With so much conflicting information, what is induction cookware?
Simply put, induction cookware is pots and pans that are compatible with induction stoves.
Induction cooktops are increasingly popular as they’re both elegant and efficient. However, they need specific cookware to keep the surface pristine and undamaged.
You’re in luck, I’ve gathered all the information you need to know.
What Are Induction Pans?
So, how do you know if cookware is compatible with an induction stove?
There are two definitive methods…
The Magnet Test
If you aren’t sure whether your existing cookware is induction-compatible, place a magnet on the pot’s underside. If it stays on, you’re good to go! If it drops, your cookware isn’t magnetic and won’t work with an induction cooktop.
Induction Cookware Symbol
Induction cookware comes with its unique symbol on the packaging or engraved at the bottom of the pot. Although its design can slightly vary from one brand to another, it features several elongated loops.
What Makes Cookware Induction-Compatible?
Are you wondering what kind of utensils can be used on induction? You’ll need to consider both the materials used and the bottom surface.
The type of cookware material is the primordial element to take into account. To be induction-compatible, at least one of the metal components should be magnetic.
Typically, two or three layers of various metals make most induction-compatible pans. The combination provides durability, optimum heat transfer and magnetic properties.
Do Stainless Steel Pots Work on Induction Cooktops?
In short, it depends. On the one hand, steel, which contains iron, can be the best material for induction cookware. On the other hand, it also comes in various grades, carrying different properties.
In normal stainless steel the high nickel content can disrupt the magnetic properties of the steel. So, strangely, some stainless steel cookware may not be induction compatible.
Ferritic stainless steel—304 (18/0), 409, 439, and 430—is the best type for induction cookware. It’s durable, resists corrosion, and comes with strong magnetic properties.
I’d recommend going for nickel free stainless steel. It helps reduce the likelihood of nickel sensitivity in the future and is more likely to be induction compatible.
One solution cookware manufacturers often employ is to include a (ferritic) stainless steel plate or disc inside their cookware. This can make any cookware induction compatible. And since modern cookware tends to have layers anyway – why not add another one?
So the best bet is always to check if the cookware states whether it is induction compatible or not.
Does Cast Iron Cookware Work on Induction Stoves?
Technically speaking, cast iron is magnetic, and therefore, induction-compatible.
Even so, keep in mind that cast iron is heavy and comes with a sandy texture. You’d have to handle the pot with care to avoid scratching a delicate glass top surface.
For this reason, it’s best to use an enamel-coated cast iron pan to prevent damage.
Tip: If using cast iron on an induction stove, consider using a sheet of baking paper, or parchment paper between the stove and the cookware. Just make sure the paper you use can take the heat!
They aren’t magnetic and, therefore not induction-compatible.
You can find induction compatible versions of all these cookware materials though, manufacturers simply add a ferritic stainless steel disc to the bottom. Check out my guide to ceramic induction cookware for example.
After considering the material, the pan’s underside should be:
- Flat with a long diameter: These features allow maximum contact between the cooktop and the pot. This permits faster and more efficient cooking
- Heavy bottom: This characteristic facilitates heat transfer. Just make sure you can lift the pot without dragging it over the surface
- Polished: To prevent scratches and chips, a smooth surface and round edges should keep your cooktop pristine
Is Induction suitable for everything?
Induction stoves are safe and efficient–they are likely the future of cooking. Yet there is some cooking that they may not be suited to.
When I reviewed induction woks, one thing that struck me is that you probably wouldn’t be tossing the wok. Why? Well the wok would lose all heat from the stove, and the stove would probably switch off.
It’s similar for a pancake griddle: If you are using a turner to flip your pancakes–induction woks work fine. But forget about flipping pancakes.
What Are Induction Stoves?
Now you’re all clued-up about induction cookware, let’s complete the puzzle with induction stoves.
Induction stoves have a flat appearance and often come with a glass-ceramic surface. From afar, it can be challenging to differentiate an electric cooktop from an induction stove. Yet, if you have a closer look, they’re significantly different.
How Do They Work?
