Induction cooktops are an expensive purchase you’ll want to get right the first time. The same is just as true for the cookware that goes with it.
Rather than generating any heat, induction cooktops produce a magnetic field just above their glass surface. The right induction cookware conducts heat evenly and efficiently, but some base materials achieve this better than others.
To see if your existing cookware is compatible for induction, check it has a ferrous base – in other words, is made of a metal that can be magnetised – by placing a magnet on it. If it sticks well to the base, you’re good to go; otherwise you’ll have to invest in a new set of cookware.
Our home economist, Fiona Mair, reviewed a range of induction saucepans. Her advice is to consider your style of cooking and keep in mind that each cooktop will respond differently to your cookware. A pan might make noise
on one cooktop and not on another, for example, or will heat up differently. This is difficult to test in a shop, so choose a single pot or pan first to see how it performs on your cooktop before investing in the whole set.
Another option is to buy a few good-quality pots and pans rather than an entire set of induction cookware. This way you can enjoy other features, such as a non-stick frypan, stainless steel stockpot or a cast-iron skillet. You can then add to your collection as your needs change or as new technology develops. Good-quality cookware may cost you more to buy, but it’s likely to outlast less expensive varieties, saving you money in the long run.
Induction saucepans reviewed
- Bessemer (induction) 2.2L saucepan with lid
- Circulon Steel Elite 18cm/2.8L saucepan
- Cuisinart Chef’s Ultimate 18cm covered saucepan
- Le Creuset Cast Iron Saucepan 16cm
- Le Creuset 3-ply 16cm stainless steel saucepan
- Miele KMSK 1615 16cm saucepan
- Scanpan Induction + 18cm/1.7L saucepan
- Tefal Jamie Oliver Anodised Induction 18cm saucepan
Covering all bases
Not all induction cookware pieces are created equal, and the difference is largely due to the materials used to construct the base. Cast iron, steel, some enamelled steel and stainless steel pans with an iron base or core are suitable, but glass, aluminium and copper generally are not. If in doubt, look for the induction-compatible symbol
(right) or try the magnet test.
Stainless steel is a popular choice for cookware because it’s strong, hard and non-corrosive and generally contains 18% chromium (for rust resistance) and 10% nickel (for acid resistance and shiny surface). It’s not the best conductor of heat, so it’s often combined with aluminium in multi-layered bases. The aluminium is better at conducting and dispersing heat and is encapsulated between layers of stainless steel.
The Miele KMSK 1615 16cm saucepan
, Le Creuset 3-ply 16cm stainless steel saucepan
, Cuisinart Chef’s Ultimate 18cm covered saucepan
and Tefal Jamie Oliver Anodised Induction 18cm saucepan
are multi-layer stainless steel saucepans with an aluminium core.
Cast iron cookware can be pricey to buy, but is very durable if looked after properly. It gives very even heat transfer at low settings, but because of its thick and heavy base (and construction) takes longer to heat up and cool down than other types of cookware. The Le Creuset Cast Iron Saucepan 16cm has an enameled cast iron base that helps prevent rust, but if handled roughly this type of cookware can chip and become brittle.
Aluminium conducts and retains heat very well, is lightweight and doesn’t rust, but unfortunately aluminium alone is incompatible with induction. Manufacturers overcome this by using a stainless steel plate on the base of an aluminium pan to make it compatible for induction. The plate generates the heat from the induction cooktop and passes it through to the rest of the pan.
The Bessemer (induction) 2.2L saucepan with lid, Scanpan Induction + 18cm/1.7L saucepan and Circulon Steel Elite 18cm/2.8L saucepan are all aluminium saucepans with a steel plate on their bases. These pans have the thickest base of the group we reviewed, which helps them distribute heat evenly once preheated. We also noticed these pans make no noise during cooking.
What’s your style?
For slow and steady cooking, a heavier based pan is what you’ll need. These pans will react more slowly to the cooking zone and generally take longer to heat up, but once preheated a lower temperature can be used and they’ll give you even and consistent heating. They’re versatile and ideal for cooking delicate foods and meals that require a long cooking time. These bases tend to be thicker and made of aluminium (with a steel cap in the base) or cast iron.
Look for: Bessemer (top left), Le Creuset (cast iron – top right), Scanpan (bottom left) and Circulon (bottom right) induction-compatible cookware.
For fast cooking, stainless steel-layered bases heat up quickly and react quickly to changes in the temperature setting, so you may need to change the settings more frequently. These pans tend to have a thinner base, and if you don’t monitor the food frequently could be more prone to burning, overcooking and sticking (if it’s not a non-stick pan). These pans are ideal for boiling water for pasta, stocks, soups and steaming.
Look for: Cuisinart (top left), Le Creuset (stainless steel – top right), Tefal (bottom left) and Miele (bottom right) induction-compatible cookware.
What’s that noise?
For the most part, induction cooking is a noiseless process. But in our last test of induction cooktops
we noted some operating noises. You might hear buzzing or humming when using a high setting, the cooling fan might cause a whirring or hissing sound, and clicking noises could be caused by electronic switching to maintain a set temperature.
Sometimes the sounds produced come from the cookware being used. We found the multi-layered bases of the Cuisinart, Le Creuset (stainless steel), Miele and Tefal produce cracking, whistling or buzzing sounds, while the heavier-based pans are quiet.
If the middle layer is only encapsulated in the steel, as opposed to being welded within it, it can move about. Such movements are microscopic, but can give rise to the noise. You won’t notice this noise on a ceramic or gas cooktop, but the high frequency of induction’s magnetic field can cause a noise which, though not particularly loud, can become quite annoying.