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Do You Need Special Pans And Pots For Induction?

Stumped by induction stovetops? We’re giving you the inside scoop on the right pots and pans to use when cooking with induction.

You know how we all have those “aha” moments in our kitchen, right?

Say, when the roux for your gumbo turns out just right, when the meatballs have the perfect bite, or when the pasta is cooked the way you love.

But what about those “oh-no” moments?

Like, when your new induction stove arrives and you sit there, scratching your head and wondering, “Wait, do I need special pans and pots for this?”

Well, you’re not alone. That same thought crossed my mind the first time I cooked on induction. We’re living in a world where technology has even sneaked into our kitchens—upgrading our good old gas or electric stoves to sleek induction cooktops. So, it’s only fair that we try to keep up and understand the do’s and don’ts, the whys and hows.

Do You Need Special Cookware for Induction?

Here’s the short answer: Yes, you do need special cookware for induction cooktops.

An induction stove won’t just work with any old pan or pot. Unlike their gas or electric counterparts, induction cooktops heat up your cookware by magnetic induction. In simpler terms, this means your pans and pots need to be made of a magnetic-based material, like cast iron or stainless steel.

Instead of directly applying heat to the pot (like a gas flame or electric coil does), an induction cooktop excites the iron atoms in the pot or pan, causing them to generate heat themselves. It’s a marvel of modern kitchen tech, sure, but it’s also the reason why not all cookware will work.

If you place an aluminum, copper, or glass pot on an induction cooktop, you’ll find that nothing happens. That’s because these materials aren’t magnetic—they don’t interact with the electromagnetic field, so they don’t get hot.

On the other hand, pots and pans made from iron or stainless steel will get hot on an induction cooktop because they are magnetic. Some stainless steel pots might not work if they’re made from a non-magnetic type of stainless steel, but most will.

The exception to the rule? Aluminum pots and pans with a magnetized base.

These days, most high-quality aluminum cookware is designed with a magnetized metal base, allowing it to be used with both traditional and induction stoves. You’ll typically find this type of cookware labeled as “induction-friendly” or “induction-compatible” by the manufacturer.

To be sure, you can do a quick test: if a magnet sticks to your pot or pan, it’s induction ready.

Can You Use Non-Magnetic Cookware on Induction?

When it comes to using non-magnetic cookware on an induction stove, the answer is both a “yes” and a “no.”

On one hand, non-magnetic cookware is, by design, incompatible with induction cooktops. If you were to place a copper pot, an aluminum pan, or a glass baking dish directly on an induction stove, you’d be met with a rather cold reality—it just won’t heat up at all.

But on the other hand, where there’s a will, there’s a way, and the will of stubborn cooks has led to a handy workaround.

Enter the induction plate adapter, also known as an induction plate converter. This nifty device can be placed between your non-magnetic pot and the induction cooktop. The adapter, made of a magnetic material, heats up via the induction method and then, like a middleman, transfers this heat to your non-magnetic pot or pan.

It sounds like a perfect solution, right?

But before you rush out to buy one, there are a few things you should know.

The drawback to using an adapter is that it can somewhat negate the very benefits that make induction cooking appealing. Induction plate adapters don’t always heat up evenly. You might find that the center of your pot is sizzling away while the edges are barely lukewarm. Furthermore, some adapters can take quite a while to cool down.

Remember, one of the best things about induction cooktops is their instant heating and quick heat adjustment capabilities. Unfortunately, an induction adapter may not uphold these advantages.

So, the “yes” to using non-magnetic cookware on induction comes with a bit of a caveat. While there are workarounds, they might not deliver the best or most efficient cooking experience.

Wrapping It All Up

Well, folks, there you have it: the answer to whether you need special pans and pots for your shiny, new induction cooktop. Yes, you do need specific, magnetic-based cookware—with exceptions and workarounds, of course.

Basically, you’ll be on the lookout for cookware made of magnetic materials, like cast iron or certain types of stainless steel, for your induction cooktop. And remember, if in doubt, the magnet test never fails to give you a clear answer.

But hey, what if your favorite old copper pot doesn’t pass the magnet test? Don’t worry, induction plate adapters could save the day, albeit with a few minor caveats.

Yes, it’s a bit of a dance, learning to navigate the world of induction cooking. But hey, isn’t a little dance what makes cooking fun? It’s all about finding the right partners—in this case, the right pots and pans—to make your culinary performance shine.

Know your author

Written by

Dim is a food writer, cookbook author, and the editor of Home Cook World. His first book, Cooking Methods & Techniques, was published in 2022. He is a certified food handler with Level 1 and Level 2 Certificates in Food Hygiene and Safety for Catering, and a trained cook with a Level 3 Professional Chef Diploma.