What every best Cooktops has:
- Easy cleanup.
- The right types of burners.
- A useful burner layout.
Reviewers say gas cooktops excel at temperature control, and many owners like the ability to adjust the gas flame by sight. However, experts say gas cooktops aren't as good as electric cooktops, which we cover elsewhere in this report, at maintaining consistent cooking temperatures, particularly at high and low heat settings. Most gas cooktops are 36 inches wide, but many 30-inch models are also available. Some manufacturers also make professional-style cooktops that measure up to 48 inches wide.
We found good reviews for several different gas cooktops, chief among them the GE Café CGP650SETSS (Est. $1,450). This 36-inch stainless steel cooktop gets excellent feedback from experts, including Best of the Year and Editors' Choice awards at Reviewed.com. ConsumerReports.org also likes the cooktop enough to grant it Recommended status, with ratings of Good for high heat cooking, Excellent for low heat. At Reviewed.com, James Aitchison says it offers "excellent boiling speeds." Most owners seem to agree more with Aitchison's assessment, saying the CGP650SETSS boils water very quickly and maintains a gentle simmer very well.
Not all owners are happy, though, and we saw multiple comments about one of the oddest complaints we've ever encountered: that the grates over the burners are so high that the flame is too far from the bottom of the pot or pan, which results in long boil times. However, even those who aren't happy with the performance of the four individual side burners, say the large burner in the center does very well in quickly heating larger pots, and they also say they love the included griddle, which comes in particularly handy at breakfast.
The distance of the pot from the flame notwithstanding, the five burners on the GE Café CGP650SETSS, range from a low-power one with a rating of 5,000 BTUs, to the tri-ring center burner with a maximum output of 20,000 BTUs. Like all pro-style cooktops, it features continuous grates to make it easy to move pots and pans from burner to burner as needed, and Aitchison notes that the grates are easy to remove and are dishwasher safe.
All agree that the CGP650SETSS is a good looking cooktop. "It's easily one of the best-looking pro-inspired appliances we've seen," Aitchison says. He also loves the relative value, noting that it looks and works as well as other pro cooktops, most of which sell for more É or lots more. If you like all that the GE CGP650SETSS has to offer, but only have the space for a 30 inch cooktop, GE has you covered with the GE Café CGP350SETSS (Est. $1,300), which save for size, is identical. Reviews are equally positive.
If you are looking for something a little more upscale, the Thermador Masterpiece SGSX365FS (Est. $1,900) is the top pick in the gas cooktop category at ConsumerReports.org, with an overall score of 81 out of 100 points and a Very Good rating for high heat performance, Excellent for low heat. What keeps it out of our top spot is the fact that there are so few owner reviews -- it's rated more highly than the GE Café in the few we spotted, but that was in hundreds fewer reviews, too. Satisfaction tends to go down with more reviews, something we know from experience.
Still, at Reviewed.com the Thermador Masterpiece SGSX365FS earns both Best of Year and Editors' Choice awards as well as a perfect 10 score. Ethan Wolff-Mann notes that, "Our lab tests showed that this cooktop's reputation is well-deserved, with some of the best performance we've recorded from gas burners."
Styling, like the GE's, is gorgeous. Reviewers praise this 36-inch stainless steel cooktop's continuous cast-iron grates, which allow them to slide a pot from burner to burner without lifting. Its five sealed burners -- ranging in power from 9,100 to 18,000 BTUs -- have a distinctive star shape, which Thermador claims provides better heat distribution without cold spots. Reviewers also praise the 200-BTU "ExtraLow" setting, which cycles on and off to maintain a precise temperature for simmering. Other features include single-point ignition (which delivers a spark only to the burner being lit, rather than to all burners at once) and automatic re-ignition, which turns the flame back on if it is accidentally blown out.
As we noted, though, owner reviews are hard to come buy -- not surprising considering this cooktop's price tag. What's available from authorized sellers is highly positive, but no site has more than a handful, and that gives us a little pause. Based on that, plus its lower price, we tip the scale in our recommendations toward the GE Café CGP650SETSS, but if your sense of style demands it, and your pocketbook allows it, you also can't go wrong with the Thermador SGSX365FS.
We didn't see any expert reviews for gas cooktops costing less than $1,000, but the Whirlpool WCG51US6DS (Est. $600) gets good ratings from users. This 36-inch model comes in stainless steel, but is also available in black as the Whirlpool WCG51US6DB (Est. $630) and white as the Whirlpool WCG51US6DW (Est. $630).
In spite of its low price owners say Whirlpool WCG51US6DS is a stylish-looking upgrade in their kitchen. It features a continuous grate design with five burners; a 15000-BTU SpeedHeat burner, a 12000-BTU burner, two 9100-BTU burners, and a 5000-BTU simmer burner. It doesn't fall behind in other areas either, and we saw a number of comments about how easy this gas cooktop is to install and to keep clean. Many say they are "in awe" of how well it performs, especially considering the very low price compared to most other gas cooktops.
As with our Best Reviewed pick, the GE Café CGP650SETSS, we saw some complaints that the "fire is too far from the burner," resulting in slow heating and long boiling times. Digging in, it looks as if many of these folks went from electric coil stoves to using gas for the first time, so this feedback could be due to a learning curve in switching from one heat source to another. In general, owners are extremely pleased with the Whirlpool WCG51US6DS and are absolutely thrilled with their new gas cooktop.