An Expert Guide to Induction Cookware

Published on 10/18/2023 · 12 min readUnlock the secrets of induction cookware with our expert guide. Find the perfect pots and pans to elevate your cooking game!
Elizabeth H., Kitchen Expert
By Kitchen Expert Elizabeth H.

Photo by Briz Maker

TL;DR: Induction cookware can seem daunting, but the simplest way to test for induction compatibility is to grab a magnet. All cookware that can hold a magnet is compatible with induction stoves. Common materials are cast iron or stainless steel. Cookware with a flat bottom will heat and cook more evenly, and pans that match the size of the cooktop’s rings are the most efficient.

I’m Elizabeth, a classically trained pastry chef and multi-category expert at Curated. I grew up in the kitchen, working alongside my parents and grandparents from a young age. I’ve owned and tested a lot of different cookware over my lifetime and feel confident in my knowledge of the best brands for induction cookware and everything else too!

At Curated, I’ve helped over 325 kitchen customers find their ideal new kitchenware. I’m passionate about helping everyone find joy in the kitchen with the right products. In this guide, I will help you determine what to look for when searching for the perfect induction-compatible cookware for your kitchen.

What Is Induction Cookware?

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Induction cookware is a type of kitchenware compatible with induction cooktops. These specialized induction cooktops generate heat using an electromagnetic field. Only magnetic and ferromagnetic materials, such as cast iron or certain stainless steel alloys, are compatible with induction cooktops.

Induction cookware is distinguished by its flat bottom for optimal heat distribution. Many non-stick or aluminum pans will feature a stainless steel base plate, making them induction-compatible. Induction stovetops and induction-compatible cookware have a higher initial investment but offer long-term benefits. Induction stoves are incredibly efficient, very safe to use as the cooktop itself stays cool, and offer the precision heat often found with gas stovetops.

What to Consider When Buying Induction Cookware

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1. Is the cookware magnetic?

Induction cooktops use an electromagnetic field to heat the pan directly so you can test the induction compatibility of a pan with a magnet. If a magnet sticks to the base, it is induction-ready. Some materials like cast iron or stainless steel are naturally magnetic while others like aluminum will require a magnetic base plate in order to work with an induction cooktop.

2. Does the cookware have a flat bottom?

Flat-bottomed cookware ensures the most efficient heat transfer from the induction burner to your pan. Rounded or warped bottoms can lead to uneven heating and cooking and energy inefficiency.

3. Is the cookware durable?

You'll want cookware that can withstand high heat and rapid temperature changes. The high efficiency of induction stoves means that pans heat up very quickly. Stainless steel and cast iron pans can handle quick temperature changes and withstand high heat.

4. How much should induction cookware cost?

There is a huge range of prices for induction-compatible cookware. It depends on the quality and materials as well as the brand. Here’s a breakdown of common price points:

  • Low Price Point ($25-$100): Induction cookware will be single items or small sets in this price range. The quality of these pans may be lower, but they will perform just fine for those on a small budget or those just getting started with induction cookware.
  • Mid Price Point ($100-$500): Mid-range sets offer an excellent balance between quality and price. Most home cooks will be well served by sets at this price point as they have a good selection of pieces made from quality materials.
  • High Price Point ($500+): High-end induction cookware is made with high-quality materials and is often multi-ply. These sets offer best-in-class even heating and cooking and overall durability. Advanced home chefs and professionals will enjoy the long-term investment in their kitchen.

What Are the Different Types of Induction Cookware?

1. Stainless Steel Cookware

Stainless steel cookware is the most common type of induction cookware. It is an excellent conductor of heat and is highly durable. High-quality multi-ply stainless steel pots and pans often have an aluminum or copper core. This core improves heat distribution while maintaining the magnetic properties necessary for induction cooking. Stainless steel cookware is resistant to rust and discoloration, easy to clean, and typically dishwasher and oven-safe.

  • Benefits
    • Does not react with acidic or alkaline foods like copper pans do
    • Can withstand high heat, making it oven-safe in most cases
    • Typically lighter than cast iron
  • Keep in Mind
    • Stainless steel pans are not non-stick, so some food will stick to the pans, which requires more careful cooking
    • Lower-quality pans are prone to hot spots and uneven cooking

Recommendations: All-Clad D3 Stainless Steel 10-Piece Cookware Set, Cuisinart Multiclad Pro Triple Ply Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set

2. Non-Stick Cookware

Non-stick cookware is usually made from aluminum bodies, which are not induction-compatible. A magnetic plate, usually stainless steel, is added to the base to make these pans work with induction cooktops. These pans are a great option for easier cleanup but are overall less durable than stainless steel or cast iron options.

