Are you planning to splurge on new cookware sets for your induction cooktop? Or are you looking for ways to use your old cookware on your new induction stove?
Either way, you have one question in mind: “How will I know if a cookware is compatible with my induction cooktop?”
Great! You have an informative read ahead of you.
In this article, we will explore the qualities of induction-ready cookware, the things to consider when reusing old pans on induction stovetops, and the most reliable induction-ready cookware brands available on the market today.
Do you need special cookware for induction cooktop?
Are you considering buying an induction stove top but don’t want to buy an entirely new set of cookware yet?
You might still be hoping that maybe, just maybe, some of your current pans and pots will work on your induction. Do you really need special cookware for an induction burner?
Well, yes, you need special cookware for induction cooktops. Induction cooking offers several valuable benefits. Unfortunately, not all kinds of cookware work on induction.
But, in the name of saving money, we are hoping that maybe, just maybe, you currently own cookware with qualities similar to induction-ready pans.
Before everything else, let us briefly recall how induction cooking works.
Induction cooktops do not release heat, unlike electric cooktops and gas stoves. Instead, the copper coils beneath their surface create an electromagnetic field that heats up only the magnetic objects within its scope.
Given that information, it follows that only magnetic pans can interact with the cooktop’s electromagnetic field.
Aside from being magnetic, how else can you tell if your cookware can work on an induction cooktop?
How to tell if your cookware will work with induction
Induction stoves create heat by exciting the iron molecules in cookware via electromagnetism. So, your cookware has to have enough iron particles to generate enough heat.
It follows that magnetic cookware is rich in iron particles. Thus, one good practice when testing whether cookware is compatible with your new induction hob is to try to stick a magnet at its bottom — the part that touches the cooktop’s surface.
The stronger the magnetic attraction, the more appropriate it is for induction cooking.
However, this trick is not guaranteed to work all the time. Some cookware is so rich in nickel that it can attract a magnet. Unfortunately, even if this nickel-rich cookware can attract magnets, they do not work on induction.
One fool-proof way to know if cookware can work on induction is to check if it is induction-ready. Most induction-ready cookware has an induction pan symbol on its underside.
The symbol for induction cookware looks like a coil of wire with four loops. This symbol is often accompanied by the word “induction” in capital letters, either beside it or below it.
The wire on the induction-ready symbol represents the copper wires beneath the glass-ceramic surface of an induction hob.
These copper wires, together with a few voltages of electricity, are necessary to generate the electromagnetic field that heats up the induction-compatible cookware.
What does induction ready mean on a pan?
If a pan has a symbol that says it is induction-ready, then it simply means that it can most definitely work on induction cooktops.
But, the more helpful question to answer is: what makes a pan induction ready?
What makes a pan induction ready?
First, induction-ready pans are probably ferrous, which means they contain iron.
The more iron atoms there are, the easier it will be for the pan to interact with the induction cooktop’s electromagnetic field and the quicker it will heat up.
Second, induction-ready pans have flat bottoms.
It is important to use magnetic pans with flat bases because the cooking zones on induction hobs can be pretty sensitive. Again, induction cooktops work solely through electromagnetism.
If the bottom of your pan is uneven, chances are that the electromagnetic field will not fully detect your pan. It will not interact with your pan, the iron molecules on the pan will not get excited, and your pan will not heat up.
In the best-case scenario that your induction cooktop detects your uneven-bottomed pan, then be ready for some minor problems.
Sometimes, pans with uneven bases vibrate too much on the induction surface while cooking. This can scratch or break the glass surface of your induction hob, which, in case you don’t know, is very expensive to repair.
Also, uneven bases can result in uneven distribution of heat; hence, uneven cooking. If you risk using a pan with an uneven bottom, then be prepared to eat a half-cooked dish.
In summary, induction-ready pans have two qualities: they must contain enough amounts of iron and must have a flat base.
Cast iron pans are the most commonly used pans on induction hobs since they are made from 100% iron and heat up quickly.
The downside is that cast iron pans are not responsive to temperature changes since they cool down very slowly. Also, they are very heavy — not really ideal to use on glass cooktops if you are clumsy.
Induction-ready pans do not necessarily have to be 100% iron from top to bottom. Some induction-ready pans have a ferrous base but are non-ferrous everywhere else. One example would be non-stick pans with magnetic bases.
These kinds of pans are lighter than pans made from 100% iron. Also, they are non-stick, which is a luxury that other induction-ready pans could not offer.
Another alternative is cookware made from carbon steel. They are lighter and more responsive to temperature changes than cast iron cookware.
Stainless steel also works on induction hobs. You might be excited because you probably own a few stainless steel cookware. But, not all stainless steel cookware performs equally well on an induction hob.
Cookware with aluminum or copper sandwiched between layers of stainless steel work better than cookware that is purely made of stainless steel. These kinds of cookware are called aluminum-clad or copper-clad, depending on what material is at its core.
Copper and aluminum are good conductors of heat, but they do not work on induction hobs because they are not magnetic. So, they need something magnetic on the outside, like stainless steel, to interact with the electromagnetic field and heat them up through conduction.
These induction-ready pans may be a little bit pricey, but they are a good investment. If you want your induction hob to last longer, then use the right cookware.
What pots don’t work on induction?
Now we know what pans work on induction but sure, let us further narrow down your options by identifying which pans do not work on induction.
Obviously, non-magnetic pans cannot be detected by the electromagnetic field.
Materials such as glass, aluminum, and silicon will never work on an induction hob unless they have a flat, magnetic base layer.
As mentioned earlier, cookware rich in nickel or chromium, although it can be magnetic, will not heat up on an induction hob.
How do I know if my cookware is ceramic or induction?
Ceramic and induction hobs are similar in appearance but not in technology. Ceramic hobs transfer heat directly from the electric coils underneath its surface to the cooktop surface, then to the cookware.
Hence, ceramic hobs work best with cookware made from materials that can conduct heat, like stainless steel, aluminum, copper, and iron. Meanwhile, glass, stone, and ceramic pans do not conduct heat easily, so avoid using them on ceramic hobs.
Briefly, ceramic hobs do not require magnetic materials for them to work, while induction hobs are the opposite.
What cookware is induction compatible?
Since induction cooking has been gaining popularity, induction-compatible cookware has become more common in the market.
Some household brands you may want to consider are All-Clad, Le Creuset, Demeyere, Cuisinart, Calphalon, and Tramontina.
These brands have their own strengths and weaknesses, which we can discuss in-depth in a separate article.
What we need to remember, though, is that these brands vary in the materials they use to make induction-ready cookware.
Most commonly, they offer aluminum-clad cookware. Some brands have cast iron and enameled cast iron cookware, while others offer non-stick pans with magnetic bottoms.
Each brand can offer different sets of induction-ready cookware made from other induction-friendly materials. So, at the end of the day, the materials used to make the cookware should weigh heavier than its brand name.
Finding the perfect match takes time
If you are on a budget, you can use your old pans on your new induction hob for as long as they meet the qualifications mentioned earlier.
If you plan to buy a new set of induction-ready cookware, figure out which induction-friendly materials you prefer to cook with in the long term.
Also, do not be afraid to try various types of induction-ready cookware to know which ones suit you and your cooking habits best.
It will take time, money, and effort, but once you find the perfect cookware to match your induction cooktop, all will be worth it.