A cooktop is an area on kitchen ranges where there are coils that are heated up with electricity, gas, or via induction in order to fry, saute, boil, grill, and heat up meals. While a cooktop can be part of a kitchen range, a cooktop can be purchased as a standalone appliance with controls or knobs on top and used to:
- Make a pizza
- Boil water
- Bake bread
- Cook rice
While cooktops will range from 12 inches to 48 inches wide, the standard cooktop size is either 30 inches or 36 inches wide. Slim models for smaller kitchen spaces will be 12 inches to 24 inches wide, those with more space can accommodate cooktops that will be 30 inches to 36 inches wide, and large homes or commercial cooktops can have cooktops that are 45 inches to 48 inches wide.
The price of a cooktop will vary and depends on its size, brand, and type. However, for basic units, an electric cooktop will cost you $300 to $1000, one powered by gas costs $300 to $1500, while an induction cooktop can cost $1000 to $2500. Prices depend greatly on the type of cooktop you choose because gas and electric cooktops will use about 65% to 70% of generated heat for cooking. On the other hand, an induction cooktop is more energy-efficient and uses about 85% to 90% of heat energy for cooking.
While a cooktop can be used to reheat leftovers, this kitchen appliance can also be used to make different cocktails. Also, cooktops can be used to make fried or hard-boiled eggs. Cooktops are also used to bake cakes and make fruit jam at home. Other use cases of a cooktop include:
A cooktop can be used to cook pasta. First, fill up a large pot or saucepan with water. Place the lid on top of the pot or saucepan and bring the water to boil using High heat. Add a pinch of sea salt. When the water is boiling, add your pasta to the pot or saucepan. Let the pasta boil for as long as instructed on the packet. A minute or so before cooking time, scoop out 1 cup of pasta water and set it aside. Drain the pasta.
To make pasta sauce, saute onions, garlic, and sausage in a skillet on your cooktop for 5 minutes to 7 minutes. Add in tomato sauce, tomatoes, parsley, basil, sugar, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, add pasta water, then reduce heat. Let the pasta sauce simmer for 2 minutes to 3 minutes before stirring in your cooked pasta. Combine, scoop onto plates, and serve with cheese.
Another way to use a cooktop is as a rice cooker. In a medium-sized saucepan, add 2 cups of water and bring it to a boil. When the water has started to boil, add ½ teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of butter or oil if that is your preferred taste. Let the water boil again before stirring in 1 cup of white rice. Let the water simmer before stirring the rice, covering your saucepan, and turning the heat down to Low heat.
After 15 minutes to 17 minutes, check if the rice has absorbed the water. If you have cooked more rice, this may take 25 minutes. When the rice is tender and there is no more water, turn off the cooktop and let the rice sit for 2 minutes to 3 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and let it sit for another 2 minutes. Scoop rice onto a plate or bowl and serve.
Alternatively, a cooktop can be used to cook chicken. To cook chicken breasts with this kitchen appliance, grease both sides of chicken breasts with a light layer of cooking spray or with oil. Season both sides with pepper, salt, onion powder, dried basil, and paprika. In a large skillet, add vegetable or canola oil and let it heat up. When the oil is hot enough, add the chicken breasts into the skillet on Medium heat. Let the chicken breasts cook for 5 minutes to 7 minutes before flipping them over. You can add another tablespoon of oil or butter and cook the chicken breasts for another 5 minutes to 7 minutes.
When the chicken breasts have reached an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C), transfer the chicken breasts onto a plate or cutting board. Let the chicken breasts rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
To boil chicken on the cooktop, place the chicken in a large pot and place the pot onto your cooktop. Pour water or broth over the chicken, enough to cover it, before seasoning your liquid with salt and pepper. On Medium-high heat, bring the liquid to a boil. When the liquid is boiling, cover the pot and reduce the cooktop’s heat to Medium. Let the chicken simmer for 10 minutes. Afterward, transfer the chicken onto a plate or cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes before shredding or serving.
Cook fish with your cooktop. First, prepare your white fish by patting both sides of the fillet dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle the top of the fillet with salt and pepper. In a skillet, warm olive oil or butter and turn up your cooktop to Medium-high heat. After the skillet is properly oiled or buttered, lay down your fish fillet making sure that the seasoned side is making direct contact with the skillet. Let the fish cook for 2 minutes to 3 minutes before using a fish spatula to flip over the fish. Season the other side of the fish with salt and pepper before cooking the fillet for another 2 minutes to 3 minutes. When the fish is flakey and more opaque color, transfer fish onto a plate and serve with garnish.
