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cast iron grill pan ok on flat-top stove?

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I desperately want to get a good grill pan to make burgers and chicken on without having to use my outdoor grill (charcoal, so not the type of thing I can use every day!) or George Foreman grill (hope to relegate that to grilled cheese duty). I understand that cast iron is the way to go, not nonstick, because you can get it much hotter to do the searing required.

But the problem is that I have one of those flat-top electric stoves with no burners. You have to go to great lengths not to screw up its ceramic surface. I have a large Lodge cast iron skillet that I got to make frittatas and the first time I used it with medium high heat it smoked like crazy and left blackened marks on my stove that I had to scrub like crazy to get out. I don't have a real exhaust vent so the smoke was annoying as well. I now only use it on medium-low heat (which kind of defeats the purpose).

So, can you use cast iron cookware on flat-top stoves without screwing up the stove top or cookware? Are there any particular ways I should cook with it? Any particular products I should look for (like, is enameled cast iron going to be better?)? I appreciate the advice!

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  1. I have a set up very similiar to yours-electronic ceramic stovetop (which I despise), and a lame exhaust fan. I use a regular lodge skillet and a cast-iron skillet with ridges, which sounds like what you want to use. I rarely use either on the stovetop, however. Instead I use the broiler a lot. No splatter, no damage to the stovetop, and less (though still some) smoke. It works great for grilling sausages and I'm sure anything else you want to grill. Just remember to let the pan get good and hot first.

    I know using a charcoal grill can be a pain to start, but I've been using mine a lot more ever since I bought the Weber Chimney starter, works like a dream and makes grilling a lot more predictable:
    http://www.amazon.com/Weber-87886-Chi...

    3 Replies
    1. re: martin1026

      That's a great idea to use the pan in the oven under the broiler. I guess my only concern about doing that is that it wouldn't really be any different than cooking things in the broiler on the broiler pan. I'm doing that right now for burgers, and it's ok but doesn't give them that slightly charred outside and medium rare inside that I'm looking for. Do you think a cast iron grill pan would improve this?

      I do have a chimney starter, and yes, it is great. But I still don't want to deal with the mess, time, and mosquitoes of outdoor grilling more than once every couple weeks. Thanks though!

      1. re: zomigi

        The difference is in the pre-heating. You probably wouldn't pre-heat your broiler pan to the temps you would cast iron. Also, the pan wouldn't retain heat like the CI either. It sounds like this might be the best solution for you.

        I've always thought of my broiler like a gas grill, just upside-down. I don't see why it wouldn't be effective.

        1. re: Pylon

          Sounds good, thanks!

    2. You have already learned the answer -- the way that smooth top stoves are built that sheet of ceramic/glass looks like it will be "easy to clean" but in reality they are not. Further, although they can dump out a whole lot of heat, the design is such that unless all that heat is going into a big pot of water to boil water or something similar, the surrounding surface can/will overheat. Further, without a hood you cannot do much searing.

      The pan is not the only thing that makes it possible to get the job done safely -- the smoothtop ranges and lack of hood leave you in a bad position... Even if you can stand the smoke, you risk damaging the cooktop. For people truly committed to electric stoves the best upgrade is to a commercial style induction 'hob' which is far less likely to be damaged (but way more expensive)...

      In regards to enameled cast iron for searing, it is a bit easier to care for in comparison to uncoated, but performs about the same, and may be less efficient at transferring heat.

      6 Replies
      1. re: renov8r

        I'm not sure I'm understanding you. Are you saying I basically can't use cast iron high-heat cookware on my stove? I can't buy a new stove, much as I would love a gas one or at least a regular electric one!

        1. re: zomigi

          The way I read the "warnings" sheet that come with smooth top electric ranges you are not supposed to use any pan that is not perfectly flat, nor should you use anything that can scratch the surface, nor should you preheat the pan, if you try to preheat there is some kindof circuit to shutoff the stove before the rejected heat damages the stove:

          http://products.geappliances.com/Appl...

