Electric hot plate for searing

When I sear inside I set off the smoke alarms and scare the dogs so I need any outdoor option. Grill is ok but I want to use my cast iron skillets on an electric convention or standard hot plate.

Anyone have any recommendations.



Hi @mbaynard

After I did my first sear inside my wife read me the riot act! I went out immediately and purchased an 1800 watt portable induction burner. I use it and my cast iron pan outside on the deck as I have an outdoor electrical outlet handy. Fingers crossed that you do as well.
Another option (rather than a full grill) is to use a charcoal chimney starter. It doesn’t use up as much charcoal as a full grill will, and it gets rip roaring hot! I know this option diverges from your criteria of using your cast iron - but it’s another method I use and it does work well!

Good luck!

The smoke comes from burning oil, so if you’re using high temperatures it’s important to use high smoke point oil. Avocado and rice bran are at the top of the recommendation list. Heat your pan dry and only apply minimal oil just before the meat hits the pan. You can either brush a small amount of oil onto the pan with a silicon brush or apply the oil to the meat instead of the pan.

But really, the ridiculously high temperatures are not needed. The Maillard reaction takes place at much lower temps (140-165C/280-330F) than most people seem to think. The mega high temperatures are not needed.

I mostly agree with Ember, high smoke point oil is a key, I use Avocado, although I continue believe heating my 12" cast iron skillet to ‘screaming hot’ is key also. As Ember says, you just need a little oil.

Also, drying off your meat properly before searing will help too as ‘wet’ meat will instantly drop the temp of your cast iron skillet, lengthening the time it takes to get a good sear, and likely producing more smoke.

I live in an apartment with small galley kitchen and searing has NEVER set off my smoke alarm or choked me into a state of unconsciousness.

Good luck!

For many cast iron is heavy and hard to use.

I have picked up a couple of these for use on my convection plate. They work great and are light weight.

I also have found as Ember states that you do not need the pan too hot to get a good sear. I have seen references to red hot pans and always thought it a bit odd and uninformed.

So use your cast iron skillet on the induction plate. Not sure what your question is…

Was asking people what kind of electric hot plate they use if they use one at all. I’m going to try a different oil like Ember said and see what happens before I buy a burner.


Hi @mbaynard

I’ve been happy with this specific portable induction plate for the past few months…

My wife had problems with my searing indoors even when I used Avocado oil so I had to “take it outside”! :slight_smile:

Ah! Definitely induction. Traditional heat elements just don’t get hot enough. But be prepared to leave it out there for a good while. Ideally you should have a IR temp gun to ensure the pan’s temp is at least 500 degrees.

Interesting. I just googled around for more info about portable induction cooktops and found the virtually all of the 1800W units peak at 460 degrees. Only the NuWave for $135 goes higher to 565.

When I need to sear indoors (because there’s a tornado or hurricane outside but otherwise I’m out there with my flamethrower), I put the cast iron pan in the oven and heat it there to 500 degrees. I then toss the meat on the pan in the oven and it confines the smoke (mostly) to just there. FWIW

I like cast iron when indoors and flame thrower outdoors. However for you application you may want to consider getting a rack and a Searzall. It’s sold online (Amazon has it) and there are some YouTube videos that show it in action. Good luck.

Hey Mike. I have a question. I always heard you shouldn’t use a cast iron skillet on a glass top range as there is a danger of heavy scratching/breakage of the cerran glass top. Is this the same material that is used on the induction cooktop?

Also, when using a chimney charcoal starter (I like the weber model) You can get away with a lot less charcoal by using it as a broiler (heating down) vs. a grill (heating up) The only trick needed is to shake/bang off any loose ash before placing it on top of the meat and trying not to cough during the process. :grinning:

To protect the glass surface of an induction cooktop the cat places a piece of parchment paper under the skillet.

Make it big enough to catch the splatter for an easy clean up.

Replace the old ionization type smoke alarm with a photoelectric smoke alarm. They’re a more effective in a real fire, and not likely to go off when you’re pan searing or using the broiler.


Hiya @whybuynew1!

Sorry for my late response…my wife and I are visiting her family in San Diego and I’ve been offline a few days!

The induction burner surface I have is much like the glass-ceramic top on our range top. That said, I don’t have any qualms about using my cast iron on my induction burner. My wife would have a fit if I used the cast iron on the range-top and scratched it, so this is a matter of survival! :slight_smile: But the portable induction burner is mine, and I’m rather pragmatic about using it. If the surface gets scratched, but it doesn’t affect its ability to heat I’m not concerned…and to be honest I haven’t seen any scratches yet. The suggestion to use parchment paper to protect the surface made by @chatnoir is and excellent one…and has now opened up the possibility of using cast iron on the range-top. Many thanks to the Cat!

And yes, you’re right! Using the chimney charcoal starter as a “broiler” does save a lot of charcoal! I like doing it that way, and thanks for pointing it out so that everyone knows to try using it that way!

We are using an electric griddle for cooking inside and outside the house. It’s not a secret that Blackstone makes both good grills and griddles and our unit isn’t an exception. But many men, many minds. You may check these articles and compare the features of hot plates and electric griddle: