KitchenAid KCGS556ESS 36-Inch Gas Cooktop Review
A great lead singer, but the rest of the band is weak.
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The KitchenAid KCGS556ESS (MSRP $1,399) 36-inch gas cooktop looks sharp, is reasonably priced, and has one marvelous burner. However, some clunky performance from the other burners keeps the whole package from being great.
While this KitchenAid may not be the best gas cooktop out there, it will be up for most cooking tasks—as long as you only need one strong burner for searing and boiling.
Design & Usability
Simple looks meet convenient design
The KCGS556ESS is kitted out with a modern twist on the standard trappings you'd expect from a gas cooktop. Beveled, round knobs meet lots of parallel lines and 90º angles.
Under the continuous cast iron grates, two large 10,000 BTU burners occupy the front left and front right corners. A 6,000 BTU burner can be found at the left rear position, and a 7,000 BTU is at the right rear. In the center is a powerful 20,000 BTU dual-ring burner. Three easily removable cast-iron grates cover the burners and form a continuously level surface, which makes moving heavy pots between burners a little easier.
Each burner has it's own dedicated physical control knob which can be removed for cleaning. The metal dials are nice and sturdy, but—frustratingly—not dishwasher safe.
Temper your temperature expectations and you won't be disappointed
As a general rule of thumb, gas burners tend to struggle with high heats, but are very responsive to changes in temperature. The best gas cooktops can overcome those limitations, and are preferred by serious cooks.
While it didn't perform terribly, the KCGS55ESS wasn't among the best gas cooktops we tested. While the central dual-ring burner offered excellent boiling performance, boiling six cups of water in just four minutes, the remaining burners couldn't keep up. The next-fastest burner boiled water in a sluggish 13 minutes. If you're boiling two things at once, you won't like this range.
When examining the temperature range of the KCGS55ESS, once again the central dual-burner ruled the roost with an impressive maximum heat of 402°F. The front-right and front-left burners weren't far behind with maximum temperatures of 382°F and 381°F respectively. At least you'll be able to sear meats and boil water at the same time.
The left rear simmer burner achieved an impressive low temperature of just 134°F, even though the dedicated simmer option on the center burner only got as low as 171°F. That's a blessing in disguise, as we dislike when cooktops make us choose between boiling and simmering on the same burner. After all, what's pasta without sauce?
Before You Buy
What good is one burner?
While it has some individual elements that stand out, as a complete package the KitchenAid KCGS556ESS does little to separate itself from the competition.
The dual-ring center burner was the one major bright spark of this cooktop, and impressed us with exemplary boiling speeds and high heats. But ultimately, we expect more than one good burner for $1,399, and we think you should too.
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