        2. re: renov8r

          I moved in with my wife and we have this type stove, I completely hate it. I have heard that unless the bottom of a pan is perfectly flat the stove won't work, and believe I have learned it to be true. I tried heating a canning pot half full to boiling and it took over an hour on the largest heat unit. I hear this is because it is the ceramic covered pot, that has circle ridges on the bottom. If I could have any think changed in this outdated kitchen, it would be this stove. We have everything else new, we won a new refrigerator, washer and dryer, our home warranty is going to replace our double ovens, but no one wants this piece of cooking malfunction for us. We are on major fixed incomes so it's not in the budget. Perhaps layaway with Sears is the way for us to go. Poor wife anguishes over the condition of this cook top. I am a clean person and also the one who does all the cooking, but can't for the life of me get this hated item clean to save my soul. We have purchased all the special cleaners for it, and it still takes hours. What a waste of perfectly good cooking space. I will replace this dang thing eventually. It is my opinion, if you have to have electric, go with the old fashioned ring burners. Even if the drip pans get dirty you can replace them for pennies compared to the cleaners just for this item. My opinion is if you are planning a remodel, don't go with this cooktop.

          1. re: justkjs

            Keep an eye on craigslist, I scored a double convection oven in great shape for $75 bucks. I'm monitoring for a new cooktop myself now.

            1. re: justkjs

              I have the same type cook top also don't like, however the way I clean mine is with nonaprisve Comet with spong has a green back for scrubbing. Good luck.

              1. re: eaokool61

                I am on food stamps and use baking soda and vinegar. Works great! on many, many other things, too. Even a clogged sink.

          2. Just out of curiosity, perhaps getting an aluminum disk (Or two depending on size) and placing them right over the "Element" then the skillet on top.

            BTW, I loved the flat top we used to have.

            DT
            http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?i...

            6 Replies
            1. re: Davwud

              Sounds intriguing. Don't know what type of aluminum disk to even search for, though. Do you have an example of the type of thing you have in mind? Thanks.

              1. re: zomigi

                Nope.

                I was just expounding on a metal star that my mom has sitting on one of her stove elements. Back in the 70's or so, you put a glass pot of coffee on it and it kept it from being directly on the element. Then you could turn the element on and keep the coffee warm.

                Such a disk of aluminum (Or perhaps find a blacksmith or iron worker for an iron disk) would fit within the confines of the burner and keep the over lap off the stove top.

                Just a thought is all.

                DT

                1. re: Davwud

                  While I too remember such devices as an attempt to protect GLASS percolators from the ravages of ancient calrods this is probably not a good idea as that would definitely be contrary to the idea of a secure "wobble free" pan that matches the smooth top heating zone. You'd be creating an unstable stack of metal-on-metal-on-glass that has even MORE potential to overheat and/or shatter the surface.

                  1. re: renov8r

                    I beg to differ.
                    I may not work I'll grant you that. But what I'm suggesting is a disk of metal that's approximately the size of the burner (Or burners depending on what type of skillet it is) so that the skillet doesn't over hang and wreck the part of the cook top not meant for cooking.

                    DT
                    http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?i...

              2. re: Davwud

                Where would you find these disks? How do they work, could you use non flush pots and pans on them? how do they work?

                1. re: justkjs

                  There are these disks called "Induction Interface Disks" that let you use non-magnetic steel cookware on induction stoves. They work by becoming the 'bottom of a pot'. The entire disk heats up, which allows the heat to transfer to whatever is on top of it. They seem really expensive for what is essentially, a piece of stainless steel. Maybe you can get one made at a metal shop, with a notch or groove to grip when picking it up?

                  The idea of using a portable electric hot-plate, as mentioned earlier, is similar to what my brother does. His stove is unsafe so he got a portable, two burner induction hot-plate and puts it right on top of the ceramic stove top. Good luck!

              3. Unfortunately, I also have an electric ceramic smooth top stove. When we bought this house we assumed there would be a gas connection for the stove since everything else - dryer, hot water, etc.- is gas, but noooo. But I've learned to live with it.

                What was posted is correct - you need to use flat bottomed cookware, don't scratch it and don't put a pre-heated pan on a burner. But, that aside, I use cast iron skillets (Lodge) fairly often and never have a problem. It may be that the pan needs re-seasoning. I know Lodge claims their pans are pre-seasoned but when I buy one I season it anyway, and I re-season them from time to time. A well seasoned pan is a natural way of creating non-stick cookware. The fact that your's is smoking makes me think it's either the seasoning or something burning on the cooktop.

