How-To & Diy

How to Hack a Heat Diffuser

April  3, 2013

Inspired by conversations on the FOOD52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today: How to get soft, even heat -- with a pie plate.

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While strong, hard heat can be our friend in the kitchen -- searing meats, roasting vegetables, boiling pasta -- sometimes, we need to tame those flames. When we're making delicate reductions -- or re-warming coffee or leftovers -- we want to be gentle, kind. Watch Kenzi demonstrate how to get that soft, even cooking surface, using simply a pie plate.

This video was shot and edited by Kyle Orosz.



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Brette Warshaw

Written by: Brette Warshaw

I'm a reader, eater, culinary thrill-seeker, and food nerd.


Hannah K. March 10, 2018
Very helpful! Making tagine tonight and didn't want to have to buy a diffuser.
Moe R. May 17, 2013
There is also a great cast iron diffuser for $10:

and several others -- search Amazon for "diffuser".
loubaby April 10, 2013
Thanks for both of these ideas...I didn't want to spend $50 at Williams Sonoma for one...
walkie74 April 4, 2013
aw phooey. Guess I have to wait until I get into a place with a gas stove...
LauriL April 3, 2013
Meant to say does NOT work with Induction ranges! my bad!
LauriL April 3, 2013
I wish I had a gas range! :( as this does work with induction ranges. Quick idea especially for those of us who don't have cast iron though!
Moe R. April 3, 2013
My favorite method is to place the saucepan in a cast iron skillet.
johnaka April 3, 2013
Sorry, Kenzi, this does not make sense. Thin aluminum will not diffuse the concentrated heat as well as heavy steel or iron. While aluminum may be a good conductor of heat, this method is the equivalent of just adding a thin layer of aluminum to the pan. It would seem a BETTER way would be to invert a beat-up cast iron skillet, which would provide a stable and evenly diffused heat.
Kenzi W. April 3, 2013
A skillet would definitely work, but so does this! We used to use this trick often in a restaurant where I worked, and I made many reductions without a single scorch.
jkr7977 April 3, 2013
Can you use the same technique with an induction range?
Kenzi W. April 3, 2013
That gets tricky -- if your pie plate is made out of non-induction material (meaning it might not conduct the heat properly), then I'd think no, although I've never used this trick on an induction range.