Which is better, induction cooktops or gas stoves? Personal preference plays a big role, but both deliver beautiful results with faster heating than electric stoves.
Induction and gas cooktops are popular choices for home cooks. If you’re in the market for a new range, you might be wondering which one makes the most sense.
Induction cooktops are safe, heat up quickly, and are energy-efficient. Gas cooktops are durable, easy to use, compatible with all cookware, and less expensive. Those are the key differences, but we’ll take a closer look at each type.
In this article, you’ll find the answers to all your questions about induction vs. gas ranges. I’ll break down how gas and induction cooktops work and give you the pros and cons.
You’ll have a good idea of which cooktop is right for you.
Ready to learn more? Let’s get started.
What Is Induction Cooking?
Induction cooking is a cooking style that uses a copper coil underneath the cooking surface to generate electromagnetic energy. This energy is transferred directly into the pan, allowing you to cook food with less energy and in less time.
How Does Induction Cooking Work?
Gas and electric stoves heat cookware indirectly. Gas cooktops produce a flame, whereas electric cooktops heat a coil or burner. That heat transfers to the pan via thermal conduction.
However, induction cooking works by making the pan the heat source. Induction cooktops have copper coils under a glass top that create a magnetic field.
This electromagnetism excites the molecules inside the pan, creating heat. The entire pan gets hot, not just the base. The result? Amazingly fast, even heating. No open flame. No hot coils.
Pans must be ferrous (containing iron) to work with an induction stove. Non-magnetic cookware won’t respond to electromagnetic coils.
If you’re unsure if your cookware is induction-compatible, place a magnet on the bottom of the pan. If the magnet sticks, your pan will work on an induction stovetop.
(See my list of the best induction-ready cookware sets.)
Watch Chef Tagere Southwell of Fisher & Paykel as she demonstrates the power of induction cooking:
Do Chefs Prefer Gas or Induction?
Most chefs have more experience with gas stoves. All types of cookware are compatible with gas stoves, and many chefs can gauge the temperature just by looking at the flame.
However, an increasing number of chefs are turning to induction models, especially in their own home kitchens. The precise temperature control and safety make induction cooktops appealing.
Why Is Induction Cooking Not Popular?
Induction cooking offers unmatched energy efficiency, fast heating, and safety. But they aren’t as popular as gas stoves or traditional electric cooktops. Why not?
For one, induction stoves are more expensive, although not significantly so. And since induction cooktops resemble conventional electric cooktops, buyers might not see the value.
Another reason people are hesitant to embrace induction cooking is that it requires induction-compatible cookware.
Don’t expect to use cheap non-stick pans on an induction range. Pots and pans must have a completely flat, magnetic base to work with an induction cooktop.
Cast iron, carbon steel, steel, and magnetic stainless steel pans are the best choices. Some aluminum pans also have a magnetic disc bonded to the bottom of the cookware. Be aware, however, that a carbon steel wok won’t work on an induction stove unless it has a flat bottom.
Lastly, induction cooking has a learning curve. Managing the heat levels can be tricky at first. But once you get over that initial hump, you’ll enjoy being able to save energy.
Should I Switch From Gas to Induction?
It depends. If you’re happy with your gas range, there’s no need to go out and get a brand-new induction stove. However, if you’re looking to make a change, induction ranges offer several advantages.
First of all, induction burners save energy. In fact, induction ranges earned an Energy Star Emerging Technology Award (ETA) in 2021-2022. This is a prestigious award given to products that lower emissions from greenhouse gases.
Induction cooktops have an energy efficiency of approximately 85%, more than gas or electric stoves.
They’re also safe. Induction cooktops produce no open flame like gas cooktops. And they don’t use hot coils, like conventional electric stovetops. Essentially, the pan is the heating element.
So when you’re done cooking, you don’t have to wait for the stove to cool down. An induction cooktop will stay cool.
Another advantage of induction is the speed. With induction, you don’t have to wait for the burner to transfer heat to the pots and pans. Instead, the pan gets hot rapidly.
Although it can vary among ranges, it takes about half the time to boil water using induction. Be careful, though! Faster cooking means it’s easier to burn food. Keep an eye on your food and stir it frequently to avoid overcooking.
Finally, induction ranges offer more control over the temperature than gas cooking. It’s difficult to hit a precise temperature with gas ranges, and electric ranges can take a long time to heat up and cool down.
But with induction burners, you can set an exact temperature setting. And when you turn the burner off, the heat stops immediately, helping you get better results.
What Are the Drawbacks of Induction?
Induction cooktops are fantastic, but they have their limits. Induction ranges are more expensive than gas cooktops.
Induction cooking can also be noisy. Most of the time, the noise is coming from the cookware and not the induction range.
It happens when the pan is too big/small for the burner. It happens more frequently with stainless steel instead of heavy cast iron. Still, the noise can be a nuisance.
Lastly, you have to learn how to use an induction cooktop. It’s easy to burn food when you aren’t used to how fast an induction element cooks. Learning temperature control takes a little time but is well worth the effort.