                I'm sure there's other methods, but here's what I do:

                Heat the pan first to a temp that's still safe to touch - it helps open up the pores of metal and makes it easier to clean. Clean with hot water and a scouring pad. Dry immediately with a dish or paper towels.

                Heat the oven to 250 -300 degrees. Coat the pan with lard or bacon grease - don't use veg. oil. Put the pan in the oven. After 15 minutes, remove the pan and pour out any excess grease. Place the pan back in the oven and bake for two hours.

                When you clean it after cooking with it clean it when it's still warm by rinsing with hot water and scaping when necessary. Don't use a scouring pad or detergent as they'll break down the pan's seasoning. Dry immediately. I dry mine and then put it on a burner set on low for a short time to make sure it's completely dry before I store it.

                I love to grill and will even grill in the snow, but using a cast iron skillet to sear a good steak and then put it in the oven to finish delivers it's own flavor.

                6 Replies
                1. re: scotth

                  Don't assume that because you're stuck with an electric cooking surface (instead of gas) that you're stuck with a cra**y electric stove! Investigate induction cooktops-- they'll amaze you. Pricey, but worth it. Check out http://theinductionsite.com/ for more info.

                  1. re: scotth

                    Thanks for the seasoning instructions. Yes, the one I have said it was pre-seasoned.

                    What I was more concerned about than the smoke, however, was the burnt marks it left on my stovetop. I'm obsessive about making sure my stovetop is clean so nothing gets cooked on and creates those black marks. But the cast iron skillet seemed to make the marks all on its own. That's what has me scared about cooking at high heat with cast iron cookware. Don't want this to happen again.

                    My current skillet is bigger than the burner under the surface. I wonder if I should make sure to get one that is not at all larger than the burner, if I do decide to get a grill pan one?

                    1. re: zomigi

                      Yes, thanks for seasoning instructions, I just ordered 4 cast ironed pans (pre-seasoned). Of course unless we get the ovens soon, They will sit in the box until I can season properly. We have been without ovens since the week before thanksgiving, you can imagine Thanksgiving dinner was an experience. They tried rebuilding the part it lasted 3 days, Christmas eve, Christmas day and I am told the day after Christmas. I left for a week and came home to no ovens. One blessing I have is we have a killer fan system, I have a nu-wave oven, and we have george foreman grills, as well as a killer gas/charcoal grill, but it's way past the pool, and walking past the pool is off limits for me. I am a bread baker, so this is different. I can't re-iterate enough, go for the real coil stove top. Now, it's just convince the wife it's a necessity. lol

                      1. re: zomigi

                        If you aren't happy using the cast iron skillet on this stove (due to marking and smoking), I don't think you'll be any happier with a cast iron grill. It will have the same issues. Plus parts of the pan that extend beyond the burner are not going to very hot.

                        Have you looked at a stand alone electric grill? Some of those have drip trays that you can partly fill with water, reducing smoke from fat that drips below the grill.

                        Another indoor grill option - a butane hot plate and matching grill plate. Asian groceries, especially Korean ones, have multiple options along this line.

                        1. re: paulj

                          A really good rec, I've used these for years. Great for all sorts of table top work too.

                      2. re: scotth

                        scotth, i came here looking for advice on how to get my new lodge griddle to stop smoking and found your post. hope you're still around and will answer my question:

                        why bacon or lard? And any advice for those of us who are mostly vegetarian?

                      3. I have a ceramic smooth top stove (also in a house without a gas connection GRRRR) and I use a cast iron grill pan, CI skillets, LC dutch ovens on it regularly with no problem at all. One of the skillets does not have a flat bottom, but still workd perfectly.

                        The weird thing that happened to you and your Lodge skillet is very unusual, I would venture to say, and (like someone else theorized) is probabably something unique to your pan, like lack of seasoning.

                        The warnings not to use cast iron on glass ro ceramic stoves are more about the warranty against breakage than they are about performance.

                        That said... why don't you just cook your burgers in the cast iron skillet? A grill pan is just that with pretty grill marks.

