Induction Cooking Pros and Cons

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Induction cooktops have been popular for many years in Europe and Asia and their use is now gaining ground in the United States. As awareness of induction technology increases and the prices of cooktops and ranges decline, the number of US consumers purchasing these energy-efficient appliances steadily increases.  

Fast heating, precise heat control, quick temperature and power adjustments, and energy efficiency are some of the many advantages of induction cooking. Safe cooking and the modern, sleek design are other reasons consumers are adopting induction technology over gas and electric cooktops and stoves.

Since we review induction cooktops, it's incumbent upon us to point out the pros and cons of induction cooking so you can decide whether this cooking method is right for your culinary needs, kitchen, and lifestyle.

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

  • Induction Cooking Explained
  • Pros of Induction Cooking
  • Cons of Induction Cooking

Induction Cooking Explained

When people read or hear about this method of preparing food, they ask how an induction cooktop works. In short, the pots or pans on the induction hob cooking surface act as a heat source and transfers the heat to the food. 

This is accomplished by using the electromagnetic coil (usually copper), that is under the ceramic/glass surface of the cooking zone of the unit.

Induktionskochfeld Spule

A coil inside an induction burner.

Image credit: Wdwd / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Alternating electric current flows through this coil and creates a magnetic field. This field passes through the bottom of the induction compatible cooking vessel that is sitting on the cooking zone.

A current is then generated in the induction ready pan. However, the cooking vessel is resistant to this, so the electrical energy is transformed to heat energy. This heat energy is transferred from the cookware to the food.

Pros of Induction Cooking  

Efficiency and Speed

Induction cooktops are energy efficient and cook food rapidly. Since heat is transferred directly to the pot, little is lost to the surrounding environment. The result is the cooker heats up fast, the cooking speed is increased, and the cookware reacts quickly to temperature changes.

A bonus is that your kitchen won't get hot, which is great during the summer or for those who reside in warmer climates.

party eating sukiyaki in home using induction cooktop

An induction cooker is a multi-purpose appliance.

In addition to prepared meals, induction cooktops can be used to warm food. Restaurants and schools can use them to hold hot food instead of using a steam table. Portable hobs can be placed on a table barbecue or dinner party and are also great for preparing hot pot.They can also be used for canning

Easy Clean-up

Food can be prepared quickly and cleanup completed in a short time. This eliminates the need to spend a big portion of the morning or evening in the kitchen.  

All induction cooktops can be cleaned faster than electric or gas stoves. There are no corners or recesses where food items can get trapped or where spilled liquids accumulate.

Messes are also minimized since most units provide the convenient protection of switching itself off in case a pot has become dry or a spill occurs. If food or liquid spills over onto the cooktop, it won't harden as the surface is fairly cool.

It only takes a quick wipe with a damp cloth or soft sponge to removed cooking spills. Then all that's left is to wipe the cooktop dry with a microfiber cloth or paper towel.

pros and cons of induction cooking

Induction is a safe cooking method.

The common kitchen hazards of fire and burns are greatly reduced when induction cooktops are used. These risks are small since there is no heating element or flame.

The area that gets the hottest when an induction cooktop is used is the base of the pan. The ceramic-plate is heated to a small extent as some (a very small amount) of heat is transferred from the pan to the cooking surface.

When the induction burner is turned off, it only takes a short time for it and the cookware to cool down, thus reducing the risk of burning one's hand or arm.

A feature that is welcomed by parents and pet owners is what is often called a "child lock."  This lock prevents settings from being changed. Generally, the power button has to be pressed for 3 seconds before the unit will operate and of course an induction ready pan is on the cooking zone.

Another feature of the more expensive induction ranges is a “boil alert”. The unit detects vibrations from hot liquids and then reduces the heat to a lower level thus eliminating accidents, messes, or energy wastage.

The boil alert sensors also detect the boiling point of different liquids like oils, soups, water, and milk. Once at boiling point, the induction cooker beeps to alert you.

Manufacturers have built-in other safety mechanisms including:

  • Overheating protection – if the cooking surface reaches a high temperature (varies according to unit) the device will turn off.
  • Countdown timer- shuts the unit off after a specified  time
  • Automatic pan detection system – shuts the unit down if no cookware has been detected for a period of time (generally a minute) or if the cookware placed on the surface is not induction friendly.
  • Low and high voltage warning system-the unit will emit a tone and shut down.

A word about pacemakers and induction cooktop use

There has been a lot of debate as to whether there is electromagnetic interference with pacemakers. It is wise for those who are fitted with pacemakers to consult with their cardiologist before purchasing any appliance that uses induction technology.

four burner built-in induction cooktop

Induction cooktops and stoves are well-designed.

The features that stand out in terms of induction hob construction are the LCD readouts, the overall design, and portability (in the case of portable cookers).

The digital readouts of power and temperature levels make it easy to know what settings to use for a particular dish. This takes the guesswork out of temperature settings and control when a gas or electric stove is used.

Manufacturers have wisely designed portable units to be compact, sleek, and elegant. The built-in cooktops and full-size ranges have a beautiful, flat, smooth ceramic-glass top which is an attractive addition to any kitchen.

The single burner induction cooktops are lightweight, compact, and user-friendly. They are easy to transport or pack in a suitcase.

Portable induction cooktops are valued by those living in smaller environments such as micro-apartments, tiny houses, micro-shelters, or traveling in RVs.  

They are also convenient for those who use a wheelchair or need to sit down while they cook. Portable induction hobs can be placed on a table enabling easy access since the user's legs can go below the table.

hot peanuts and cashews on induction cooktop in store

Portable induction hobs are used in many cooking environments.

