Induction Cooking: A Before You Buy Guide

If you are in the market for a new cooking appliance, you may have to decide between a cooktop or a range or stove. Then, the decision will come down to fuel type: do you go with gas or electric?

If you go with an electric range or cooktop, there are three options for you to consider: radiant, induction and coil. A few of the reasons that induction ranges or cooktops have been growing in popularity is that they tend to be highly efficient, offer easy cleanup and can reach a boil or drop in temperature quickly. This lets you enjoy faster cooking, especially in pots, with water coming to a boil sooner.

In this guide, review what induction is, how induction cooking works, induction cookware and how to test for compatibility, the benefits of induction cooking and more.

What is Induction Cooking?

Cooktops and stoves or ranges with an induction rangetop or stovetop are the different types of induction appliances available.

To start, induction ranges or cooktops use electricity as their fuel source, and are one of the most efficient cooking technologies on the market. They achieve their efficiency by heating the cookware directly, not the cooking surface, as is the case with other electric cooktop or range options. This turns the cookware into the heat source, providing effective high heat cooking while still being able to achieve the low, consistent heat needed for challenging tasks like melting chocolate.

An example of efficiency is that, when boiling water, the KitchenAid® induction cooktop, compared to its radiant and gas cooktops, generally had:

  • Reduced energy consumption (defined as the total energy consumed to boil water) of 285Wh vs 402Wh for radiant
  • Improved energy efficiency (defined as the percentage of energy effectively used to boil water) of 75% vs 57% for radiant and 36% for gas
  • A 25% savings of time vs radiant, and 45-52% with respect to gas units

Other electric cooktops or ranges, such as open coil-type cooking tops and smooth cooking tops, are less efficient in heat transfer. This is because the heat is first transferred to the cooking surface and from there to the cooking vessel.

Despite using electricity, induction ranges or cooktops actually generate heat through electromagnets. This not only makes them safer than other options but it also enables a greater speed of cooking, more temperature control and makes them easier to clean than gas or electric ranges/cooktops.

Induction Cooktops and How They Work

An induction stovetop or range works via a copper coil under the cooktop that generates electromagnetic energy. This magnetic energy interacts with compatible cookware to heat it.

You can enjoy a quicker cook time and food that is more evenly cooked because the cooktop does not need to heat up. Another benefit of this technology is that it allows the cooktop to cool down rather quickly after the pan is removed.

A red burner on an induction range. A red burner on an induction range.

Closely pay attention to what you’re cooking the first few times you use a new induction range or cooktop. This way you can adapt to this cooking method’s speed. It’s never a bad idea to take it slow, and monitor your meals as they cook.

Cooktops Vs. Ranges

Induction ranges and cooktops are both fueled by electricity. Cooktops are installed in the countertop with the controls on its horizontal plane. Induction ranges have an induction rangetop built right into it, and let you enjoy the same benefits as an induction rangetop.

A KitchenAid Induction Range. Next to it is an opened cookbook. A KitchenAid Induction Range. Next to it is an opened cookbook.
A KitchenAid Induction Range. On the rangetop is a lidded pot and a pan. To the left are a container of pasta, a tray of food and a spatula. To the right are a cutting board with diced vegetables, oil bottles and a container with utensils. A KitchenAid Induction Range. On the rangetop is a lidded pot and a pan. To the left are a container of pasta, a tray of food and a spatula. To the right are a cutting board with diced vegetables, oil bottles and a container with utensils.

Induction Cookware: Which Pots and Pans Work Best?

A KitchenAid Induction Cooktop. On the cooktop are a boiling pot of pasta, a pan with vegetables and a saucepan with red sauce. A KitchenAid Induction Cooktop. On the cooktop are a boiling pot of pasta, a pan with vegetables and a saucepan with red sauce.

What is generally important with induction compatible cookware is the number of layers that it is made of. In most cases, one of these layers will be made of aluminum. This helps spread the heat in a consistent and uniform manner. This is one factor that can dictate the cookware’s performance in the following areas:

  • Heat uniformity
  • Pan detection
  • Ability to reach maximum power
  • Heating retention
  • Heating spread

Induction cooking only works with magnetic or ferromagnetic cookware. This type of cookware has a layer made of a stainless steel magnetic material that directly transforms the cooktop glass into the heat source, avoiding the need for the cooking surface to heat up altogether.

Non-magnetic and non-ferromagnetic cookware will not heat up on an induction cooktop or range. The burner will not detect the cookware and, in turn, the cookware will not interact with the electromagnetic energy that the burner generates.

Compatible induction cookware materials include enameled steel, cast iron and stainless steel designed for induction cooking.

Non-compatible induction cookware materials include glass, ceramic and certain copper or aluminum pans.


The ply-type (number of layers) of cookware does not affect an induction stovetop’s efficiency. That being said, it can affect a cookware’s ability to evenly distribute heat, which may impact results. You may experience better performances with 5-ply rather than 3-ply.

