The Best Induction Cookware
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The Best Induction Cookware

May 23, 2023

By Emily Farris

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Even if you just made the switch to induction cooking, you might already own the best induction cookware. More often than not, when I tell someone I ditched my gas range, they ask if I had to buy new cookware. In my case, the answer is a resounding "no!" because I was already using induction-compatible pots and pans at home. And there's a good chance that you are too. But if you’re not, or if you’re unsure whether or not yours will work, here's everything you need to know about buying and using the best induction cookware.

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How induction cooktops worksWhat types of cookware work with induction?How to tell if your cookware works with inductionThe best induction cookwareInduction-friendly cookware sets

If you’ve ever accidentally touched a gas stove grate or an electric cooktop right after you finished cooking, you know that both hold onto a lot of heat. That's because both gas and electric stovetops use traditional thermal induction to warm the cooking vessel. Heat passes from the source (either a flame or an electric coil) through the cooktop material and to the pan, where it then heats whatever is inside.

But induction cooktops don't use thermal induction; they use electromagnetic induction which bypasses the cooktop completely. In fact, the only reason an induction cooktop is ever warm or hot to the touch is because it absorbs heat from the pan.

Here's how induction cooktops work: Copper coils—that are safely positioned under a solid piece of a durable ceramic-glass material—send an electric current straight to the pan. And quickly! Heating a pan and boiling water on an induction cooktop is lightning fast compared to other methods. But in order for any of this to actually happen, the pan must be ferrous, which means that the metal contains enough iron to be magnetic. If you place a noncompatible pan on an induction burner and try to turn it on, you won't create a magnetic field and nothing will happen…well, except your stove might beep or blink at you to let you know you did something wrong.

When I switched to induction, I didn't have to buy any new cookware because I had already been using ferrous or ferromagnetic metals—cast iron and stainless steel—on my gas cooktop. My carbon-steel wok also works on my induction range—but only because it's the kind that has a flat bottom that can make contact with the sensors on the cooking surface.

Nonferrous metals like copper and aluminum won't work with induction burners, though some pieces that appear to be pure copper cookware actually have a stainless steel bottom or core and will work. Similarly, hard-anodized aluminum pots and pans that have a magnetic steel base will also work.

Non-metal materials like glass and ceramic are definitely not induction friendly.

There's an easy way to tell if the cookware you already own is induction compatible or not: a magnet. If the pot or pan has a flat bottom and a magnet sticks to the base, it will work on an induction cooktop. It really is that simple.

If you’re shopping for new induction compatible cookware online, it's important to pay attention to the composition, as some brands, like Calphalon, have lines that are induction-friendly and others that aren't. Luckily, as induction cooking has become more mainstream, retailers have begun to note induction compatibility in product descriptions.

If you want to skip both of those steps, you can shop the induction-friendly cookware pieces and sets I recommend below.

I always recommend buying your cookware a la carte so you can get all of the pieces you need in the sizes you want—and so you won't be stuck with a giant stock pot or tiny fry pan you’ll never use. At the very least, most home cooks will want a medium or large sauté pan or fry pan, a 2- or 3-quart saucepan, and a roomy Dutch oven that doubles as a stock pot.

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Stainless steel pots and pansRaw cast iron pansEnameled cast iron pots and pansNonstick pans

In general, most of the high-quality stainless steel cookware being manufactured today contains enough ferrous metal to be induction compatible, including All-Clad's copper-core line. That hasn't always been the case, though. For example, All-Clad's now-discontinued MC2 and LTD lines had too much aluminum to work on an induction cooktop. But you can rest assured that these highly-rated stainless steel pots and pans—tested and reviewed by the cooking experts here at Epicurious—are all induction-friendly.

Looking for more options? Check out our full review of the best stainless steel pans.

Uncoated cast iron is notoriously annoying to clean, but it transitions seamlessly from stovetop to oven and back again, and an induction stovetop is no exception (this cast-iron induction cooker might even make you want to donate your Crock-Pot). And you don't have to spend a fortune to get a good cast iron pan, either. I’m perfectly content using my budget-friendly Lodge skillet on my fancy Italian induction range.

Enameled cast iron is an incredibly versatile cookware material because in addition to being oven safe and induction-friendly, most is also dishwasher safe (though hand washing is often recommended). Here are some of our top-rated enameled cast iron pieces you can use on an induction cooking surface, including an heirloom-quality Le Creuset Dutch oven, my beloved braiser, and the lightest cast iron skillet you'll ever use. You can even use enameled cast-iron griddles and grill pans on an induction cooktop—just make sure the kitchen is well-ventilated when you do!

I don't recommend a lot of nonstick cookware because it doesn't last as long as other materials and it often has to be treated with even more TLC than uncoated cast iron. That said, it's really nice to have at least one nonstick saute pan or fry pan for eggs, quesadillas, and other quick cooking jobs—and it just so happens that the best nonstick pans are also induction-compatible.

I've recently switched from using the Caraway fry pan to the Greenpan GP5 5-ply fry pan (above) at home. In addition to the pretty gold-tone stainless steel handles, I love that the GP5 is oven safe to 600ºF, dishwasher safe, and metal-utensil safe. I've only had it for a few months so I can't yet say how long it will last under all of those conditions, but so far, so good.

The best cookware set is the one you build yourself—from our thoroughly-tested-and-reviewed product recommendations, of course. But some people prefer to buy their cookware in a matching set, and if you’re one of those people, here are some induction-friendly cookware sets from brands the experts at Epi have tried and trust.

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Induction-ready stainless steel cookware setsInduction-ready nonstick cookware sets

If you’re going to buy a cookware set, we recommend going with stainless steel because it's the most versatile—and the most durable—induction-friendly set you can buy.

Nonstick cookware has its charms—especially the ceramic-coated stuff that comes in pretty colors. But most of it requires hand washing, and some will scratch if you go anywhere near the nonstick coating with metal utensils. Even if you handle it with kid gloves, nonstick cookware simply won't last as long as stainless steel or cast iron, so we never recommend anyone buy a full nonstick set. But if you’re set on a nonstick set, here are a few induction-compatible nonstick cookware sets from brands whose nonstick fry pans I’ve enjoyed using (but don't say I didn't warn you about the shorter life-span of nonstick).

A note about Caraway and Induction: Caraway's gorgeous cookware is made of ceramic-coated hard-anodized aluminum, but it does have a stainless steel base, so it's compatible with most induction cooktops. Some customers have reported compatibility issues, though.

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