How to Use the Bridge Element on Your Glass Cooktop or Stove

Cook Large Amounts of Food With Ease

Man cooks pasta on glass cooktop
Blasius Erlinger / Getty Images

Your cooktop or range may have a bridge element, but have you used it? It's a cooktop feature that makes it handy for using certain types of cookware. Learn what it is and how you can use it to maximize the use of your cooking equipment.

Create a Larger Cooking Surface

A range bridge element is a smooth cooktop design feature that expands use by providing the option to join two burners to make one long cooking surface. If you have a bridge element, you no longer need to try using two standard elements for a griddle and have uneven or no heat in the middle. There’s no such heat loss when a bridge element is used.

How to Use Your Cooktop Bridge Element

If your smooth cooktop has a bridge feature, you'll notice that the selection dial for one element is different than the others. This particular selection dial will also show an additional full-range of heat settings for the bridge with the option to use that element with or without the bridge. This format is often found on the left side of the cooktop, connecting two small elements with a 'bridge" area in between.

This is also denoted by a symbol (at the dial), and both elements must be turned on to use the feature. The two elements can be used either independently, as usual, or used as one combined element unit. However, care should be taken to turn the dial to the correct position if using only a single element. Your cooktop or range product manual would also provide instructions for using the bridge element.

Pros and Cons of Bridge Elements

When a bridge element is factored into a ceramic or glass cooktop, it offers another cookware option. This format provides a good cooking space for long cookware such as a rectangular-shaped stovetop griddle. You could also use this bridge feature for a large roaster to make gravy after removing the turkey.

Of course, the addition of cooktop features such as a bridge element does influence the stove or cooktop’s price, but only slightly. There are many affordable models with this versatile bridge element. It’s a nice cooktop feature, but one that unfortunately many do not explore or seldom use.

Smoothtop ranges and cooktops have become very popular because they are considerably more stylish than traditional coil-element models. They tend to better blend into a high-tech kitchen and can look expensive, even when they are not. But these smooth and shiny cooking surfaces do have a downside.

They can be difficult to keep clean and are hard to keep looking good unless you make changes in how you cook. For instance, on a traditional element stove, you might leave your pudding stirring spoon sitting on the stove because it would be easy to clean later.

Unfortunately, on a warm ceramic or glass cooktop, cleaning gets more difficult with sweet drips or stains, and a light-colored model can even become discolored if that sweet sauce boils over. You need to be proactive with care and diligent to remove drips, stains and food residue as soon as they occur if you want this type of range to retain its good looks.