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Oct 17, 2011 07:00 AM

question about using cast iron skillet on gas stove

I have a gas stove and am trying to use a 12 inch Lodge cast iron skillet. Since cast iron does not conduct heat well, the edges of the pan don't get hot. Does anyone have any advice on what I can do so that I have a bigger cooking surface? I don't want to put my skillet into the oven to pre-warm it.

I have some dishes which require stir frying in a skillet. If I can not solve the above problem, I will have to purchase a stainless steel skillet.

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  1. Part depends on the gas ring and also how the flame is dispersed as you go from low to high. I would try starting on high to get the skillet edges warmed up quicker. Then when you feel you are close to the temperature that you want, reduce the heat. I know this goes against the low and slow method but the edges need the heat more than the center. So if you can get the flame to lick the side a bit, all the better. It may take a little experimentation to find the desired temperature.

    1 Reply
    1. re: SanityRemoved

      I think this is good advice. I have noticed when I use my CI grill pan that the edges don't get as hot as the middle of the pan. I think I would prefer a round grill pan, since my glasstop electric burners are round. It may be that you would do better with a square skillet, if that shape matches your gas burners.

    2. I can only speak from my own experiences/personal failures with cast iron.

      My disappointments were early on, when I broke out Grandma’s Griswold pans and started using them.

      Most of my previous experiences were with inexpensive stainless or with carbon steel woks.

      I did NOT understand that CI’s properties are that it dissipates AND absorbs heat more slowly than the materials with which I had previously cooked.

      When I started using lower heat settings, AND allowing the appropriate amount of heating time, my results improved.

      The epiphany was the “the second round of pancakes always turn out better” phenomena…of course..because the griddle is at the right temp!

      I cook on gas and simply realized that my tactics had to adapt to my tools.

      A laser point-and-shoot thermometer helped verify my assumptions. If I let the whole pan come up to temp, on medium or medium-high, and then throttle back the gas…good success.

      Just my personal observations.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Monch

        I think that my problem is that I am starting out on low setting and then reducing the heat. I probably need to set the temperature to medium initially to try to heat up a larger surface area.

        1. re: Monch

          ITA, the trick is start at a low temp and allow proper amount of time to heat up the pan. I start low and then raise.

        2. Does anyone use a heat diffuser on top of the burner? I know that when we are camping, I use one on top of the burner on my propane camp stove.

          1. Hi, shorty68:

            You may be asking too much of the combination of a home gas hob and a 12-inch CI skillet--you probably can't get where you want to go. If you must have that combination, everything's going to be "workarounds" (preheating in the oven, cooking only in the center/moving foods, shifting the skillet, learning who likes rare and well-done, "finishing" within the pan, etc., etc.)

            What can you do? You could get a solid-surface, closed hob stove (uberexpensive), a commercial gas range (very expensive), a "flame-tamer" (still more expensive than a CI skillet) and more gas, or just get a new skillet. An 8-inch or 10-inch would probably work better.

            When you say SS skillet, if it's straight-gauge SS footlong, it will be even worse than CI. Clad would work an improvement. Aluminum would probably fix the problem. Copper almost certainly would, but for $$.


            14 Replies
            1. re: kaleokahu

              Thanks for your reply. That is what I had suspected. I am thinking of purchasing an All-Clad 12 inch stainless steel pan. Since it is not throw away like a non stick pan, I figure that I can afford to spend more on it.

              1. re: shorty68

                Hi, shorty68:

                You're welcome.

                The A-C you are considering will be a step forward in evenness, then a step backward in terms of stickiness, and a staggered step forward again in terms of convenience.

                But I must ask: Why are you certain you need such a large skillet? If it has to be 12", I'd go with something like Calphalon or a restauarant grade aluminum for the money.


                1. re: kaleokahu

                  The only reason why I was thinking of going with a 12'' skillet is because I am trying to minimize my number of pans and thought that it would be safer to go with a bigger skillet than a smaller one. I am going to do some more experimentation with my 12'' Lodge skillet before I go out and buy another stainless steel skillet. I understand the disadvantages of a stainless steel skillet pan since I currently have a Calphalon stainless steel saucepan.

                  1. re: shorty68

                    If I was trying to minimize number of pans, but wanted skillets, I'd get at least a couple of CI and one non stick. The CI should nest for storage.

                    1. re: shorty68

                      Hi, again, shorty68:

                      Whatever pan you decide on, it's best to have one sized to your hob. To the extent you go larger/oversize, in descending rank of general "forgiveness" to the effect are:

                      1. copper

                      2. aluminum

                      3. clad

                      4. CI

                      5. steel

                      6. glass and ceramic

                      If you size the pan to the hob conservatively, you will tend to minimize the differences. Go too big and it accentuates them.



                      PS--When I recommended Calphalon above, it was *not* their clad I was talking about.

                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        I tried to make an omelet last night. I had to move the pan around on the burner to try to get it to warm the edges up. My pan is definitely too large for my hob. Cleanup was also a problem.

                        1. re: shorty68

                          I think that using a non stick for omelets makes the task easier. Unless you are a master at omelets, I'd invest in an egg skillet. But if you are cooking for one or two, I'd buy a smaller pan.

                          I make large omelets in a large non-stick skillet, when I do them for supper for Mr. Sueatmo and me. I wouldn't make one in a regular skillet. With non stick you use med heat--no higher. So there is a learning curve. As there is with every new kitchen implement.

                          1. re: sueatmo

                            I can see having a dedicated non stick pan for making omelets. My experience in making omelets in stainless steel and CI pans has been bad. Maybe when my CI pan is more well seasoned, I'll try again.

                            1. re: shorty68

                              If you're really using enough ingredients to make an omelet that calls for a 12" cast iron skillet, why not make a frittata instead? I heat up the pan, melt butter or pour olive oil, then quickly pour in eggs and everything else, then move it to the preheated oven where it bakes for a few minutes.

                          2. re: shorty68

                            There really is such a thing as too big a pan, no matter whaqt it's made of. I can see why you got the larger one. I do have one question, WHAT IS A HOB?

                              1. re: shorty68

                                Hi, EWSflash:

                                "Hob" is used intrerchangeably with "burner" or "element". A generic term used to describe a heat/induction location on a cooktop.


                    2. re: shorty68

                      While I love my all-clad it's not a substitute for cast iron.

                      1. re: shorty68

                        I LOVE my AC 12" skillet. I reach for it all the time. I had put my Le Creuset 11" skillet on the back burner, figuratively speaking, because of the issue you mentioned. I thought it was my skiller, but reading this thread... I suppose I should give my LC skillet another chance. How long should one heat the skillet before use?

                    3. You might consider a carbon steel pan like the ones from DeBuyer. I haven't tried stir frying in mine yet but the material is the same as a wok only thicker. There are many posts on chow about carbon steel skillets.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: cajundave

                        I haven't weighed in on the carbon steel/deBuyer pans in quite a while, but I will say that they are the bomb when it comes to frying up any and all eggs. After a short bit, the surface is like glass and the eggs just shimmy across the surface. When I initially bought mine (I have quite a selection) my husband was spoiled by the amount of eggs I cooked, just playing around with the pans. The corgis faired well too. woof.

                        1. re: breadchick

                          I know these are really expensive. But I have to replace my non stick stuff every few years. Maybe that is the way to go at that time. I probably need to start saving now!

                          1. re: sueatmo

                            True, point taken. I have a huge wish list. I can't imagine what I'd go with first. Heck, that could be a new post: Wish lists.