How to Test if Your Cookware Is Induction Compatible

To achieve optimal heat conduction, only use cookware with a flat bottom that is as close as possible to the same size as the surface area of the burner, allowing for direct contact with the range or cooktop.

If the pan is smaller than the element, the burner may not be able to detect the pan and won’t generate heat. Also, if the pan is too large, heat will only generate where the burner makes direct contact with the pan, which can result in uneven cooking.

There are two ways to effectively test if cookware is induction compatible:

  1. Flip the pan over and hold a magnet to the bottom. If the magnet does stick to the bottom, then it is ferromagnetic and suitable for induction cooking.
  2. Check the bottom of your cookware. If you spot a stamped coiled spring symbol this indicates induction compatibility.


When you purchase and register a qualifying KitchenAid® induction appliance, you will receive a bonus induction ready cookware set1. Learn more here.

1) Terms and conditions are subject to change.

How to Clean Induction Cooking Surface

Induction ranges or cooktops are easy to clean because the cooktop doesn’t heat up. Spilled food, boiled-over pots and other common messes will have less opportunity to burn onto the cooktop surface. This means you can wipe most of them away rather easily after you’re done cooking.

Someone cleaning spilled sauce on an induction cooktop with a dish cloth. Someone cleaning spilled sauce on an induction cooktop with a dish cloth.

Before cleaning your ceramic glass range or cooktop:

  1. Make sure the controls are turned off.
  2. Always follow label instructions on cleaning products.
  3. Avoid using steel wool, abrasive powder cleansers, chlorine bleach, rust remover or ammonia.

To remove burned on soil from the ceramic glass range or cooktop surface, follow these steps. It’s best to always follow your appliance product use and care instructions. This should be your primary source of information.

Step 1:
Remove food and/or residue with a scraper designed for ceramic glass ranges or cooktops.

  • Clean while the cooktop or range is still warm, but not hot to the touch. It’s safest to wear an oven mitt.
  • Hold the scraper at a roughly 45° angle against the glass surface and apply pressure to scrape the residue.
  • Let the range or cooktop cool before starting the next step.

Step 2:
Apply a few dime-sized drops of a ceramic glass cooktop or range cleaner such as affresh® cooktop cleaner, to the areas you want to clean.

  • Rub the cleaner onto the range or cooktop surface with a cooktop scrubbing pad. Apply reasonable pressure to remove stubborn stains.
  • It’s usually recommended to let the cleaner dry before starting the next step.

Step 3:
Polish with a clean, dry cloth or paper towel.

  • Repeat the Steps 1 – 3 as needed for stubborn or burned on stains.
  • Watch this video to see how easy it is to clean an induction cooktop.

Induction or Gas or Electric?

Comparing induction with either gas or other electric cooking appliances really comes down to your cooking style, preferred techniques and overall needs.

A red burner on an induction range.
Element with blue flame on a gas cooktop
Element on an electric range.

Induction vs. Gas

Gas ranges or cooktops are powered by either natural gas or propane for convenient quick heating and precise burner control. Gas can help you achieve a nice sear or simmer and is ideal for wok cooking due to its high heat.

A nice benefit of induction ranges or cooktops is that they are easier to clean than gas ranges or cooktops. This is because gas ranges or cooktops tend to have grates and burner caps that must be removed before doing a thorough clean whereas induction ranges or cooktops have a smooth surface.

Induction vs. Radiant vs. Coil Cooktops

Radiant ranges or cooktops have metal coils that heat fast for the purposes of boiling and simmering. They are compatible with any cookware and feature expanding and contracting burners to better match your pot sizes. Some models of these cooktops have ceramic cooking surfaces that are relatively easy to clean and a protective coating that won’t get scratched.

Coil ranges or cooktops are usually less costly than radiant and induction ranges or stovetops. This lower price does come at the expense of being more difficult to clean.

The KitchenAid brand does not offer coil ranges.

Induction ranges or cooktops may produce a small hum or buzzing sound because it slightly vibrates when in use. If you’re sensitive to sound then gas or electric cooktops may be a more suitable option for your household.

What Are the Benefits of Induction Cooktops?

Now that you know how induction cooking compares to the other available options, here is a summary of some of it benefits:

  • Better temperature control and more desirable cooking results
  • Faster heating and cooking
  • Easier to clean
  • Per the Department of Energy, induction ranges or cooktops can be up to 85% more efficient in energy transfer. Essentially, 85% of the energy arrives directly to the cookware, creating a system that is highly efficient 2
  • The pot gets hot but the rangetop or cooktop doesn’t, making it a safe option
  • Less hot air is released. This means that your kitchen, especially if it is smaller, may become less hot while you’re cooking. It is still recommended to use a hood vent for things like grease

2), last visited Oct 17, 2019.

It’s easy to see why induction cooking has grown in popularity so much over the last few years as more households are discovering its benefits. Now it’s time to decide if it’s the right fit for your needs and cooking style.

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