The first step to mastering cooking on the Flat Top is to learn the specific settings for your stove to achieve the desired cooking temperatures.
One of the most surprising things that people sometimes learn is that the settings on the knobs for the different size burners on the stove are not standardized, and are relative to each burner they control. For example, setting the power on a larger burner to level 5 (or medium) will not produce the same cooking temperature as setting the same power level on a smaller burner. Generally, these settings only indicate the relative power output for each specific burner.
There are hundreds of different makes, models, and types of stoves so everything we discuss in this article will vary from case to case. The example shown below is a Samsung 5 Burner Gas Stove. You can see from the illustration that only 2 of the burners have the same BTU output with the highest output burner pumping out over 3 times the heat. To equalize the temperature across the surface of the Flat Top you would need to have the following approximate settings on the control knobs to equal 5,000 BTU output on all 5 burners:
Back Left - 5 out of 10
Front Left - 3 out of 10
Center - 5 out of 10
Back Right - 10 out of 10
Front Right - 3 out of 10
Bigger burners are not always better - in fact most stovetops are only set to low or medium low to achieve a cooking temperature of 375-400 degrees.
The only accurate way to find the correct cooking temperature you desire is to use an infrared thermometer that can be found at most hardware stores. These are invaluable tools to help map the different settings your stove will require to find your desired cooking temperatures.
How to check the temperature on your Flat Top
- Start with all of your burners set to low heat and allow approximately 10 minutes to bring the Flat Top to temperature.
- Use an infrared thermometer to take temperature readings above each burner and note the result.
- Slowly increase the output of the burners until the largest burner reaches your desired temperature.
- Continue to raise the output of the other burners until they reach the same temperature - be sure to allow a few minutes for the temperature to equalize.
- Make a note of the setting for each burner for that cooking temperature so you can quickly return to it next time.
Once you establish the settings for the different burners on your stove to reach different cooking temperatures you can easily set your stove accurately every time. Having a list of settings and temperatures also helps to easily create different heating zones for cooking different kinds of food at the same time.
We're prepared a handy chart of recommended cooking temperatures you can view below: