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How to Use an Induction Cooktop

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An induction cooktop heats food differently than an electric or gas stove. Rather than the heat generated transferring to the pan, the cookware is the original generator of the heat.  

There are a few advantages to using an induction cooker. It cooks food quickly, is energy efficient, affordable, simple to operate and reduces the risk of burns.

Here is a quick overview on how to use an induction cooktop.

Here's how induction cooking works

1. Plug the unit into an electrical outlet.

2. Place the induction pan and the ingredients in the center of the placement guide.

3. Press the ON/OFF button to turn on the induction cooktop.

4. Press the MENU button, and the default POWER setting is activated (usually level 5).

If you want to use the TEMP mode, press the MENU button.

5. Adjust the temperature/power level using the + and - buttons.

6. When you are finished cooking, take the cookware off and press the ON/OFF button to turn the unit off.

7. After the fan has stopped running, unplug the unit.  

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How Induction Cooktops Work

diagram explaining how induction cooking heat works

Induction burners have an electromagnetic coil beneath the glass-ceramic cooking plate. When the unit is powered on, an electric current goes through this coil.

The current in the coil creates a magnetic field, but there is no heat yet. When a pan with iron or magnetized stainless steel is placed on the surface, a fluctuating magnetic field is generated above the coil.

This field creates electric currents in the metal of the pan. The pan's metal is heated, as well as the food.  

Note: Electromagnetic induction is often shortened to "induction" when used in the context of cooking appliances such as an induction hob or induction rice cooker.

Why Choose an Induction Cooktop?

The advantages of Induction cooking are that it energy-efficient, the food cooks quickly and the hob is easy to clean and maintain.  

When you cook your first meal on an induction hob you’ll be surprised at how quickly the food cooks. There are many temperatures from which to choose to cook your dish.

Controlling the heat is easier on an induction stove than when using a gas stove. For the casual cook, it is difficult to look at a gas flame and figure out if it is too high or too low. On the other hand, induction heating makes being precise easier to get the heat level you need.

There is very little wasted heat when induction stoves are used since the cooktop only heats the pan and the heating zone. Unlike gas or electric cooktops, the air around the cookware isn’t heated, so the temperature in the kitchen doesn’t rise. Chefs and home cooks appreciate this, especially in the summertime and those living in warm climates year-round.

A convenient feature of an induction cooker is that it is easier to clean than electric coil or gas stoves.

Induction cooktops are popular in commercial establishments such as restaurants, food carts and trucks, and convenience stores. Customers can place their order, and the cook can prepare it quickly.

Employers can place a portable induction cooktop in their employee breakroom or kitchen so associates can make a healthy meal for themselves and a colleague.

Types of Induction Cooktops

Induction cooktops can be portable or built into a countertop opening. The portable induction cooktops don’t need to be installed and can be placed on a non-metallic, flat surface.

Depending upon your skill set, it may be necessary to hire a skilled contractor to prepare the countertop cutout and install the induction stove. If there is electrical work to be completed in your home an electrician may be required.

How to Use an Induction Cooktop

Electrical Requirements for Induction Cooktops

It's important to review the voltage requirements of your model to ensure your electrical outlet meets the required standard suggested by the manufacturer. Most manuals state these devices must be plugged into a dedicated outlet to avoid overloading the outlet and tripping the circuit breaker.

Duxtop 9600LS Induction Cooktop Control Panel

Control Panel

Now that you know which induction cooking cookware to use let's look at the controls on the induction cooktop.

The control panel on portable induction cooktops is either on the same plane as the cooking surface or at an angle from the cooking area. Although most models have touch sensor controls, some models have a knob or push-button controls. 

The display panel has power, temperature, and timer buttons. To increase or decrease the heat settings or time, press the + and - buttons.

After experimenting with these features, you will get the hang of it and will be able to use the cooktop for regular cooking successfully. It will be easy to determine the appropriate temperature settings for your dishes.

An LCD or LED panel is typically in the middle of the control panel and shows the cooking power and temperature settings, and time remaining if the timer is set.

