Massachusetts

Gas vs. Electric Stoves: Chefs Weigh in on the Heated Debate

It’s more expensive, but industry experts say induction stoves are the most efficient way to cook

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The debate over gas vs. electric stoves has been heating up lately.

Last year, Massachusetts passed a climate provision allowing 10 municipalities to restrict or ban fossil fuels in new developments. And this month, a commissioner at the Consumer Product Safety Commission calling gas stoves a "hidden hazard" — some evidence links them to increased rates of asthma — prompted outcry that the federal government is going to take them all away.

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While there's no national gas stove ban on the horizon, the new research has sparked plenty of conversation about the pros and cons of giving up gas. For a lot of people, switching to electric would mean giving up on the way they’ve cooked for decades.

“I myself, much like a lot of other chefs, have always grown up on gas," chef and restaurant owner Evan Hennessey told NBC10 Boston. "The similarities between gas and induction is that they're equally just as fast."

Hennessey designed his restaurant Stages, in Dover, New Hampshire, to run solely on electric when it opened 11 years ago. The restaurant is outfitted with induction stovetops, which work on an electromagnetic field to heat up fast without giving off harmful emissions.

"Looking back, we have no regrets," Hennessey said. "I think it might be difficult to switch from gas to electric. However, when you design with gas with electric in mind from the beginning, then it's no real problem."

A surprising new study is linking stoves to asthma cases.

Induction stoves — a type of electric stove — are typically more expensive, but industry experts say it’s the most efficient way to cook. Traditional electric stoves, on the other hand, lack temperature control of gas and induction counterparts.

Chef Anna Rossi, host of NBC10 Boston's "The Chef's Pantry," said induction is both more reliable and easier to clean.

“I find that nothing compares to induction," Rossi said. "It has such a well-dispersed energy in how it heats the pan that it is very efficient. Basically, 90% of the energy that is creating that heat is going into the food."

As for the difference in what you cook, Rossi and Hennessey said your dish should taste the same on whatever type of stove you use.

"If there's any discrepancy in food quality, I would have to blame the cook," Hennessey joked.

Want to cook like a professional chef but don't have a gas range — or a fancy electric induction stove? Anna Rossi, "Masterchef" finalist and host of NBC10 Boston's "The Chef's Pantry," shares some easy things to do and what tools to use to get great-tasting meals.

Electric stoves are more common in Massachusetts, where about 63% of households used electric ovens and 44% used gas in 2020, data from the Energy Information Administration shows. Bay Staters were actually more likely to use gas stoves than the national average that year: 68% of all U.S. homes had electric stoves compared with 38% that had gas.

But in Boston, the majority of stoves sold at local store Yale Appliance are gas, according to CEO Steve Sheinkopf.

“Boston is a gas market. It’s over 70% of sales,” Sheinkopf said. “Gas is still the predominant cooking type in this area by far.”

Gas stoves have become the latest cultural flashpoint after federal regulators suggested adding new restrictions over concerns that the gas stoves may affect air quality.

Like Rossi, Sheinkopf attributes that preference in part to familiarity, culinary efficiency and convenience.

Although electric ovens boast benefits like child safety, Sheinkopf said, they’re harder to get because they draw a lot of electricity. He added that induction is growing in popularity because it gives a comparable performance to gas without the emission of harmful chemicals like nitrogen oxide.

“Gas is instant on. People see it. They're familiar with it. When it's on, it's on. When it's off, it's off,” Sheinkopf said. “Electric is a radiant source. So it takes time to turn on. And when you shut it off, it takes time to shut down.”

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