With the onslaught of gastropubs and creative multinational fusion restaurants popping up on every corner, there's never been a better time to be a food lover. When I sample something truly delicious — like applewood-smoked bacon-wrapped dates drizzled in blue cheese vinaigrette — or the perfect flavor combinations of cilantro, pickled daikon, and crispy roasted pork in a Bánh Mì sandwich, I often try to recreate the recipe at home.
I spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking and experimenting, and if I had to name the one single thing that has drastically improved my cooking game, it's been switching to a gas cooktop. After making the change, I finally understood what my professional chef friend was raving about. There are so many advantages that gas ranges have over electric ones. Not only do gas ranges heat up faster and work better with varied cookware, but they are also easier to clean and maintain.
In a recent survey conducted among 100 professional chefs across the United States, 96 reported that they prefer to use gas cooktops, and 68 also prefer gas ovens. Even if you're not a professional chef, there's no reason that you can't cook like one.
Here are five reasons to make the switch:
The biggest advantage that gas cooktops have over electric ones is their response speed. Gas burners respond immediately when ignited, while electric burners take several minutes to reach the same temperature. On the flip side, gas burners also cool faster, allowing you to take a rolling boil down to a simmer in no time flat. This kind of control is especially important when cooking delicate things like sauces. For some sauces, hot temperatures that last too long could mean the difference between a perfect creamy consistency and a runny failure.
Easier to Control
In the same vein as response speed, controllability is also much better with gas ranges. Seventy-two percent of the professional chefs surveyed cited greater control over temperature as one of the primary reasons for their preference. With electric burners, you sometimes have to move the pan away from the burner to help the contents cool faster, but with gas you don't, which makes it the far more convenient option.
Usability with Varied Cookware
In addition to better control, gas ranges also take the cake in terms of cookware usability. Flat electric cooktops are fine if you only use perfectly flat-bottomed pans and pots, but most of the time that isn't possible.
For example, I have one oversized skillet that I use with almost every meal I cook, but over the years, the bottom has become slightly warped which causes it to lean to one side when I'm cooking. It still leans on top of a gas burner, but the most important thing is that it receives the same heat over the entire bottom surface. When I cooked on a flat electric burner however, only part of the bottom made contact with the hot surface, which made the contents cook unevenly.
Woks are another type of cookware that gas stoves complement perfectly. Woks are designed to be used over an open flame, so clearly, gas is the winner.
Simple to Clean
If you cook on an electric range, you are probably no stranger to the stubborn messes they incur. With electric, you either have to clean under cumbersome and unsightly burners, or scrub the burnt food spills on your flat cooktop while using a special cleaning agent and trying not to scratch the surface. Again, gas is the winner. With gas burners, all you have to do is remove the steel grate, wipe away errant crumbs and food, and use a multipurpose cleaning spray like 409 to remove cooked-on spills.
Along with easier cleaning, gas stoves are easier to maintain and troubleshoot. If you've purchased a used gas stove or recently move into an apartment with one, you'll want to deep clean not only the surface and grates, but also the heating elements. Here’s a step-by-step guide from WikiHow on how to do that.
Newer electric ranges that have digital controls may seem more convenient, and they can be; that is, until they break. This most likely means forking over the cash for an appliance repair service, whereas if a gas cooktop stops working, most of the time all you have to do is have your gas provider relight the pilot light.
If you want the ease and convenience that professional chefs enjoy when cooking with gas, weigh your options and consider making the switch.
Sarah Kellner writes on cooking appliances, including ranges and cooktops, for Home Depot. A selection of gas cooktops is available at Home Depot, and at other appliance specialists and "big box" stores.