A cooktop can be used to bake a pizza. To make the pizza dough, whisk warm water (100°F to 110°F or 38°C to 43°C), granulated sugar, and yeast into a bowl. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let it rest for 5 minutes. Afterward, mix in flour, salt, and olive oil for 2 minutes. Scoop out the pizza dough and place it onto a floured surface. Knead the dough for 3 minutes to 4 minutes. Grease a large mixing bowl with oil and put the pizza dough into it. Turn the dough in the bowl and coat it with oil. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let it rise for 1 hour or 1 hour and 30 minutes.
When the pizza dough has doubled in size, punch it to release any trapped air bubbles. Divide the pizza dough in half and roll out one half on a lightly floured surface. Roll it out so that is a little smaller than your 10-inch or 12-inch skillet. Place your skillet on your cooktop and heat up 1 teaspoon to 2 teaspoons of oil on Medium-high heat. When the oil is heated, place your pizza dough onto the skillet. Let the pizza dough cook for 1 minute before flipping over the pizza. Add your pizza sauce, cheese, and other toppings onto the dough. Cover your skillet and reduce the cooktop’s heat to Medium. Let the pizza cook for 4 minutes to 5 minutes before transferring it to a cutting board to cool. Slice pizza and serve.
An alternative way to use a cooktop is for boiling water. To bring water to boiling point or 212°F (100°C), add water into a pot or pan. Place your pot or pan onto the cooktop and turn on your appliance to High heat. Cover your pot or pan and let the water heat up for 4 minutes to 8 minutes. When the water is boiling, it is ready for sterilizing or cooking.
Another way to use a cooktop is for vegetables. To blanch vegetables, first, wash and trim your vegetables. In a large pot, bring water to boil on the cooktop on High heat. When the water is boiling, add your vegetables into the pot making sure that they are covered with water. Let the vegetables cook for 1 minute to 5 minutes. Asparagus will take 2 minutes to 4 minutes while broccoli will take around 3 minutes to cook. When your vegetables are tender and bright, strain or pick your vegetables out of the water. Fill up a large bowl with ice water and transfer your vegetables into it. Let the vegetable chill for as long as they were cooked before draining them and serving or freezing.
To saute vegetables on a cooktop, wash, trim, and dry your vegetables with a paper towel. Using a 12-inch skillet, heat up olive oil on your cooktop on Medium-high heat. Add your carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, and onions into the skillet and saute for 4 minutes. Toss in your soft vegetables like squash and saute for another 3 minutes. Then, toss garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper before letting the vegetables cook for another 2 minutes. Turn off your cooktop and top vegetables with parsley and lemon juice.
A cooktop can be used to brew cocktails as well. Prepare your fruits by slicing an orange and apple into rounds. Place a large pot on your cooktop and add in your wine, raw apple cider, cinnamon sticks, star anise, bourbon or vodka, apple, orange, and sweetener of choice. Let the liquid heat up at Medium-high heat. When the cocktail starts to simmer, reduce the cooktop’s heat to Low. Cover the pot and let it simmer on Low heat for 15 minutes to 3 hours. When the mulled wine has simmered, pour it through a strainer and serve in cups. Add orange wedges or a thin orange peel strip for garnish.
Alternatively, a cooktop is an appliance that can be used to grill meat. First, place a cast iron or skillet that is oven-friendly on your cooktop. Turn your oven on and preheat it to 350°F (176°C). While your pan and oven are heating up, blot your meat with paper towels and sprinkle both sides of the steak with salt and pepper. Melt butter in your skillet or cast iron pan and place your steak onto it. Cook the first side for 3 minutes to 4 minutes before flipping over the steak. Add more butter into the pan and cook the steak for another 3 minutes to 4 minutes. When the steak has cooked, transfer it into the oven and let them cook for another 5 minutes. Transfer the steak onto a plate, cover with foil, and let the steak rest for 5 minutes. Take off the foil, cut, and serve.
Also, a cooktop can be used for eggs. To fry eggs using a cooktop, turn on your appliance and place a skillet on it. On Medium-high heat, melt 2 teaspoons of butter in the skillet. Breaking 1 egg at a time, slip the eggs into the skillet. Reduce the cooktop’s heat to Low. Cook the eggs for 4 minutes to 6 minutes flipping halfway. Sprinkle eggs with salt and pepper then serve.
To boil eggs, add eggs and water into a pot on the cooktop and make sure that the eggs are submerged about 1 inch underwater. Put a lid on your pot and let the water heat up on Medium heat. Let the eggs boil for 8 minutes to 10 minutes. Transfer eggs into a large bowl filled with ice and cold water. After 20 seconds, peel the eggs and serve.
A cooktop doubles as a jam maker. Prepare your strawberries by washing them, removing their cores, and chopping them into quarters. Place a pot onto your cooktop and add your strawberries, sugar, salt, lemon juice, black pepper, and rosemary leaves into the pot. Stir the ingredients making sure that the strawberries are covered in sugar before turning on your cooktop and letting the ingredients simmer on Medium heat. When the jam starts to simmer, turn down the cooktop and let the jam simmer for 30 minutes. Transfer jam into a bowl or jar and let it cool before consuming or storing in the refrigerator.
