A cast iron skillet is one of the most versatile pieces of cookware. From home cooks to professional chefs, everyone who uses one swears by it.
But can you use cast iron on an electric glass top stove? Will the weight of the cookware crack the glass? Will it leave gouges or scratches?
In this guide, I answer all your questions regarding cast iron skillets and glass electric stovetops.
So, if you are worried about whether you can cook with cast iron on an electric glass top stove, then keep reading.
Use the links below to navigate this guide:
- Can You Cook With Cast Iron on an Electric Glass Top Stove?
- Using Cast Iron on Glass Top Stoves: Do’s and Don’ts
- Do Cast Iron Skillets Work on Induction Cooktops?
- Bottom Line
Can You Cook With Cast Iron on an Electric Glass Top Stove?
Can you cook with cast iron on an electric glass top stove?
The short answer is yes, but you need to be careful. Cast iron cookware is heavy and has a rough exterior. You need to put it down gently and keep it in place to avoid scratching the cooktop’s glass surface.
When you ask cast iron skillet manufacturers this question, there is a theme to their answers.
Field Company says its cast iron skillets work fine on glass stovetops, but you need to preheat it for five minutes before cooking. Victoria Cookware says you can use cast iron on a glass stove, but don’t slide it around.
I spoke to a product specialist at Lodge, the oldest and best-selling cast iron cookware brand in the United States. She said, “Yes, you absolutely can use a cast iron skillet on an electric glass-top stove. But you need to pick it up and place it down without moving it side to side. If you slide the skillet, it could scratch the glass.”
She also advised, “When cooking with cast iron on an electric stove, always start with the heat set to low and gradually increase it to medium. You never need to cook on high. If you start on high, a hot spot could cause thermal shock and crack the skillet.”
The cast iron skillet manufacturers are in consensus that, so long as you don’t slide the pan and risk gouging the glass, you are fine.
But they could be biased. After all, they want you to buy their skillets. Let’s review what stove manufacturers have to say.
Interestingly, the appliance manufacturers seem to be saying the same thing, just from a more pessimistic viewpoint.
Beko permits the use of cast iron but warns that it might scratch the glass and suggests only enameled cast iron.
And Miele says not to use it at all due to the risks of scratching the surface.
In my experience, cooking with cast iron on an electric stove is fine as long as you are careful. So the short answer is yes, you can use cast iron on an electric glass stove, but do it with caution.
Using Cast Iron on Glass Top Stoves: Do’s and Don’ts
You’ve learned that you can use cast iron on an electric glass top stove. But that doesn’t mean you can just toss it on there and start cooking.
Before using cast iron on your electric stove, here are some things you need to know.
Don’t Drop It
This may sound obvious, but it’s something you need to be actively thinking about while cooking. Cast iron is heavy, and your glass stovetop is fragile.
A cast iron skillet weighs anywhere between 4 to 12 pounds, with the average 12-inch cast iron skillet weighing 8 pounds. For comparison, the average 12-inch stainless steel and aluminum pan weighs only 4 pounds.
Because cast iron is heavier than standard cookware, there is a greater chance of cracking your cooktop if you drop it. When positioning your skillet, be sure to use both hands.
Also, because the handle heats up with the rest of the pan, you will need potholders to move it. Grabbing a hot handle will cause you to drop it reflexively. When I cook with my cast iron, I leave a potholder on top of the handle so that I won’t grab it by accident.
Don’t Drag It
As the manufacturers explained, dragging your cast iron on an electric stove is a bad idea.
If you drag a cast iron on a glass or ceramic cooktop, you will almost definitely scratch the surface.
Also, cast iron is not only much harder than glass, but it can develop burrs and rough edges from time to time. If there is a burr on the bottom of your pan you don’t know about, it can cause deep gouges in your cooktop.
If you need to adjust the cookware, lift it directly up and place it gently back down.
Find Cookware With a Smooth Bottom
Cast iron skillets often have the brand’s logo or ridges stamped into the bottom.
For example, this Utopia Kitchen cast iron skillet has its logo and a ridge around the edge stamped into the bottom of the pan.
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While it looks nice, it doesn’t help with cooking, and it can damage an electric stove.
It’s difficult to find a cast iron skillet with a completely smooth bottom, as most have the logo etched. But you should look for one without additional ridges and etchings.
For example, this Calphalon cast iron skillet only has a slight indication of a company logo.
It’s smooth enough that you won’t need to worry quite as much about scratching your stovetop.
