Can you use cast iron on a glass-top stove, or should you allow your favorite cookware to gather dust – unused and unloved?
Where there's a will, there's always a way!
So let's jump right into it and look at some of the risks involved and then finish off with some solutions on how to use cast iron on a glass-top stove!
Other awesome cast iron guides!
One of the remarkable advantages of glass-top stoves is that they have a silky smooth surface that's not only easy to clean but helps distribute heat evenly and quickly to your cookware.
However, they also have a unique disadvantage to other types of burners — such as gas or coils. Because they are made of glass, they run the risk of scratching and cracking.
It is because of this vulnerability that we have to be careful about what kind of cookware we use and how we use them – cast iron being among the tippy-top of this worry list.
So can you use cast iron on a glass top stove?
In short, yes. If you are careful, you can absolutely use your favorite cast iron pans and skillets on your glass-top stove.
However, before you do, you should understand why they can pose a danger and what you can do to minimize the risk of damaging your stovetop.
The first danger of using cast iron on a glass-top stove is that it is much heavier than other cookware. And adding food only makes these pans heavier.
While most glass stoves are built to handle the heavy load of cooking, at the end of the day, it is still glass and it can, scratch, crack, or shatter if pushed too far.
If you accidentally drop your cast iron pan while taking it off the stove – even from a few inches – there is a good chance you are going to be replacing your stovetop.
You're also at greater risk of scratching the surface of your glass-top with heavier objects.
Cast iron can be a pretty rough material – even more so when older.
They can often have rough spots or tiny pieces of pointy metal sticking out around the pan. Check out the close-up shot below!
Not only can these little burrs scratch up your glass, but they can also have the entire weight of the pan behind them.
Imagine if you balanced the entire weight of your pan on a needle. There is a lot of force behind the tip of that needle, all pressing down on one particular point of your glass-top.
The same concept applies to these burrs. You could have a lot of weight behind one of them that could easily shatter your glass-top stove.
Cast iron skillets and pans are notorious for being more prominent than the average pan. They have less of a slope on the edge, which typically makes the base of the pan much wider than other types of cookware.
With cast iron, you may run into the problem of the base being bigger than the burner.
Using a cast iron skillet bigger than the burner isn't ideal. While cast iron has a ton of benefits, it is a very poor heat conductor that will heat unevenly if used on a stove that is too small.
Not only can this dramatically increase the time it takes to cook your food, but if the middle of the skillet heats significantly faster than other parts, you run the risk of your cast iron skillet warping.
A good rule of thumb is to never use cookware that is more than one inch wider than the burner.
It's also good to know that cookware is measured from the top and not the bottom.
Glass-top stoves are designed for cookware with perfectly flat bottoms that allow them to heat evenly and quickly.
However, cast iron doesn't always meet this flat-bottom criterion.
Over the lifetime of a cast iron skillet, the bottom can sometimes slightly warp. While not an issue when used on other types of stovetops, it can ruin the cooking experience when used on glass-top.
In addition to heating unevenly, you also risk scraping or cracking your glass if the skillet wobbles.
Last up is the cast iron's seasoning. This beautiful layer of polymerized oil is what gives cast iron its magical non-stick surface and prevents rust.
However, this oily layer that covers the skillet doesn't play well with glass-top stoves.
The oil on the bottom of the skillet can easily carbonize when heated, leaving behind a burnt black stain on your glass.
Alright, so we have covered all the risks associated with using cast iron on glass-top stoves.
Now let's look at some crafty solutions to help you reduce those risks and protect your glass from cast iron!
As we learned above, the majority of issues that we face when using cast iron on glass-top stoves comes from the two surfaces touching.
So what if we crammed something between them so that they never touch?
That's the purpose of a heat diffuser – to spread the heat evenly between two surfaces without them directly touching!
Heat diffusers for glass-top stoves are a widely available and affordable solution to using your cast iron without scratching or cracking your glass.
Simply throw it between your stovetop and your cast iron, and you've eliminated all of the risks above. Well, that is except for the weight issue.
Remember, cast iron is a very rough piece of cooking equipment, and even the slightest sideways movement on your glass-top stove can have dire consequences.
So if you decide to use your cast iron on your glass, just be extra careful not to bump it while cooking and always be sure to lift it straight off the stove.
Also, ensure that you have a good grip so that you don't accidentally drop it against your glass. Even dropping it from an inch up can be enough to shatter some glass-tops.
Washing your dishes before and after you use them may not seem like the ideal solution.
However, by washing the outside of your cast iron before using it on your glass-top stove, you remove many of the built-up oils that could carbonize and leave burnt black marks all over your glass.
Just don't wash it too much as you don't want to completely remove the oil coating that protects the outside of your pan from rusting!
Also, if you go this route, be sure to reseason the outside of your pan often.
Try and use only higher-quality cast iron cookware when cooking on glass-top stoves.
Typically higher-quality cast iron has a smoother finish with less pointy burrs.
Also, don't use old and beat up cast iron as they are more likely rough and warped – neither of which is ideal for your glass.
If older pans are all you have and you're not looking to upgrade, consider at least picking up a diffuser.
Your glass stove will thank you!
So what about enamel-covered cast iron?
This type of cast iron cookware has been glazed with enamel or porcelain enamel, taking away many of it's "rougher" features.
However, while enamel cookware is much safer for your glass-top, the same caution should be applied while using it.
While technically the cast iron can no longer make contact with your glass-top, enamel still can scratch.
Not to mention the addition of enamel only makes the cast iron heavier.
As we can see, there is no reason why you can't use cast iron on a glass-top stove. All it takes is a little innovation and slightly more effort, but it is very possible to use your favorite cookware!
Just remember to never slide your cast iron around on the stove, and if you are a little more on the cautious side, pick up a heat diffuser to reduce most of the risk!
Use caution and good common sense, and you should never have anything to worry about.
I hope that little guide cleared many of the questions that you had on using cast iron on glass top stoves!