The 2-Burner Trick: How to Cook on an Electric Stove

published Mar 28, 2011
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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

I recently moved into a new apartment that has everything going for it – except the stove. It’s been years since I cooked on an electric stove top, and the adjustment period has come with its fair share of burnt onions and rubbery eggs. This trick for cooking on two burners has become my new favorite coping mechanism.

The biggest trouble with electric stoves is they are slow to change temperature. If you’re cooking something that starts out on high heat, but then needs to reduce to a simmer, you very quickly end up with burnt vegetables. After a few rounds of this, I started cooking everything on medium heat, but became annoyed at how long it took to do anything.

That’s when it occurred to me to use two burners. I start cooking on high heat over one burner and simultaneously turn on a second, empty, burner to a lower temperature. When I come to the point when I need to reduce to a simmer, I transfer the pan to the second burner. The pan itself cools quickly to the new temperature, and I’m able to continue with the recipe without hassle.

I admit that it scares me a little to be cooking next to a hot empty burner. I worry that I’ll set an oven mitt on top of it or someone else will come into the kitchen and not realize that it’s on. But this is the same worry that I have when I turn the electric burners off after cooking and it takes them some time to cool down again. Like many things, I feel that this is something I will adjust to with time and practice.

What other tricks do you have for cooking on an electric stove?