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Tech

The Good, Bad and Ugly About Induction Cooktops

Want to know the pros and cons of using induction stove-tops and grills? See if this tech-savvy kitchen addition is right for you.

setting of induction stove

Planning a kitchen remodel and looking to change up your cooktop or range situation? If you’ve only cooked with an electric or gas stove, you may be intrigued to learn about a different kind of cooking surface: one that doesn't emit any heat is extremely durable and is more efficient than the traditional gas and electric stovetops you’re accustomed to.

While you may have heard of it, you may not know exactly how an induction stove works, what benefits this type of cooking surface provides and, most importantly, whether or not an induction cooktop is right for you. Read on to find out!

What is induction cooking?

The key factor in induction cooking is electromagnetic energy. A high-frequency induction coil that sits below the induction cooktop's smooth surface heats the cookware through an electromagnetic field, as opposed to the open flames on gas cooktops or heated coils on electric ones. 

Induction cooking is the only cooking method that directly uses the cookware as a part of the cooking system. For this reason, it requires special iron cookware. Iron makes the pan magnetic and allows the transfer of energy from the induction range to the pan or pot.

Benefits of induction stoves and cooktops

Induction cooking undoubtedly offers some amazing benefits, such as:

- Fast heating: Induction cooking is fast. It can boil water very quickly, enabling cooks to save precious minutes when preparing meals.

- Superior energy efficiency: Since an induction range cooks food more quickly and loses less heat while doing so, it is considered to be much more energy-efficient than both an electric stove top and a gas cooktop.

- Cool to the touch: Since only the pan becomes hot and most of the cooktop stays cool during induction cooking, induction stoves provide a great safety feature, especially to households with young children. It’s important to note, however, that the heat from the pot does transfer from the surface below and around the pot. This means that if you’re using several induction elements at once, many parts of the surface will become hot as well.

- Easy to clean: Since the unused portion of the induction cooktop remains relatively cool, most spills won’t cook onto the surface, making cleaning a breeze. All you need to wipe up any spills or splatters is a damp sponge or cloth.

- Precise control: Induction cooking provides precise temperature control, enabling the cooktop to hold ideal temperatures for simmering, melting or boiling.

Induction stovetop cons: 

Of course, as with anything, there are also disadvantages of induction cooking to consider. Some downsides to switching to induction cooking include:

- Cost: Although some lower-priced models have recently become available, induction ranges are still far from cheap. You’ll definitely want to make sure this cooking method is the best one for you before making such an investment.

- Magnetic pans required: On top of the initial cost of an induction stove, you may also need to spend additional money on a new set of pots and pans. While you can get pans that are specifically designed for induction cooking, there are less expensive alternatives that will work, such as cast iron pans, enamel-coated cast iron pans, and certain stainless steel pans.

- Learning curve: Induction cooking, with its quick heating capabilities and precision control, takes a while to get the hang of. Determining exactly how to control the heat levels will take a bit of trial and error, so you’ll need to be patient and willing to adapt to some new cooking methods. Many of the standard practices used with a gas or electric stove, like chopping vegetables while waiting for oil to heat in a pan, won’t work. 

Is induction cooking for you?

Induction cooking is a great way to cook, once you spend the time required to figure out how it works. But it certainly isn’t for everyone. If the benefits are appealing to you and you can live with (or work around) the disadvantages, you’ll want to strongly consider switching to this increasingly popular method of cooking.

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