It's been a long time since the days of open flames and skewers. Although you may have a kitchen full of modern appliances, a gas or electric stove would be a major staple. Both can help you achieve culinary wonders, even if your skills are primitive.
What is an electric stove?
The style of electric cooking surfaces can vary, but this kitchen appliance runs on electricity. For a long time, the popular design of an electric stovetop had four sets of spiral coils. More modern electric ranges have smooth, flat cooking surfaces with circular areas that heat up. Regardless of the type, each burner tends to be controlled by a dial ranging from 1 (lowest) to 9 (highest).
Inside an electric oven, metal is usually used to generate consistent heat throughout the area. This is normally temperature-controlled in 5-degree increments.
Electric stoves often require 220-volt or 240-volt outlets, compared with 110-volt outlets that probably span the rooms of your living space. Kitchens tend to come equipped with at least one outlet that supports electric ranges.
What are the benefits of an electric stove?
The flat-top style of electric stoves creates a very even cooking surface for pans and pots alike. Flat-tops also tend to be easier to clean than their coil-style counterparts. When this stovetop is cool enough to clean, there aren't many crevices you'll have to wedge a sponge or washcloth between.
The oven heat of an electric stove is also responsive, precise and dry. Responsive heat elements that can cycle on and off quickly can improve cook quality. Meanwhile, dry oven heat helps to create the most coveted effects in dishes, such as braised meats and proofed loaves of bread.
What is a gas stove?
A gas range is a kitchen appliance equipped with both oven and stovetop, both of which use natural gas or propane for fuel. This appliance will require dedicated gas line, which may have to be installed.
The hallmark of the cooktop is that each burner uses an open flame controlled by a dial. The heat levels produce different sizes of flame. Within the oven, a flame also cycles between on and off to maintain cooking temperatures you set.
What are the benefits of a gas stove?
Some of the benefits of a gas stove are fast cool-down and preheating, plus responsive stovetop heat. Fast preheating can save valuable time in restaurant and home settings alike. Meanwhile, highly adjustable and precise open-flame burners can be very useful. Serious home cooks and chefs may favor gas ranges for these reasons alone, not to mention the degree of artistry that comes from manipulating fire to cook.
Electric vs. gas stove: What are the differences?
The main difference is that electric stoves use metal heating elements, while gas stoves rely on open flames. The benefits can be distinct, as we discussed, but there are differences beyond the obvious (flame vs. no flame).
Both types of stovetop transfer heat from the burner to your cookware, whether you're sizzling, simmering, sautéing or boiling. Your gas burner may lose some heat in the air, but the amount is nominal. An electric burner loses almost no heat by making direct contact with a piece of cookware.
Wear and tear
An open-flame burner is often gentler on pots and pans over time. This is partly because of how adjustable the heat application is. A gas burner stops emitting heat when it's shut off, whereas electric coils and stovetops take time to cool down. Extending the time cookware is exposed to heat may wear even high-quality metal pans quite quickly.
How and how much you clean electric and gas stoves will differ. On the stovetop, an electric-coil burner should have a bowl-shaped drip pan. Cleaning that can be intricate and difficult: You may have to detach each coil, remove the pan and scrub. Sometimes drip-pans are so difficult to clean that replacing them makes more sense. Gas burners tend to remain cleaner and, therefore, easier to clean.
Electric and gas ovens often come with self-cleaning functions, but neither may help if something boils over and cakes to the oven walls. Some electric ovens have an additional coil on the bottom. If that gets dirty, it's yet another component to clean.
Electric stoves consume more total energy than gas stoves. A gas range, however, could generate indoor pollution without proper ventilation in your kitchen. This could be as simple as having window nearby.
It's difficult to recommend one stove type over the other based on their respective environmental impacts. Generally speaking, whatever your choice, it can be a small contribution how energy consumption affects things like water and air quality where you live.
Is a gas stove cheaper to run than an electric?
In general, gas stoves can be marginally cheaper to run than electric ones. How you cook may have a nominal effect on the energy used. Yet, the utility costs in your area are the primary influence on the cost of maintaining and operating your stove.
Parts and installation for each type of stove vary the most in price. Gas ranges tend to be more expensive than electric, as does the installation process, even if the features are comparable.
Do chefs prefer electric or gas stoves?
Professional chefs tend to use gas stoves more than electric stoves. You might think of everything chefs do as being more sophisticated, but they use the most common cooking techniques, too. Generally speaking, the type of stove won't limit the techniques a chef can perform. The same goes for you.
Gas burners tend to perform better when stir-frying and sautéing over high heat. The open flame may char ingredients a bit better than an electric burner can. But again, like most techniques, an electric stove still allows for charring, frying and sautéing. A chef's choice is usually just a matter of personal preference and the techniques they want to use most often.
The main differences between gas and electric stoves are in the heating elements, their effects on your cookware and their cleanliness. The costs to run either type of stove may not differ very much, depending on utility costs in your area. However, purchase and installation prices can be higher for gas stoves.
Your culinary creativity won't be limited by the type of stove you choose. When deciding, your main considerations should be installation and cleaning. Most kitchens have outlets that support an electric range's voltage, but you may not have a dedicated gas line. That installation will increase your total cost. The cleaning processes for both types are also important to think about when considering a gas vs. an electric stove.