Top 5 Reasons Why Professional (and Serious Home) Chefs Prefer Open Burners

Posted: November 30, 2016

After you decide to make the investment in a professional-style gas range, the next question is: what kind of burner top will best for you – Sealed (meaning the burner head is sealed to the ranges cooktop) or Open (where the burner and flame are completely exposed).

First, let’s start with a few simple definitions:

A sealed burner is where the burner itself is sealed to the base of the range.  This type of burner is most common in residential gas ranges – from the low end to the premium end.  Sealed burners are believed by many to be easier to clean.

An open burner, on the other hand, is not sealed underneath, allowing oxygen to move freely and therefore generates higher heats.  In commercial settings, chefs rely almost exclusively on open burners – and higher end brands in the residential market have offered these burners for almost 20 years.

Comparison of BlueStar Open and Sealed Burners
Examples of an Open Burner (L) and Sealed Burner (R)

The debate between which is better, open versus sealed burners on gas ranges, has raged seemingly forever, but shouldn’t the world’s top chefs consistently choosing one over the other tell you something?  These culinary stars value the power and performance that open burners provide because it’s the closest thing to cooking in their restaurants that they can get at home.  This allows them the ability to create dishes and use cooking methods at home that can’t be achieved on a sealed burner range.

 

Here are the Top 5 Reasons Why Chefs Prefer Open Burners at Home:

 

1.  Power, Power, Power

A sealed burner can boast of offering high BTUs, but it can’t come close to the power produced by an open burner gas range.  Normally these sealed units top out at 15,000 BTUs while their open burner counterparts can go much higher.  For example, the BlueStar Platinum Series offers 25,000 BTU open burners.  Top chefs value this high heat because it allows them to achieve that perfect sear and rapid boil – just like in their restaurants.  Just ask Bobby Flay why he chose a BlueStar Platinum Series gas range for his home.  “I love the amount of BTUs.  It’s as close to a professional range as I can get at home,” says Chef Flay.

Chef Bobby Flay in his BlueStar & Prizer Hoods Kitchen

 

2.  Heat Distribution

Open burner ranges offer a level of heat distribution that even the hottest sealed burners can’t match.  Since a sealed burner’s heat is concentrated in the center of the cooking surface, food on the inside of the pan tends to cook faster than the food around the outer edges.  On the other hand, the wide, even heat that an open burner offers ensures that whatever you’re cooking will be at the same temperature – no matter where it is in the pot.

A great way to see firsthand the advantage of an open vs. sealed burner is the flour test.  Here, you place dry flour on a pan on medium heat.  With the sealed burner, the inner ring where the flame is located starts to brown first and then the outer edges showing an uneven heat distribution across the pan.  When the open burner is tested you can see a nice even browning across the entire pan indicating the center of the pan and outer edges are receiving the same amount of heat.

 

3.  Wok Like a Pro

Another advantage of open burners is that they enable wok cooking without the use of a wok ring.  By removing the top burner grate the pan can easily rest directly in the flame allowing the high heat burners to produce restaurant quality results.  The wok ring needed for sealed burners causes the pan to sit much higher from the flame thus reducing the heat reaching the pan.

Stir Frying on the 22,000 BTU burners of a BlueStar range

 

4.  Effective Simmering

A precise simmer is one of the biggest advantages of open burner gas ranges.  With a large flame pattern, increased air flow and almost unlimited flame control you can simmer the most delicate sauces without a problem.  In contrast, due to its small flame size and pattern, the simmer burner on a sealed burner range is sub-optimal as a cooking tool.

Gentle 130 degree simmer burner on a BlueStar range

 

5.  Easy Clean Up (Dispelling the Cleaning Myth)

For years people have claimed that sealed burner gas ranges are so much easier to clean than their open burner counterparts.  This is because spills are contained in the top of the burner area and cannot leak down below the cooktop.  In reality, open burner gas ranges are quite easy to clean as well.  Instead of the spills and crumbs collecting in the burner area, they fall below the burners into easy removable, dishwasher friendly grease trays.  These concealed grease trays guarantee your guests won’t see any unsightly spills or messes on your range while entertaining.

Easy to clean grease trays on a BlueStar range
Easy to clean grease trays on a BlueStar range

 

To conclude, open burners aren’t for everyone but they’re not reserved only for world renowned chefs.  Gas ranges and rangetops with these burners are for someone who wants to cook to their fullest potential with the same tools that Iron Chefs Bobby Flay, Michael Symon and Jose Garces have in their own home kitchens.

 

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