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How to Use an Induction Cooktop: A Beginner’s Guide

by Pam Silvia

Are you looking to step up your culinary game? Induction cooking has become increasingly popular in residential kitchens, though passionate home cooks may have more of a vested interest in mastering a more efficient cooking method. Allow us to unravel the world of induction cooktops as we define their mechanics, delineate how to use them, and review their key benefits. So, let’s dig in, shall we?

What is an Induction Cooktop?

young man prepares eggs on induction cooktop at home

An induction cooktop uses a high-frequency induction coil below the cooktop’s smooth surface to heat up cookware with a magnetic field — rather than using an open flame generated by a gas cooktop or the heated coils on an electric cooktop. Induction cooking is the only method that directly uses the cookware as a part of the cooking system.

Induction models look just like electric smooth-top units, and while induction cooktops use electricity to generate heat, it does so differently. A magnetic array, called an “inductor,” is placed under the glass surface, and it vibrates at a high frequency so that the molecules in the pan pulsate to create heat, thereby making the pan itself the heating element for your meals.

What Pans Work With Induction Cooktops?

Not all cookware works on an induction cooktop, so to create the magnetic field that is required for the cooktop to heat up the pot or pan, the bottom must be made of iron. The best way to verify if cookware is induction-compatible is by using a magnet; if the magnet sticks to the bottom of the pot or pan, it gets the green light.

How to Use an Induction Cooktop in 4 Easy Steps

closeup of hand adjusting heat controls on induction cooktop

1. Turn on the induction cooktop. Each model will have slightly different directions, such as pushing a power button or turning a knob, so check your owner’s manual.

2. Place your induction-compatible cookware on the element you wish to use. The cooktop ring will sense the iron content in the cookware and start to heat it up immediately.

3. Time your cooking appropriately. Induction cooktops are more efficient than their electric and gas counterparts, meaning your meals will cook faster. As such, keep a close eye on your cooking station as you get used to this quicker method.

4. Make sure your cooktop is off when not in use. As a safety measure, most induction cooktops have sensors that shut down automatically when certain actions take place. It may be embedded in your cooktop’s system to turn itself off when cooking has exceeded a time limit or when it doesn’t detect your cookware after some period of time. Otherwise, hold down the power button to shut off your appliance.

Why Invest in Induction Cooking?

There is no heat loss when cooking with induction since all the heat is created in the pan, and the smooth cooktop surface can quickly cool down, making post-dinner cleanup a breeze. In the same way, induction cooktops can heat up quickly, too, and many models can be powered off by simply removing the pan from the induction element — without turning a dial or pressing a button.

Here are the benefits of using an induction cooktop, summed up:

✓ Energy efficiency is at the forefront with 90 percent of power being transferred to the food.

✓ Food is heated more quickly.

✓ Induction cooktops stay cooler for safer use — and quicker, easier cleanup.

✓ Induction cooktops are more responsive to changes in temperature control.

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