Remove Leftover Residue Before Use
Leftover food or cooking residue on the bottom of your cast iron can scratch the glass cooktop, and built-up carbon from heat can stain the paint around your burners.
To avoid this, properly clean your skillet after each use. Clean the bottom with hot water, dry it completely, and apply a thin layer of shortening or oil.
Resource: Check out my complete guide on cast iron maintenance.
Finally, clean the stovetop before you start cooking. Small food bits or pieces of salt can do a surprising amount of damage under the weight of your cast iron skillet.
Choose the Right Size Skillet
One way to avoid uneven heating is to get a cast iron pan that is the same size as your burner or as close to it as possible. It is safer to go a bit larger than smaller, but don’t get anything with more than a 1-inch discrepancy.
If you are experiencing hot or cold spots, don’t overdo the heat. Cast iron skillets hold heat incredibly well, so overheating one can cause the heat to rebound and damage your stove.
It is better to buy an appropriately sized pan than to replace your electric stove’s heating elements.
Opt for Enameled Cast Iron
As I said earlier, a cast iron pan with a completely smooth bottom is your best option for an electric stove.
Alternatively, choosing a cast iron cookware with an enamel coating will work even better. The coating creates a stick-resistant cooking surface and smooth bottom with less friction than exposed iron.
The coating also helps protect your pan from rust. It’s a true win-win-win.
My top pick for enameled cast iron is Le Creuset. It’s expensive but worth the investment (read my in-depth review to learn more). If Le Creuset is not in your budget, Lodge is an excellent alternative.
Inspect Your Cast Iron for Damage Before Use
Cast iron is prone to having burrs in the metal. These small chips or barbs of metal can damage your stovetop. To avoid this, inspect your skillet every time you use it.
Always perform a visual inspection first. Hold your pan so the light in the room exposes the bottom, and slowly twist it back and forth. That will allow your eyes to pick up any shadows caused by damage.
When you’re confident that everything looks okay, slowly and gently run your hand across the surface. Don’t use a lot of pressure; you don’t want to cut your hand if there is a problem. Just feel for any imperfections.
If everything checks out, then your cast iron skillet is good to go. If you find any burrs or chips, look closer and see if it is something fixable. Most likely, you’ll need to replace your pan or avoid using it on glass.
Use a Heat Diffuser
A cast iron heat diffuser, like this one, can alleviate some of the heating problems caused by electric glass stoves.
A heat diffuser is a thin piece of cast iron that goes between your skillet and the burner. It protects both the burner and the skillet and helps disperse the heat evenly.
There are a few things to keep in mind when using a cast iron heat diffuser.
- The diffuser will get hot, so treat it as carefully as you do your skillet.
- A heat diffuser can still scratch your stovetop, so you can’t slide it around.
- It creates a buffer between your heating element and your cast iron skillet, so you will need to increase the cooking temperature slowly.
If you consider those things, a cast iron heat diffuser can help take some of the headaches out of using a cast iron skillet on a glass top electric stove.
Take Caution When Cooling
Cast iron retains heat really well. Sometimes too well, and that can damage your cooktop.
One of the great things about cast iron is how well it can go from stove to oven and vice versa.
But, people often take their cast iron out of the oven and set it on the stovetop out of habit. That can ruin your glass stovetop.
Cast iron gets hot and stays hot, and it can leave permanent scorching marks on your stove. To avoid this, put the pan on a cooling rack or trivet.
Do Cast Iron Skillets Work on Induction Cooktops?
Induction cooking works by heating your cookware via magnetic induction. Instead of the heating element and passing the heat to a pan, an induction cooktop transfers electric energy directly into your pan, which heats up as a result. Induction is a safe and highly effective heating method.
Induction heating works with any magnetic metals. And, since iron is magnetic, you can absolutely use cast iron on an induction cooktop (enameled cast iron cookware will work, too).
Because induction stoves have glass cooktops, all the precautions we’ve talked about in this guide apply. Also, with an induction cooktop, it is even more important that your cast iron has a smooth bottom so that the current enters the skillet evenly.
By this point, you know that it’s safe to use cast iron cookware on glass top electric or induction stoves, as long as you’re careful. The key is that you don’t slide the skillet around while cooking.
If you place the skillet gently on the stove, leave it in one place, and inspect it before cooking, the risk of damaging your glass cooktop is low.
If you don’t have a cast iron skillet yet, look for one without ridges or a protruding logo on the bottom. The smoother the bottom surface, the better.
Follow these simple guidelines, and you’ll have no problems using cast iron on a glass stovetop.
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