Everything You Need to Know About Cook Top Stoves
Wood burning stoves are an excellent way of keeping your home warm on those cold winter days and chilly spring mornings, but did you know it’s possible to buy stoves which are specially designed to help you cook food too? If you’d like to find out more about these practical, multifunction log burners, then keep reading and we’ll tell you everything you need to know about cook top stoves…
What is a cook top stove?
At the risk of generalising, there are two main types of cook top stove:
- Stoves which feature a cooking plate integrated into the top of the firebox (the main body of the stove).
- Stoves which are designed to accommodate cooking plates as an optional extra. In this instance, the cooking plate generally clips or bolts on to the top of the stove.
Regardless of which type of cook top stove you buy, the principle remains the same.
Cook top stoves harness the heat that’s being generated from the fire within the firebox to heat up the cooking plate.
Once the cooking plate is sufficiently hot enough, you can place a pan or kettle on it in order to cook or brew food and drink.
Note - some cook top stoves also include runners within the firebox. This is so that you can place a grill shelf over glowing embers and cook things like toast and meats.
Why cook on a cook top stove?
Why should you cook your meals on a cook top stove rather than use your oven and/or hob?
Well, there are in fact some very good reasons why:
- It’s efficient. If you’re using your stove to keep your home warm, then you can use the heat that it’s already producing to cook food too. That way you'll be maximising the value you’re getting from your firewood whilst also reducing your gas/electricity bills.
- It’s off grid. How would you cook a meal if your electricity or gas supply was cut off? A cook top stove will provide you with the means to keep you fed and warm in an emergency.
- It’s fun! Cooking on a stove is far more fun than simply popping food in an oven or using a boring old electric hob.
Are cook top stoves different from regular stoves?
No! Not really. Cook top stoves work in the same way as regular stoves, burning wood or other solid fuel in the firebox in order to generate heat for your living space.
The only difference between cook top stoves and regular stoves is the cooking plate which provides a flat, stable surface on top of the stove where you can safely cook food or boil liquids.
What cookware and utensils can you use with a cook top stove?
Cooking on a cook top stove is definitely a bit different from cooking on a modern electric hob or gas cooker.
It can be more of a challenge to regulate the temperature of a stove, plus a stove will become hot to the touch once the fire is burning, so you have to be careful not to lean against it as you’ll burn yourself.
This means having the right pots, pans and utensils and other accessories is really important.
We’d recommend that you purchase the following things if you’re going to be cooking on your cook top stove regularly:
An apron will not only stop you from getting food stains on your clothing, but it’ll help protect you should you briefly come into contact with the stove.
If you’re going to be cooking within the firebox (if your stove accommodates that), then we’d suggest purchasing some stove gloves for when you are putting the grill shelf in and out of the firebox. Think of them as being slightly different types of oven gloves.
Cast iron cookware
Whilst cast iron cookware is generally more expensive than other types of cookware, we’d highly recommend investing in some for cooking on your stove.
Because of the properties of cast iron, cast iron cookware not only heats up quickly, but retains heat, making it easier for you to cook.
Cast iron cookware is also robust and long lasting and will complement the aesthetic of most stoves.
If you’re not sure where to start, then we’d suggest beginning with a skillet as you’ll be able to cook a wide variety of different foods using one. From there, should you be feeling even more adventurous, you can buy cookware such as Dutch ovens and other types of pots and pans
Cast iron kettle
It’s always handy to have a cast iron kettle for use on your cook top stove. Whether it’s for making a quick brew or for heating up water for household tasks, you’ll probably find that a cast iron stove will be your most-used piece of kitchenware.
Like cast iron cookware, cast iron kettles are durable, long lasting and will complement the look of your stove.
If you have purchased a cook top stove which includes built-in runners in the firebox, then you may want to purchase a grill shelf (also known as an oven rack).
A grill shelf is a metal utensil that can be used to hold foods in place over the glowing embers in the firebox of your stove.
They are ideal for cooking things like toast, meats and vegetables to a grilled finish.
What accessories do you need for a cook stove?
In addition to cookware, there are a number of accessories which will come in useful for your cook top stove.
As you gain experience cooking on your cook top stove you’ll start to notice that the cooking plate, and the top of the stove in general, has different heat zones. In other words, some parts of the stove will get hotter than others.
To help you identify these heat zones, and thus know where best to place your pots and pans, buy a stove thermometer.
Quality stove thermometers feature a strong magnet which means they can be safely affixed to any hot steel or iron surface. By adding a stove thermometer to your cook top stove, you’ll be able to make your cooking efforts more accurate and successful.
Are you a habitual eater of toast? Then you may want to buy a toasting fork to use with your stove.
Stove brands such as Charnwood sell really handy magnetic toasting forks. You simply attach a magnetic holder to the top of your stove’s firebox and then hang the toasting fork in front of the stove face. The heat from the fire will quickly turn your bread into toast.
The last thing you want when you’re half way through cooking a meal is for your fire to start going out.
So, it’s handy to have a log basket freshly filled with seasoned wood next to your cook top stove.
If you really want to achieve the perfect look for your stove, then choose a rattan log basket to get that traditional rustic feel.
What can you cook on a cook top stove?
You can cook near enough anything on a cook top stove! The only real limiting factor is your own ambition.
It’s worth noting however, that if you want to make cooking meals on your stove a regular occurrence, you should ensure that the stove flue pipe exits from the back of your stove, rather than the top.
This will give you a larger cooking area, making cooking easier and more enjoyable.