  • Benefits
    • Ideal for delicate foods such as eggs or fish
    • Requires less oil or butter, ideal for low-fat cooking
  • Keep in Mind
    • Non-stick coatings will degrade over time and require replacement
    • Higher risk of manufacturer defects due to the composite construction

Recommendations: Scanpan Classic Induction 10-Piece Set, KitchenAid Hard-Anodized Induction Compatible 11-Piece Set

3. Cast Iron Cookware

Cast iron is well known for its durability and heat retention, making it ideal for searing and slow cooking. Cast iron is naturally magnetic, so it is induction-compatible. It is available in two styles: enamel-coated and uncoated. Enameled cast iron is often made from ceramic coatings and is easier to clean. The coating also prevents rusting. On the other hand, uncoated cast iron requires specialized care to clean the cooking surface. Over time, uncoated cast iron will develop a “seasoning” like a natural non-stick coating with proper care.

  • Benefits
    • Retains heat well
    • Can get to high heat without being damaged
  • Keep in Mind
    • Heavy and challenging to handle
    • Requires extra care and cleaning
    • Can react with acidic foods, possibly affecting taste

Recommendations: Le Creuset Signature Cast Iron 5-Piece Set, Staub Cast Iron 4-Piece Stackable Set

4. Induction-Safe Copper Cookware

Pure copper is not magnetic and therefore not induction compatible; however, some manufacturers add a magnetic layer to the base of copper cookware to make it induction safe.

Copper cookware is known for being incredibly conductive and providing quick and even heating.

  • Benefits
    • Precise temperature control due to excellent thermal conductivity
    • Can be used as decor when not used
  • Keep in Mind
    • More expensive than other cookware
    • Copper is quite reactive to acidic foods if not lined with another metal, like stainless steel
    • Requires special care to maintain its aesthetically pleasing finish

Recommendation: Hestan CopperBond Induction Copper 10-Piece Set

Features to Look for in Induction Cookware

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  1. Heat-Resistant Handles: Handles should be attached securely, particularly with rivets. They should also be designed to be heat resistant and comfortable to hold when on the stove.
  2. Lid Quality: Well-fitting lids are crucial. Look for tight-fitting lids that will lock in heat and moisture. Lids are often made from tempered glass or stainless steel. Some prefer glass lids as they allow you to see your food without opening the lid and releasing moisture.
  3. Oven-Safe: If you prefer to take dishes from the stove directly into the oven, look for oven-safe cookware.
  4. Dishwasher-Safe: Some cookware is dishwasher-safe while others are hand-wash only. Check your set before putting it into the dishwasher. Uncoated cast iron and some other cookware are never dishwasher safe and must always be hand-washed and dried after use.
  5. Induction Interface Disc: Aluminum cookware, which is what many non-stick options are made from, is not magnetic and, therefore, not induction-compatible. These pans are sometimes fitted with a magnetic plate to make them induction-compatible.
  6. Warranty: Since high-quality induction cookware can be a significant investment, looking for cookware with a good warranty is wise. Most cookware has some warranty, and high-end brands often have limited lifetime warranties covering manufacturer defects for the product's lifetime.

Features to Avoid in Induction Cookware

  1. Thin Materials: Avoid cookware made from thin metals because they can warp or dent easily and often heat and cook unevenly.
  2. Cheap Non-Stick Coatings: Low-quality non-stick coatings can wear off quickly and may release harmful chemicals such as PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) when damaged. Opt for high-quality, non-stick surfaces or consider alternative materials.

How to Choose the Best Induction Cookware for You

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Let’s walk through a few real examples of customers I’ve worked with to help you narrow down what induction cookware is right for you!

Kat: Intermediate, looking to level up

Kat feels comfortable in the kitchen and knows her favorite recipes well, but she is scared to branch out and is looking for high-quality pieces to take her to the next level. Her cast iron skillet is already a favorite. She recently remodeled her kitchen and is looking for an induction-compatible set that will advance with her as her confidence does.

