Need to know
- Induction cooktops may be more expensive than gas, but they have many benefits
- Glass and ceramic cooktops require specific cleaning products and cookware
- Size does matter when it comes to choosing cookware to use on your induction cooktop
Sleek, stylish and easy to use, ceramic and induction cooktops are a popular choice for many cooks. If you're considering switching from gas, or you've recently bought a shiny new induction cooktop, here are some tips and tricks to make sure you get the most out of this efficient mode of cooking.
Do: Wipe up spills quickly
Messy cooks, listen up. If you spill anything on your ceramic or glass cooktop, be sure to wipe it up straight away (even if you follow the 'I cook, you clean' rule in your house). Because, once spills dry onto the cooktop, they can be hard to remove.
CHOICE kitchen expert Fiona Mair says: "Sugary spills must be wiped up quickly, as they can create an uneven surface on your glass and ceramic cooktop."
Also, the touch controls on your induction cooktop may not respond properly if there's any splattered grease from cooking on them.
Don't: Use harsh cleaners on your cooktop
If you didn't follow the above rule, and you now have stubborn stains on your cooktop, you might be tempted to reach for the strongest cleaning product in your cupboard – but don't! Some products, especially abrasive cleaners, can damage and scratch the surface of your cooktop.
And although a glass cleaner may seem like an obvious choice, it will just leave streaks. Instead, use a dedicated ceramic cleaner and a microfibre cloth to keep your cooktop looking as good as new.
Make sure you're using the correct type of cookware for your cooktop.
Do: Use the right cookware for induction
You can't just put any old pan on an induction cooktop. First, it doesn't make sense to spend good money on a cooktop to use a cheap pan.
Second, induction cooktops work very differently from ceramic cooktops by using a magnetic field under the surface to transfer heat directly to your pots and pans. This means you need special induction cookware with a ferrous base containing a magnetic element.
You can test whether your current cookware is induction friendly with a fridge magnet – if it doesn't stick, it's off to the shops for new pots and pans. Although most induction cookware will be clearly labelled on the box, Fiona suggests taking a magnet with you to the shops to check the efficiency of the cookware.
"The stronger a magnet sticks to the bottom of the induction pan, the better," she says.
Do: Pick cookware that suits the size of your cooktop
Size does matter when you're buying induction cookware. According to Fiona, the cookware base needs to be as close to the size of the cooking zone as possible – if it's too small, it won't respond; if it's too big, it won't be energy efficient.
"Measure the size of your cooking zones to make sure you're getting the right-sized cookware for your induction cooktop," Fiona says.
Don't: Drag your cookware over your cooktop
Don't be lazy when transferring pots and pans to and from your cooktop – dragging them can scratch or damage the surface (it's easily done when cooking for the troops!). Be sure to lift them off instead.
Wipe up spills as soon as possible with a micro-fibre cloth – and never use an abrasive cleaner.
Don't: Use your cooktop as preparation space
If your kitchen is on the small side, using your cooktop as a space for preparing ingredients may seem harmless, but you run the risk of damaging it. It's not a suitable chopping board, no matter how rushed you are!
Do: Remove knobs when cleaning ceramic cooktops
If your ceramic cooktop has knobs, be sure to remove them when you're cleaning because dirt and food scraps can easily get trapped under them. Induction cooktops have a continuous surface with touch controls and no dirt traps, which is one of their many benefits.
Don't: Be turned off by the cost
Yes, induction cooktops are more expensive, but don't let that deter you if you can afford to invest in one. There are many benefits to an induction cooktop – and the continuous, easy-to-clean surface is just the start.
Yes, induction cooktops are more expensive, but don't let that deter you if you can afford to invest in one
Fiona points out that induction cooktops have many excellent features, including sensors to monitor temperature, an automatic off-switch when the pan is overheating, pan detection (which turns the zone off if a pan is removed) and no naked flames or harmful gases. Plus, the instant heat saves you time in the kitchen – it can boil water twice as fast as a traditional cooktop.
We test and review about 30 induction cooktops in our labs from brands including AEG, Asko, Bosch, Electrolux, Fisher & Paykel, Miele, Westinghouse and more. So if you're considering investing check our expert reviews before you buy.
You'll need a licensed professional to install your cooktop.
Do: Have your cooktop installed by a professional
This job is not for the DIYers – all cooktops should be hard-wired by a licensed electrician.
Besides the safety aspect, every appliance has different needs when it comes to power output. You'll need to check your home can accommodate the wattage of your cooktop. Some homes might require an extra circuit to be installed.
Don't: Be alarmed if your induction cooktop is noisy
When cooking with induction, you may notice some weird noises – but they're rarely anything to worry about. Fiona says "a buzz or hum is common and you might notice it gets louder at higher settings".
If you hear a clicking sound, this could be an indication that your cookware doesn't have a strong magnetic hold and isn't working well with the cooktop.