Cooking on Yom Tov
This is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.
General Guidelines of Cooking on Yom Tov
- It’s permissible to cook on Yom Tov only if one intends to eat the food that’s prepared that day of Yom Tov. However, one may not cook for the next day whether it’s a weekday, Yom Tov, or Shabbat. 
- Food which wouldn’t have deteriorated by being cooked before Yom Tov should be cooked before Yom Tov. However, if one forgot, one may cook on Yom Tov but should do so with a variation from the regular method.  Additionally, if it was physically impossible to cook before Yom Tov, or guests came on Yom Tov one may cook without a variation.  Nonetheless, water may be heated up on Yom Tov even without a variation. 
- One may cook a whole pot of meat even if one only needs one piece because the extra meat improves the taste of the whole dish  as long as one doesn't say that one is doing for after Shabbat. 
Lighting a fire on Yom Tov
- It’s permissible to cook on Yom Tov as long as the flame was lit before Yom Tov or the timer was set for it to begin operating on Yom Tov. 
- It is forbidden to turn on an electric stove on Yom Tov.
- One may not raise or lower the temperature of an electric stove. 
- On Yom Tov, an oven which is thermostatically controlled, is permitted to be opened and closed in order to put in, check, or remove food. 
Extinguishing a Fire
- If a food is burning and in order to cook it one needs a lower flame, some permit lowering the flame, while others say that one should light a new flame which is smaller and not extinguish the other one. Sephardim can also rely on the lenient opinion for a gas stove.
Shava Lkol Nefesh
Shava Lkol Nefesh Do you need shava l’chol nefesh on food?
- Shitah Mikubeset Ketubot 7a s.v. amar leh ana writes that according to the Raavad and one answer in Tosfot food is unique that it is always considered shava lkol nefesh. Alternatively, writes the Shitah Mikubeset based on the second answer in Tosfot, cooking deer meat is only permitted since it is equally enjoyed by all but even in the category of food it needs to be shava l’kol nefesh. Shitah Mikubeset 7a s.v. Mitoch quoting the Raah sides with the second approach that for food it also needs to be shava lkol nefesh. This also seems to be the opinion of Rashi Beitzah and Tosfot. Baal Hameor (Beitzah 12a) clearly adopts this second approach and the Ramban (Milchamot Beitzah 12a) argues in accordance with the Raavad.
- Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata (Ch. 13 fnt. 55) quotes Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach who understood Mishna Brurah 507:31 as saying that shava lkol nefesh is necessary for food like the opinion of Rashi, Tosfot, Raah, and Baal Hameor. He clarifies that if the melacha is only going to help make the food nice but it would be edible anyway it isn’t shava lkol nefesh. However, if the type of food is something everyone would enjoy like putting spices in food it is permitted to put them in food even if everyone would enjoy adding as much as you would. This distinction is similar to Mishna Brurah 511:7. Mishna Brurah 507:25, and Shaar Hatziyun 510:12 also cite the opinion of the Baal Hameor. Mishna Brurah 511:25 cites Rashi and seems to follow the Baal Hameor.
- Peni Yehoshua Shabbat 39b s.v. v’omer Ri offers two explanations of shava lkol nefesh. Either that everyone enjoys this type of pleasure or that it is healthy.
- Aruch Hashulchan 495:22 explains that the Rambam doesn’t hold of shava lkol nefesh since it is only rav papa on ketubot 7a who says it but we don’t even hold like his opinion anyway.
- Shulchan Aruch 503:1, Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 2:1
- Rama 495:1, Mishna Brurah 495:8 and 10
- Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 2:2
- Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata (chap 2 note 6)
- Shulchan Aruch 503:1, Mishna Brurah 503:5
- Mishna Brurah 503:6
- Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 1:27
- Igrot Moshe 1:115
- Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 1:27 because in doing so you'll usually be extinguishing one coil and heating up another in its place.
- How do electric stoves work? This writeup is only a beginning and needs more research:
- Some electric stoves have discrete temperature options such as low, medium, and high. In those stoves, depending on the temperature setting that it is on, a particular circuit is connected and used to heat up the stove to that temperature. When a temperature is adjusted, the circuit that was previously connected is disconnected and a new circuit is connected. In such cases, adjusting the temperature on Yom Tov is forbidden since connecting and disconnecting circuits is an issue of electricity on Yom Tov and if the metal is red hot then additionally it involves igniting a fire and extinguishing it. Sources: Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 1:33, Rabbi Meir Sendor.
- Some electric stoves use a variable temperature and the temperature depends on the voltage going through the circuit, which is adjusting depending on the temperature setting. There is one caveat; the circuit isn't continuously connected. Rather it alternates between being connected and disconnected depending on whether the heating element is at the desired temperature. When the heating element is below the right temperature, the circuit is closed in order to heat up and when it is at the right temperature, the circuit is disconnected for some time. The issue is that if one raises the temperature when the circuit is disconnected, one will cause the circuit to close immediately and if one lowers the temperature when the circuit is closed one will cause the circuit to open immediately. Sources: http://cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/12666/do-all-modern-electric-stoves-have-binary-heating-elements, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxzBG-xLV6Q, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOdYp8CFjdU, http://cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/21432/what-temperatures-do-low-medium-high-on-the-stove-correspond-to, and the Star-K.
- Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 1:30
- Igrot Moshe 1:115, 1:150
- Mishna Brurah 514:6
- The Gemara Beitzah 22a says that according to Rabba it is forbidden to extinguish a flame to avoid a loss of money. Based on one reading of the gemara, the Rif (Beitzah 11b) concludes that it is forbidden also to extinguish a fire in order so that your food doesn't burn. This is also the opinion of the Rambam (Yom Tov 4:6). However, the Rashba (Avodat Hakodesh 2:7:85, Beitzah 22a s.v. im) and Mordechai (Beitzah 681) hold that it is permitted to extinguish so that your food doesn't burn. The Ran (Beitzah 11b s.v. gemara) seems to agree. The Rosh (Beitzah 2:19) concludes that if your food is burning you should light a smaller fire rather than extinguish this fire and cook the food on that smaller fire. If there's no way to light a smaller fire then it is permitted to extinguish the fire. The Bet Yosef 514:1 and Maggid Mishna (Yom Tov 4:4) equate the opinion of the Rashba and Rosh. The Shulchan Aruch 514:1 follows the opinion of the Rif and Rambam, while the Rama follows the opinion of the Rashba and he too seems to equate the Rashba and Rosh (Darkei Moshe 514:1). Therefore, the Mishna Brurah 514:6 concludes according to the Rama if your food is burning it is permitted to light another smaller fire to cook the food and that's preferable to extinguishing or lowering this fire.
- Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe 1:115) holds that it is permitted to even light another fire. The Dirshu Mishna Brurah n. 7 quotes Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata ch. 13 fnt. 52) as disagreeing with Rav Moshe and explaining that it is better to light another fire rather than lower the larger fire because lighting a fire is a positive melacha that enables cooking while extinguishing a flame is more similar to removing something that was preventing cooking.
- Even though Shulchan Aruch 514:1 is strict to forbid extinguishing for the purpose of not burning food, Chazon Ovadia (Yom Tov p. 58) is lenient for a gas stove. See Yabia Omer 1:31 and 3:30.