Last updated July 18 2018
Whether you’re preparing a nice family dinner or getting ready for a holiday feast, the quality of your food is only as good as the cookware you use. Even the most skilled chef can have a dish completely ruined if the pots and pans they use are subpar. Food can cook unevenly, burn, or worse, have bits of the pan in the food itself. There’s nothing more unappealing than eating something and picking out bits of non-stick coating!
One of the most versatile types of cookware that you can have in your home is induction cookware. Before we dive into detail about induction cookware, we’ll go through induction cooking and where it’s gaining in popularity.
What Is Induction Cooking?
Induction cooking is a method of cooking where the pot or pan is heated by using magnetic induction instead of a heat source like the flame from a gas stove or an electrical heating element. The inductive cooking heats the cookware directly, allowing you to increase the heat rapidly.
Induction cooking is one of those technological breakthroughs that’s made a cook’s life a little easier. The technology was first introduced at the World Fair in Chicago way back in 1933. It wasn’t until 1970 when modern iterations of induction cooking began and was held at the R&D Center of Westinghouse Electric Corporation in the US.
Through innovative advances, the modern induction cooktop was developed and we saw the first single stand-alone burner range called the Cool Top Induction Range. Ever since then, Westinghouse has been developing and improving their induction cooktop and other top of the line cookware.
What’s interesting is NASA developed an induction cooker that was used in the space program. There were more cookers developed for people in the US, but initially Americans were reluctant to use them because they said the cookers weren’t reliable and they had a tendency to be noisy at the time. While induction cooking didn’t take off in the US at first, it continued to grow and evolve in Asia and Europe.
How Does Induction Cooking Work?
An induction cooktop (sometimes called an induction “hob” in Europe) is basically an electromagnet that you can cook your food with. Inside the glass cooktop, there’s a coil of metal that’s controlled electronically. When the power is turned on, a current is sent through the coil and it produces a magnetic field around the coil and directly above it.
With a simple direct electrical current, it flows in a single direction. This creates a consistent magnetic field. According to one of the laws of electromagnetism, fluctuating magnetism is created only by an electrical current that is always changing.
This means that the cooktop is using an alternating current to create the fluctuating magnetic field that creates an indirect heat.
Induction cookware is essential when cooking on an induction cooktop because it has a “ferrous” metal bottom. This means it’s able to sustain a magnetic field and an example of this is iron or stainless steel. If you have just aluminum, copper, or pyrex cookware, you cannot use it on an induction cookware.
Why Induction Cooking Is Better Than Traditional Cooking
Some people, until they experience induction cooking, would rather stick to cooking on the typical range, be it gas or electric. This is only because they aren’t aware of the benefits of cooking on an induction cooktop and it’s different. Let’s take a look at the benefits of induction cooking.
1. No Heat is Wasted with Induction
2. Induction Cooktop Safety
Adaptability And Ease Of Installation
Even though gas cooktops are very close in comparison to induction, not everyone has (or wants) to have a gas line in their home. On top of that, the only gas that some people have access to is just propane, which requires a large propane tank that can be an eyesore.
Induction cooktops can be plugged right into the wall.
When you use gas, the byproducts of that fuel vaporizes and it eventually condenses on the surfaces near the cooktop. When you cook with electricity, you eliminate those byproducts.
Best Cookware for Induction
You might be wondering why you need induction cookware. Induction cookware is designed to be induction-capable. This means that the pots and pans have a magnetic bottom.
If you want to know if your current pots and pans are induction-compatible, you can test them by putting a magnet on the underside. If the magnet sticks, then you’re good to go.
What Materials Are Used For Induction Cookware?
Induction cookware should have flat, smooth bottoms because the pan needs to align completely with the cooktop, otherwise it won’t heat up properly. A rough bottomed pan will cause the surface of your cooktop to become scratched, which can be costly to fix.
So, what kind of materials should your induction cookware be made from? You have these choices:
Can induction cookware be used on other cooktops?
People often wonder if they spend a lot of money on induction cookware will they be able to use the cookware on other types of cooktops. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on cookware if it can only be used on one type of cooktop. The answer to this is YES.
Induction cookware is extremely versatile because it can be used on any kind of cooking surface without damaging the magnetization.
How to Care For Induction Cookware
Purchasing induction cookware is an investment, especially if you want to get a complete set. (We’ll talk more about the components of a complete set shortly). To make sure your pots and pans remain in good condition, you’ll need to clean them properly.
Some sets can be put into the dishwasher, which is always a great convenience. However you should make sure your set states that it’s dishwasher safe before putting it in there.
For cookware that’s not dishwasher safe, you’ll need to follow these tips for general cleaning.
Cleaning the interior and exterior:
You might be wondering why you would want to put cooking oil back onto the pan after you’ve just cleaned it. By doing this you are seasoning the pan so that it will perform at its best.
How to season your cast iron cookware:
Caring for your cast iron is a little more involved than other induction cookware because it can rust easily. If your pan does have a few rust spots, you an use a “rust eraser” that you can buy in hardware shops, bike shops, or even wood-working shops.
After removing the rust, clean the pan with a stiff brush or a plastic scrubbing pad. Scrub the pan under running water while it’s still relatively warm.
Tip: You can use kosher salt to scrub the pan, or a mild dish soap. After completed, re-season the pan following the steps above.
It’s important to note that you should never marinate your food in the cast iron, especially important if you’re using an acidic mixture because the acid will ruin the seasoning. The means your food will stick and you’ll have to re-season the pan.
What Should Every Induction Cookware Include?
When you’re shopping for an induction cookware set, what should it include? It really depends on what you’re looking for and how man people you cook for. If you’re only going to be cooking for a small group, you’ll just need the basics:
- 10 inch skillet
- 10 inch sauté pan with lid
- 2 quart sauce pan with lid
- 4 quart sauce pan with lid
- 3 quart covered casserole
If you like to entertain we suggest you consider a set with the different sized pans as well as looking for a set that has additional pieces such as:
- A large stock pot
- a steamer basket
- a boiler basket
- matching utensils
Every great chef knows that when you want to make delicious meals, your food is only as good as your cookware. There’s nothing worse than trying to create a delicious dish only to pluck out burnt bits of food because the pan had hot spots.
With induction cooking and quality cookware you shouldn’t have to worry about hot spots in your pans, nor do you have to worry about your food cooking unevenly because induction cookware is designed to evenly distribute the heat throughout the pan.
When you make the decision to upgrade your kitchen to an induction cooktop, you’ll need to make sure the cookware you have is induction compatible. While there are many types of cookware that are good for induction cooking, there are a few materials that aren’t suitable.
If you don’t want to purchase a whole new set of cookware, you can purchase an induction cookware converter disk instead. This disk will allow you to cook with your cooktop without having to purchase an entire cookware set right away.
However if you don’t want to worry about accumulating more clutter in your kitchen (because you’ll need one of these converter disks for each size pan you have), you can check out our reviews to see 5 examples of some of the best induction cookware that’s currently on the market. We’ve recommended the best cookware in a range of prices to suit different budgets.
In our buying guide, we’ve reviewed our recommended our top picks. We go over the features of the cookware sets and also give you a summary of what other people who are using the products have to say about their user experience.
We also provide a list of key features that you should look for when shopping for induction cookware. If you’re still unsure, or a little confused after going through these, we’ll give you our top 2 recommendations.
Our goal is to provide you with all the information you need to make an informed purchase, so you find the set that best meets your needs.