Why Buy a Gas Cooktop?
The type of cooktop you choose will depend on wide-ranging factors both practical and personal, including the most accessible power source and your personal preference. Some people prefer electric, others gas. For many homeowners, the choice between a gas, electric or induction cooktop is largely dependent on the availability of the power source. If a gas line and the required electric outlet are equally accessible, you can go either way, but there are advantages to buying a gas cooktop.
The best gas stovetops come in a variety of sizes, have a wide range of features and allow for unlimited customization. Most manufacturers make similar models with comparable features. For this buying guide we focused primarily on the two most common sizes, the 36-inch and 32-inch gas stovetops. If you’re choosing between the two common sizes, it’s a good idea to take your largest pot into the store so you can see how it fits and visualize how it works running several burners with a large pot on the cooktop.
Most gas cooktops have electrical ignition with no pilot light, and newer models have closed burners to prevent debris from falling below the burner and cooktop surface. Like their electrical counterparts, the grate surface often covers the entire cooktop, which means moving pans across it is easy.
Features to Look For
Whether you’re renovating your kitchen or moving into a new home, finding the best gas cooktop for your home is an important consideration. In the kitchens of many modern homes people are replacing ranges with a gas cooktop and wall oven combination. This helps use space efficiently and distinguishes your kitchen from those with common ranges.
Some people swear by gas cooktops from past experience, while others may opt for it because it works best with their kitchen setup. If you have an easily accessible gas line, that is one valid reason for getting a gas cooktop. Some homes use liquid propane rather than natural gas, so we looked for models that included LP conversion kits to allow you to install it properly. Regardless of why you decide on a gas cooktop, you will want to be aware of features that make certain brands stand out over others.
Refined Cooking With Immediate Temperature Control
Gas cooktops provide a lot of heat and give you the satisfaction of seeing what’s happening below the pan. Many professional cooks prefer gas cooktops because they allow for immediate temperature control with the turn of a dial. The KitchenAid Pro Dual-Tier is one model that has great flame control at both low and high ends. While electric cooktops maintain temperature better, gas cooktops let you fine-tune the cooking performance on the spot based on the appearance of the flame.
A high Btu output is important for recovery, or the time it takes for a pan to return to high heat after you add ingredients. All the best gas cooktops have a primary burner for quick boiling. The hottest burners reach close to 20,000 Btu, which makes for fast searing and boiling. For refined cooking, it’s important to have a wide range of Btu output, depending on the type of food you are preparing. Some gas cooktops have more difficulty maintaining low temperatures than their electric cooktop counterparts do, so we also looked for models that have a low-Btu burner for delicate cooking. Some stoves in our gas cooktop reviews, like the Maytag Dual Stack, reach as low as 5,000 Btu. The Maytag gas cooktop has an unusually broad range that reaches a 20,000 Btu output at the high end.
Another nice feature that is not common among gas cooktops is automatic reignition. One of the models that includes this feature is the Thermador Masterpiece. As the name implies, if you, for example, walked away for a minute while preparing a dish and the flame is extinguished, this feature automatically reignites the flame so you will maintain an even cooking temperature.
Thermador is the first manufacturer of cooktop and wall ovens and has been innovating in gas cooktops for decades. It introduced the first smoothtops, warming drawers and high-powered burners. Thermadors were used in Julia Child’s and Alice Brady’s kitchens. The Thermador 36-inch Masterpiece Series gas cooktop offers a stylish design, unique star-shaped burners and tremendous temperature range, making it a great offering from the appliance innovator.
KitchenAid’s KCGS556ESS Pro Dual-Tier is a unique, eye-catching gas cooktop with a blistering 20,000 Btu burner. Rather than placing a small control panel in the center, the knobs are arrayed across the front of the appliance. The cooktop continues this horizontal pattern with neat grate lines running horizontally across it.
The Maytag company is widely known for household appliances and has been manufacturing them for over 100 years. The Dual Stack 36-Inch gas cooktop is a good midrange, low-cost addition to our lineup. It produces a good amount of heat but sacrifices a few of the features seen on higher-end models. Still, because of its heat output, it is a great consideration for average budgets.
Getting the Most Out of Your Cooking Space
Even the most modern gas cooktop is not as easy to clean and maintain as a ceramic glass top electric cooktop, but gas cooktop manufacturers continue to improve usability. All of the models in our buying guide have continuous grates that make it easy to move a pan from one burner to another without spilling or toppling over. Each model also has dishwasher-safe grates to make cleaning them much easier. The GE Cafe comes with a unique integrated griddle. The griddle lays flat and conforms with the shape of the cooktop, giving you a cooking surface that gets closer to the flame than any pan could.
This indicator will stay lit to let you know if the grates are still hot after cooking or if a burner is still running on a low flame that is barely visible. While a hot surface indicator is much less common in gas cooktops than electric cooktops, more manufacturers are starting to include it. The Wolf Transitional and the Bosch 800 are a couple models in our buying guide that include this feature.
