Induction cooking is very different from conventional gas or electric cooking and only certain types of pans will work on an induction cooktop or burner. So, how do you know if your cookware is compatible?
There are a few ways to make sure you're buying the right cookware and determine if your current pots and pans will work. There is even a way to make non-compatible pans work on your induction stove.
Science of Induction Cooking
Induction cooking works by creating a magnetic field between the pot and the magnetic coils beneath the cooking surface. The energy created in the electromagnetic field heats the contents of the pot. Many home cooks prefer induction cooking because:
- It is more energy-efficient than gas or electric cooktops.
- Foods heat more quickly.
- The cooking surface stays cool so it can be safer.
- The cooktop is more responsive to changes in temperature control.
In order for cookware to perform on induction cooktops (or a portable induction burner such as those from Fagor), it must contain ferromagnetic materials: Either it contains iron or has a layer with magnetic properties.
Cast iron, enameled cast iron, and many types of stainless-steel cookware are all induction compatible. There are exceptions, though. For instance, All-Clad's MC2 line, which is made of aluminum and stainless steel, is not induction compatible. Stainless steel poses the most confusion because it can be made with a great variety of metals; a high nickel content will block the magnetic field.
Aluminum, all-copper, or glass cookware will not work unless they have a layer on the bottom with magnetic properties. Many manufacturers have started adding a magnetic layer to the bottom of these pans, but older, non-magnetic pans simply will not work. Aluminum and copper require much higher frequencies to generate the heat needed to cook food.
Testing for Compatibility
To tell if a pot or pan is compatible with your induction stove, hold a magnet to the bottom.
- If the magnet clings to the underside, the cookware will work on an induction cooktop.
- If the magnet grabs the pan softly, you may not have good success with it on your cooktop.
- If there is no pull on the magnet, it doesn't contain the right metals and will not generate heat.
Note: Many manufacturers have started putting an "induction compatible" symbol on the bottom of their cookware or note compatibility on the packaging. The symbol often looks like a horizontal zig-zag or a coil.
If you have an induction cooktop, but a favorite piece of cookware doesn't work on it, you might still be able to use it. Products like the Mauviel Induction Disc can be placed on the cooktop under the pan; the heating reaction will then heat the contents of the pan.