Features to look for: Kat should look for sets with a multi-ply construction and feature a responsive core of either copper or aluminum. Kat should also consider sealed rims for dishwasher compatibility, extended durability, and a high oven-safe temperature rating.

Products to consider:

  • Hestan ProBond Professional Clad 10-Piece Ultimate Set: This Hestan ProBond set is an excellent choice for confident home cooks. It features a pure aluminum core, fully sealed rims, flush rivets, and ergonomic handles. This dishwasher-safe set is made in Italy. It’s also oven-safe up to 600°F degrees and features interchangeable lids.
  • All-Clad Copper Core 5-Ply Bonded 10-Piece Set: The Copper Core line from All-Clad is a top-of-the-line option known for its even heating and cooking and fast response times. Copper is more conductive than aluminum, so the copper core heats and responds to temperature changes faster than aluminum core pans. Designed and built in the U.S., this set is dishwasher-safe and oven-safe up to 600°F degrees.

Kyle: Budget-conscious beginner

Kyle just moved into a new apartment with an induction stove. His first non-stick cookware set doesn’t work on this stovetop and is due for an upgrade. He is looking for a budget-friendly option that is easy to use and clean. Kyle frequently uses a 10-inch fry pan and wants something similar in his new set.

Features to look for: Kyle should look for a set with a stainless steel exterior or feature a stainless steel baseplate. He should also consider if he wants a stainless steel interior versus a non-stick coating and what type of lid he wants. Kyle should also consider sets featuring stay-cool handles or silicone handle grips.

Products to consider:

  • KitchenAid Stainless Steel 10-Piece Set: This set from KitchenAid is one of the best stainless steel options in its price range. Aluminum core bases, silicone handle grips, oven and dishwasher-safe compatibility, and tempered glass lids round out this feature-packed set.
  • Circulon Stainless Steel 11-Piece Set with SteelShield Hybrid Stainless and Non-Stick Technology: This set is an excellent choice for those on a budget who want the benefits of non-stick cookware and the durability of stainless steel. The stainless steel ridges are designed to protect the non-stick coating (so you can use metal utensils) but are still flat enough to fry eggs or cook pancakes. This set is also dishwasher-safe for easy cleanup.

Sean: Family-Friendly Foodie

Sean has two teenagers who are learning to cook. Their cooking experiments have been the final straw in their old cookware set, as the non-stick surface is scratched and peeling. He is looking for a mid-range option to hold up to his kids while they are still home and remain in nice condition for him and his partner after the kids leave the house. Sean is open to non-stick and stainless steel interiors as long as they are durable. His family makes a lot of soup and pasta dishes, so a large Dutch oven or stock pot is important to him.

Features to look for: Sean should look for sets that are dishwasher safe, built with durability in mind, and large enough to cook for a group, such as sets that include an 8-quart stockpot, large sauté pan, large fry pans, or a 3-quart saucepan. He should focus on options with multi-layer coatings for non-stick cookware sets that can withstand his teens. Sean should focus on multi-ply offerings with sealed rims for durability for stainless steel sets.

Products to consider:

  • Circulon Symmetry Hard Anodized Non-Stick 11-Piece Set: The Circulon Symmetry set is an induction-compatible high-quality non-stick option. It features bonded stainless base plates and a triple-layer non-stick surface. This set is dishwasher and oven-safe and features shatter-resistant glass lids.
  • KitchenAid 5-Ply Clad Stainless Steel 10-Piece Set: This set from KitchenAid features five layers and is a great value-oriented alternative to brands like All-Clad or Hestan. It offers high-quality performance at a family-friendly price point. Sealed rims make it dishwasher safe, and the 5-ply construction feels heavy-duty and conducts heat efficiently.

Find the Best Induction Cookware for You

There are many factors to consider when selecting cookware and your budget and ideal features will help you determine what type of cookware to buy. I hope that this guide has helped you learn more about what options you have when shopping for induction-compatible cookware, as well as helped you determine your needs and priorities for selecting technologies/features in your next cookware.

Do you still need help figuring out what pots and pans are right for you? Please reach out to me or another Curated Kitchen Expert for free, personalized advice. We’ll help you find the right option to whip up your next delectable meal!

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