Glass top stoves quickly replaced old-fashioned coil heating elements for many when they were first introduced decades ago. This is because they're easy to clean, they're sleek in design, and they're easier to use because of their flat surface.
Of course, none of that matters if you accidentally break the top by using the wrong cookware.
No matter how strong and sturdy your glass top stove may seem, even the most expensive ones can be scratched or cracked. To save yourself the hassle and expense, make sure you're using the correct cookware for glass stovetops.
Glass stovetops can be beautiful appliances and can certainly cook effectively, but they have drawbacks like any other stove. Because the stovetop is perfectly flat, it will only distribute heat to surfaces that come in direct contact with it. Unlike a gas stove, which can distribute heat via flame to surfaces slightly above and around, this will not radiate enough heat to cook food evenly on a curved or dented surface. If you've got warped, old cookware, you should toss it and head out to the store to buy the proper pots and pans.
Keep in mind, this also means that over-sized pots and pants aren't a safe bet either. Edges that go beyond the electric burner zone are not going to heat and cook your food properly. A good rule of thumb is to choose pots and pans that do not exceed the 1-inch rule: the diameter can be 1 inch smaller or larger than that of the burner.
Another thing to keep in mind is the weight. The heavier the cookware, the more likely it is that it will weigh itself down for the closest possible contact with the burner. This makes for effective heating and better cooking.
There are a lot of conflicting reports about what is safe and what is not when it comes to cooking on your glass top stove. The best course of action is to consult the user manual that came with your appliance.
Aluminum is lightweight, strong, and fairly inexpensive compared with other cookware materials. It won't rust, which means it will last a while, and it won't scratch or wear in a way that would potentially damage your stove's surface. These characteristics make aluminum cookware an excellent choice when you're looking to purchase new pots and pans. It's especially great for sautéing and frying foods because of how heat-responsive it is.
But buyer beware, aluminum reacts to acidic and alkaline foods, such as tomato-based sauces, which not only causes it to corrode but also can absorb the aluminum when cooking, which is bad for your health. So, if you buy aluminum, be sure to use it responsibly.
Alternatively, concerns with aluminum cookware go out the window if you buy anodized aluminum pots and pans. Anodization is a process in which the surface of the aluminum pots and pans are given a chemical bath that increases the thickness of the oxide layer, making the cookware harder, more durable, and less likely to corrode. This protective finish also makes it stick-resistant, which is a great feature.
Buying anodized aluminum means you can cook all foods without fear of corrosion from acids or damage to your appliance.
Copper may be a lot more expensive than aluminum when it comes to pots and pans, but there's a reason for it. Copper disperses heat evenly and is very responsive. This means that it will heat up quickly and also cool down quickly, preventing foods from getting burnt or being overcooked.
Even copper has a downside though. Copper reacts to just about everything it touches, including moisture in the air, which causes it to form a film that's actually poisonous. It also reacts to salty food, which causes a chemical reaction that can make your food have a metallic taste. Because of this, most copper cookware is lined with tin, silver, or stainless steel to protect the item and your food.
The biggest issue that people have with copper and glass stovetops is that copper is malleable and can warp easily. Any warping will render it useless. So, while it won't cause any damage to your surface, it may not be effective for cooking if it does not stay in its perfect form with a flat bottom. In order to keep your copper bright and shiny, you'll have to polish it regularly.
Titanium cookware is lightweight, strong, nonporous, nonreactive, nonallergic, and oftentimes has an antibacterial coating. It heats up quickly and evenly and will last a long time because it's scratch-resistant and doesn't dent or warp. Plus, you can pop it in your oven as well as use on any stovetop. And get this, it's nonstick, too.
If it sounds too good to be true, it just might be once you see it's price tag because titanium is very expensive. If you have the money for it though, it's usually worth the investment.
Stainless steel is one of the most popular choices in glass stovetop cookware because it's moderately priced, easily keeps its shine, and is very durable. It doesn't corrode or react with alkaline or acidic food either.
The only downside is that is really doesn't conduct heat well. Luckily, companies have found a way to beat this by putting a copper or aluminum core in the bottom of pots and pans.
All of these reasons make stainless steel cookware the most recommended cookware for glass stovetops, especially when considering the smooth, flat surface common of stainless steel pots and pans.
Carbon steel cookware is fairly similar to cast iron; both are good at retaining heat and both are super durable. The difference, though, is that carbon steel is often a lot thinner, more lightweight, and has a smoother surface.
The smooth surface is what you need to look out for carefully. Older carbon steel that has worn down may not be safe to use.
Materials to Avoid
Most appliance manuals will recommend avoiding porcelain, enamel, glass, ceramic, and stoneware, and for good reason.
Although porcelain and enamel cookware can give a good performance, assuming they have the thick, flat-bottom called for with glass stovetops, they also can be a problem. Many people who like to boil their pots and pans dry may be shocked to see that porcelain can melt on these stoves, fusing to the glass surface.
When it comes to glass, it is not recommended in general for cooking on stovetops because it is a poor heat conductor. Glass also tends to have a rougher, rounder bottom, which is not good for glass stove use.
Stoneware is similar in that its performance is poor and its surface is rough, making it a risk for anyone with a glass stovetop surface.
The Controversy of Cast Iron
Now, there are a lot of different opinions about cast iron. However, the main thing to take away is that most materials are safe if used responsibly.
A lot of people love using cast iron cookware. Although it might take a while to heat up, it does conduct heat rather evenly and holds its heat well. Cast iron is an awesome choice when deep-frying or even slow-cooking.
Unfortunately, cast iron can rust, stain, and become pitted when exposed to air, moisture, and certain foods. This is one reason why many steer away from it when using a glass stovetop. As previously mentioned, any scratches, dents, or chips can damage the stovetop.
Additionally, the weight of cast iron can damage your glass surface if not handled properly. One heavy-handed maneuver and you've got a crack in your glass surface.
Another issue with cast iron is that it can hold onto a high amount of heat, transferring it back to the cooktop. If overheated, the cooktop could shut down from unmanageable temperatures.
However, if you're conscious of these things, you could use cast iron safely. An especially good option for cast iron is porcelain-coated. This coating will reduce many of the warnings mentioned above, however, it is still not completely safe.