How to Use an Induction Cooktop

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Induction cooktops are gaining market share among the general population as consumers become more aware of its affordability, safety, efficiency, and versatility. Their portability allows them to be placed in businesses, mobile homes, RVs, boats, cabins, dorm rooms and small apartments as well as in full sized kitchens.

In this post, we’re going to cover the following:

  • How Induction Cooktops Work
  • Getting to Know Your Induction Cooktop
  • What Cookware Can I Use on an Induction Cooktop?
  • Cooking with Your Induction Cooktop
  • Cleaning Your Induction Cooktop

If you just want to read the steps to using an induction cooktop, click here.

How Induction Cooktops Work

Induction burners have a ceramic plate with an electromagnetic coil beneath it. When the unit is turned on, electric current flows through the coil, generating a rapidly alternating magnetic field.

As soon as the induction ready cookware is set on the cooktop, a magnetic field induces many smaller electric currents in the pan’s metal thereby heating it up. The heat is then transferred to the food inside the cooking vessel.

Getting to Know Your Induction Cooktop

The induction cooktop comes assembled in a single pack and can be immediately used for cooking food in your home.  After unpacking your new cooker, inspect the ceramic/glass surface to make sure there are no scratches or cracks.

Tip: Read the owner's manual first. It will make your first cooking experience go smoother.

Then, review the voltage requirements that are stated on the box to ensure your electrical outlet meets the required standard suggested by the manufacturer. Most manuals state these devices must be plugged into a dedicated outlet to avoid overloading the outlet and tripping the circuit breaker.

Remember, the induction hob can be used at different power levels and the temperature settings can be increased and decreased. After experimenting with these features, you will get the hang of it and will be able to successfully use the cooktop for regular cooking.

Induction cooking hob

Induction Cooker Modes and Safety Features

Manual Mode

This is the manual method of using the cooktop and provides the flexibility to choose the temperature level of your choice. There are two buttons that increase and decrease the temperature, allowing you to select the temperature required for your cooking activity.

The manual mode allows the cook to experiment with the various levels and find the optimum one that is suited for a particular recipe.

Tip: When using your induction cooktop for the first few times, start with a lower temperature and then increase as needed.

Preset Modes

Most induction cooktops have multiple preset modes that help you to cook seamlessly. They are convenient because the heat zone can be selected without manually increasing and decreasing the temperature.

For example, you can choose the option to heat milk. The cooktop will then automatically choose the relevant temperature level for that purpose.

In addition, some hobs have preset levels for boiling water, and to simmer and keep warm. The temperature can be altered manually whenever required while in a preset mode. 

Timer Mode

Another feature of most induction cooktops is the timer mode. When you have a clear idea about the average time it takes to prepare a particular food or recipe, the timer mode can be easily set.

Tip: Check the owner’s manual to see if your model shuts off after a specified period of time. Some units cease operation after two or three hours.

Another great function on some models is the sleep mode. The unit will automatically go into the sleep mode once the time is reached. This is beneficial because you do not have to stay in front of the unit while the food is cooking since it will automatically stop heating.

Safety Features

Induction cooktop units are equipped with many safety features such as overheating protection, automatic pan detection, child lock, and high and low voltage detection.

The type of safety features and settings offered varies among models. The owner’s manual generally gives a detailed explanation.

What Cookware Can I Use on an Induction Cooktop?

USE ON INDUCTION COOKTOP

  • Cast Iron
  • Carbon Steel 
  • Enameled Cast Iron
  • Magnetic Stainless Steel
DON'T USE ON 
INDUCTION COOKTOP
  • Glass
  • Copper 
  • Aluminum
*Unless there is a  layer on the bottom  with magnetic properties

Are Your Pans Induction Ready?

The pots and pans used with your unit must be induction ready. This means they must contain either iron or magnetic material.

Once you have the right induction cooktop for your kitchen, you can check the pots and pans you currently have to see if they are induction friendly. 

Tip: Place a magnet on the bottom of the cooking vessel and if the magnet sticks (securely), then it will work.

In addition, the bases of the pot or skillet should be free of major dings and dents so that it will be in contact with the surface of the unit.

