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How to Use an Induction Cooktop

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An induction cooktop heats food differently than an electric or gas stove. Rather than the heat generated transferring to the cooking vessel, the cookware is the original generator of the heat.  

There are a few benefits to using an induction cooktop. It cooks food quickly, is energy efficient, affordable, and reduces the incidence of burns.

While we cover how induction cooktops work and what cookware to use, we will quickly give you an overview on how to use an induction cooktop.

Here's how to use an induction cooktop or stove.

1. Plug the unit into an electrical outlet.

2. Place the induction pot or pan and the ingredients in the center of the ring in the cooking zone.

3. Press the ON/OFF button to turn on the induction cooktop.

4. Press the MENU button, and the default POWER setting is activated (usually level 5).

If you want to use the TEMP mode, press the MENU button.

5. Adjust the temperature/power level using the + and - buttons.

6. When you are finished cooking, take the cookware off the surface and press the ON/OFF button to turn the unit off.

7. After the fan has stopped running, unplug the unit.  

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How Induction Cooktops Work

diagram explaining how induction cooking heat works

Induction burners have an electromagnetic coil beneath the glass-ceramic cooking plate. When the unit is powered on, an electric current goes through this coil.

The coil creates a magnetic field, but there is no heat yet. When you place a pan with iron or magnetized stainless steel on the cooking zone, a magnetic field fluctuates above the coil.

This field creates electric currents in the metal of the pan. The pan's metal is heated, and the contents of the pan are heated.

Why Choose an Induction Cooktop?

Induction cooking is an energy-efficient way that makes cooking your meals easy, fast and safe.

Once your ingredients are prepared and placed in your induction-ready pan, press a few buttons, and your food begins cooking. When you cook your first meal on an induction cooktop, you’ll be shocked at how fast the food cooks.

Controlling the heat is easier on an induction cooktop than when using a gas stove. For the casual cook, it is difficult to look at a gas flame and figure out if it is too high or too low. On the other hand, induction heating makes being precise easier to get the heat level you need.

There is very little wasted heat when induction cooktops are used since the cooktop only heats the pan and the heating zone. Unlike gas and electric stoves, the air around the cookware isn’t heated, so the kitchen's temperature doesn’t rise. Chefs and home cooks appreciate this, especially in the summertime and those living in warm climates year-round.

Induction cooktops can be portable or built into a countertop opening. The portable induction cooktops don’t need to be installed and placed on a non-metallic, flat surface. Depending upon your skill set, it may be necessary to hire a skilled contractor to prepare the countertop cutout, install the unit, and an electrician for the electrical work.  

Induction cooktops are easier to clean and maintain than electric coil or gas-based stoves. This is why there are popular in commercial establishments such as restaurants, food carts and trucks, and convenience stores. Customers can place their order, and the cook can prepare it quickly.

Employers can place a portable induction cooktop in their employee breakroom so associates can prepare a healthy meal for themselves and a colleague.

How to Use an Induction Cooktop

Electrical Requirements

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

Control Panel

Now that you know which cookware you can use let's look at the controls on the induction cooktop.

The control panel on portable induction cooktops is either on the same plane as the cooking surface or at an angle from the cooking area. Although most cooktops have touch sensor controls, some units that a knob or push-button controls. 

The control panel has power, temperature, and timer buttons. To increase or decrease the power or temperature settings or time, use the + and - buttons. After experimenting with these features, you will get the hang of it and will be able to use the cooktop for regular cooking successfully.

An LCD or LED panel is general in the middle of the control panel and shows the cooking temperature and power levels, and time remaining if the timer is set.

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.  Two buttons, usually + and - control the temperature.

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

Tip: When using your induction cooktop for the first few times, start with a lower temperature and 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 select the appropriate temperature level for that purpose.

Also, 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 time. Some units cease operation after two or three hours.

Another helpful function on some models is the sleep mode. The unit will automatically go into this 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.

Safety Tips

Any stray EMF emissions from your cooktop can be reduced if you take these steps.

  • Make sure the bottom of the pot or pan is clean and flat.
  • Before powering on the cooktop, place the cooking vessel on the cooking zone.
  • The cookware must be placed in the center of the cooking zone.
  • It is best to use a pan that covers the cooking zone.
  • If you are using a full-size cooktop or stove and are only using one burner, use the rear cooking zone. The magnetic field strength decreases as distance increases.
  • Use silicone or wooden utensils instead of metal.

What Cookware Can I Use on an Induction Cooktop?

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

The pot or pan should be flat with a smooth surface. If you plan to use a cast iron skillet, check the bottom carefully for rough spots or burrs. Smooth them out before placing them on your cooktop.

We compiled a list of the best induction cookware sets and the best induction frying pans if you are interested.

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

Is Your Cookware Induction Ready?

If you have a pan and aren't sure if it has a magnetic base, place a magnet (refrigerator magnet is fine) on the bottom, and if it sticks firmly, the pan will work on your induction cooktop.

Magnet sticks to stainless steel pan

Using the Induction Cooktop to Prepare Food

To get used to my new induction cooktop, the Duxtop 9600LS, I prepared scrambled eggs and then pancakes. If you start with something simple, you'll be successful quickly.

Prepare the Cooktop and Cookware

1. Gather your ingredients and cooking utensils.

2. 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).

3. I usually wipe the cooktop surface and the bottom of the pot or pan I plan to use with a dry microfiber cloth. This is to make sure the cookware will be flat on the cooking zone.

4. Place the food in the cooking vessel.

5. Set the cookware in the center of the cooking zone. Most units have placement guides. If the cooktop or stove has more than one zone, place the pan on a burner about the same size as the diameter of the pan you are using. To avoid scratching the glass surface, lift the pan on and off the cooktop rather than sliding it.

6. Plug the unit into the electrical socket. Most induction cooktops require it be a dedicated circuit. 

CAUTION: If you have a pacemaker, please consult your cardiologist before using any induction cooktops or induction rice cookers.

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

Setting the Functions 

1. Press and hold the OFF/ON indicator. 

2. Press the MENU function. The default POWER level on most cooktops is five. If you want to use the TEMP function, press the MENU button again.

3. Set the temperature/power level and timer.

4. If your unit has a LOCK and you want to use it, then activate it.  

5. When your food has finished cooking, take the cookware off the surface and turn the unit off.

6. After the fan has stopped running, unplug the unit.

7. Clean the cooktop after the surface cools.

Cleaning Your Induction Cooktop

1. After the unit has been unplugged and is cool, 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.  

Questions and Answers

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 with a shallow basin. Second, if the wok has a flat bottom 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 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.

What pots and pans do I 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 ContentDifferences 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.

Where can I used an induction cooktop?

Their portability allows them to be placed in businesses, mobile homes, RVs, boats, cabins, dorm rooms, and small apartments, and in full-sized kitchens.

Should I use an interface disk?

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.  Also, there is a chance that these disks will overheat and damage the cooktop. If this happens, the unit will automatically shut off. Unless you have to, induction disks are not recommended.

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 a full-size range with varying capabilities and features. There are many more options available in each category than there were five years ago. 

Updated: May 14, 2021

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