Induction Cooker Modes and Safety Features

Manual Mode

This is the manual method of using the cooktop and provides the flexibility to choose the temperature level of your choice. Two buttons, usually + and - control the temperature.

The manual mode allows the cook to experiment with the various levels and find the optimum one suited for a particular recipe.

Tip: When using your induction cooktop for the first few times, start with a lower heat and increase as needed.

Preset Modes

Most induction cooktops have multiple preset modes that help you to cook seamlessly. They are convenient because the heat zone can be selected without manually increasing and decreasing the heat.

For example, you can choose the option to heat milk. The cooktop will then automatically select the appropriate temperature level for that purpose.

Also, some hobs have preset levels for boiling water and to simmer and keep warm. The temperature can be altered manually whenever required while in a preset mode. 

Timer Mode

When you have a clear idea about the average time it takes to prepare a particular food or recipe, the timer mode on the induction cooker can be easily set.

Tip: Check the owner’s manual to see if your model will automatically shut off after a specified time. Some cease operation after two or three hours.

Sleep Mode

Another helpful feature on some models is the sleep mode. The unit will automatically go into this mode once the time is reached. This is beneficial because you do not have to stay in front of the unit while the food is cooking since it will automatically stop heating.

Little child playing with pan and electric stove in the kitchen

Safety Features of Induction Cooktops and Stoves

Safety functions are another of the many advantages to induction cooking. They are equipped with features such as overheating protection, automatic pan detection, child lock, and high and low voltage detection.

The type of features and settings offered varies among models. The owner’s manual generally gives a detailed explanation.

One reason people buy an induction hob is that there is no open flame and little residual heat after you've turned it off.

Induction Cooking Safety Tips

The risk from any stray EMF emissions from your cooktop can be reduced if you take these steps.

  • Make sure the bottom of the cooking vessel is clean and flat.
  • Before powering on the cooktop, place the pan on the cooktop.
  • The cookware must be placed in the middle of the placement guide.
  • It is best to use a pan that covers the cooking zone.
  • If you are using a full-size cooktop or stove and are only using one burner, set the pan on the rear cooking zone. The magnetic field strength decreases as distance increases.
  • Silicone or wooden utensils instead of metal are preferable

For additional information, we composed this thoroughly researched and detailed article about induction cooktop safety.

What Cookware Can be Used on an Induction Cooktop?

Induction cooktops require the pots and pans used with your unit be induction suitable. This means the base must contain either iron or magnetic material.

The cookware should be flat with a smooth surface. It's a good idea to check the bottom of cast iron cookware carefully for rough spots or burrs and remove them before placing them on your cooktop.

USE ON INDUCTION COOKTOP

Bare and enameled Cast Iron
Carbon Steel 
Magnetic Stainless Steel
DON'T USE ON 
INDUCTION COOKTOP
Glass
Copper 
Aluminum
*Unless there is a  layer on the bottom
with magnetic properties

Is Your Cookware Induction Ready?

If you have a pan and aren't sure if it has a magnetic base, place a magnet (refrigerator magnet is fine) on the bottom, and if it sticks firmly, the pan will work on your induction cooktop.

Some manufacturers put the induction logo on the underside of the cookware.

If you don't have a magnet, you can put some water in a pan and switch the cooktop on. If the water heats up you know the cookware is induction compatible.

Magnet sticks to stainless steel pan

Using the Induction Cooktop to Prepare Your Meal

The first dishes I cooked on my new induction cooktop, a Duxtop 9600LS, were scrambled eggs and pancakes. If you start with something simple, you'll be successful quickly. Then you can graduate to preparing other foods such as steak and rice. 

Step 1: Gather your ingredients and cooking utensils.

Step 2: Place the cooker on a level, non-metallic surface. Ensure the ventilation slots are not blocked (there should be a space of 3-5 inches between the cooker and other objects).

Step 3: I usually wipe the cooktop and the bottom of the pot or pan with a dry microfiber cloth. 

Step 4: Place the food in the induction cookware.

Step 5: Place a pan in the center of the cooking zone. If the cooktop or stove has more than one zone, place a pan on a burner about the same size as the diameter of the pan you are using. To avoid scratching the glass surface, lift the pan on and off the cooktop rather than sliding it.

