The Pros and Cons of Induction Cooktops

straight to point

After testing portable induction cookers, our overall top pick is this model from Duxtop.It’s fast, consistent, and has a straightforward interface.

As awareness of the dangers of gas stoves increases, many home cooks are interested in IH. This cooking method is not only touted as better for your health and the environment, but many claim it is more efficient. But how does this seemingly magical cooking method work? I learned a lot about induction cooking while testing portable induction burners. Here, we share what induction is, how it works, and its pros and cons.

What is induction?


Hamilton Beach Portable Single IH Cooktop


IKEA TILLREDA portable induction cooker


Induction burners are different from gas and electric. They don’t really get hot. Instead, the pan will heat up. Weird, right? When the induction burner is turned on, a current is passed through a metal coil beneath the glass surface, creating an electromagnetic field. This creates atomic-level vibrations in the pot, creating friction and heating the pot from the inside out (some low-level physics lesson going on here). Not just any frying pan will do. You need a magnet. So you need iron. Cast iron (obviously), magnetic stainless steel, and carbon steel skillets are all good candidates, but if you’re looking to buy a new skillet and throw it in your induction cooker, it’s a good idea to check the manufacturer’s specs. (Or our article on all of our favorite induction-friendly cookware).

Strong Points

IH cooking is efficient

Induction cooking is really, really efficient. Traditional electric stovetops and gas flames lose energy (heat) as they dissipate into the air around the cooktop surface and elements. It takes longer to heat a pot or pan this way, but more energy is needed to keep it hot. The U.S. Department of Energy says induction cooktops are 5-10% more efficient than traditional electric stovetops and 3x (!) more efficient than gas. Because the cookware itself is doing the cooking during induction (and heats up almost instantly), the heat has much less chance of escaping before it reaches the food.

It’s better for our health and the environment

Brady Seals, a home energy expert who works for RMI, a global sustainability-focused nonprofit, has spent most of her career working specifically with sustainably-powered cookstoves. have spent About 38% of U.S. households use natural gas for cooking, and 60% use it to heat their homes, she said. Gas-powered appliances can be a significant contributor to air pollution as they emit methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Gas stoves, in particular, are known to leak methane even when the power is off. “Not a lot,” says Shields. “About 1% of the gas supplied to the stove is leaking as unburned methane,” she cites a group of researchers at Stanford University, who added that all the methane leaked from US gas stoves adds up to about They estimate that 500,000 cars on the road have the same impact on climate.

Gas-powered furnaces and water heaters are considered to be the biggest source of pollution in the home, and there are regulations that require them to be vented to the outside. Gas stoves have no such universal requirement. In many areas, gas range hoods allow gases such as nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide to circulate into the home, which accumulate over time and can cause respiratory irritation. Peer-reviewed research ( Seals), about 13% of childhood asthma can be attributed to gas stoves, which is comparable to passive smoking.

Induction cooking is a safer and greener option as there are no burning pollutants from gas stoves. A traditional electric stove is also a good option, but slightly less efficient than induction. For renters and those unprepared or unprepared to make the switch, a portable induction cooker is a good option for reducing gas stove run time. Thus reducing the overall amount of gas emitted into the environment (and your home).

Induction responds

Serious Eats / Ashley Ledger

IH is a direct heating method and the temperature of the pan corresponds directly to how much energy is being directed at it at any given time. will be created. A traditional electric stove can stay blazing hot for several minutes as heat is dissipated from the burner components, but when you turn down the setting of an induction stove, the heat cuts instantly, with visible effects within seconds. You get The pan heats up quickly too. As soon as you turn it on, the entire bottom of the pot starts generating heat instead of slowly absorbing it from the gas flame or electric zone. During testing, the IH burner allowed him to heat the pan in less than a minute, compared to 4-5 minutes on the gas range.