                        1. For what it's worth, the appliance guy I recently bought a refrigerator from said that you can use any pan on the smooth-top EXCEPT for cast iron...(Martin & Harris, San Rafael)

                          1. I had a Fridgidaire range with the glass cooktop, never had a problem with any of my cast iron on the top. I hated the top, but less than the older electric range it replaced.

                            Due to the ineffectual vent fan in the condo, I only used my grill pan once. It worked fine, but so did my smoke alarms. After that if I couldn't barbecue, I'd just put the grill pan on a butane burner outside.

                            I'm not exactly clear on whether you had trouble with the Lodge pan the first time you used it or it was seasoned and reacted badly the first time you used it on the ceramic top.

                            1. I have a new Sears Kenmore Elite smoothtop range. Apparently this range is made by Frigidaire. It came with a cast aluminum griddle which is meant to only be used on the bridge element. I was terrified to use it at first because the bottom only touches the element on four tiny legs on the corners. I had a service call and the repairman said even though in the manual it warns against only using flat bottom pots, that I should be able to use this griddle. I have used it 4 times since and have not had a problem. Couldn't get any answer from Sears customer service about this griddle. If it does cause a problem down the line I hope my warrenty will still be covered. Btw, I still do not like my smooth top range.

                              1. I have a GE ceramic smooth top and use a double burner size cast iron Lodge grill pan that reverses to a griddle on it at least twice a week with no problems. The cooktop has a bridge component that I turn on so that two burners meld into one, and it seems to evenly heat the double size grill. I imagine if you don't have this you may not have even heating in the center of the grill, and you might want to consider a single burner size. Strangely, and this happens to be the case too with my terrific double size All Clad griddle, when you look at the bottom of the grill, there is a ridge around the entire thing that keeps the majority of the pan from sitting directly on the burners. The burners are managing to provide enough heat to the grill all over, even though the bottom surface is probably 1/32 of an inch above the surface of the burners. I have been doing this for years, and both the cast iron grill and the All Clad griddle (mostly used for pancakes) seem to work beautifully. To be sure, I don't drag the cast iron grill across the glass surface and I wait until it cools before trying to move it. Now for the down side and more of my opinion: I don't reverse the grill to the griddle side on the cast iron pan. Why? because it is "seasoned" and has little bits of solid remains in between the grill lines, so I don't want to put that on the ceremic burner. I imagine it will smoke the place up because the residue will burn relatively slowly and the seasoning will burn off as well -- hence, the use of the All Clad griddle. Also, I am not a fan of the downdraft ventilation that is built into my cooktop. It may just be that I cook large quantities of smoky, pungent food, but if I am grilling something that has been soaking in garlicky Asian marinade for a few hours, my kitchen will reek of it and of smoke for a few hours after cooking. Downdrafts are okay if you cook in small quantities and avoid techniques that produce a lot of smoke. If you can open a window, you have no problem. Also, cleaning the ventilation area of the cooktop is not my favorite activity, but you need to do this after a lot of frying or grilling anyway. But don't shy away from trying this -- you will love the results. Get a real cast iron grill, not the non-stick (I have that in Le Creuset and it is the poor cousin of its cast iron cousin) and remember, this is not a gas stove so DO NOT REVERSE to the griddle side -- there will be no flame to quickly "clean off" the residue -- you will only get lots of smoke. Good luck and let me know how you do.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: RGC1982

                                  I am dealing with this very situation right now...new house came with bosch electric stove...tried my le creuset grill pan on it and it left some impossible to remove marks on the stove top. Not impressed. Same thing happened when I used my wok. Left a bunch of "metallic" looking marks on the front burner area...having always used gas I am decidely unimpressed by the electric. Ebay beckons and I will get a new gas stove put in even though there is no gas line where I live...easy to set up a propane supply from outside...

                                  1. re: Scotty100

                                    But soooo expensive!!! I hate electric, but it was over $2000 to get the propane supply into my kitchen. I don't mind spending money, but even for me that is excessive, never mind what my husband would have to say about the matter!!!! So I have learned to cook with electric. Actually the flat top is very easy to clean, so I am surprised to hear all the comments about how difficult it is to clean. I just use the creamy stuff that you get in a plastic bottle and put it on with a coth or sponge, and everything comes right off. If not I use a straight edged razor in a holder.

