What Pans Work On Induction Hobs? – Everything Explained
You’ve probably been there: standing in the kitchen section of your favourite home goods store, confronted with a sea of cookware. Copper pans, stainless steel pots, non-stick skillets. Suddenly, you’re thrown a curveball – you’ve got an induction hob at home. What pans work on induction hobs!?
Don’t worry! Today, I’m breaking down the mystery of induction-friendly cookware.
In this post, I’ll explain what pans work on induction hobs, how you can check and what to avoid!
Let’s dive in!
Understanding the Magic of Induction Cooking
Before I talk about the pans, let’s uncover the magic of induction cooking.
Unlike traditional cooking methods that use direct heat, induction hobs employ magnetic fields to heat your cookware directly. This results in faster cooking times, better energy efficiency, and improved safety.
Now, if you’re asking, “What pans work on induction hobs (induction cooktops)?” it’s essential to know that not every pot and pan is cut out for this particular cooking technology. This can be a downside, especially if you’ve just bought a lovely, expensive new set of pans that aren’t compatible. 😬
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What Pans Work On Induction Hobs?
Induction hobs (induction cooktops) work their magic by creating an electromagnetic field. This means your cookware needs to be magnetic to heat up. So, if the base of your pan is made of a magnetic metal, it will work.
Think back to your science lessons, and you’ll recall that certain materials are naturally magnetic – chiefly, iron and some types of stainless steel.
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Cast Iron Pans
Cast iron pans are an ideal match for induction hobs, largely due to their high ferromagnetic content. Their molecular structure responds rapidly to the induction hob’s magnetic field, enabling them to heat quickly and uniformly.
They also possess excellent thermal inertia, retaining heat well beyond the active cooking period. This makes them suitable for high-temperature cooking procedures, such as searing or pan-frying, where a constant, high heat supply is needed.
Stainless Steel Pans
When it comes to induction cooking, stainless steel pans can exhibit varying compatibility. The determining factor is the pan’s material composition, specifically, its iron content.
Some stainless steel pans, usually those marked ‘induction-ready’, incorporate a layer of magnetic material, often iron or a magnetic grade of stainless steel, sandwiched within their base.
This design enables these pans to interact effectively with the magnetic field generated by the induction hob, thereby ensuring efficient heat transfer.
Carbon Steel Pans
Carbon steel pans, similar to cast iron cookware, are another excellent option for induction hobs. These pans, comprised predominantly of iron and a small amount of carbon, have ferromagnetic properties that interact with the induction hob’s magnetic field.
Their relatively lower density compared to cast iron makes them lighter and quicker to heat, making them suitable for tasks requiring precise temperature control, such as preparing French-style omelettes or pancakes, where evenly distributed, moderate heat is crucial.
Bonus Tip: Pots and pans with a completely flat bottom work best with induction cooking. The flat bottom means the whole surface is in contact and can evenly distribute the heat throughout the pan most efficiently.
How Do I Know If My Pans Are Induction Compatible?
Determining whether your pans are induction-compatible might seem like a mystery at first, but don’t worry, it’s simpler than you think. Here are some quick tips:
The Magnet Test
The most straightforward method is the magnet test. Simply take a magnet (a refrigerator magnet will do) and see if it sticks to the bottom of your pan. If it does, your pan is induction compatible. Why does this work? Induction hobs rely on magnetic fields to heat your cookware. So, if a magnet sticks, your pan has the necessary magnetic properties.
Look for the Induction Symbol
Many manufacturers make it easy for you by imprinting an induction symbol on the bottom of the pan to show that it is induction-compatible cookware. This symbol usually looks like a series of loops or a coil.
Check the Pan’s Material
As a rule of thumb, cast iron pans, magnetic stainless steel, and some types of steel-enamel cookware are induction compatible. Conversely, copper, glass, aluminium, and non-magnetic stainless steel pans typically aren’t induction friendly.
what happens if a pan is not induction compatible?
Nothing. Quite literally, nothing.
Using non-induction pans on an induction hob won’t harm your hob or your pan, but it won’t result in a cooked meal either!
Induction hobs work using electromagnetic fields to directly heat your cookware. The hob itself doesn’t heat up; rather, it’s the reaction between the magnetic field and your pan’s magnetic material that generates heat. This means that if your pan lacks the necessary magnetic properties, it won’t react with the magnetic field, and therefore, won’t heat up.
In essence, you’ll have a cold pan sitting on a cold hob. You could crank up the power to the maximum level, but if your pan isn’t induction compatible, it won’t make a difference.