As the benefits of induction cooktops become more well-known, establishments such as food trucks, convenience stores, and restaurants are using commercial induction cooktops to prepare food.

Employers could easily place an induction cooktop in the staff lunchroom. Individuals could cook a healthy and tasty meal for lunch quickly instead of microwaving a frozen dinner or buying fast food. This one-time minor expense would produce goodwill among the employees.

Benefits of Induction Cooking in Commercial Kitchens

Induction cookers are ideally suited for commercial establishments such as convenience stores, restaurants, food trucks, and office buildings. 

An electrical connection is all that is required to quickly cook your food at a precise temperature.

Cooking with an induction hob generates less heat than conventional stoves making it a more comfortable cooking environment.

Convenience store employees use these appliances to keep food warm or to prepare fresh and customizable food

Food carts and trucks are becoming more common as people like the mobility and low-overhead expense. After the customer orders their food, chefs use induction cooktops to prepare freshly cooked meals. They can be prepared quickly while the customer waits. For a lot of people, freshness of the food is preferable to heating up previously cooked food in a microwave.  

An induction cooktop is great for the propietors of these establishments because there will be less food leftover as it reduces the amount of food that has to be precooked.

Commercial business buildings usually have food carts, small restaurants and employee lunch rooms. These portable induction cookers are a valuable appliance in these environments as often times people only have a half-hour or an hour for lunch. Nowadays, employees often eat lunch and run errands during their break times. This allows them to eat a healthy, freshly cooked meal at a reasonable price.

Cons of Induction Cooking 

Although there are advantages to induction cooktops, like all appliances, they have disadvantages that might lead buyers to reconsider a purchase.

Why does my induction cooktop make noise?

Noise due to the cooling fan and the cookware is one drawback to induction cooktops. The cooling fan produces a humming sound that annoys some consumers while others are not bothered by it.

The pots and pans on the cooktop may produce a buzzing, humming, or clicking noise.

Humming is often heard when the contents of the pot are boiling. An annoying buzzing sound is often reduced when the pan heats up.

General Electric claims cookware that covers the burner produces less noise. They also posit that the cookware material and size affects the sound level.

Related Content: Why Induction Cooktops Make Noise

TIPS: Use heavier pots and pans and one-piece cooking vessels (cast iron, carbon steel) when possible.

You need induction ready cookware.

To prepare food on an induction cooktop, the cooking vessel has to contain ferromagnetic materials (iron or a layer that has magnetic properties) such as steel, magnetized stainless steel, enameled cast iron, and cast iron.

The good news is most induction compatible cookware can also be used on electric, gas, and halogen cooktops. If you don't have compatible cookware, then the additional cost of new induction ready pots and pans has to be factored into your decision.

It is also important to use cookware that is the right size for your cooktop. The appropriate cookware size depends upon the particular cooktop model. However, in general, the base of the pots and pans that have a diameter of between 4.5 and 10 inches work. 

Additionally, the pan will heat up faster and your food will be more evenly cooked if the base of the pan isn't warped. 

TIP: Place a magnet on the bottom of your cookware and if it sticks strongly to the base, it will work with your induction cooker.

If the magnet has no pull toward the base of the pot or pan, then it doesn’t have the metals needed to create heat with an induction cooker.

Induction ranges are not the most economical.

Although prices of induction ranges and built-in cooktops have steadily declined during the last few years, they are still more expensive than electric and gas stoves. However, the price has decreased enough for some consumers to buy an induction range.

As more manufacturers come into the market, the prices will become even more competitve. Now when people are thinking about remodeling or have purchased a new home, an induction range is often considered along with gas and electric stoves. Some view the purchase of an induction range is an investment as opposed to a one-off purchase.

TIP: If you don't want to invest in a full-size range, the single and double portable induction cooktops and even some of the built-in units are reasonably priced.

Induction cooking is a learning process.

There is a learning curve when you are starting to use your new induction cooktop. Getting the power and temperature settings right for a particular dish is the biggest challenge. However, once you have determined the best settings it is very easy to prepare your meal quickly.

One of the attributes of induction cooktops and stoves is that food is heated rapidly. Folks who have only used electric or gas stoves aren't used to this. It's easy to end up with overcooked food if you get distracted or are multi-tasking.

Another feature that takes some getting used to is that the unit shuts off if the cooking vessel is lifted off the burner. Some models have a delay of 30 or 60 seconds before the unit switches off.

TIP: Since the cooktop heats up quickly it's best to have all your ingredients ready to be placed in the pan.

Induction cooktops are not scratch proof.

Electric coil top stoves and gas ranges have a heating element or a grate that can withstand a dropped pan and heavy and rough-textured cookware. On the other hand, the cooking surface of induction cooktops and stoves are made with a smooth glass-ceramic material that can be easily scratched.

Manufacturers recommend using cooking vessels that have a clean, smooth, flat base. It is also suggested that cooks gently place cookware on the cooking zone. This is especially true if you are using cast iron or carbon steel. 

Related Content: Using Cast Iron on Induction Stoves

TIP: Scratches are less likely to occur if you don’t slide the cookware around the glass-ceramic plate.  

Conclusion

Some of the reasons why people are choosing to use portable and built-in induction cooktops are safety, efficiency, convenience, versatility, portability, and affordability.

Induction cooking is a simple way of preparing your meals. Although it takes a little getting used to, given the benefits, it's certainly something worth considering.

We've outlined the pros and cons of induction cooking. The decision as to whether to add an induction cooktop or range to your kitchen, boils down to your cooking style, budget, and what works best for you.

Updated July 9, 2020