                                    1. re: Mother of four

                                      I agree completely.

                                      DT

                                2. My apologies if I'm derailing the thread too much. I have always used electric coil ranges, but I am buying a new range and I'm considering a smooth top. After reading this thread, I'm having a lot of doubts. Unfortunately, gas is not an option and my budget won't allow for induction. A bit about myself and my habits...

                                  1. I love steaks, and I like to cook them in a cast iron skillet using extremely high heat.
                                  2. I like to sear, so I often pre-heat my pan.
                                  3. When I'm cooking something and I need to take the heat down, I usually just move the pan/pot to a burner that's off.
                                  4. I'm bad at cleaning up right after cooking. :(
                                  5. On something that is meant to have aesthetic value, permanent cosmetic damage drives me crazy.

                                  Am I better to go with a smooth top or a coil range? People seem to either really hate or love smooth tops.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: spiffy_dude

                                    Put me in the Love category. I used my CI on it without even thinking about it. I've done steaks in it much like you would.
                                    I'm not a big cleaner-upper-guy either. In fact, sometimes I'd just wipe the top off and leave the black/brown marks for a day or two and do a couple burners at once. In the end, after three years with it. It looks like it's been used but it also looks fine in my books. The only real aesthetic problem with it is I put a small scratch in it which went black. It's not a huge ugly thing but still in all. Keep in mind you can scratch the top of your oven with coil burners too.

                                    DT

                                    1. re: Davwud

                                      Most of the time I love my GE Smooth Top Range, however it does have its draw backs. I want to invest in a nice grill pan (preferrably Lodge Double w/ Griddle) but after doing some research and reading different boards I'm having second thoughts. I don't have the bridge burner for the double grill, so that's out. I'm concerned about the smoke created by the grill. I won't be grilling high quantities, so I can put up wit a little smoke. How bad is the smoke? I've pretty much decided to get the smaller, round grill pan from Lodge and hope it won't make any permenant marks on my cooktop. Any suggestions?

                                    2. re: spiffy_dude

                                      After having used both, I like the electric coil better, but not by a huge amount. The thing I really dislike about my smooth-top is my constant paranoia about permanently marking up the surface. :-) I'm not a really experienced cook, though, so I can't really tell you if one is truly better than the other for the type of cooking tasks you say you like to do.

                                    3. Of all the really obnoxious things that have been foisted off onto a public that doesn't really buy them [builders do, and what do they care?] the smooth-top range is the worst, right up there with avacado refrigerators and kitchen carpet. You're scared to cook on it, the best pans [iron] don't work safely, the heat gradations don't approach what gas can do, and there's just no helpful use for the things. If you have any leverage with your builder, get the things out and insist on a gas or dual type range. If I were given one, I'd cook on the backyard grill until I could afford to rip the thing out by its little wires and get another kind of stove, if I had to take a builder's special electric.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: dragonfare

                                        Now dragonfare, be serious. I have cooked on gas most of my life, which would have been my preference when I moved here. Instead, I found a coil electric cooktop. In spite of being a really experienced cook, I burned everything because of poor heat regulation. It shot sparks out at me twice. It was a nightmare to clean as well. A good smooth cooktop (in BLACK, NOT WHITE) is a great improvement over that antique technology. I use cast iron pans and a cast iron grill on mine all the time. I also use tons of LeCreuset, and not all of my LC is the same -- some pans have a smooth enamel bottom. The heat is much easier to regulate on the smooth top and it is a ton easier to clean. I don't worry about scratching it any more than I would worry about scratching a countertop. Just use common sense. You wouldn't drag a heavy cast iron grill pan across your counters, would you? That said, we are all different. If fear of scratching has you paralyzed, go with something proven to be durable. Some of those coil stoves must be 40 years old out there -- you can't kill them. But I'll bet your resale value, if you care, will not be as high.

                                        1. re: RGC1982

                                          RGC - I think you're right - common sense will go a long way when using CI on a smooth top. I've read everyones posts and decided to go for it. I'll just be careful and not cook on high heat. I'm not really concerned about scratches as much as cracking the cooktop. I'll just watch my heat levels and turn on the exhaust fan and see how it goes. I appreciate everyone's comments and suggestions! Happy Cooking!

