Induction cooking is different from cooking with a gas or electric stove, and only certain types of pans will work on an induction stove. If you own an induction cooktop, what you cook with it is as important as how you cook it. The good news is that there’s a chance that you don’t need to buy special induction cookware.
So, how do you know if cookware is compatible? There are a few ways to make sure that you’re buying the right cookware and check if your current pots and pans will work.
What is Induction Cooking?
Induction cooking is a way of cooking that uses electric currents to directly heat pots and pans through magnetic induction. Instead of using thermal induction from a flame or an electrical heating element, induction heats the cooking vessel itself almost instantly. The cooking vessel must contain or be made of ferromagnetic metal like stainless steel or cast iron. The heat will be coming from within the pan, making this cooking method more efficient, so you need to ensure that pans are suitable for use on an induction hob. The surface of the induction cooker stays cooler, so you can start cleaning immediately after you’re done cooking. To learn more about how induction cookers differ from other kinds of stoves, read here.
Many home cooks have switched to induction cooking because it’s more energy-efficient than gas or electric stovetops. Also, food heats more efficiently, and the cooktop becomes more responsive to changes in temperature. And since the cooking surface stays cool, it prevents burns and other cooking-related accidents.
Types of Cookware Suitable for Induction Cooking
Your cookware must contain steel or magnetic iron for it to work on an induction cooktop. Follow this guide for the most common compatible materials:
1. Cast Iron
Thanks to their all-iron composition, cast iron pots and pans contain the magnetic quality that induction stoves need. When seasoned properly, they can serve as non-stick pots and pans. However, it isn’t ideal for cooking that needs fast temperature changes, as it is slow to heat and cool. Also, it’s best to avoid cast iron pots and pans with a rough surface to prevent your cooktop from getting scratched.
Enameled cast iron cookware also works great with induction cooktops, thanks to their non-stick surfaces and reliable heating.
2. Stainless steel
Stainless steel pots and pans are an excellent choice for induction cooking. Those with aluminum and copper cores put between the interior and exterior layers of steel conduct heat better than stainless steel alone. Make sure to choose only superior-quality copper and aluminum-clad cookware, as low-quality cookware may produce a buzzing sound due to different speeds in vibration. Pans with five-ply construction can distribute heat more evenly to all parts of the pan. Also, pots and pans with a stainless steel and aluminum layer on the bottom are a smart choice.
It’s best to go with the best quality pan you can afford. The best ones suitable for use with an induction cooker can be expensive, but their high-quality performance and durability can help you save money in the long run.
3. Porcelain enamel
Strong and durable, porcelain enamel cookware works on an induction cooktop as long as the base material is made of magnetic metal. Before using this type of cookware for an induction cooker, apply a ceramic cooktop cleaning cream to the surface to protect it from scratches and make it easier to clean.
4. Non-stick pots and pans
The interiors of non-stick pans are made of die-cast aluminum with a magnetized base for easy heat travel in an induction stove. Look for pans that are lead and cadmium-free.
5. Carbon steel
Carbon steel is a lighter alternative to cast iron. It can heat up faster and is more responsive to temperature changes because of its lighter material.
Cookware that won’t work with induction cookers includes aluminum, all-copper, or glass pots and pans. Unless they have a magnetic bottom layer, they will not allow you to cook on an induction stovetop. Today, many manufacturers have started adding a magnetic layer to the bottom of these pans, but non-magnetic, older cookware simply will not work.
How to Choose an Induction Cookware
The best induction cookware is most likely the one you already own. Beyond needing to ensure any cookware is ready for induction cooking, consider these tips when looking for induction-ready cookware:
1. Do the magnet test.
Induction cooktops use copper coils to directly generate heat from electric currents to the pots or pans. For this to work, the bottom of your cookware needs to have a flat, magnetic bottom. Hold a magnet to the bottom to tell if it’s compatible with an induction stove. The cookware will work well on an induction cooktop if the magnet clings to it. If it grabs the pot only softly, it may not cook well with an induction stove. But if there is no pull on the magnet, it will not generate heat and therefore won’t work.
If you have an induction cooker and your favorite cookware doesn’t pass the magnet test, you might still be able to use it. Products like induction hob heat diffusers can be used. You only need to place it on top of the stove and under the pan, and the heating reaction will do the work.
2. Choose wide, flat-bottomed pots and pans.
Since induction warms the pot and not the cooktop surface, it’s best to choose pots and pans with wide, flat bottoms to help it distribute heat more easily. Check for flatness by rotating a ruler across the cookware’s bottom.
3. As much as possible, use sturdier lids.
Induction cooking can involve some vibration, which is normal. To keep lids on and to make cooking quieter at high power, choose heavier, sturdier lids. Durable handles can also help you manage any vibration and reduce noise.