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Can You Use Cast Iron on an Electric Coil Stove?

Heating up the issue: Can cast iron cookware safely be used on electric stoves with coil tops?

So you have an electric stove with coil burners and you’re thinking about buying a cast iron skillet, but you’re not sure if you can safely use such a skillet on your stove.

To make a long story short, yes, you absolutely can. You can use cast iron pans and pots on an electric stove, but there are a few tricks to doing it right.

Keep reading to find out how to use a cast iron skillet on your electric coil stove without damaging the skillet or burning your food.

Coil Tops And Cast Iron: Things to Know

Thick, heavy, and with plenty of heat capacity, cast iron skillets can withstand high temperatures and hold on to a lot of heat, browning your food to deliciousness and keeping it warm for a long time.

But cast iron as a metal is also brittle: Subjected to stark temperatures changes, a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven can crack and sometimes shatter into pieces, leaving you with cookware to replace and a mess to clean.

Because coil burners come into direct contact with your cookware, there are some things you should do—and some you should avoid doing—if you want to use your cast iron cookware on your coil stovetop.

How to Use Cast Iron on an Electric Coil Stove

The keys: season well, preheat properly, and use moderate heat.

Season your pans and pots properly. Cast iron cookware needs to be seasoned for protection against corrosion and rust. Season your cookware in the oven, using a minimal amount of cooking oil that stays liquid at room temperature.

If your pan or pot is properly seasoned, it will have a thin layer of baked-on oil on the inside and out. The part on the bottom that touches the burner should be thin and well-baked so that it doesn’t smoke or leave any residue.

Heat your pans and pots from cold. Remember, quick heating and cooling are cast iron’s enemy. If you want your skillet or Dutch oven to last a lifetime, or maybe more, apply medium heat and heat it gradually.

Never put a cold pan on a red-hot coil burner. Instead, put the cold pan on the cold burner and then turn the burner on, letting the pan and burner heat up together.

Use moderate heat. Unless you’re bringing a liquid to a full boil, you really don’t need to use high heat when cooking with cast iron.

Use low to medium-low heat for melting butter or sweating onions, and medium to medium-high heat for cooking meat, eggs, and vegetables or baking in the oven.

Cast iron retains a lot of heat, and overheating it can easily lead to burnt food.

Allow enough preheating time. Contrary to what many people think, cast iron is actually a poor conductor of heat. This means that it takes a long time to heat up (and just as long to cool down).

This, ironically, is also why cast iron cookware is such a good choice for searing steaks and sautéing vegetables. The skillet or Dutch oven doesn’t drop temperature when adding the meat in, leading to superior browning.

Before cooking in cast iron, give it 2 to 3 minutes to get up to heat.

Clean the underside of your pans and pots thoroughly. Sometimes, grease can drip down the sides of your cast iron skillet and coat the bottom. This can leave an oily residue on the burners and cause a lot of smoke while cooking.

To prevent this, wipe down the bottom of your cast iron skillets and Dutch ovens after each use. If it’s really messy, you can use a little mild soap, just don’t scrub too hard.

What About Enameled Cast Iron?

Enameled cast iron cookware is essentially cast iron cookware with a porcelain coating. The coating can crack and chip off, so it needs extra care.

In short, the same guidelines for using regular cast iron cookware apply to enameled cast iron. That said, it’s even more important to avoid sudden temperature changes and to use low to medium heat (unless for boiling soups, stews, or pasta).

To better protect the vitreous porcelain enamel, don’t drag the cookware across the coils; instead, carefully lift it.

Bottom Line

Hopefully, this has helped you wrap your head around the dos and don’ts of using cast iron cookware on an electric coil stove.

It’s not rocket science, but it’s not as easy as just putting the pan on the burner and doing whatever you feel like doing, either.

Keep your pans and pots well-seasoned, make sure they’re clean on the underside, and heat them slowly and gradually using a moderate amount of heat.

Know your author

Written by

Dim is a food writer, cookbook author, and the editor of Home Cook World. His first book, Cooking Methods & Techniques, was published in 2022. He is a certified food handler with Level 1 and Level 2 Certificates in Food Hygiene and Safety for Catering, and a trained cook with a Level 3 Professional Chef Diploma.