Set of stainless pots with lids and vegetables

What Pots and Pans Do You Need?

Once you know which cookware pieces can be used on your induction hob then you can decide what pots and pans you need/want to buy. Some people wonder if they should buy a skillet/fry pan or a sauté pan.

Related Content: Differences between a skillet and a sauté pan.

Another choice to make is whether it is more cost effective to buy an induction ready cookware set (they can also be used on gas and electric stoves) or purchase individual pots and pans and add to your collection a little bit at a time.

Related Content: Best Induction Cookware Sets

Interface Disks

Some consumers purchase an interface disk. This allows the use of non-induction cookware on an induction surface. The disk is placed between the cooking vessel and the surface of the cooker.

The problem with this product is that the cooking time will be increased since heat is transmitted more slowly to the pot or pan. In addition, there is a chance that these disks will overheat and damage the cooktop. If this happens the unit will automatically shut off. Unless you absolutely have to, induction disks are not recommended.

induction hob with pot of vegetables on top

Cooking with Your Induction Cooktop

1. Preparing to Cook

  • Gather your ingredients.
  • Place the cooker on a flat, level, non-metallic surface. Ensure the ventilation slots are not blocked (there should be a space of 3-5 inches between the cooker and other objects).
  • Determine the heat level required. (refer to the user manual for assistance).
  • Plug the power cord into the electrical socket.

2. Place the ingredients in your pot or pan. Then center the cooking vessel over the cookware placement guides on the cooking surface.

3. Press and hold the OFF/ON indicator for 2-3 seconds.

4. Set the temperature/power level and timer. If your unit has a lock and you want to use it, then activate it.  

5. When the cooking is finished take the cookware off the surface and turn the unit off.

6.After the fan has stopped running unplug the unit. Wait for a few minutes before cleaning the cooktop.

cleaning a built-in induction cooktop

Cleaning Your Induction Cooktop

1. After the unit has been unplugged and is cooled down, use a moist paper towel or soft cloth or sponge to wipe off crumbs or spills. Do not use any abrasive scrubbing pads.

2. Optional: A glass ceramic cooktop cleaner can also be used.  Place a small drop of the cleaner on a soft cloth and rub until the surface is clean. Follow this up with cleaning the residue off with a moist cloth.

3.  If there are water spots on the cooking surface,  use white vinegar to remove them. Clean off the vinegar with a wet cloth.

4. Finally use a clean cloth to wipe the cooktop surface dry.  
Q&A written on a chalkboard with a piece of white chalk

Why do induction cooktops make noise?

Cooling fans in some models make a humming sound.

Consumers have commented that when the high-power levels are used, there is a high-pitched or buzzing sound.

Cookware that has a thin bottom or is of low quality.

We have an article that discusses why an induction cooktop makes noise.

Can I use a wok on my induction cooktop?

There are two scenarios where a wok can be used. First, if you have an induction cooktop that has a shallow basin, a wok can be used. Second, if the wok has a flat bottom that is made from magnetic materials (cast iron or stainless steel). Woks with an aluminum base will not work on an induction burner.

Do I need to use a dedicated outlet?

Most manuals stipulate a dedicated outlet must be used to avoid overheating or a shutdown.

Why do I have to have my ingredients ready to go before turning on the induction hob?

Induction cooktops heat up quickly.

Can I use cast iron cookware on induction cooktops?

Yes, cast iron pots and pans can be used. Be sure the base is clean and smooth.  Also, to avoid scratching your cooktop, lift the vessel up and don't slide it on or off the unit.

Is the cooling fan supposed to run after the cooktop is unplugged or turned off?

Yes, the fan will run for a couple of minutes. This prevents damage to the internal components.

Do induction cooktops interfere with pacemakers?

There has been some discussion and research as to whether or not induction cooktops interfere with pacemakers. If you have a pacemaker, you might consider discussing your use of these cookers with your cardiologist.

hot nuts in pan on induction cooktop

Conclusion

Induction cooktops are very easy to use and clean. Manufacturers continue to develop units as single or double portable burners, built-in units or as a full-size range with varying capabilities and features. There are many more options available in each category than there were even five years ago.