Burners: Which One Should You Use and Why?

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  May 31, 2022

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A burner is a device that heats liquid or gas for cooking and is a part of a stovetop or range. They come in different types, shapes, and sizes, each with their own unique benefits and uses.

Let’s take a closer look at each type and its benefits.

What is a burner

Get to Know Your Burners: Everything You Need to Know About Cooking with Gas and Electric Burners

Burners are the heart of any kitchen range, cooktop (here’s the full story about induction vs gas), or stove. They are the heating elements that provide the heat necessary to cook food. Burners come in different shapes, sizes, and styles, and they can be powered by gas or electricity.

Gas Burners vs. Electric Burners

Gas burners are typically found on traditional stoves, while electric burners are more commonly found on cooktops. Here are some differences between the two:

  • Gas burners provide instant heat, while electric burners take longer to heat up.
  • Gas burners offer more flexibility in terms of temperature control, while electric burners have a more precise temperature measure.
  • Gas burners are generally more energy-efficient, while electric burners are easier to clean.
  • Gas burners are able to cook food faster, while electric burners are better for low and slow cooking.

Types of Burners

There are different types of burners available, each with its own benefits and considerations. Here are some of the most common types of burners:

  • Sealed burners: These are typically found on gas ranges and are easier to clean as they have a cover over the burner.
  • Open burners: These are the traditional burners found on gas ranges and are generally larger and offer more heat output.
  • Round burners: These are typically found on electric cooktops and are smaller in size, making them ideal for small pots and pans.
  • Specialty burners: These include griddles and pizza ovens and offer additional cooking options for customers.

BTUs and Thermal Efficiency

BTUs (British Thermal Units) quantify the amount of heat a burner can produce. The higher the BTU, the faster the burner can boil water or heat up food. However, higher BTUs also mean higher energy consumption.

Thermal efficiency measures how much of the heat produced by the burner is actually transferred to the cookware. Burners with higher thermal efficiency are more energy-efficient and can save you money on your energy bills.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Proper cleaning and maintenance of your burners can help prolong their lifespan and ensure their safety. Here are some tips:

  • For gas burners, remove the grates and clean them with a cloth or abrasive cleaner. Avoid using steel wool or other abrasive materials that can damage the burners.
  • For electric burners, use a non-abrasive cleaner and avoid using too much water, as it can damage the electrical components.
  • Regularly check the burners for damage or wear and tear, and replace them if necessary.

The Benefits of Having Multiple Burners

Having multiple burners on your range or cooktop can provide several benefits, including:

  • The ability to cook multiple dishes at once, saving time and energy.
  • The flexibility to use different types of cookware, such as cast iron or specialty griddles.
  • The option to have a double burner for larger pots or pans.

The Evolution of Burners in Cooking: From Ancient Times to Modern Day

Burners have been used for cooking since ancient times. The Chinese Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) used a traditional technique of cooking with clay called “kamado.” (best ones here) This technique involved constructing a clay hearth with a chimney for efficient heat distribution. The Indonesian people also used a similar technique, building brick hearths for cooking.

The Emergence of Modern Burners

As technology advanced, so did the construction of burners. In the 1800s, cast iron burners were introduced, which were more durable and efficient than clay or brick burners. In the early 1900s, gas burners were introduced, which were even more efficient than their cast iron predecessors.

The Impact of Burners on Rural Communities

The development of modern burners has had a significant impact on rural communities. In the past, cooking was often done over an open fire, which was not only inefficient but also posed a safety hazard. Modern burners have made cooking safer and more efficient, allowing for more time to be spent on other tasks.

Get Cooking with These Different Types of Gas Stove Burners

The standard burner is the most common type of burner found on gas stoves. It is a single element burner that offers the ability to control the heat by using a switch or setting on the stove. This type of burner is great for cooking food evenly and can be used to cook a range of dishes, from vegetables (like these smoked recipes) to sides. It is also easy to maintain and clean, making it a great option for beginner cooks.

The Power Burner

The power burner is a larger type of burner that takes up more space on the stove. It produces a higher amount of heat and is great for boiling water or cooking food that requires a higher temperature. This burner is also great for creating a smoky flavor in dishes like grilled onions or blackened vegetables. However, it can be hard to control the heat and may require some practice to master.

The French Top Burner

The French top burner is a unique type of burner that offers a flat surface with different heat zones. It allows for even heat distribution and is great for cooking dishes that require different heat levels at the same time. This burner is also great for creating dishes that need to be cooked slowly, like stews or casseroles. However, it takes up a lot of space on the stove and may not be the best option for smaller kitchens.