How to Tell the Difference Between Electric and Induction Cooktops
Induction and electric cooktops consist of coiled metal elements beneath a smooth glass ceramic surface, so it might be tricky to tell the two apart at first glance.
To distinguish between induction ovens and electric ovens, turn on the cooktop. If the electric coil in the burner glows red and gets hot, it’s an electric stove.
If the burner doesn’t glow or get hot, you have an induction burner. You might also see an error code in the control panel. That means the stove doesn’t detect a compatible pan.
How Can I Tell If an Induction Cooktop Is Hot?
It’s easy to see when a gas flame is lit, and electric coils glow orange, but induction isn’t as obvious.
Most importantly, if you turn on an induction cooktop and forget to put a pan on it, the cooktop surface won’t get hot. The burner only heats pans made of ferrous metals (i.e., containing iron).
The induction range might display an error code, signaling that no pan is detected. Most induction cooktops also have some visual signal that the burners are on, usually a light on the cooking surface or control panel.
Does an Induction Cooktop Use More Energy?
No. In fact, most induction cooktops are significantly more energy-efficient than gas and electric cooktops.
According to Energy Star, the average induction range is almost three times as efficient as a gas stove! Induction is 5-10% more energy-efficient than electric.
If you want a cooktop that will save you money on your electric or gas bill, you can’t beat induction.
Do Induction Cooktops Scratch or Break Easily?
An induction surface consists of smooth ceramic glass. It looks sleek and has a low profile, making induction cooktops an attractive option.
However, the smooth glass surface is susceptible to scratching. Cast iron is notorious for scratching ceramic surfaces, so you should use caution.
Never drag a pan across an induction range. Instead, lift the pan and set it down gently. After use, I recommend cleaning the hobs with a soft, damp cloth.
Be sure to turn off the burners before cleaning. If you notice scratching, you can purchase a scratch remover product or specialized glass cleaner.
While induction cooktops are quite sturdy, it’s possible to break the smooth top. If you drop a cast iron pan on the stove, it can break. Also, if you thump a pot or a pan too hard, it can break.
You can protect the smooth top by placing paper towels, newspapers, or silicone mats on the induction surface.
Avoid placing hot lids on the cooking surface, and never perform cutting tasks on top of an induction range.
Is an Induction Cooktop Worth It?
That depends on your budget and cooking goals. Most people don’t have the budget to buy a new stovetop on impulse, so you’ll want to list out your top priorities in a range.
If you want something simple to use, a gas cooktop is tough to beat. Simply turn on the unit and let the natural gas flame do its thing.
If your top priority is efficiency, you might consider induction. For climate change warriors, an induction stove will be more environmentally friendly than a gas burner.
Want to save time in the kitchen? You’ll want an induction stove. However, both induction cooking and gas cooking are faster than a standard electric cooktop.
Which Is More Efficient: An Induction or a Gas Cooktop?
When it comes to efficiency, induction cooktops far outpace gas cooktops.
With gas and electric ranges, a lot of energy is lost to the air around the pots and pans. With induction, only the cookware heats, which ultimately translates to less electricity and more direct heating.
Induction stoves have been awarded the ETA award, an honor bestowed on products that lower emissions.
Is a Gas Stove Cheaper Than Induction?
In general, gas ranges are less expensive than induction ranges. Of course, the exact cost varies by brand. Extra features will add additional cost, as well. It’s easy to compare prices via online retailers.
You also have to consider your energy bill. In many cases, natural gas is cheaper than electricity, so the cost depends on a lot of factors.
If you’re looking for an affordable cooktop surface, a gas stove would be your best bet.
Learn more about maintaining and cleaning your gas stove.
What Is an Infrared Cooktop?
An infrared cooktop uses halogen lamps and metal coils that generate heat. The infrared radiation transfers the heat to the pot, which allows you to cook food on it.
Even though this type of heat uses radiation, the levels present in infrared cooktops are minimal. It’s similar to how a microwave oven works.
This type of stove isn’t as popular as induction and gas cooktops, but it’s slowly becoming more common.
Which Is Better, Radiant or Induction Cooktops?
A radiant cooktop uses radiant heat to cook food. Radiant stoves give off heat in all directions. They produce ultra-high heat that cooks food quickly. Radiant stoves are available as gas or electric models.
For a quick breakdown of induction vs. infrared radiant cooktops, watch the video below:
If safety is your top priority, I recommend an induction range over a radiant cooktop. If even heating is most important to you, you might consider a radiant cooktop.
Induction vs. Gas: The Final Word
Induction cooktops are safer, heat up faster, and are more energy-efficient. But they require compatible cookware, create a buzzing sound, and are more expensive. Gas cooktops are more durable, simpler to use, work with all cookware, and are less expensive.
Whether you choose an induction or gas stove, you can rest assured they’ll cook food quickly and beautifully.
Looking for the best portable induction cooktop? Check out my article on the best portable induction cooktops, so you can cook anywhere with an electrical outlet.