From the no-frills versions to the commercial-grade models, all kitchen stoves have essentially the same parts. Here’s how to get to know your main cooking appliance, inside and out.
Burners: The most basic stoves have four burners. Burner size differs depending on the model. Bigger burners can distribute heat to larger pots more quickly. Most cooktops feature a mix of high and low heat output. Some cooktops may have an accessory that allows you to combine burners next to each other for a larger cooking surface.
Burner Covers: Burners appear differently based on both the fuel source and stove type. Gas burners come in sealed or open setups. Open burners will reach maximum heat quickly, but sealed burners keep pans closer to the flame and are easier to clean. Electric burners are sealed under a ceramic-glass cooktop surface. It’s a burner capped with a metal disk, like the cap on a mushroom. The disk prevents spills from dribbling into the tiny holes from which the gas and flame emerge and provides a more even distribution of heat than the old-fashioned, direct-flame burner did. The heat is spread across the bottom of the pan, not just concentrated in the middle, where it may result in scorching.
Accessories: Some cooktops come with interchangeable accessories for the original four burners, such as grills, griddles, and woks.
Additional burners/cooking space: Many stoves utilize the space between the original four burners for a variety of uses. Some have an additional burner, or a long burner to accommodate a grate or griddle.
Controls: Kitchen stoves typically have a control panel that allows you to turn various functions off an on, as well as adjust temperature for ovens and warming drawers. These are typically push-button to enable precision in settings.
Door/Drawer: Each oven or warming drawer space in your kitchen stove will have a door or drawer mechanism to open and close it. These should fit securely and evenly.
Drip Pan: Drip pans are used in conjunction with sealed burners to catch any dribbles or overflows.
Grates: A cooktop’s grates distribute and dissipate heat evenly below the pan. In the case of a gas oven, these are made of cast iron. For electric or smooth surface gas cooking surfaces, these are ceramic-glass. Cast iron grates may be continuous, which allows pots and pans to be easily shifted from burner to burner, but these also dissipate heat more slowly. A smooth surface also allows you to shift pans as needed.
Knobs: Knobs to control the burners—and sometimes the oven—are typically located on the face of the appliance, or on its top.
Oven: Most ovens on kitchen stoves are standard size. For those kitchen stoves that include more than one oven or an additional warming drawer, ovens may be smaller. Oversize kitchen stoves often include a variety of oven sizes.
Oven Racks: Kitchen stoves include adjustable oven racks; these can be removed for cleaning or for moving based on the temperature/cooking needs of your food.
More Terms to Know
Btus: The heat output of a kitchen stove is measured in British thermal units (Btus) or watts (1 watt equals 4 Btus). The average cooktop produces a maximum of 6,000-10,000 Btus. Gas stoves have an output from 500-15,000 Btus.
Range vs. Cooktop: Kitchen stoves, also called ranges, generally combine both burners and ovens in one appliance. Cooktops break out the burners, or cooking surface, into its own appliance; wall ovens generally complement this setup. A range may help save space while cooktops/wall ovens offer multiple cooking/baking stations.
If you’re in the market for a new range, cooktop or stove, read our buying guides to help you make an informed purchasing decision.