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Not all pots and pans are created equal: especially when it comes to induction cooking. Because induction cooktops work differently than gas and electric ranges, only certain cookware can be used on them. The fundamental feature of all induction compatible cookware is its magnetism.
In this article, we consider what types of cookware you can use with an induction cooktop. We’ll also introduce some unique products available for induction cooking.
When it comes to induction cooking, heat is the result of an electromagnet. A proper piece of magnetic cookware has to complete the electromagnet’s circuit in order for heating to occur. When the circuit is completed, the cooking vessel becomes hot and you’re able to get cooking.
All induction compatible cookware is ferrous or ferromagnetic, which means it contains iron. This it what makes the cookware magnetic and capable of functioning on an induction cooktop. If a cooking vessel is non-ferrous and non-magnetic, it won’t conduct the heat necessary to cook your food.
Cast iron and most stainless steel cooking vessels are magnetic, ferrous and induction compatible.
While a lot of newer induction cookware features a coiled symbol to show it will work on an induction cooktop, there is a simple way you can test to see if any vessel, marked or not, is induction compatible. Take a small magnet to a favorite cooking vessel or one you’re considering purchasing. If the magnet sticks, the pot or pan is magnetic and will be compatible with an induction cooktop. If the magnet doesn’t stick, the vessel won’t work by itself to complete the electromagnetic circuit or cook your food.
It can be fun to do some investigative work in your kitchen, testing to see which cookware is and isn’t ferrous and magnetic.
Glass, of course, won’t work on an induction cooktop since it isn’t magnetic. The magnet test also reveals that copper and copper bottom pots and pans won’t work with an induction cooktop. And, if you have a piece of cookware that looks like stainless steel, but isn’t magnetic, you’ve likely discovered you have an aluminum pot or pan.
It’s all in the name: cast iron contains iron and therefore is ferrous, magnetic, and induction cooktop compatible. This is true of both bare and enameled cast iron.
As with gas and electric ranges, thick cast iron will retain heat well on an induction cooktop but takes a while to get heated up. If you want to use bare cast iron, read about how to season and care for cast iron here
With cast iron making a comeback in recent years, there are many excellent and affordable options for induction cooking. Lodge’s versatile 10.5-inch griddle is wonderful for everything from tortillas to fried eggs. Le Creuset’s iconic enameled Dutch ovens and cookware sets are also made of cast iron and are completely induction compatible.
Iron is one of the primary components of stainless steel. Because of this, stainless steel cooking vessels are, for the most part, ferrous, magnetic and induction cooktop compatible.
As mentioned above, it’s important to check the manufacturer’s label to make sure a vessel is an induction compatible, or to perform the magnet test. Some cookware that looks like or is marketed as stainless steel has aluminum elements like aluminum bottoms or aluminum cores that won’t allow the induction cooktop’s electromagnetism to work.
Favorite stainless steel cookware includes All-Clad’s collections and Duxtop cookware, which is made specifically for induction surfaces.
Check out our guide: Stainless steel vs nonstick
here are plenty of non-stick cookware options on the market that are made specifically for induction cooktops. If you already have non-stick cookware, you’ll need to perform a magnet test before you can be certain a non-stick pan is induction compatible.
Because non-stick pans can be made of a variety of materials, including aluminum, some will not heat up on an induction surface.
If you want to purchase new non-stick cookware for an induction cooktop, The Good Housekeeping Institute recommends Beka’s Chef Eco-Logic Frying Pan which comes in two sizes. Beka also makes a ceramic non-stick fry pan that features a stainless base to allow for induction cooking.
While, for the most part, you can use “regular” cookware on an induction cooktop, there are some handy gadgets made particularly for induction cooking.
For example, if you have favorite pots and pans that aren’t magnetic, a number of companies make induction interface disks. These stainless steel discs can be put between an induction cooktop and a non-magnetic vessel so it can be cooked with safely and effectively as the disc conducts the electromagnetic heat.
French cookware company Mauviel manufactures a top of the line interface disk intended specifically for their signature line of copper cookware. More affordable options are made by VonShef
and Max Burton
All three interface disks are quite well rated by users, and one of them would be a good addition to any kitchen with an induction cooktop.
We would advise that you read the reviews before you buy to make sure that this is the correct induction interface disk