The Wolf Transitional CG365T/S is an impressive gas cooktop with precision flame control, a modern control panel and great customer service. It has a long list of features, including porcelain-coated cast iron, backlit glass knobs and control panel, and two-tiered burners. It has a nice feature package and overall functionality, making it was of the best-rated gas cooktops in our buying guide.
Standout Features for Specific Needs
Many features of gas cooktops remain consistent across different brands and designs, but there are features like child locks and a bridge burner that you see on a rare design, which can make it stand out and meet specific needs you may have.
The GE Cafe gas cooktop has the most complete feature package of any appliance in our buying guide. It has all of the essential common features along with several features you don’t always see, such as backlit knobs that are easy to find in dim light, a hot surface indicator and a conversion kit if you're installing the cooktop in a house that uses propane. It’s the only cooktop in our buying guide with an integrated griddle and a child lock that lets you lock the controls for safety. This manufacturer also offers the more affordable GE Profile model. The Profile has a more basic feature package and a boxier design, but it is easy to clean and does a nice job of cooking at low temperatures.
While the Kenmore Elite Downdraft cooktop has a more basic feature package than the GE model, it has a couple unique features that set it apart from the others. It has a bridge burner, which is a long, even heating area in the middle of the cooking space, where you can place food to keep it warm or cook additional courses, like meat or hash browns, that require a wider space. This Kenmore model gets its name from its other unique feature, the downdraft system, which is a vent on the cooktop surface that draws air down through the cooktop rather than up through a vent hood. This is an essential feature if you don’t have ventilation above the cooktop.
GE’s Profile PGP966SETSS is a full step down from its full-featured high-Btu cousin, the GE Cafe. Unlike the Cafe, this gas cooktop has a slightly boxy appearance but maintains the same fit and finish. The control panel takes a central block one-sixth the size of the cooktop toward the front. It’s a stark contrast to the Cafe’s curvy appearance and control panel. The cooktop’s design is a seamless stainless steel with a recessed pan for catching spills.
One of the most unique gas cooktops we evaluated is the Kenmore Elite 3112. This gas cooktop has two distinctive features. It vents with a downdraft system and features a bridge burner connecting both left-side burners. It’s also the only 36-inch gas cooktop on our lineup that uses four burners instead of five, a sacrifice to fit in the ventilation system.
Things to Consider Before Installation
When installing a gas stovetop, there are other things to take into account. Gas cooktops need ventilation, and your cabinet design needs to allow for one of two methods of venting: a downdraft or hood vent. Downdraft ventilation is built into the cooktop and draws air from the surface down through the vent system and ducting below. A vent hood is a classic design for venting and allows for greater air movement to prevent excessive smoke and odor.
Unless you’re doing full-scale renovations, your kitchen setup may limit your options. Some homes use liquid propane rather than natural gas, so we looked for models that included LP conversion kits. Likewise, cooktops require ventilation, which can prevent carbon monoxide buildup as well as issues with smoke and odor. If you can’t install a vent hood directly above the cooktop, a downdraft gas cooktop, like the Kenmore model, draws air from above the pots to below the unit for exhaustion.
Depending on where you live, your cooktop may need to be installed by a licensed professional. You also need to consider the unique cabinet design required to account for the depth of the cooktop or countertop cutouts. If your kitchen doesn’t already have the required gas and electrical lines to the cooktop area, it may require significant remodeling.
Gas cooktops are generally considered a high-end appliance. As you consider purchasing one, you should plan for the potential costs of ventilation, plumbing and installation, in addition to the cost of the appliance.
Other Types of Cooktops
While gas stovetops fit in many types of kitchens, that doesn’t automatically mean they are the best choice for you. It’s a good idea to explore your options before making a final decision about the type of cooktop you want for your home. Here are a couple other cooktop types available:
Electrical cooktops are by far the most popular type of cooktop, which doesn’t necessarily make them the best choice for everyone. Electric cooktops allow for finer temperature adjustments than gas cooktops, including lower lows and sometimes higher highs. The most common electric cooktops, also called smoothtops, have radiant elements below a glass surface, but some ranges have a coil or solid disk elements available as well. Flat-bottomed cookware tends to work best on electric cooktops, and heavy pots like those made of cast iron can easily scratch glass ranges. One great advantage of electric smoothtops is they are extremely easy to clean, but you’ll just have to be sure they have cooled down before you do so.
Induction cooktops have a similar appearance to electric cooktops but use energy more efficiently. However, they come at a higher initial cost. These ranges use magnetic fields to heat pots and pans, and as such, they require magnetic cookware. You can test your cookware for compatibility using a magnet. Another benefit of induction cooktops is that the top surface remains cool everywhere except the pot.
While gas cooktops aren’t as popular as electric stovetops, many people swear by them. Gas stovetop grates are not as easy to clean and maintain as their electric and induction stovetop counterparts, but the unique look, cooking experience and immediate temperature control make them a worthwhile choice for the right kitchen. This is especially true if you have an easily accessible gas line. Some gas cooktops have uncommon features like integrated griddles for gourmet dishes, child locks and a downdraft system that draws air through the cooktop rather than through a more traditional vent hood. The best gas stovetop for your kitchen can come down to one or two unique features. The gas cooktop articles in our buying guide will help you make an informed decision.