                                          Lisa

                                        2. re: dragonfare

                                          I would have said that I'd kill myself before I'd cook on any electric stove ... but then I moved into a house without a gas line. Not wanting to spend $$ putting one in, I resigned myself to my ceramic-top range. Guess what? I love it! It's absolutely the equal, if not the better, of my previous gas ranges. I use cast iron skillets on it all the time. On high heat, too. Benn doing it for 10 years now.

                                        3. I use a nonstick grillpan to make hamburgers, steaks, etc. It works like a dream, and in FL. I have that stupid electic cooktop like you have, but I also use it on my gas cooktop here in MI. Works great in both places.

                                          1. There is a griddle that goes on a glass ceramic range. the Kenmore 96593 30 in. Elite Freestanding Electric Range sells one with the range. check with Sears Kenmore to find out what they use.

                                            1. You can always but a counter top single or double electric eye that plugs in like a small appliance and use the cast iron on that instead. You should be able to buy one at any big box store that sells kitchen stuff I would think.

                                              I just bought a house with a flat top stove, which completely sucks, but I was using the cast iron on it before someone mentioned that you aren't suppose to. It hasn't caused any problems yet, but mine already had some stains and such prior ro me using it. Also, I am not to worried about messing it up, because I don't like it and when it breaks, I'll just get something new that I do like.

                                              1. zomgi: I use a CI grillpan on my smoothtop radiant all the time with no damage to pan or glass. It is a Descoware that is enameled on the bottom, and dead flat. But the Le Creuset pans work just fine, too. Don't sweat it.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                  Exactly. I hate "grill" pans becasue they dont grill and are a bitch to clean up, that said I doown one (a LC) and a lot of CI skillets and have been using them on my ceran cooktop (which I love) regularly for 12 years.

                                                2. I have a glass cooktop that I have been using for about a decade. In the beginning I did not use cast iron, but later I've given it a try, and for me cast iron works fine. I was given for Christmas a Lodge cast iron stovetop grill pan, and it is working fine. Is your stove top glass or an older pyroceram version. If it is glass, and you having the problems you describe, I wonder if the "burners" aren't dirty or the pan bottom encrusted or dirty? I have seen--years and years ago--permanently stained pyroceram stovetops. But the new stovetops are all glass, aren't they? I mean new in the last 2 decades.

                                                  If you don't have an exhaust vent, then that complicates everything else. I would almost recommend giving that problem priority if it is practical. Otherwise, the recommendation to use another sort of grill is probably the best.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: sueatmo

                                                    sueatmo: "But the new stovetops are all glass, aren't they? I mean new in the last 2 decades."

                                                    All of the smooth-top ranges and cooktops that are sold by major appliance manufacturers in the United States have Schott Ceran tops. Ceran, which can be transparent, colloquially often is referred to as glass, but it is not wholly amorphous (that is, it is partially crystalline), so technically it is not glass but ceramic. Not without trepidation, I refer you to a Wikipedia article, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass-ce... Some Wikipedia articles are more authoritative and free of errors than others; this article falls into the "others" category, and the details must be taken with a handful of salt. Still, it is helpful as a broad overview.

                                                  2. I hate the glass cooktop too, even worse than a standard electric. I did find that using regular spray type oven cleaner on the cook top and letting it sit for 15 minutes would remove almost anything. I wipe it off with a paper towel, then a damp cloth, then it's ready for use.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: sweetvirginia

                                                      sweetvirginia: "I did find that using regular spray type oven cleaner on the cook top and letting it sit for 15 minutes would remove almost anything. I wipe it off with a paper towel, then a damp cloth, then it's ready for use."

                                                      Please tell us that you wear goggles and gloves when you do that, and that you dispose of the paper towel responsibly and wash the cloth.

                                                      The chemicals in oven cleaner (like the chemicals in drain cleaner) are pretty nasty, and not something you want in your food. Weiman makes a much more benign liquid paste cleanser for glass cooktops that you can buy in just about any supermarket or Target, and it works well for "big job" cleaning; for daily cleaning, Windex glass cleaner ("Vinegar Multi-Surface") is excellent, and much nicer to have around your food than oven cleaner.