The Induction Burner

The induction burner is a type of burner that uses electricity to create heat. It offers the ability to control the heat with precision and is great for cooking delicate dishes like fish or vegetables. It also offers the potential for faster cooking times and is easy to maintain and clean. However, it requires special cookware and may not be the best option for those on a budget.

The Benefits of Different Types of Burners

  • Different types of burners offer different features and functions, allowing for a range of cooking styles and cookware to be used.
  • Choosing the best type of burner for your needs means achieving the best results in the kitchen.
  • Installing the right type of burner can make cooking easier and more enjoyable, whether you’re a beginner or a master chef.
  • The potential benefits of different types of burners include even heat distribution, the ability to control the heat, and faster cooking times.

Igniting Your Burner: A Spark of Information

When it comes to cooking with burners, ignition is a crucial step. Ignition is the process of lighting the flame on your burner, whether it’s a gas or electric burner. The ignition system is what produces the spark or flame that lights the fuel, allowing you to cook your food.

Types of Ignition Systems

There are several types of ignition systems, each with its own advantages and drawbacks:

  • Manual ignition: This is the most basic type of ignition system. You turn the burner on and use a match or lighter to light the flame.
  • Standing pilot ignition: This system uses a small flame that is continuously burning to ignite the burner when it’s turned on. The pilot flame is located near the burner and is controlled by a valve.
  • Auto-reignition: This system uses a spark or flame to ignite the burner when it’s turned on. If the flame goes out, the system will automatically reignite it.
  • Electric ignition: This system uses electricity to produce a spark or flame that ignites the burner. It’s typically found on modern gas stoves and ovens.

How Ignition Works

The ignition system is connected to the power supply and produces a spark or flame to light the burner. Here’s how it works:

  • Gas burners: When you turn the knob to the desired size, the gas valve opens and allows gas to flow to the burner. The ignition system produces a spark or flame that lights the gas, creating a flame.
  • Electric burners: When you turn the knob to the desired size, the electrical element heats up. The ignition system produces a spark or flame that ignites the electrical element, creating heat.

Safety and Control

Ignition systems are designed with safety in mind. They ensure that the burner only ignites when it’s supposed to and that the flame remains burning. Here are some safety features to look for:

  • Disconnect switch: This allows you to disconnect the electrical supply to the ignition system for maintenance or repair.
  • Dry test: This is a simple test to check that the ignition system is able to produce a spark or flame.
  • Inspection: You should inspect the entire ignition system periodically to ensure that it’s working correctly.
  • Alignment: The contacts in the ignition system must remain aligned with the stem of the valve to ensure that the burner lights correctly.
  • Auto-reignition: This system is an advantage because it ensures that the flame remains burning, but a minor drawback is that it consumes fuel continuously.

Troubleshooting Ignition Problems

If your burner isn’t lighting, there are a few things you can check:

  • Make sure the gas or electricity supply is turned on.
  • Check that the burner is positioned correctly on the surface.
  • Remove any debris or food that may be blocking the burner.
  • Check that the ignition system is producing sparks or flames.
  • Manually light the burner with a match or lighter.

Choosing the Right Burner for Your Cooking Technique on a Gas Stove

Gas stoves come with different-sized burners that are designed for specific cooking techniques. Here’s a breakdown of the different burner sizes and their uses:

  • Small burners: These are perfect for simmering and braising. They are ideal for cooking delicate sauces, stews, and soups that require low heat for a long time.
  • All-purpose burners: These are medium-sized burners that are suitable for sautéing or frying. They provide enough heat to cook food quickly and evenly.
  • Large burners: These are the most powerful burners on a gas stove and are perfect for searing and boiling. They can quickly bring a large pot of water to a boil or sear a steak to perfection.

Matching Your Cookware to the Right Burner

Choosing the right burner also depends on the type of cookware you are using. Here are some tips to help you match your cookware to the right burner:

  • Small burners: Use small pots and pans that fit the burner size. This will ensure that the heat is evenly distributed and your food cooks properly.
  • All-purpose burners: Use medium-sized pots and pans that can handle high heat. Cast iron and stainless steel are good options for this burner size.
  • Large burners: Use large pots and pans that can handle high heat. These burners are ideal for cooking with a wok or a large stockpot.

