Gas or Electric Range: Which Is Better?
Each type of range has its strengths, and they're not what you might assume
When your range conks out, you’re typically limited to replacing it with one that runs on the same fuel source—either electric or gas.
Only about half the homes in the U.S. have gas service available as an option; the rest rely on electric. But as much as gas ranges are hyped in real estate listings and on cooking shows, do they deliver cooking performance that’s significantly better than electric?
“If you could determine how well a range could cook from its fuel source, my job would be pretty boring,” says Tara Casaregola, who oversees CR’s range, wall oven, and cooktop lab. “We see the greatest discrepancies between individual models, and you can find excellent choices in gas or electric.”
How We Compare Performance
We focused on electric smoothtop and gas ranges because they make up the majority of what consumers see in stores. (Electric coil-top and induction ranges have a much smaller slice of the market.) And we found that in most cases, electric ranges have a serious leg up on the performance of gas ranges.
We compared results from the four most crucial tests we perform: high heat, low heat, baking, and broiling. And although performance varies from model to model, whether the range is gas or electric, our tests showed which type of fuel has the edge in each test.
Manufacturers of gas and electric ranges have been in a race for years to maximize the output of large burners, which you use to, say, boil a big pot of water for pasta.
Which is faster? Electric, by a pretty big margin. Of the 66 electric smoothtop ranges currently in our ratings, 36 models earn the top rating of Excellent. Twenty-nine models earn a rating of Very Good, and only a single model earns a rating of Good, which is still admirable. For gas, 39 of the 73 models in our current ratings earn a rating of Very Good, 33 earn a rating of Good, and one model earns a rating of Fair. None earn the top rating of Excellent.
For all the emphasis placed on boiling water quickly, a range’s ability to maintain a low, steady simmer is arguably more important. Given enough time, any range will boil water. But there’s no cure for a cooktop with erratic simmering, which can scorch delicate sauces or melted chocolate in an instant.
Which simmers better? Here, electrics are again the winner. For electrics, 40 of 66 models (or about two thirds) earn the top rating of Excellent, with 17 earning a Very Good and nine earning a rating of Good. Not a single model earns a rating of Fair or Poor. For gas, about two-thirds of models earn either an Excellent or a Very Good rating in this test, but 10 of the 73 models in our current ratings earn low ratings of either Fair or Poor.
Lofty cakes and evenly browned cookies aren’t a given, unless you have an oven that bakes evenly.
Which bakes better? It's closer, with electrics narrowly getting the edge. For electrics, about 60 percent earn ratings of either Excellent or Very Good, and 30 percent or so earn a rating of Good. A handful of models (eight in total) earn a rating of Fair, while none earn a rating of Poor. For gas ranges, a little less than half of all models earn either an Excellent or a Very Good rating, and about 45 percent earn a rating of Good. Five models total (about 7 percent) earn a rating of Fair, and no model earns a Poor.
Some of the biggest performance differences we see between gas and electric ranges involve the broiler.
Which broils better? You may assume that—because they cook with a flame—gas broilers are better. But in our tests, they routinely underperform compared with their electric counterparts.
More than half of the electric ranges in our ratings earn a rating of Very Good or better for broiling, and a full third earn the top rating of Excellent. None earn a rating of Poor. For gas, it's a far bleaker picture. Less than 10 percent of models earn a rating of Very Good or Excellent, and more than a quarter of all models earn a rating of Fair or Poor.
If you’re still undecided about which type of range is right for you, our range buying guide delves even deeper into the pros and cons of each. And below, we’ve highlighted six of the best gas and electric ranges from our tests.