                                                    2. Just upgraded from coil electric to induction - no gas available here. Anyone who's even considering the expense of putting in propane should seriously consider an induction cooktop. It is, in a word - fantastic. Heated a 3/4 full 8 qt. stockpot to boiling in less time than it took to chop a bunch of parsley (ok, I'm a little slow at chopping but still...), heat control is precise and immediate, cast iron works great, cleanup is really easy because the top only heats from heat transferred back to the cooktop from the pot - burned on spillovers are really rare, almost impossible to get. Only disadvantages:
                                                      1) Cost more than standard electric but WAY less than putting in propane and prices are comming down.
                                                      2) Have to replace any all aluminum cookware. Has to at least have ferrous metal in the base.

                                                      1. I regularly use cast iron on my flat top electric stove, no scratching so far and I'm not super careful with it.

                                                        1. Just have to chime in on the electric smoothtops. Using the cooktop cleaner is essential because it puts down a thin protective silicone layer. If my cooktop gets greasy a quick wash with a drop of Dawn and hot water cleans it, then the cooktop cleaner finishes the job and protects it. For anything stubborn all I need is a red scrubby pad (sold right next to cooktop cleaner) with a drop of cooktop cleaner on it -- barely any elbow grease needed for the worst stuck on messes. It never takes me more than 2 minutes to clean it. Often just a dime's worth of cleaner is perfect, and a bottle lasts me a year or more.

                                                          If cast iron is leaving a mark it's something that's on the pan -- you can have icky stuff on the bottom of any pan that gets transferred to the cooktop (raw aluminum will leave permanent marks though!). It is not difficult to care for at all if you pay it just a little bit of attention.

                                                          Old electric cooktops (coil and glass) were horrible, but the new ones that are of good quality perform very well. Good contact and the right size pot for the burner, water will boil very fast. They certainly can work very well with grill pans.

                                                          I use cast iron and Le Creuset with great success on my glass cooktop. Just don't slide it and make sure the bottom is clean and you'll have no problem.

                                                          Grill pans just simulate the grill with marks, not something that's ever excited me much. Save the real grilling for outdoors and just find a more exciting recipe or different cooking technique that works with the equipment you've got. Besides, the best hamburgers on the planet, bar none, til the end of time, any method of cooking, were made by my grandfather in his countertop convection oven on an 8x10 cookie sheet (that I still have and use).

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: mlou72

                                                            I agree with your post, although I tend to use more stovetop cleaner than you. But a grill pan can be a good tool, especially if no one in your family grills. I use my cast iron grill pan daily.

                                                            1. re: mlou72

                                                              "Grill pans just simulate the grill with marks, not something that's ever excited me much."
                                                              -------------

                                                              Most of the flavor from a grill comes from juices and oils burning and producing smoke which flavors the food. A grill pan can actually do this reasonably well, but it has to be HOT to do so. Even then, it can't generate the kind of radiant heat a grill can, so it tends not to create as nice of a crust on meats. In either case, I fail to see the point of using a grill pan on medium heat or lower and without ventilation.

                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                But, if you have a vented hood and can get the pan hot enough, it works well. At least it does for me. I also want to point out that not every thing I grill is meant to be "grilled." I do turkey bacon frequently in it and I am not trying to simulate actual grilling. I also like to do hambugers or turkey burgers in it, but I'm not trying to produce an outdoor grilled burger. It is a way to do low fat cooking indoors. I plan on doing Ahi tuna on mine tonight for dinner. There is no reason I can see that the OP cannot do similar.

                                                              2. re: mlou72

                                                                I'm interested in what you say about the cooktop cleaner leaving a thin protective silicone layer. I've found that the cooktop cleaner leaves a weird kind of sheen, even after I've polished with a clean paper towel. So then I use a spray cleaner to take away the sheen and leave the cooktop looking sparkling clean. Should I not remove that sheen from the cooktop cleaner? I rather don't like it, but want to do what's best for my cooktop.

                                                                1. re: Mayasmom

                                                                  I polish my cooktop with a paper towel and I like seeing the shine. I don't find that it makes the cooktop get dirtier. Why add to the job of cleaning the cooktop?

                                                              3. IKEA sells a grill pan they claim is compatible with a glasstop: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/pro...