Can you use cook top stoves outside?
It’s possible to buy cook top stoves that are specially designed for use outdoors.
These include models such as Esse’s Garden Stove and Outdoor Grill which not only feature a cooking plate on top, but also a grill shelf so that you can cook BBQ-style snacks and treats.
Some outdoor cook top stoves, like the Esse one mentioned above, also feature detachable wheels so that it’s easy to move them into a shed or garage once they’ve cooled down.
Some stove manufacturers, like Go Eco, manufacture ‘glamping’ stoves which come with attachable heat shields, which makes them suitable for use with tents, camping pods, cabins and huts.
Best cook top stoves UK
If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably pretty keen on the idea of owning a cook top stove.
If that’s the case, then what are your choices? Well, as the largest online retailer of stoves, we have a vast range of cook top stoves from all of the leading brands.
Below, we’ve detailed some of our most popular cook top stoves that are available right now.
Saltfire Peanut 3 Tall Wood Burning EcoDesign Stove
Based in the heart of Dorset, Saltfire has built a reputation for manufacturing high-quality, efficient and environmentally friendly stoves.
The Peanut 3 is a compact stove, yet has a very large viewing window and a powerful heat output of 4.7kW.
Add an optional cooking plate, and the Saltfire Peanut 3 will easily take care of your cooking requirements too.
The Peanut 3’s flue pipe can exit from the rear or the top of the stove, so if you want to create a larger cooking area on the top of the stove, just make sure you route the flue from the rear.
The Peanut 3 also comes with a handy log storage area in the base, so it’s easier to keep a ready supply of fuel right at hand!
Esse Warmheart S Wood Burning EcoDesign Cook Stove
Esse has been manufacturing stoves since 1854 and has supplied such eminent historical figures as Florence Nightingale, Ernest Shackleton and Scott of the Antarctic.
With such a historical pedigree, it’s no surprise to find that Esse stoves are highly sought after and have become something of a fashion-statement in homes across the UK.
The Esse Warmheart S is a perfect example of Esse’s quality approach to design and manufacturing.
In addition to having a spacious cooktop, the Warmheart S is also available with a grill shelf, so that you can use the firebox to grill meats, vegetables and other foodstuffs.
With a 5kW heat output, the Warmheart S won’t just help you cook a perfect meal, but will put out more than enough heat to keep your living space warm and snug.
Esse Warmheart Wood Burning EcoDesign Cook Stove
If you want a cook top stove that’s absolutely packed with useful features, then consider the Esse Warmheart.
A step up from the Warmheart S detailed above, the Warmheart includes practical features such as a four-zone cooking hob on the top of the firebox, a hotplate cover to help retain heat whilst you’re cooking and a towel rail which can be used to quickly dry tea towels.
Aside from all of those features, the Warmheart also demonstrates excellent performance, putting out 5kW of heat at an efficiency rate of 82.3%.
What’s more, the Esse Warmheart features a unique heat transfer technology, which means the hob will heat up just a few minutes after you’ve lit the stove. So, with this stove you’ll be able to get cooking almost straight away!
Charnwood Skye 5 Wood Burning/Multifuel EcoDesign Logstore Stove
Since 1972 Charnwood has been producing high-quality stoves in the UK, pushing the boundaries of stove technology.
Charnwood claim that the Skye 5 is their most efficient and clean-burning stove to date and with a heat output of 5kW, it’ll certainly keep you warm and dry whilst burning fuel efficiently.
The Skye 5 has an attractive, minimalist design with the viewing window offering a landscape view - a different approach to many other stoves on the market. The under-stove log store also offers a tidy and convenient way of storing firewood within easy reach.
For those of you who are particularly keen to know how the Skye 5 functions as a cook top stove, you’ll be pleased to know that it is offered with an optional cooking plate kit.
Charnwood’s cooking plate is made from cast iron and features conduction fins on the other side to aid the rapid heating of the plate.
Plus, the Skye 5 will be a highly versatile addition to your home as it’s available in eight different colours!
Ekol Apple Pie Core Wood Burning EcoDesign Stove
Should you want a very modern looking cook top stove, then choose the Ekol Apple Pie Core stove.
Billed as the ‘Swiss Army knife’ of stoves, the Apple Pie Core is available with a dizzying array of options, features and colourways.
Let’s get this straight - if you want to cook an array of different foods on a stove, the Apple Pie Core is one of the best choices.
Optional cooking features available on the Ekol Apple Pie Core include:
- Top mount cooking plate.
- Left and right mounted shelves for keeping food warm next to the body of the stove.
If you want to take things even further, then take a look at the Ekol Baked Apple Pie stove which features a baking oven that sits on top of the firebox!
It’s also easy to match your Ekol Apple Pie Core stove to your home’s interior as it’s available in nine different colours.
Video survey service
We understand that buying a stove is a big investment for most people, so we want you to be confident in your choice.
That’s why here at Direct Stoves we offer a video survey service.
Our video survey service allows you to speak to a member of our team and show them the room in which you’ll want your stove installed.
Our team will then be able to advise you on whether or not the installation is possible as well as other factors such as the best kW heat output for your room etc.
Find out more about our video survey service now.
Bake your day with Direct Stoves
If you want to enjoy the benefits of stove top cooking, then buy a cook top stove from Direct Stoves today.
As the UK’s largest online retailer of stoves we have a huge selection of stoves from a constellation of leading brands.
Shop cook top stoves at Direct Stoves now
For more stove buying guides, information and advice, read the Direct Stoves blog…