Regular stoves require heat to warm the surface, transferring it to your cookware. For instance, gas cooktops use flames to increase temperature. Electric stoves include a coil, located underneath the glass stovetop. As you turn it on and the temperature rises, a red circle appears.
In contrast, induction stoves also come with a coil underneath the cooktop surface, but they have a unique mechanism.
Instead of creating heat, they emit a magnetic field that transfers energy to the pan. This energy is turned to heat directly in the pan, without the stove itself needing to heat up.
Does it sound like magic? Well, it’s actually very similar to the way wireless chargers work. A wireless charger creates an alternating magnetic field that your phone captures and turns into electricity.
An induction stove does exactly the same, except the cookware turns the electric currents that result from the magnetic field into heat instead of battery charged.
WARNING: Although induction stoves use the same technology as wireless chargers (and other devices), they are NOT cross compatible. There are different levels of power involved, as well as control systems and feedback. Don’t mix and match and never use an electronic device outside of it’s intended purpose. Induction stoves should only be used to heat induction compatible cookware.
Pros and Cons of an Induction Stove
Induction Stove Pros
Induction stoves come with many benefits:
- Save energy
- Control over temperature
- Modern look
- Simple to clean
Since induction stoves don’t create heat, the burner remains chill, reducing the risk of burns. This can be helpful if you have a little one with wandering hands at home.
Plus, as you remove the magnetic pot from the surface, the heat stops. If you’ve already forgotten to turn off the stove when leaving the house, this feature might be a significant advantage.
Induction burners also don’t naturally generate the red glow of electric cooktops. For added safety, many brands have added artificial flames and lights as indicators that the stove is on.
Induction burners tend to heat faster than regular stoves. Although first-time users tend to overcook their first meal, it should reduce your cooking time.
If you have doubts about their efficacy, even professional cooks use induction stoves.
If you’re worried about your electricity bill, this type of cooktop can save energy compared to regular ones. The coil heats the pan directly, without warming up the surrounding air.
Besides, this means that an induction stove won’t raise the room temperature as much as others. This can come in handy on hot summer days!
Control Over Temperature
While electric stoves can take time to heat and cool down, induction ones are faster, providing better temperature control.
Although induction stoves look similar to electric ones, they’re much sleeker than gas stoves.
Many also usually include high-tech features such as a touch-screen, digital timer and auto-pan detection.
Simple to Clean
A flat surface is much easier to wash off than a gas stove with hidden corners and pieces to remove.
In addition, an induction plate cools down faster than an electric one. You can then clean spills before they stick to the surface.
Induction Stove Cons
While induction stoves sound awesome, there are a few elements to be aware of:
- More expensive
- May not work with digital thermometers
- Require compatible cookware
Although prices have gradually decreased as the technology aged and supply has increased, they remain one of the most expensive cooktops.
Induction stoves tend to make a louder sound than regular ones, especially in the highest settings.
However, the highest-quality models remain reasonably quiet.
May Not Work With Digital Thermometers
If you’re accustomed to using a digital thermometer for cooking meat, you may need to use a manual one. This is to avoid the thermometer being affected by the stove’s magnetic field.
Require Compatible Cookware
Not all pots will work on an induction stove, and you might need to invest in new magnetic cookware. With this in mind, if you’re attached to your existing pans, just use an adapter plate underneath. Beware that an adaptor plate reduces efficiency since it adds an extra step to the heating process.
Other Induction Cooking
Induction cookware and stoves is not the only use of the induction for cooking. Some of the best modern rice cookers are powered by induction heating. This means that heat is transmitted directly from an induction power source to the inner pot.
Again, it’s more efficient and safer.
If you’ve ever asked yourself what is induction cookware, you’re now armed with everything you need to know. While some pans are suitable for all types of stoves, not all equipment is suitable for induction.
Make sure that your cookware is made from a magnetic metal, such as stainless steel. Also, the addition of aluminum or copper should help increase heat transfer.
On top of this, a flat and large bottom should increase the contact surface with the magnetic field. Plus, a polished model with round edges should keep your cooktop unscratched.
If you’re looking for a quick visual way to spot induction cookware, look for its symbol on the packaging.
Or check out my guide to induction cookware.