do the electric (stovetop) slide. The force of movement against the cooktop could be too great, leading to cracks or breaks in the glass. Instead, gently lift up and set down any pans or lids. Be sure you have a firm grip on any pieces before you pick them up, too.
“As with any heavy cookware, we take care not to drop it or slide it across the surface,” Lodge experts wrote.
Only use good quality pieces
If your old cast-iron skillet is chipped or has burrs (pointy pieces) on the bottom, it’s best to leave those in the cabinet for a campfire or grill. The uneven spots may increase pressure on the glass, which could lead to breaks or chips.
Wash the cast iron first
You read that correctly—wash your cast iron, or at least the exterior, with a bit of soap and an non-abrasive scrubber. This will help remove any oil or residue on the bottom of the pan that could carbonize when heated on the stovetop. That carbonization leaves behind black marks that stain the glass surface.
When you’re finished cooking, immediately remove the pan from the stove, and wipe it clean. Give the outside another wash if you need to. Be sure to thoroughly dry the cast iron before storing. For good measure, go ahead and wipe the glass after using cast iron, too.
Heat cookware slowly
Don’t go from 0 to 10 on your cooktop when cast iron is on the eye. Instead, heat the piece slowly. The glass cooktop needs time to warm up, so let it warm as you heat the pan. After the piece is warm, you can increase the temperature.
Because heat from an electric cooktop isn’t as strong as gas, your cook time may be longer. Be sure to watch your dish closely, looking for hot spots, and stir frequently to evenly distribute heat.
An Important Note
Refer to your stove or range manufacturer’s owner’s manual for more information. They likely include a list of products they consider safe to use on your range. If you are uncomfortable using cast iron on glass, that’s OK. Manufacturers are extra cautious with their recommendations, as you should be cautious when cooking with cast iron on glass. But it can be done.