Cracked cast iron griddle on induction

eugenie11June 12, 2012

I was planning to make pancakes for my son - I set the 14" round, super heavy Griswold cast iron griddle on the largest hob and set it to heat up on the 10 setting (it goes up to 12) while I mixed the batter. A minute later, I hear a noise like a gunshot - the skillet had cracked!

Has anyone ever heard of this? I had used the griddle a few times before, never for pancakes, mostly making tortillas; it's new, but vintage; i.e. I just bought it on eBay.

Any recommendations on the best way to heat up cast iron on induction? Thanks!

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I don't own a induction stove top but with cast iron, you need to start heating slowly then once the metal has warmed sufficiently then crank up the temp. What has happened is that that cold metal and high heat shocked the metal and then it's damaged . I have had the Lodge flat pan that cracked on my gas range years ago....

Here is a link that might be useful: Griddle

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 10:33PM
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A couple of things.

First. following up what was just said, there is no reason to set induction cookers to a high setting to preheat. Use the setting you want to cook with. Even thick cast iron will come to heat pretty quickly. Get them too hot, too fast and you find out whether your pan had a manufacturing defect or suffered past damage.

Second, your pan may very well have already been cracked or ready to crack when you received it. True Griswold cast iron pans will at least 55 years old. That that is a lot of time for wear and tear to accumulate. Cast iron is pretty tough but it is not impervious. Further complicating things, Griswold's reputation for quality declined in the 1940s and 50s. Your pan might have had a factory defect in the casting. Also, after Griswold went out of business, Wagner bought the molds and made more of the Griswold cookware. Apparently, some of these were not up to the old standards, either.

And, to make things really complicated, the very heavy, old, well seasoned cast iron cookware may have cracks without them being obvious, especially when the pan is cold. A friend of mine claims to be able to tell if there is internal damage or cracking by picking up a cold cast iron pan and tapping it with a steel hammer. He claims it rings if it is okay and sort of "thonks" if it has a crack.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 10:57PM
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I had never heard of it, but a quick web search shows that it is not that uncommon. I'll be a bit more careful.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 10:57PM
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Pancakes on the cast iron griddle were the very first things we cooked on our new induction cooktop. We set the elements (we used two for the rectangular griddle) to about medium high, 7 where maximum is 10. It heated fairly slowly, we cooked the pancakes and everything was fine. If anything, the pancakes were more evenly cooked than on our gas cooktop.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 11:14PM
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Sorry to hear about your Griswold griddle. I grew up in the town where those pans were made in and have two skillets that I love. I've also heard that you should 'ring' them as a test... I've heard of the larger pans cracking, the #14's... and warp if overheated and cooled too quickly, but not much else, not like stone, that with thermal shock and moisture can crack quit easily.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 4:05AM
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Thank you to all!

I also did an web search last night and discovered that cracking cast iron isn't all that uncommon - mostly when heat and cold are too quickly applied. So I will pre-heat more slowly in the future.

I cook a lot - and I'm still getting used to cooking with induction. Boiling water - as the expression goes - is the best and easiest. Sauteeing, I have discovered, has a learning curve, depending on the pan (I have several, some old LeCrueset, some expensive DeMeyere, some cheap made-for-induction).

The best are enameled cast iron, i.e. LeCrueset or Descoware. I had purchased an inexpensive griddle which I ended up throwing away - it buzzed, it burned food, it was hard to clean. I replaced it with the cast iron griddle, which arrived in the mail poorly packed, with a chip on the rim. I should have sent it back - it was not inexpensive - but I figured it was still cooking-worthy and return shipping was a fortune. That chip on the rim may have compromised the pan enough to crack it.

It was also too large for the hob - 14" on a 12" circle. That may have contributed to the problem. The next one I buy - I haven't given up - will be smaller. I will pre-heat it more slowly. On my old electric stove, I set my former non-stick griddle (not induction compatible, so I gave it away) on the high setting, let it heat up, turned down the heat, and made perfect pancakes every time.

The adventure continues!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 9:26AM
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Fori is not pleased

I've done it too, with a properly sized cast iron skillet that had spent a few years on induction. Don't know why--these things just happen and not only on induction. You probably don't need a smaller one but probably don't need the extra wide one for pancakes. I've been using the 10" round Lodge and I'd make a mess if I made a pancake that big.

Sure makes you jump though, doesn't it?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 5:46PM
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As others have said, pre-heat slowly.

Use and care for seasoned cast iron on says, "pre-heat the pan slowly (always start on low heat, increasing the temperature slowly). ... Once the utensil is properly pre-heated, you are ready to cook."

Remember, cast iron responds slowly to temp change. Induction, like gas, changes almost instantly.

Cast iron and induction or gas requires patience.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 5:59PM
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fori - am I the only one who tries to squeeze four pancakes onto a 14" round griddle?

I've even thought of getting one of the rectangular ones - make 'em all in one batch! - but I wondered if, with induction, the space between the two hobs the rectangular griddle straddled, would be completely cold.

So I went with round.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2012 at 8:37PM
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Fori is not pleased

Ohhhh you must be making the cute little ones, not the plate sized ones!! :)

Yep the griddle on the induction problem. Surely someone has worked it out by now!

I think a big rectangular cast iron one spanning two hobs would work if you preheated it nice and slow since CI does stay hot. I wasn't able to find one that was induction capable and flat but I didn't look that hard. Maybe you just need multiple smaller ones. I tried that once when I had a crowd. Two pans! Cast iron and nonstick. It was beyond my capability. I instantly burned the CI pancake too much to continue in that griddle without a good scrubbing. But anyone who can handle 4 at a time should be able to handle two identical smaller griddles..

    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 1:58PM
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We have a rectangular CI griddle which we put across two induction elements. The bottom is NOT flat, it is ridged. I had no idea whether this would work or not, but by golly it did! It's not the most efficient way to use induction, but we have two of these so why not use them?

We made a pile of giant pancakes. We're not the dainty types so these were about 5" - 6" across.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 2:15PM
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Cheryl - you answered one of my puzzles.

When I first started looking for a cast iron griddle, I liked the rectangular 'reversible' ones, but I thought the ridges on the underside made them incompatible with induction (though they'd make a great grill surface).

The same reasoning kept me away from the vintage round griddles that have a heat ring, or the long rectangular ones that have a pattern of ridged lines underneath that raise the underside a fraction of an inch off the hob - it was always my understanding that with induction the bottom of the pan and the surface of the stovetop have to be flush.

The fact that your ridged griddle works makes me think this is incorrect? Anyone else use a reversible griddle with a ridged underside?


    Bookmark   June 14, 2012 at 3:18PM
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Just another note on the cracking -- all the manuals I've read say not to heat an empty pan -- because it will heat really fast. That, combined with the high heat setting, may have been a factor in your cracked pan. (And thanks for sharing the experience - a mistake I will now endeavor to avoid!)


    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 3:38PM
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