- Glass top stoves are typically categorized as either electric or induction, which both use electricity to generate heat.
- The right kind of cookware for a glass stovetop is made from a material that won’t scratch the surface and offers a wide, flat bottom for a greater cooking area.
- Stainless steel is the best material for glass top stoves, as it has enough weight to remain stable, yet won’t scratch the surface.
Most starting cooks are quick to discover that whenever they need a little help in the kitchen, they never have to look far.
Want to know what pan turns out the fluffiest omelet? Here you go. Need a risotto recipe that’ll impress the family? There are hundreds. What’s not a very common concern, however, is how to use a stovetop.
A stovetop is mostly an on-and-off kind of thing — you turn the knob on when you want to cook and off when you’re done. However, finding the right type of cookware for different stovetops is more complicated.
Glass top stoves, in particular, should only be used with select pots and pans. While its smooth surface offers a modern appearance and easy cleanup, the glass can also be scratched and discolored.
If you're working with this kind of surface, keep it in tip-top shape with the right care, regular cleaning, and the best cookware for glass top stoves. Our own stainless steel cookware sets are our favorite cookware for glass top stoves, but there are plenty of options out there.
What Is a Glass Top Stove?
Glass top stoves are actually made of glass-ceramic, which is made in the same way as glass, but with the addition of a nucleating agent that effectively creates a crystalline structure (the molecules of pure glass are arranged in a random structure, which causes them to easily break).
After rounds of heat treatment, glass-ceramic has the appearance of glass but is much stronger, has a low coefficient of thermal expansion (which means it doesn't react quickly to temperature changes), and is no longer translucent.
Glass top stoves are usually either electric or induction. While both run on electricity rather than as a conventional gas stove, the difference is in the way they use the electricity. Electric stoves are the older of the two and are often referred to as radiant cooktops, after the radiant heating coils placed below the glass-ceramic surface. When an electric stove it turned on, the coils basically heat up and radiate up to the cooktop, which in turn, heats up the cookware.
Induction stove tops, on the other hand, work through electromagnetic induction. When turned on, the coil under the glass-ceramic surface generates an electromagnetic field, similar to that in a microwave. While the actual coil and cooktop themselves don’t get hot, any magnetic cookware placed on top of the surface will react to the electric currents and effectively heat up.
Each type of glass top stove has its own characteristics (electric is less heat efficient) and price points (induction is more expensive). But no matter which one you’re cooking on, all glass top stoves should be properly cared for in order to maintain their sleek surface.
What to Look for When Cooking on a Glass Top Stove
When cooking on a shiny glass top stove, not just any type of cookware will do. One wrong thud or clank of the wrong material, and the smooth surface can be easily scratched. For this reason, the ideal cookware material for a glass top stove is stainless steel. This popular cookware metal is durable, hard-wearing, and offers just enough weight to remain stable yet not so much as to damage the delicate glass surface.
Aluminum or copper are also suitable, and popular for their amazing heat conducting capabilities. However, they have been known to leave residue behind on glass cooking surfaces and are, therefore, best used as core layers under a stainless steel exterior. This combination of metals makes for superior cookware that is gentle on all cooktops.
The materials that don’t work well on glass top stoves are cast iron, stoneware, and other glass or ceramic cookware. These are typically rough and can very easily cause scratches, especially when dragged across the smooth surface while full of food. Cast iron, in particular, takes a while to heat up and then holds on to this high heat for a fairly long time — this sustained high temperature can cause the entire cooktop to overheat and potentially turn off.
Induction top stoves, in particular, only work with magnetic cookware. Magnetic cookware includes those made of ferrous metals (metals that contains iron), such as cast iron and carbon steel. There are also certain types of magnetic stainless steel — namely 18/0 or 420 stainless steel — that are ferritic and function as the base layer of high-quality induction cookware.
Other cookware materials, such as aluminum, copper, or glass, will not work very well on induction cooktops. There are some “all-metal” induction models that work with a wider range of cookware, but these are still not common in most home kitchens.
Furthermore, it’s best to use pots or pans with a wide, stable base. As glass cooktops have to be in direct contact with the cookware in order to actually transfer heat, it may be hard to get all the food to cook evenly on a small surface area or with cookware that is uneven due to warping. You want a pan that sits flat on the glass stove and has a wide enough contact area for the food to spread out and properly cook over the heat.
The Best Cookware for Glass Top Stoves
Now that we know the cookware criteria when using a glass cooktop, the following is a roundup of the best cookware sets available on the market.
Misen Cookware Sets
Whether you’re looking for a starter set or complete collection, Misen offers a range of essential cookware to suit your needs. Our Starter Cookware Set includes a 10-inch skillet, a 3-quart sauté, and a 3-quart saucier (all with lids). Our Essentials Cookware Set includes a 10-inch skillet, a 12-inch skillet, a 3-quart sauté, a 3-quart saucier, and an 8-quart stockpot (all with lids). And our Complete Cookware Set has a 10-inch skillet, a 12-inch skillet, a 3-quart sauté, a 6-quart rondeau, a 2-quart saucier, a 3-quart saucier, and an 8-quart stockpot (all with lids).
All Misen cookware is made from five layers of stainless steel and aluminum, for superior heat conduction. They feature stay-cool handles that are riveted to the base, are dishwasher safe, and are guaranteed compatible with gas, electric, and induction cooktops.
Circulon Infinite Hard Anodized Nonstick 10-Piece Cookware
This 10-piece set consists of a 1.5 quart saucepan (with lid), a 2 quart saucepan (with lid), an 8-quart stockpot (with lid), a 3-quart sauté pan (with lid), an 8-inch skillet, and a 10-inch skillet. All the main pieces in this set are made of hard-anodized aluminum with a stainless steel base and aluminum core. The stainless steel handles are riveted to the base and stay cool while cooking. This cookware set is described as as dishwasher safe and compatible with glass-ceramic and induction stove tops.
T-fal E765SC Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick 12-Piece Cookware Set
This is a larger set that includes an 8-inch fry pan, a 10-inch fry pan, a 1-quart saucepan (with lid), a 2-quart saucepan (with lid), a 3-quart saucepan (with lid), and a 5-quart dutch oven (with lid), as well as a solid spoon and slotted spatula. The hard anodized cookware set has a titanium nonstick coating, and features the brand’s trademark thermo-spot heat indicator (a ring that turns red when the pan is properly preheated). This set is compatible with most cooktops, including glass-ceramic, but is not compatible with induction.
Cuisinart Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set
This comprehensive cookware set is comprised of a 1.5-quart saucepan (with lid), a 3-quart saucepan (with lid), an 8-inch skillet, a 10-inch skillet, a 3.5 quart sauté pan (with lid), an 8-quart stockpot (with lid), and a steamer insert (with lid). Made from tri-ply stainless steel and aluminum, the pieces are safe to use with most stovetops, ranges, and ovens.
The Heat Is On
If you’re cooking on a glass top stove, you need the right cookware for it. This means the right material that won’t damage the surface, and the perfect silhouette to make the most of the contact-only heating style.
For the best cookware that does both these things, opt for a high-quality stainless steel piece with a wide, flat-bottom base. Not only are these pieces perfect for both electric and induction glass stovetops, they’re also easy to use, easy to clean, and can last a lifetime.