Another way to use a cooktop is to make soup on it. To make a simple vegetable soup, wash and chop your vegetables first. In a large pot on the cooktop, place all of your vegetables into the pot with 5 cups of water, ½ teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, and salt. Let the soup simmer on Low to Medium heat for 3 hours. Stir the ingredients before scooping them out into bowls and serve with bread.
A cooktop can be used to bake a cake. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until it is a light and fluffy mixture. Then, whisk in the eggs slowly before sifting in the flour, baking powder, and cocoa powder. Using a 9-inch cake pan, grease the pan and pour batter into it.
In a deep saucepan on the cooktop, place a plate inside making sure that it is upside down. Fill the saucepan with water until it is nearly touching the top of the plate. On Medium-low heat, bring the water to a simmer. When the water is simmering, place the cake pan into the saucepan and on the plate. Cover the saucepan and let the cake steam for 25 minutes to 30 minutes.
Afterward, carefully remove the cake from the saucepan. Let the cake cook for 20 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar or top with icing, slice and serve.
Alternatively, a cooktop can be used to make fries. Wash, peel, and cut potatoes into wedges. In a cast-iron skillet on the cooktop, place the fries into the skillet in a single layer. Pour about 1 cup of vegetable oil into the skillet in order to cover the fries completely. Let the potatoes cook on Medium-low heat for 15 minutes to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally so the fries do not stick together. Transfer fries onto a plate covered with paper towels to absorb excess oil. In a bowl, toss the fries with salt, pepper, and other seasonings. Serve immediately.
Also, a cooktop can be used for sandwiches. First, spread 1 tablespoon of water on each slice of bread. In a skillet on the cooktop of Medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and place the bread into the skillet. Top the bread slices with ½ cup of cheddar cheese and cover with another slice of bread. Cook bread for 2 minutes before flipping over and cooking the grilled cheese sandwich for 20 seconds. Transfer grilled cheese sandwich onto a place, cut in half, and serve.
A cooktop can be used to make homemade gnocchi. Boil peel potatoes in a large pot on your cooktop until they are tender. Use a potato ricer and pass the potatoes through the device. On a table or chopping board, add your riced potatoes, flour, and salt together. Make a well in the riced potato with your fingers and add an egg to the center. Mix the ingredients until it forms a dough that does not stick to your fingers. Add flour to your surface and cut the dough into ropes. Cut each rope into ¾ inch pieces and slide each piece of dough on a fork. Let the gnocchi rest for 20 minutes.
Add water and salt to a large pot and bring it to a boil on your cooktop on High heat. Add gnocchi into the boiling water and scoop out when the dough rises to the top. Drain gnocchi and toss with sauce or transfer to an oiled pan to stir-fry for 10 minutes to 15 minutes.
An alternative way to use a cooktop is as a bread maker. First, butter or spray a Dutch oven with non-stick cooking spray and set it aside. In a mixing bowl, combine yeast, butter, salt, sugar, and warm water. Combine and slowly add ½ flour every now and then until all 2 ⅔ cups are mixed. Knead the dough for another 8 minutes to 10 minutes. Transfer the bread dough into the Dutch oven and cover. Let the dough rise for 1 hour.
Turn on your cooktop and place the Dutch oven on it. Let the bread cook on Medium-low heat for 20 minutes to 25 minutes until the bread has an internal temperature of 200°F (93°C.) Afterward, turn off the cooktop and let the bread cool in the Dutch oven for 5 minutes. Turn out the bread onto a rack to let it cool completely before slicing and serving.
Another way to use a cooktop is to make a sauce on it. In a pan on the cooktop, add beef and cook on Medium-high heat. When it starts to brown, add onions and let the onions soften for 8 minutes to 10 minutes. Stir in dried basil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and nutmeg into the pan. Pour in water, tomato puree, beef stock, and tomato paste. Add sugar as well. Let the sauce simmer before adjusting the cooktop to a Low heat setting. Let the sauce cook for 3 hours to 3 ½ hours and stir as needed. Turn off the cooktop and top the pasta with sauce.
Common Mistakes for Cooktop Usage
When learning how to use a cooktop for the use cases above, avoid the common mistakes that can damage your appliance or compromise your food:
- Using the wrong heat setting. When the cooktop is used for food and has a heat that is too low or too high, your food may not cook properly or will be overcooked. It is important to follow recipes and their recommended heat settings to efficiently use a cooktop.
- Adding cold ingredients into pots and pans. If ingredients are added into a pot or pan without thawing, it may be cooked on the outside but still be frozen or raw in the middle.
- Moving food around too often. Stirring or flipping your food more than necessary can prevent it from browning and cooking properly.