Step 6: Plug the unit into the electrical socket. Most induction cooktops require it be a dedicated circuit. 

CAUTION: If you have a pacemaker, please consult your cardiologist before using an induction cooktop or any appliance with induction technology.

Tip: Read the owner's manual first. It will make your first cooking experience smoother.

Setting Induction Cooktop Functions 

1. Press and hold the OFF/ON button. 

2. Press the MENU function. The default POWER level on most cooktops is five. If you want to use the TEMP function, press the MENU button again.

3. Set the temperature/power level and timer.

4. If desired activate the LOCK.

5. When your food has finished cooking, take the cookware off and press the ON/OFF button to turn the unit off.

6. After the fan has stopped running, unplug the unit from electric power.

7. Clean the cooktop after the cooktop surface is cooled.

Cleaning Your Induction Cooktop

1. After the unit has been unplugged and is cool, wipe it with a moist paper towel, a damp cloth, or sponge.. Do not use any abrasive scrubbing pads.

2. Optional: A glass-ceramic cooktop cleaner can also be used if there is dried food to be removed or stubbon stains. Place a small drop of the cleaner on a soft cloth and rub until the surface is clean. Follow this up with cleaning the residue off with a moist cloth.

3.  If there are water spots on the hob, use white vinegar to remove them. Clean off the vinegar with a wet cloth.

4. Finally, dry the cooktop with a clean cloth.

Questions and Answers

Why do induction cooktops make noise?

  • Cooling fans in some models make a humming sound.
  • Consumers have commented that when the high-power levels are used, there is a high-pitched or buzzing sound.
  • Cookware that has a thin bottom or is of low quality.

Can I use a wok on my induction cooktop?

There are two scenarios where a wok can be used. First, if you have an induction cooktop with a shallow basin. Second, if the wok has a flat bottom made from magnetic materials. Woks with an aluminum base will not work on an induction burner.

Do I need to use a dedicated outlet?

Most manuals stipulate a dedicated outlet is necessary to avoid overheating or a shutdown.

Can I use cast iron cookware on induction cooktops?

Yes, they can be used for easy induction cooking. Be sure the base is clean and smooth.  Also, to avoid scratching your cooktop, lift the vessel and don't slide it on or off the unit.

Is the cooling fan supposed to run after the cooktop is unplugged or turned off?

Yes, it will run for a couple of minutes. This prevents damage to the internal components.

Do induction cooktops interfere with pacemakers?

There has been some discussion and research as to whether or not induction stoves interfere with pacemakers. If you have a pacemaker, you might consider discussing your use of these cookers with your cardiologist.

What pots and pans do I need?

Once you know which cookware pieces can be used on your induction hob, then you can decide what pots and pans you need/want to buy. Some people wonder if they should buy a skillet/fry pan or a sauté pan.

Another choice to make is whether it is more cost-effective to buy an induction cookware set (they can also be used on gas and electric stoves) or purchase individual pots and pans and add to your collection a little bit at a time.

Where can I used an induction cooktop?

Their portability allows them to be placed in businesses, mobile homes, RVs, boats, cabins, dorm rooms, and small apartments, and in a full-sized kitchen.

Should I use an interface disk?

Some consumers purchase an interface disk. This allows the use of non-induction cookware on an induction surface. The disk is placed between the pan and the glass surface of the cooker.

The problem with this product is that the cooking time will be increased since heat is transmitted more slowly to the cookware.  Also, there is a chance that these disks will overheat and damage the cooktop. If this happens, the unit will shut off. Unless you have to, induction disks are not recommended.

Final Thoughts on Using an Induction Cooktop

Using an induction cooktop is easy to clean, efficient and simple to operate as you need only press a few buttons. Although there is a learning curve in the beginning it doesn't take long to adjust.

Another feature that some people factor in their decision to purchase an induction cooktop is that it stays cool, with minimal residual heat from the cookware.

Kitchen appliance manufacturers continue to develop units as single or double portable burners, built-in units, or a full-size range all with varying capabilities and features as the number of people who buy them increase. There are many more options available in each category than there were five years ago. 

Where to Next?