Are you a proud owner of an induction cooktop, but you’re undecided if cast iron cookware is the right fit for your kitchen?
Or maybe you’re a seasoned owner of cast iron cookware and you’re contemplating an upgrade to an induction cooktop, but you’re unsure if your beloved collection will work on an induction cooker to begin with.
Regardless of your situation, you’re here because you’re grappling the same question: can you cook with cast iron on induction?
As a daily cook who’s been cooking with cast iron cookware on induction for several years, I can confidently say that the answer is yes. But to ensure that you get the most out of your cookware and protect your cooktop from scratches, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
Does Cast Iron Work on Induction?
Without a doubt, cast iron cookware can be used on induction cooktops.
As a matter of fact, an induction cooktop will heat up a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven quicker, more evenly, and with greater efficiency than a gas or electric one.
However, you need to use a lower heat setting than you would with other cooktops to avoid overheating and burning your food, as well as damaging the seasoning on your cooking vessels. Additionally, because cast iron is rough and porous, you must handle it with care to avoid scratching the surface of your cooktop.
How to Cook With Cast Iron on Induction
There are a few things you need to keep in mind if you want to get the most out of your cast iron cookware on an induction cooktop.
First, preheat the pan or pot for an adequate amount of time. Second, use a lower heat setting than you would on a gas or electric cooktop. And finally, avoid moving the pan around too much to prevent scratching the cooktop’s glass-ceramic surface.
Preheat Your Cookware for Enough Time
Cast iron is a poor heat conductor, which means it takes some time to heat up and cool down. So, when using cast iron cookware on an induction cooktop, it’s important to practice patience.
After turning up the heat, wait for your pan or pot to heat up for 1 to 2 minutes before cooking your food. The same applies when taking the pan or pot off the heat. Since cast iron holds onto heat, it can keep your food warm for a long time, but leaving it on the pan may lead to overcooking or burning.
A helpful trick is to use cooking oil as an indicator. By adding enough cooking oil to coat the surface of the pan or pot, you can use it to gauge when the cookware has reached the right temperature to start cooking. As soon as the oil starts to glisten and shimmer, it’s a sign that the pan or pot is hot enough to begin cooking.
Just be sure not to let the oil get too hot and start smoking. This means that the pan is a little too hot, which can burn your food.
Use a Lower Heat Setting Than You’re Used To
For best results when cooking with cast iron on an induction cooktop, it’s a good idea to use a lower heat setting than you otherwise would on a gas or electric cooker. By doing so, you can prevent burning.
For instance, my induction cooktop has three zones and eight heat settings ranging from 1 through 9. I find that using heat settings five or six work best; five for cooking foods on the side, and six for searing them on the outside.
I crank up the heat to setting six when I want to sear steaks, pork chops, or salmon fillets with the goal of producing a crispy and golden brown crust on the outside. Respectively, I do the same when I want to sauté mushrooms, brown onions, or crisp up fried foods.
However, setting six is too hot for cooking foods all the way through to the middle, so I use heating setting five for most of my cooking. I only turn up the heat to six after the food is cooked to safety on the inside and almost ready to serve.
Don’t Move the Pan or Pot Too Much
Cast iron skillets and Dutch ovens, regardless of whether they are bare or enameled, have a rough surface that can potentially scratch your cooktop’s glass surface if moved around excessively during cooking.
This is especially important to keep in mind if you’re new to using an induction cooktop and have previously cooked on a gas stove. Gliding the underside of the cast iron pan or pot during cooking can scratch the glass surface of your cooktop and damage its slick, polished look.
For extra protection, consider using a silicone fiberglass cooktop mat. If you do, read the user manual carefully and do not overheat your cast iron cookware — excessive heat can cause the silicone in the mat to melt on the glass surface.
Which Cookware Works With Induction Cooktops?
Induction cooktops don’t operate the same way as their gas or electric counterparts do.
Instead of transferring heat to your cookware with a gas burner or electric heating panel, they generate an electromagnetic field beneath your pans and pots that heats them up from within.
This brings us to the peculiarity when it comes to induction cooktops: the cookware needs to be ferromagnetic to pick up the electromagnetic field. Put simply, your pans and pots must contain enough iron to attract a magnet — and for that magnet to stick to them firmly.
Cast iron, carbon steel, stainless steel, and magnetized aluminum cooking vessels all contain enough iron to be ferromagnetic, making them compatible with induction cooktops. However, regular aluminum and copper cooking vessels do not meet this requirement and are not compatible.
Keep the Underside of Your Pans and Pots Clean: A Bonus Tip
As you know since you’re reading this article, cast iron cookware needs to be seasoned for protection against corrosion and rust. This is done by baking a thin layer of cooking oil onto the surface of the vessel in a hot oven until the oil has polymerized and formed molecular bonds with the iron.
A bonus tip is to keep the underside of your cast iron cookware well-seasoned, but also as clean as can be.
While the seasoning protects the cookware against corrosion and rust, it’s important to prevent oil from running down the sides and staining the cooktop’s surface. Just take a look at my induction cooktop after a round of searing salmon and sautéing asparagus in my 10.25-inch cast iron skillet:
Trust me, you don’t want to know how much distilled white vinegar and elbow grease it took me to remove this. These dark-brown stains can be very hard to remove, so it’s best to clean the cooktop thoroughly after each use and avoid leaving any excess oil on the underside of your cookware.
Absolutely and positively yes, you can cook with cast iron cookware on an induction cooktop. Just remember to preheat it for an adequate amount of time, use a lower heat setting than you would on another type of cooktop, and hold it in place during cooking to avoid scratching the glass top.
Why not polish the bottoms of the cast iron cookware?
Although it’s important to keep your cast iron skillet or Dutch oven well-seasoned to protect it from corrosion and rust, it’s equally important to keep the underside clean to avoid hard-to-remove stains on your induction cooktop’s surface.
When cooking, oil can sometimes run down the sides of the pan and bake onto the cooktop, leaving unsightly dark-brown marks. To avoid this, make sure to keep the underside of your cookware as clean as possible.