Also very safe

IH burners come standard with various features to prevent accidents. Some induction models also have a locking feature to prevent the machine from being accidentally turned on or settings changed, which is useful for homes with small children. The induction burner will not heat anything unless it is on. After use the burner itself will get hot, but only if you put a hot pan on it. During testing, we found that all burners were cool enough to be touched and handled within minutes of being turned off, even at high heat. Pot handles also stay cooler for longer because less heat is radiated into the air than on gas or electric stovetops (this helps prevent burns we experienced when removing something from a charred burner). help). Of course, don’t throw your attention out the window. The stove and pot handles will get hot during use, so please prepare oven mitts.

All induction burners are programmed to automatically shut off if the heat level gets too high, but it can be difficult for the burners to accurately measure the temperature if the top pan is empty. There is. During testing, an empty cast iron was left on the Mueller Rapid Therm Portable IH cooktop and before the safety feature turned off, the infrared thermometer said it rapidly rose to 750°F in less than a minute and a half. It is for this reason that all induction burners warn against heating an empty pan.Induction is so quick and responsive that you only need to preheat the pan for a few seconds before adding food. is enough.

IH stoves are easy to clean

Like smooth-top electric ranges, induction burners have a flat glass cooking surface that is easy to wipe clean after use. They can be cleaned with a damp soft cloth and a drop of mild detergent can be added to remove grease and the occasional caked-on bit.


there is a learning curve

For most of us, the hardest part of switching to induction after using gas or electric is getting used to the new system. It can confuse traditional cooktop converters. The gist of it is: Power is (usually) a numbered setting that corresponds to the low-mid-high scale of a traditional stove knob. Most burners output a fixed number of watts based on their power setting.

Temperature settings, on the other hand, try to maintain a constant level of heat at the bottom of the stove surface (not the temperature of the pan or its contents). For example, an induction burner set at 212 degrees fluctuates wattage and pulses on/off cycles in an attempt to maintain a countertop surface at a steady 212°F. What happens inside the pot at that point depends on the cookware used, the amount and type of food being cooked, and the efficiency of the particular burner in maintaining that heat.

IH compatible cookware is required

Serious Eats / Ashley Ledger

As mentioned earlier, pots and pans require a magnetic base to use induction. An easy way to test if a pan is his induction compatible is to hold a magnet in the bottom (a run-of-the-mill fridge magnet will suffice). If it sticks strongly to the base, the pot is a good candidate for induction. Conventional enamelled cast iron and carbon steel, and some stainless steel (look for magnetic or fully coated stainless steel) works. There is no harm in using incompatible cookware with induction. It just doesn’t get heated. Luckily, we’ve already assembled a collection of our favorite induction-compatible cookware.

Cookware should have a flat bottom to allow full contact with the burner. Induction is suitable for generating heat only when the pan is in direct contact with the cooking surface above the copper coil. It should be large enough for the burner, but small enough for the burner to heat evenly.

The IH burner is surprisingly loud

The electromagnetic exchange process is technically quiet, but these machines definitely aren’t. All induction burners have fans built into them to cool the internal components. The fan will usually start spinning as soon as you turn on the burner and will run for some time after the cooking stops. All models tested for this review had roughly the same noise level depending on the heat setting.

But it’s not just the fan noise. When using induction to heat the pot, it may emit sounds such as, but not limited to, popping, buzzing, humming, and squealing. It occurs more often in light pans or pans with uneven bottoms, and in multi-clad cookware with layers of metal that vibrate against each other during cooking.


What’s the best way to clean an induction burner?

The best way to clean the induction burner is to wipe it with a damp, soft cloth. A small amount of detergent or mild cleaning spray can be used if desired. Be sure to wipe it off and dry it completely. We do not recommend using abrasive cleaners as they can scratch the surface.

What’s the best portable induction burner?

In our tests, we really liked the Duxtop Portable Iduction Cooktop 9100MC. It exhibited controlled heating capabilities and was easy to clean. We also liked the Hamilton Beach Portable Single IH Cooktop and the IKEA TILLREDA Portable IH Cooktop. If you’re looking to cook with just an induction burner and want to invest in a really great (albeit $$$) burner, the Breville Control Freak is what Serious Eats kitchens use.

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