Technology

Cooking with induction cookware: the most important questions answered

At the latest when the old kitchen stove gives up the ghost, many people buy a new one with an induction hob. No wonder, because this technology offers a number of advantages. Here you can find out how induction works and which dishes you need to cook with it.

Buying the right cooker is not enough. Because the hob can only be used with the right induction cookware. You can find out everything you need to consider in our guide.


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Simply explained: How does induction work?

To find out which dishes are suitable for induction, it helps to understand how such cookers work. What induction (derived from the Latin “inducere” = “to lead in”) means and how it works is quickly explained. An induction hob looks like the hob of a normal electric oven with a ceramic hob…

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From the outside, the induction cooker hardly differs from a regular electric cooker with a glass ceramic plate.

Image: © Neff 2019

… but in contrast to this, it is not operated with thermal radiation. Instead, flat copper coils sit under the glass ceramic plate in induction cookers. If current flows through these coils, a low-frequency magnetic field is generated, which triggers eddy currents in the bottom of the pot. Through this process, the cooking container is heated, like Stiftung Warentest writes. The plate itself does not get hot, but is only heated up by the waste heat from the dishes.


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Induction cookware: Which pans and pots are suitable?

In order for induction to work, you must use suitable cookware. This can sometimes mean that after buying an induction cooker, new cooking pots, pans, espresso and even kettles have to be purchased – but not necessarily. The decisive factor in determining whether frying pans, saucepans and the like are suitable for use on the induction cooker is the condition of the floor. If this has ferromagnetic properties (can be magnetized), the vessel can be used. Whether it’s a fish pan, whistling kettle or other cookware.

WMF Perfect Pro pressure cooker
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Not every saucepan is compatible with an induction cooker. But this pressure cooker from WMF is.

Image: © WMF 2019

Cast iron and some steels (also enamelled) bring these magnetic abilities with them. Cookware made from these materials can therefore be used on the induction cooker. In contrast, dishes made of copper, stainless steel and aluminum are not suitable. But there are exceptions: for example stainless steel pots specially made for induction.

Suitable for induction Not suitable for induction
+ (cast) iron – Aluminium
+ steel (depending on composition) – copper

What does the spiral symbol mean?

New products that are suitable for induction are now specially marked. The helix symbol is primarily used for this purpose. It can be found as a pictogram on the packaging and/or on the base of the cookware and shows the stylized wire helix of a coil. The character is reminiscent of multiple lowercase “L”s.

Induction coil icon
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The spiral symbol marks cookware that is suitable for induction cookers – but not all compatible vessels bear the symbol.

Image: © AdobeStock/barbulat 2019

The right stuff? This is how you do the test

If you are not sure what material your older cookware is made of and whether it is suitable for induction, a simple test can provide information. Hold a magnet to the bottom of the pot. If this is attracted, the cookware is ferromagnetic and you can cook with the pot without hesitation. If you are wondering whether special induction cookware is also suitable for the normal stove, you can rest easy. You can also use it for hobs that are not operated via induction.

silit wmf toepfe
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With a steel core inside, these pots by Silit are also suitable for induction cookers.

Image: © VIS / WMF 2019

A level floor is just as important as the right material. In principle, an old cast-iron pot may be well suited for induction. However, if the floor is not completely level and it does not lie properly on the ceramic hob, according to the Federal Office for Radiation Protection increasingly stray fields in the vicinity of the stove. Their occurrence is normal when using induction cookers and is harmless within the limit values. However, you should not unnecessarily increase their occurrence by using inappropriate cookware. Another undesirable side effect of using uneven pots: Noise can occur during cooking.

In turbo gear: What should be considered when cooking with induction?

Owners of an induction cooker can look forward to the fact that it cooks faster than the competition. When switched on, the hob reacts as directly as a gas cooker, but heats food much more quickly than this or an electric cooker. According to Stiftung Warentest, an induction field only requires five to eight minutes to bring a liter and a half of water to a boil. Induction devices with a booster function can do this even faster. For comparison: A normal stove with radiant heating needs about nine minutes for this task.

AEG Induktionskochfelder MaxiSense 1
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If you cook several dishes at the same time, you have to hurry when cooking with the induction cooker.

Bild: © Electrolux 2019

Most people should welcome the fact that induction reduces cooking times. But the time saved also has an impact on the cooking process. Chopping vegetables while the oil is heating up in the pan is not advisable. Since the cookware heats up so quickly, you have to be quick. The ingredients should therefore be as are ready cut as soon as the stove is switched on.

This can mean a change at the beginning. And this also has a positive effect on the electricity bill, albeit not too lavishly. The induction field saves loudly Stiftung Warentest compared to Electric hotplates save about a fifth of electricity costs.

Flexible hobs make cooking more intuitive

However, induction cookers are not only fast, but also flexible. Appliances with surface induction offer the option of using several cooking zones at the same time. Sensors in the middle of the coils recognize the size of pots, roasters, etc. and activate appropriately large areas on the hob. Miele even offers cookers with full surface induction, where the cookware can be placed anywhere on the ceramic hob.

Induction hob KM 7000 generation 7000 Miele
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With full-surface induction, the position of the dishes on the stove is irrelevant.

Image: © Miele 2019

But even if the induction cooker is still traditionally divided into hobs, it still offers advantages. Thanks to its innovative technology, even pots that only cover two thirds of the cooking zone are sufficient without the risk of losing energy. Incidentally, these zones can also be rectangular, which is practical for using roasters and other large dishes on the induction hob.


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No burnt hands: the induction field is (almost) immediately cool

Cooking with induction is also advantageous in terms of safety. Since only the cookware heats up, the hob will be cold again almost immediately as soon as it is removed from it. Only some residual heat, which was given off by the pot to the plate, remains. In contrast, a conventional stovetop radiates up to 20 minutes of remaining heat.

This circumstance can contribute significantly to safety in the household. Even if you forget to switch off the induction cooker: As long as there is no pot on the stove, no heat is emitted. It is quite unlikely that small children, for example, will burn their hands on the hob. Most Induction cooktops also emit a warning signal if there is no cookware on the switched-on plate.


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summary

  • With induction, magnetic fields are generated that trigger eddy currents in the bottom of the pot and heat it up.
  • The technology can only be used with cookware with a magnetizable base.
  • Pots made of (cast) iron and certain types of steel are usually suitable.
  • Aluminum, stainless steel and copper do not.
  • You can recognize induction-compatible crockery by the spiral symbol, but ferromagnetic crockery without the symbol can also be used.
  • Self-test: If the bottom of the pot and a magnet attract each other, the pot is suitable for induction.
  • Induction cookers cook faster than gas and electric cookers.
  • You save electricity costs.
  • The induction cooker can be used individually thanks to flexible hobs.
  • It offers safety because only the pot gets hot, not the hob.

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