Mastering Your Cooking Technique

Once you’ve matched your cookware to the right burner, it’s time to master your cooking technique. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your gas stove:

  • Simmering: Keep the heat low and stir frequently to prevent burning.
  • Sautéing: Use a non-stick pan and preheat the pan before adding the food. Don’t overcrowd the pan, and use a spatula to flip the food instead of a fork.
  • Searing: Make sure the pan is hot before adding the food. Don’t move the food around too much, and let it cook undisturbed for a few minutes before flipping.
  • Boiling: Use a large pot and bring the water to a rolling boil before adding the food. Don’t add too much food at once, as this can lower the temperature of the water.

Remember, choosing the right burner for your cooking technique is essential to achieving delicious and perfectly cooked meals on a gas stove.

Grill Burners: The Heart of Your Outdoor Cooking Experience

Keeping your grill burners clean is essential to ensuring that your grill works properly and lasts for years to come. Here are some tips for cleaning your grill burners:

  • Use a wire brush to remove any debris from the surface of your burners.
  • Use a sink or hose to rinse your burners clean.
  • Use liners or insulating kits to protect your burners from damage.
  • Cover your burners when not in use to protect them from the elements.

What Are Some Tips for Using Your Grill Burners?

Using your grill burners properly is essential to ensuring that your food turns out right. Here are some tips for using your grill burners:

  • Use the right burner for the food you are cooking.
  • Preheat your grill before cooking to ensure that your food cooks evenly.
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure that your meat is cooked to the right temperature.
  • For vegetarians, use a separate burner to cook vegetables to avoid cross-contamination.
  • For a couple, use a smaller burner to save time and energy.
  • For a deluxe grill, add extra burners for more convenience and control.
  • Use a tap to control the temperature of your grill.

The Advantages of Gas Burners in Cooking

Gas burners are the perfect choice for those who love to cook and want to be able to control the heat with ease. With gas burners, you can instantly adjust the heat to the desired temperature, allowing you to cook your food to perfection. The British Thermal Unit (BTU) rating of gas burners ranges from 5,000 to 18,000, which means you can easily move between heat levels. This instant heat and control are especially important for cooking delicate foods like pizza with a crispy crust or a juicy burger with a char.

Faster Cooking Time

Gas burners are surprisingly faster than electric stoves. They heat up faster and cool down faster, which means you can move from a boil to a simmer more quickly. This is a great advantage when you’re cooking for a large group of people or in a commercial kitchen where time is of the essence. The ease of use and quick heating make gas burners the preferred choice for restaurants and other food places.

Lower Energy Costs

Gas burners are an excellent alternative to electrical stoves because they rely on natural gas or propane instead of electricity. This means that they draw less power from the electrical grid, resulting in lower energy costs. Additionally, gas burners provide a higher quality of heat output, which means you can cook your food more evenly and with less energy. This is especially true for convection ovens that use gas burners to provide heat.

Environmentally Friendly

Gas burners are surprisingly environmentally friendly. While they do rely on fossil fuels, the combustion of natural gas or propane produces fewer greenhouse gases than the electrical production of power. Additionally, gas burners are more efficient than electrical stoves, which means they use less energy overall. This makes them a great choice for those who want to reduce their carbon footprint while still enjoying the ease and convenience of gas burners.

Perfect for Indoor and Outdoor Cooking

Gas burners are versatile and can be used both indoors and outdoors. They are perfect for grilling, smoking, and cooking on a stove. Gas burners provide an instant flame that lets you cook your food to perfection, whether you’re cooking indoors or outdoors. Additionally, gas burners are perfect for those who love to cook with charcoal or wood because they provide an alternative to traditional coal cuts.

Monitors Air Quality

Gas burners are equipped with monitors that measure the air quality in your kitchen. This is especially important for indoor cooking because gas burners produce carbon monoxide, which can be harmful if not monitored. The monitors in gas burners ensure that the air quality in your kitchen is safe and healthy for you and your family.

Gas Burners and Climate Impact: What You Need to Know

Gas burners are a common appliance in most households, but did you know that they have a significant impact on the climate? Every time you turn on a burner or heat up your oven, your gas range produces carbon dioxide. In fact, it’s estimated that gas stoves in the U.S. emit 6.8 million tons of CO2 each year. This is equivalent to the climate impact of 1,889,915 gas-powered cars.


So, burners are a great way to cook food, especially when you don’t have a kitchen. They provide instant heat and can be used on traditional stoves and cooktops. 

So, don’t be afraid to try a new cooking technique with a burner and enjoy some delicious food!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.