What Is a Cooking Range?

M. Kayo

A cooking range is a stove with room for cooking several different things at one time. Technically, only the top section of what most people call a stove can be defined as a cooking range. This flat section of the stove usually contains a number of flat heating elements or cooking surfaces, either gas or electric. Ranges may be combined with ovens or configured separately. Some manufacturers consider the cook top and oven to be two separate units, but others will refer to the entire combination of cooking stove top and oven as a range.

A cooking range can be either gas, or electric.
A cooking range can be either gas, or electric.

The heating elements on a stove use electric or natural gas heating elements. Electric heating elements, sometimes referred to as coil-type burners, are made of a heat resistant alloy comprised of nickel, chromium, and steel wire, coated with a high temperature magnesium oxide (MGO) powder and a stainless steel sheath. Some electric cook tops consist of a smooth layer of tempered glass that covers the electric heating elements. Gas-powered ranges use separate, sealed gas-fired burners under iron grates to hold pots and pans.

Many modern ranges are built into the countertop.
Many modern ranges are built into the countertop.

Some high-end and professional stoves and commercial cooking ranges also offer other options for the cooking range surface, like a griddle, charbroiler, or a French top. A griddle is a flat, iron plate that is heated and used for cooking or frying foods like pancakes, bacon, and eggs. The charbroiler is a grilling surface with raised edges and a heating element below. It produces the dark, straight lines seen on grilled foods. The French top is a heavy, flat, steel plate on the range top, typically measuring about 24 inches (about 61 cm) square, with a gas burner underneath.

Ranges are available in just about any configuration from single electric coil-type or gas burners all the way up to a commercial cooking range with eight or more burners combined with a griddle, charbroiler, French top, or ovens. The range may be attached to a stove and sold as a single unit, combining oven and range. Some are built into a countertop. A portable range is a stand-alone stovetop unit which can be powered by gas or electricity.

Most electric stoves feature heating coils as the cooking surface.
Most electric stoves feature heating coils as the cooking surface.

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Discussion Comments


I have a portable cooking range that I carry out to the pool deck if I want to prepare hot snacks for a party. Sometimes I don't feel like firing up an outside gas grill, so a cooking range is a more convenient option. It has four burners and a flat top grill pan, so I can cook a lot of things at the same time. It's great for frying hamburgers on the flat top and deep frying french fries on one of the burners.

I would love to get a commercial cooking range for my church. The men like to host a breakfast once a month, and a professional cooking range would make their job much easier. They could cook pancakes on a grill attachment and still make sausage and hash browns and other foods on the other burners.


I lived in an apartment that only had a cooking range, and I eventually got used to the idea of doing everything on burners. I found I could still cook a lot of foods by boiling or pan frying or deep frying them. I used a small toaster oven for the few things I couldn't accomplish with a cooking range, like slow-roasted meats.

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