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Cast Iron Cookware on Ceramic Glass Cooktop?

We often get questions about cast iron pans or a Dutch Oven on glass-ceramic cooktops.  Well, I use both a cast iron skillet and a Dutch oven.  But I do this with some caution and I would advise the same to you.

Back a few years, I believe the standard advice was, “no, don’t use cast iron.”

Cast Iron Cookware on Ceramic Glass CooktopsPersonally, we have read much about the benefits of cast iron cooking and staying away from the Teflon® or PTFE type coatings.  Every pan I’ve used personally with a quick release or non-stick coating, I end up not paying attention, overheating the pan, and “frying” the coating.  My hope is no one from my family ate this removed coating!  We have also been using a “diamond-like” coating pans for a while, believing the pitch these were PTFE-free only to realize, nope, it’s not and I fried the coating again by overheating.

From a culinary or taste standpoint, some dishes are fantastic cooked in cast iron.  

The performance and even-temperature distribution are great with cast iron cookware.
So, it’s worth it on many levels to use cast iron.

With glass-ceramic cooktops there are two key areas of concern:

  • Scratching or breaking the glass top, and
  • Overheating & performance

 Here is what to look for and do to prevent these possible issues.

My Cast Iron PanFirst cast iron is generally NOT perfectly flat.  Some older and antique cast iron cookware are really high quality, unique, and quite novel in their design…but, they are not flat and may have a forming lip on the bottom of the pan.  With radiant cooktops, some of the heat is getting to the pan from infrared energy passing through the glass-ceramic.  Some of the heat, lets say half of the heat for example, is absorbed by the glass cooking surface then passed to the pan by contact or the two surfaces touching.  So, making as much contact between the glass-ceramic cooking surface and the bottom of your pan will expedite heating and response.  If the pan is not flat on the glass-ceramic surface then this process is slowed considerably and you will be frustrated with how slow things are heating up

Flatness check

Quick check of flatness and Sharp Surface Problems

Another problem with non-flat cookware is overheating the heater and glass-ceramic.  The thermal sensor in the heating elements is measuring a limited point or zone.  If the pan is non-flat and an air gap exists between the pan and cooktop, this area will be hotter than where the glass is contacting the pan bottom.  These hot spots may be missed by the temperature sensor.  Not a huge problem, but not best for the glass or heater over the course of 10 to 20 years.

By E.W. Modemac (Own work) [<a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0">CC BY-SA 3.0</a>], <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AGriswold-Erie-Cast-Iron-Skillet.png">via Wikimedia Commons</a>

Note the raised lip on this Griswold-Erie Cast Pan…not good for glass-ceramic cooktops!!!

Second point is scratching and breaking the glass-cooktop.  It is best to examine the bottom of the pans well.   Obviously cast iron is really heavy!  Make sure the pans are flat and free of any sharp points from the metal casting process because the sharp points combined with the weight can really make a mark on the glossy black surface of the cooktop.  Also, I think sand is a common mold material to cast the metal into during manufacturing of the pans (not an expert!).  Sharp metal and sand can really scratch the surface of your cooktop.  Look for a nice flat surface and be sure the pan doesn’t rock back and forth.

Corroded cast-iron is also a problem…if it’s corroded it is not smooth anymore and it will probably scratch.  Your hand is the best tool to verify if the pan is smooth or not!

Lastly cast iron is a hard metal.  Best practice is NOT to slide the heavy cookware across the surface.  As much as possible, sit the pan in place and then fill it from there.  Lift it upright if you need to move it around.  It goes without saying, even though the glass-ceramic is really strong, dropping a cast iron pan on the surface will have risks!  Be careful.

So enjoy your cast iron cooking!  Let me know what recipes you find amazing as we are always willing to try new things.  This chicken, artichoke, caper lemon zest recipe is quite amazing in your cast iron pan!

Also, I’m a fan of Tim Ferriss and his attempts to deconstruct activities in life to simplify and find more time.  He has a great way to season your cast iron pretty quick in the book The Four Hour Chef, but also stated here on Cracked.

By the way,… I’d stay away from cast aluminum pans.  Aluminum is pretty soft and will leave silver streaks on a harder glass-ceramic cooktop surface.  These are difficult to remove, especially if you don’t attack the marks after the first cooking.

Also good to note, these pans work great with induction cooktops!!!  With induction there is less concern about flatness and how it relates to cooking performance.  But, you still need to be concerned about causing surface scratches and such.

Products noted in this post:

  • Lodge Pre-seasoned cast iron pans: 9 inch, 10.25 inch, 12 inch, & combo.  Remember, it’s best to match the diameter of the pan to the burner diameter you are using!
  • Tim Ferriss’ “The 4-Hour Chef “

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