In fact, most modern induction hobs are typically equipped with safety features that detect whether compatible cookware is present. If it’s not, they simply won’t switch on or will just turn off automatically.
Which pans don’t work on induction?
Any pan made from a non-magnetic material won’t work on an induction hob.
This is most commonly:
- Non-Magnetic Stainless Steel
- Certain Ceramic and Clay Pots
Pure aluminium, copper, and glass pans are typically not induction-compatible. These materials aren’t magnetic and hence, can’t generate heat when exposed to the magnetic field from an induction hob. However, some pans are designed with a layer of magnetic material encapsulated within an aluminium or copper base to make them induction friendly.
While some stainless steel pans work well with induction hobs, others don’t. It all boils down to their metallic composition. If a stainless steel pan doesn’t contain iron or a magnetic grade of stainless steel, it won’t heat up on an induction hob.
Ceramic and clay pots generally do not work on induction hobs unless they have a magnetic disc on the bottom or are specifically labelled as induction-safe.
Can You Use Stainless Steel Pans On An Induction Hob?
Stainless steel pans can be a bit of a wildcard when it comes to induction cooking. While some stainless steel pans are induction-compatible, others are not.
However, stainless steel pans can be used on an induction hob, provided they’re induction compatible.
These pans feature an additional layer or core of magnetic material, usually iron or a specific type of stainless steel, between the layers of regular stainless steel.
Only those with sufficient iron content, often indicated by an ‘induction-ready’ or ‘induction-capable’ label, will work on an induction hob.
Can You Use Le Creuset On An Induction Hob?
Yes! Most Le Creuset cookware, including their famed enamelled cast iron range, is perfectly compatible with induction hobs.
Cast iron is magnetic, making it suitable for the electromagnetic field that an induction hob generates.
Just remember to handle your Le Creuset cookware carefully on the glass surface of the induction hob to avoid scratching. They’re really heavy!
And if in doubt, ensure your particular piece is labelled as ‘induction-safe’ to be doubly sure.
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Can You Use Normal Pans On An Induction Hob?
This depends on what you define as ‘normal’.
Induction hobs rely on the principles of electromagnetic induction for heating, requiring pans to have magnetic properties. Therefore, if by ‘normal’, you mean pans made from magnetic materials like cast iron or certain types of stainless steel, then yes, these would work fine.
On the contrary, pans made from non-magnetic materials like pure aluminium, copper or glass will not work on induction hobs. Their inability to react with the magnetic field generated by the hob means they won’t heat up.
Can You Use A Wok On An Induction Hob?
Yes, maybe. This will come down to two things, the material the wok is made of, and the shape of the wok.
Traditionally, woks are made from carbon steel or cast iron, both of which are magnetically responsive and hence, compatible with induction hobs.
However, one issue can arise from the concave shape of a traditional wok. Induction hobs work most efficiently when the pan’s base is flat and in complete contact with the hob’s surface. With a round-bottomed wok, you may not get optimal heat transfer.
Enter the flat-bottomed wok! The solution to your induction woes. Flat-bottomed woks ensure good contact with the induction hob, allowing for effective heat transfer while maintaining the high-heat, quick-cooking benefits of wok cooking.
Also, some induction hobs come with a special wok induction zone or offer a wok cradle accessory to accommodate round-bottomed woks.
However, this topic can divide opinions. Many home cooks and professional chefs prefer a round bottom wok and using a gas hob or cooktop with a flame burner to get the best wok cooking results. This one’s up to you!
Can You Use Induction Pans On A Ceramic Hob?
Yes, any pan that you can use on an induction hob, be it cast iron, stainless steel, or carbon steel can also be used on a ceramic hob.
Ceramic hobs heat up by using electric heating elements underneath the tough ceramic glass surface. This means that they do not rely on the magnetic properties of your cookware, unlike induction hobs.
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There you have it! Everything you need to know about what pans work on induction hobs.
Armed with this knowledge, you’re now ready to navigate the world of induction cookware with confidence.
Remember, the power of induction cooking isn’t just about the hob – it’s also about the pans you use. Understanding what makes a pan induction-compatible is crucial for getting the most out of your induction hob.
If all else fails, don’t forget the magnet test – it’s a quick and foolproof way to check if your pan is induction-ready.
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Michael is a kitchen designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new kitchen installations for over 10 years. Before that, he was an electrician and part of a team that fitted kitchens. He created Kitchinsider in early 2019 to help give people advice when it comes to getting a new kitchen.