Induction cooking is very different from conventional gas or electric cooking. Due to the way that induction cooking works, only certain types of pans will work on an induction cooktop or burner. How do you know if your cookware is compatible?
There are a few tricks that you can use to make sure you're buying the right cookware and will determine if your current pots and pans will work. There is even a way to make non-compatible pans work on your induction stove. But first, let's look at what makes induction cooking different from other stoves.
How Does Induction Cookware Work?
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 the 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. In other words, it contains iron or has a layer with magnetic properties.
Types of Cookware That Work (And Don't) With Induction
Cast iron, enamel 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. It depends on how much nickel is used in making the cookware because nickel 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 are beginning to add a 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. This is simply not built into current induction cooktops and with the adaptations in cookware that are taking place, it's not likely to happen. It would essentially ruin the efficiency of induction cooking.
How to Tell If Your Pan Is Induction Compatible
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.
Tip: Your everyday refrigerator magnet will do just fine. Before you go out shopping for cookware for your induction cooktop, bring a refridgerator magnet with you.
Many manufacturers have started putting an "induction compatible" symbol on the bottom of their cookware or they'll note compatibility on the packaging. The symbol often looks like a horizontal zig-zag or a coil.
Adapting to Induction Cookware
Induction cooking is becoming very popular and that is increasing the selection of compatible cookware. 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.
The next time you shop for cookware for your induction cooktop, be sure to look for the induction compatible symbol on pans or take a magnet with you. This will ensure that the cookware you choose will work on your induction cooktop.