- Adding too many ingredients in the pan. Overcrowding pots and pans on the cooktop can cause food to stick together. If ingredients are not in a single layer, they may not brown properly either. Cook in batches if you have to.
- Using the wrong type of pot or pan on a cooktop. If you feel as if heat is being distributed by your cooktop unevenly, it may be because you are using the wrong type of pot or pan. For example, a small skillet on the cooktop will heat up much faster than a Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet.
- Only using a cooktop. While the cooktop is an efficient appliance, some recipes require more than just the heat from a cooktop. As seen above, some recipes will need the help of an oven.
- Not cleaning your cooktop. Burnt food, spilled oil, and sauces can compromise the efficiency of your cooktop. It is good practice to clean your cooktop at least once a week.
- Using sharp utensils on your cooktop. When cleaning up your cooktop, using sharp knives and forks can scratch and damage your kitchen appliance.
- Using heavy-duty scrubbers. Heavy-duty scrubbers like wire brushes and steel wool sponges can also scratch your cooktop. Debris should be cleaned with a silicone spatula or plastic scraper to protect your appliance.
- Cleaning the cooktop while it is still hot. If your cooktop is still hot when you are cleaning it, the cleaners you use can burn. Leftover debris or spilled liquids can also be hot and burn your skin. Wait until your cooktop is completely cool before whipping out your cleaning supplies.
- Adding wet food into pots and pans. Ingredients should be as dry as possible to minimize the amount of hot oil splashing onto the cooktop’s surface.
- Not removing pots and pans from a cooktop’s heat source. When recipes instruct that you remove a pot or pan from the cooktop, do so immediately. If you leave a pot or pan on the cooktop, your food can be compromised.
- Using the wrong type of cooktop. Each cooktop has its pros and cons and some homeowners may benefit from a cooktop with more precise temperatures.
Avoid these mistakes and maintain your cooktop in order to cook more efficiently.
History of Usage of Cooktops
To better understand the appliance you may be wondering: what is a cooktop? The first evidence of a controlled cooktop is associated with India or the Indus Valley civilization from 4000 years ago. A dome with a flat top was shaped over a cavity where fires would be lit and food or containers to cook food were placed on top. This structure was adopted by other civilizations over the next 1000 years or so.
It was in the 18th century when stoves appeared. These stoves would run on wood, coal, or charcoal. The first gas stoves were in development in the 1820s and were only patented in 1826 by James Sharp. In 1834, Sharp set up a gas stove manufacturing company but the gas stove only became popular for commercial use in the 1880s. The induction cooktop was patented in the 1900s but did not boom immediately. The electric cooktop was also introduced in the 1990s and is still used today. Nowadays, all three types of cooktops are available in different sizes and made out of different materials to cater to consumer preferences.
Does the Uses Cases of a Cooktop Change Based on Type?
Yes, the use cases of a cooktop change based on the type of cooktop you purchase. A gas cooktop offers homeowners high cooking temperatures and controls that are easy to adjust for efficient cooking. Many gas cooktops offer burners that are designed to reach hot temperatures quickly while others are better suited for delicate, controlled temperatures.
There are also electric cooktops that are best for those who want consistent and precise cooking temperatures. Since this type of cooktop runs on electricity, they are easier to install in kitchens and have a smooth design due to the lack of coils. On the other hand, there are induction cooktops that use electromagnetic energy in order to heat up or cook food. The heating element that is underneath an induction cooktop’s ceramic surface reacts with your cookware and vibrates to create heat.
What Cooktop is Best for Making Pizza?
The best cooktop for making pizza is an electric cooktop. With an electric cooktop, you can control the temperature of the skillet you are baking your pizza in and maintain the heat.
What Has More Use Cases: A Stovetop or a Cooktop?
If you are only comparing the stovetop of a range, no appliance is superior and wins the cooktop vs stovetop debate. Both a stovetop and cooktop will only take up counter space and their only difference is the placement of their knobs. Stovetops will have their burners’ knobs front-facing while the knobs of a cooktop are on its surface. Both appliances can be used for the use cases above.
Other Kitchen Tools with Various Use Cases Similar to Cooktop
Other kitchen tools with various use cases similar to cooktops include:
- Bread Machine: A bread machine is used to knead, rise, and bake bread but can also be used to make soup and cook rice as a cooktop can.
- Air Fryer: This appliance uses heated air around a chamber to heat up, fry, saute, bake, and cook ingredients.
- Multi-cooker: A multi-cooker uses different settings in order to sate, boil, roast, bake, and grill ingredients.
- Slow Cooker: With moist heat, a crockpot runs on electricity to simmer food at low temperatures over long periods of time.
- Convection Oven: This appliance uses a fan in tandem with an exhaust system to blow hot air around food to heat it up and cook it.
While these appliances have use cases similar to a cooktop, they have their specific use cases as well. Learn more about these 5 kitchen tools and their 5 other uses here.