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Gas vs. electric stoves: which is best?

Both gas and electric ranges have advantages, depending on what and how you cook. Gas ranges offer more responsive heat control for switching between searing meats or stir-frying veggies, while the dry, even heat of electric range ovens may work better for certain baked goods. Learn more about the differences between cooking with gas and cooking with electric so you can find the right fit for your family.

Aerial view of gas cooktop with metal grates Aerial view of gas cooktop with metal grates

What is a gas stove?

Gas stoves use an open flame to cook food both inside the oven cavity and on the stovetop. The flame within the oven cavity flickers on and off to maintain a set temperature while those on the stovetop can be quickly adjusted to your desired flame size and corresponding heat level. Every gas stove requires a dedicated gas line that can be installed in your kitchen if it’s not already equipped.

Electric stovetop with four heating elements Electric stovetop with four heating elements

What is an electric stove?

Electric stoves rely on metal heating elements housed within the oven and on the stovetop or housed beneath a ceramic-glass surface. You can usually identify an electric stovetop by its smooth and flat surface that’s often made of a ceramic-glass blend or by exposed metal coils on top. Heating elements are located on both the top and bottom of the oven cavity for roasting, broiling and baking. Electric stoves plug into an outlet so they’re typically simpler to install, but they do require a 240-volt outlet.

Side-by-side comparison of gas and electric cooktops Side-by-side comparison of gas and electric cooktops

What are the differences between gas and electric stoves?

A gas range, or stove, is composed of a gas cooktop and gas oven, and an electric range has an electric cooktop and electric oven. The parts of a range differ between the two types. Gas stoves allow cooks to manipulate an open flame on the stovetop for a more hands-on experience while electric stovetops often offer a steadier heat output and glass-top models are simple to clean.

Both gas and electric stoves can help you achieve your desired results with nearly any cooking technique, but the way they get the job done varies. Read on to learn more about how gas vs. electric stoves vary by energy type, efficiency, heat control, cleaning methods and baking performance.

Type of energy source

Gas ranges, ovens and cooktops require a gas hookup. If you don’t currently have a gas hookup, you’ll need to weigh the cost of having a gas line installed to use gas appliances in your kitchen. If you do have a gas hookup (or you’re installing a gas line) determine whether your kitchen has natural gas or propane. To use propane, you’ll likely need a conversion kit.

Electric ranges plug into an electrical outlet—making them easy to install in most kitchens—but not just any outlet will do. Electric ovens require a 240-volt outlet with a dedicated circuit. 

An additional type of range, called a dual fuel range, has a gas cooktop and electric oven.

Learn more about dual fuel ranges, which combine the benefits of a gas cooktop and electric oven.

Burner heat control and power

If you like to make meals that require rapid temperature changes, gas ranges might be the way to go. The burners on a gas cooktop give you precise control over your flame level and even allow you to char and grill foods directly on the burner. You can quickly adjust an open flame if a dish is cooking too fast or slow, or allow the flame to reach up the side of pans like skillets and woks for methods that require rotating food around the sides of the pan. Some gas cooktops feature oval burners designed to handle oversized cookware, like griddles or Dutch ovens, and stovetop burners cool quickly once they’re switched off. Cast iron cookware can be used on glass electric and gas ranges when used properly.

Electric stovetops often feature dual/triple electric elements that have multiple rings to deliver the right coverage for whatever you’re cooking with, and a bridge element that’s ideal for large or oddly shaped pots and pans. Select electric stovetops feature a smooth, flat surface that’s quick to wipe up and doesn’t require removing components like burner grates and drip pans.

Gas stove with several pots and pans cooking food on the stovetop Gas stove with several pots and pans cooking food on the stovetop

Baking, roasting and broiling performance

Electric ovens utilize metal heating elements in the inside to bake, roast and broil. Radiant elements on an electric cooktop are perfect for boiling and other speed-oriented tasks. The heat in electric ovens is often drier and may provide more consistent temperatures due to rapid on/off cycles of the heating elements. If you do a lot of baking or browning, consider an electric range.

Gas ovens feature an open flame that can be cranked up to preheat quickly. Both gas and electric ovens can feature convection cooking for faster baking and thorough roasting.

Ease of cleaning

Some electric ranges have a smooth cooktop surface that’s easy to wipe clean, while some gas ranges feature removable grates and sealed burners. Both types typically have a self-clean feature within the cavity that also helps release spills and splatters. While you can quickly wipe up spills, deep cleaning a gas stovetop usually requires removing grates and burner caps, soaking removed parts, wiping down burners and replacing dried grates and caps. Though the process is straightforward, cleaning a gas stovetop requires more steps. 

Stubborn splatters and spills on electric stovetops can often be gently scraped off with a cooktop scraper, then it can be wiped down using a non-abrasive cleaner and sponge or rag. Since there’s no need to remove parts, cleaning an electric stovetop may be faster.

Cost and efficiency

The operating cost for your range is heavily influenced by the utility costs in your area, but gas stoves are generally slightly cheaper to operate than their electric counterparts. However, purchasing and installing a gas stove may be more expensive than an electric stove with similar features. 

Both gas and electric stovetops transfer heat from the burner to the cookware in order to boil, simmer, saute and sear dishes. Some heat can be lost to the surrounding air when using an open flame on your gas stovetop. Because electric burners make direct contact with pots and pans, you’re more likely to retain heat within them. Induction models—a type of electric stove—use electromagnetism to generate heat within the cookware itself, and can result in little to no heat loss.

Learn more about induction cooktops and how they work.

Silver gas stove from Whirlpool brand surrounded by brown cabinetry Silver gas stove from Whirlpool brand surrounded by brown cabinetry

Benefits of gas and electric stoves

Check out the additional considerations and recommendations below to help you decide between gas and electric. Once you’ve decided, you can read this guide to learn how to install a gas or electric range.

  Benefits of gas stoves

  • Quickly adjust stovetop heat levels

  • Char and grill directly on a burner's open flame

  • Burners cool down quickly

  • Heat the sides of a pan with flames

     

  Benefits of electric stoves

  • Typically less oven temperature fluctuation

  • More direct heat transfer on stovetop

  • Dry, even oven heat ideal for browning or broiling

  • Flexible element sizes for various pots and pans

  • Easy to clean smooth cooktops available

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Whether you love to bake, broil or roast, your range’s fuel type can help deliver optimal results and make a difference in the way you care. Learn more about the different types of stoves or ranges, check out our top picks below or shop gas and electric ranges.

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