Induction cooktops are great in more ways than one. It is no wonder that chefs and kitchen geniuses rave about them. However, you can’t use every cookware with them. So, if you recently acquired an induction cooktop and you’re wondering if you can use your pans or if you have to buy some new ones too, then you don’t have to worry. We’ll answer that today.
How Does An Induction Cooktop Work?
Before we start, let’s briefly discuss how induction cooktops work and why you can’t just use any pans with them.
You might have heard someone tell you that cooking and baking are a little like science. Well, the induction stove might be a great example of why that is.
Induction cooktops are not as straightforward as the others. They work by exciting iron molecules in a pan. If the cookware doesn’t have any iron, there would be no atoms to excite, and that’s why not just any pan could work with them. In other words, you need pans with iron in them. Otherwise, this process won’t start, and no heating could happen.
We now know how induction cooking works. Now, let’s get to know the pans.
As you might have expected, cast-iron pans are on the list! From the name itself, cast-irons are one of the top choices for induction cooktops because they have a great deal of iron in them.
However, cast-iron pans do have their downside. First, they heat up and cool down slowly. If your dish needs fast temperature changes, cast-iron might not be your best bet. Additionally, they could also be heavy and rough, which could both be hazards to keeping your induction cooktops looking their best.
2. Carbon Steel
A carbon steel pan is another choice you might want to consider. It heats up and cools down much faster compared to cast-iron pans. Additionally, it is also lighter.
However, when we’re talking about carbon steel pans, we’re usually talking about woks. However, using a wok might not be a good idea – at least at first – as the shape of this pan is not the best for induction cooking. We will talk more about this matter later.
3. Stainless Steel
Finally, let’s talk about stainless steel pans. As you might already know, stainless steel pans come in all shapes and sizes. You won’t have a hard time finding a good one for your induction top in this area.
However, stainless steel pans are one of the more confusing options. That is because not all stainless steel pans have enough iron in them to qualify as an induction-compatible pan.
So, now, you might be wondering how you would know which of your stainless steel you could use on your induction hob. Well, we’ve got something that might help you with that, and we’ll get to that in a bit.
Before we go ahead and talk about the magnet test, let’s talk about the other pans you can use.
By now, you may have noticed that there are only three points on the list. However, you don’t have to worry. You don’t have to limit yourself to these pans.
You could most probably still use other kinds of pans. If you prefer your aluminum and copper pans, hope is not lost yet. You could use these pans with the help of a heat diffuser (which we will talk about later). On the other hand, you could also get aluminum and copper pans that have been innovated to be used for induction cooktops.
With that, it might be a good time to remind that if you use or buy a plain pan that does not have any iron (e.g., glass), it will not work. If you want pans that do not originally have iron in them, you have to look for an induction-compatible one. It will probably still be mostly made of your preferred material, but it will have some iron content. That is so it could trigger the mechanisms of an induction hob.
The Magnet Test
The magnet test is no rocket science, and it’s quite straightforward. As you might have guessed from the name, you would need a magnet for this test.
All you want to do is check if the magnet would cling to the bottom of your pan. If it does, well, you might be happy to know that you have an induction-compatible pan on your hands.
However, allow us to emphasize that the magnet needs to cling to the bottom of the pan. If you’ve ever played with magnets, you might have noticed that they sometimes weakly stick to some things. You don’t want that. The pan might heat up on your induction hob, but it would probably not function optimally.
The magnet test is one way to tell if you are holding induction-compatible cookware. However, you may not even have to do that!
Induction cooktops have gotten some attention throughout the years. Not every house might be using an induction stove, but they’ve become quite popular with some. With that, some manufacturers have made things a little easier for induction stove owners by indicating if their pan is induction-compatible. You might be able to find an induction-compatible symbol on your pan. If not, you can also check the packaging
It is important to note that not all manufacturers have made it a point to indicate this feature. So, if you have your eye on a pan and you don’t see any induction-compatible symbol or sign, don’t tick the pan off of your list just yet. You might want to check its materials. And hey! If you’re going to the store, you may even want to bring a magnet, you know, to be sure!
Is an Induction Cooktop Worth It?
With that, you might find that switching to an induction top could be a little stressful, and you might be wondering if it’s worth all the trouble. Well, we think so! Here’s why.
It is one of the most energy-efficient cooking technologies. Additionally, you can also say that it is safer than many other cooktops as you don’t get open flame with this one.
It might be good to note that you could still get burned with an induction stove. However, it seems less likely that it could start a fire.
If that is not enough, it is also said that it is one of the easier to clean cooktops.
We don’t know about you, but we think those are very good reasons to consider an induction cooktop!
Buying Induction Cookware
Want to buy some pans for your induction hob? Well, you might want to take note of these things.
Earlier, we mentioned it might not be best to get a wok because of its shape. You want to get a pan with a flat and wide bottom with an induction hob.
As you might have already known, an induction cooktop would heat your pan instead of the cooktop surface. With that, opting for pans that don’t have a flat bottom might prove to be a little challenging. It could probably still work, but it might take some time and effort to get the hang of doing it with ease.
Next, you also want to consider the width of the bottom of your pan.
You might think it would be best to get a pan that is smaller in diameter than the hob. You might think, this way, the pan would heat up better. However, that isn’t exactly true. Using a pan with a smaller diameter would create a weaker magnetic field, therefore, producing less heat.
Don’t want to buy new pans? Well, we might have the thing for you.
A heat diffuser allows you to use pans that are not induction-compatible. All you have to do is place it between the hob and your pan of choice. That should heat your pan. However, take note that this accessory might not always work that well.
If you have many pans that are not induction-compatible, then you might want to consider this accessory instead of buying new pans. Additionally, it’s a good option if your favorite pan is not induction-compatible and you don’t want to let it go!
Before letting you go, let’s talk a little about power levels. As you might have already seen, induction cooktops are different from other cooking technologies. Make sure you take some time to learn how its power levels work before cooking a dish.
Are you still checking all your pans, wondering what pans work with induction? Well, we hope not!
Induction cooktops are great, but you can maximize their potential by picking good pans to use with them. You might have to try out some new pans in the process, but we think it will be worth it!
If you have any other kitchen questions, you might want to try visiting our past discussions. You might find what you are looking for there!
Michael Johnson is the founder of Pan Mastery, Inspired by his blacksmith grandfather’s legacy has a deep appreciation for hand-crafted pots and pans, he provides invaluable guides, reviews, and recipes to enhance your culinary journey.