Double Your Stovetop Space With A Simple Baking Steel Hack

If you're like most people then your average stovetop is more than enough most of the time. You may even have just a couple of burners that you use almost exclusively for the majority of the year, ignoring the rest until a dinner party or the holidays roll around. Then, all of a sudden, it's like you're stuck playing a game of musical stove and wishing you had more than the standard four to six spots for pots and pans. But what if you could magically transform those individual gas burners into a flat surface capable of holding twice as many pieces of cookware?

The good news is, you can! There is actually a product that you can lay across a couple of burners on your stovetop in order to expand the range and make a larger area available for cooking. It's called baking steel — and while it was developed as an alternative to the pizza stone, it's even more useful on top of the stove than it is in the oven.

Why is that? Well, used on top of the stove it will conduct heat across its surface area so that you will be able to cook with pots and pans placed across the whole thing and not just directly above the burners. Now obviously the spots directly above the burners will get the hottest, so keep this in mind when considering placement.

Can this hack work with other materials?

If purchasing a baking steel isn't in your immediate future, there are other options for this hack that you might already have in your kitchen — such as a large cast aluminum, cast iron, or carbon steel griddle or grill pan. Although they're normally meant for cooking food directly, griddles can be used for more than just heating tortillas, making pancakes, or frying bacon and eggs. Since they will conduct heat in much the same way as a baking steel they can work for your pots and pans as well. While griddles are often a bit more narrow than the baking steel, they'll still increase the heated surface area that you have to work with. They'll also work on electric stoves, so you can still make this hack work even if you don't have a gas range.

Already have a flat-top stove attachment? If you've never thought of branching out with it, it's worth considering. Just be careful not to scrape your pots and pans across it as this might leave scratches. The attachment will give you the largest surface area of all to work with — but since it also takes up the entire stovetop it won't leave you with any individual burners the way the griddles and baking steel do.

Are there any cheaper alternatives?

Technically, you could create an expanded flat cooking surface by substituting a heavy-duty sheet pan for a griddle on a gas range. But this does come with a couple of caveats. The first is safety. Since sheet pans are quite a bit lighter than both baking steel and regular griddles, even a slight bump could be disastrous. So you do have to be much more careful if you choose to go this route.

The other major aspect that needs to be considered is heat. Sheet pans can warp and even burn on direct high heat — meaning you won't be able to turn the burners up very high at all. But it could still work well for keeping already-cooked foods warm. Of course, this arrangement is still not ideal so you'd only want to try it if you are extremely confident that you won't bump it or have visitors in the kitchen who could. And you wouldn't want to use pots or pans with long handles that could get bumped easily either.

In the end, you're much better off shelling out the cash to invest in either a baking steel (which can also be repurposed for making Thai-style ice cream rolls) or a quality griddle. Not only do they work great for their intended purposes, but they're an ingenious way to hack your stovetop and create a lot more cooking space.