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How large a pot can I use?


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We have a 30" Kitchenaid gas cooktop. The largest burner produces 14,000 btu of heat.

Among the pots we own are:

  • 11" dia brazier, capacity 7 qts
  • 12" dia saute pan, capacity 4 qts (cheap pan that needs replacing)
  • 12 1/2" dia sauce, pot, capacity 17 qts

All of these pots fit comfortably on the cooktop, though with the largest one, there is only about an inch of clearance with respect to the control knob.

I would like to purchase a larger pan, with shallow walls. Intended applications include cooking a mess of greens (after sauteing onions/garlic), etc. To achieve this objective, I could purchase a 12 1/2" dia brazier, which has a capacity of 10.5 qts (same line as our current brazier). However, I feel that the walls on this pot are a bit higher than what I want.

So, this leads me to two other options and my question. The other options are a 14" dia brazier with a 12 qt capacity (same line as the current sauce pot) or a 14" dia saute pan with a 9.5 qt capacity (again, the line as the current sauce pot). My question is this: Would there be any problems using a pan of this diameter on our current cooktop?

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Here are my considerations for your question:

1. Your largest existing pan (12-1/2" diameter) leaves only an inch of clearance to the control knob. If you put a 14" pan on that same burner you're down to something like 1/4" clearance. Can you manage control with that?

2. How big is the biggest burner? The size of the pan with respect to the size of the burner is a factor for determining whether you can cook with high heat (as in sauteing). The heat conduction of the bottom of the pan is also a factor in this equation.

Consider a very large pan over a very small burner. If you crank the heat up high you'll get hot spots inside the pan, and scorched food in the center. If the pan has a heavy bottom and efficient heat conduction so that the heat spreads uniformly along the bottom instead of passing through to the interior, you'll have a greater range of flame sizes you can use without developing hot spots. However, you may never be able to apply full heat to the bottom of the pan if the flame is heavily concentrated at the center. 14,000 btu's sounds like a lot of potential to produce hot spots if the pan is too big for the burner.

To summarize: I think you have to look at clearance to the knob and at how much of the large pan would be excluded from direct heat. I used to watch my 13" All-Clad saute pan over a 10" burner (electric, but the principle is the same). No matter how I tried, I could never get the heat to be as even as with the 10" pan over the 10" burner. For electric burners the rule of thumb is something like no more than a 1" overhang. That's probably a good guess for gas as well.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I use a heavy stainless roasting pan, rectangular - also for stovetop use that goes over two burners. The large burner at the front puts out slightly more btus that the back burner but I stir the contents back and forth, which evens the heat overall. The sides are 3 1/2" deep.

I just measured it and it is 16 1/2 inches long 12 inches wide. I got it at a restaurant supply place. I've also used it in the barbecue and it has not warped with very high heat.

I also have an extra-large Magnalite roaster that I often use over two burners for cooking large batches because I find it difficult to use very deep stockpots. I'm 5' 6" but still it is not all that easy, at my age, to use them. Having the wider, lower sided vessel is much easier.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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This sounds like what we have in terms of size and layout, but ours is a Magic Chef. The knobs run in a line along the righthand edge of the cooktop. The front right burner is 14000 BTU, the others 11000 BTU. My widest pot, I think, is a 14" heavy copper (around 3mm thickness) rondeau--no problem with heat distribution with heavy copper, but the control knob does get quite hot right next to the edge of the pot. It hasn't melted, but I do have to remember to use a potholder when adjusting the flame.

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There are two issues here:

1. How will the pan fit on your cooktop?

14 inches will be too large for the pan to fit comfortably on your cooktop with any other pans in use. I doubt, however, that the overhang will do anything bad to your knobs.

2. How will the heat be?

I have two 14" nonstick frypans I use, so I can speak to this: The heat will not be particularly even. You could mitigate this somewhat by buying a pan with a very thick aluminum pad, however.

--

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All,

Thank you. I recently placed an order for a Vollrath 47747 Intrigue 9 1/2 qt. Saute Pan. I have the 17 qt sauce pot - I like the build quality and the surface finish. I believe that the pot bottom is sufficiently heavy to allow for even heating. We'll find out soon - I hope!

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