When I was in the process of purchasing my new-to-me home, I was thrilled to find out that the stove was one of the included kitchen appliances. However, when I was officially moving in, I realized that the stove was an induction stove and that I knew nothing about induction cooking.
If your kitchen is anything like mine, you probably have a few cast-iron pieces that are your go-to for certain tasks. Mine are cast iron skillets and dutch ovens. I rely on them often for specific go-to recipes and expect that everything will come out just right. I consider my cast iron to be a kitchen necessity, so I knew that I would need to do some research when I realized it was induction. Is my cast iron induction cooktop compatible? Will cast iron work with induction cooking?
Does cast iron work on induction burners? The quick answer is yes. You can use cast iron on induction stoves. In this post, we will dive a little deeper into this by discussing how induction technology works and look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of cooking with cast iron on an induction stove. I will also share a few tips and tricks for using cast iron cookware on your induction cooktop. Hopefully, by the end, you will have a better understanding of how induction technology works and how to use cast iron with it carefully.
What is an Induction Cooktop?
An induction cooktop heats pots and pans directly, unlike gas or electric stoves, which transfer the heat through flame or the electric current. This process is more cost-effective and energy-efficient when compared to conventional ovens because it outputs less heat and wastes less energy.
By heating the cooking vessels directly, the process is significantly faster and maintains a more consistent, precise temperature. Plus, the cooking surface stays relatively cool to the touch, which means no accidental burns from getting too close to the induction burners or food burnt on the side if you accidentally spill. If you do not currently have one and have the opportunity to upgrade to an induction cooktop, you should as it has superior cooking technology. Many of its benefits make it worth considering, like its precise control of temperature, easy-to-clean glass surface, and rapid heat.
How does an Induction Cooktop Work?
Induction cooktops use electric currents to heat pots and pans through magnetic induction directly. This is different from electric or gas, which specifically uses thermal conduction to heat the cooking vessel; however, an induction hob needs specific cookware with magnetic properties.
Induction cooking technology uses an electric coil beneath the glass surface to create its own heat energy. Electricity runs through the electromagnetic coils and creates a magnetic field. When you use cookware made of ferrous metal, the magnetic field passes through the flat surface of the induction burner and directly heats the pot or pan.
What kind of Cookware Can Be Used On Induction Cooktops?
It is a common misconception that you have to use special cookware with your induction stove. In reality, it depends on the material of the cookware, and the most common types will work on induction cooktops.
Cast iron, enamel cast iron, carbon steel, and many types of stainless steel are compatible with induction stoves, while other materials like glass, pure copper, etc., are not. Cookware that is induction compatible is constructed of magnetic material.
If you are not looking to purchase a new set of enameled cast iron or magnetic stainless steel cookware, you can quickly test the compatibility of your current cookware. First, you can test your cookware to see if it is compatible by checking to see if it is magnetized or not. If a magnet sticks to the bottom, then it will heat up with the induction burner’s magnetic fields.
What pans do not work with induction?
Any pans that do not contain iron or a layer that contains magnetic properties will not work with induction cookers. Usually, this cookware is constructed of glass, aluminum, all-copper, or even some stainless steel materials. However, it is still possible to be induction compatible as long as it has a magnetic layer or base.
Many manufacturers add an induction symbol to the base during the manufacturing process, so you can easily determine if it is compatible or not. First, take a look at the bottom of your enameled cast iron pan or cast iron pots if it is not clearly labeled or an older set. Then you can use the magnet test to verify.
What is Cast Iron Cookware?
Cast iron cookware has been around for centuries, and the process for manufacturing has not changed very much. It is made by pouring an iron ally into a sand mold. Once cooled, the mold is broken open, and one complete piece is removed. Its design and materials make it excellent with heat retention, although it is a poor conductor of heat. They are durable and affordable, and up until the 20th century, when it was replaced by aluminum cookware, cast iron cookware was the top choice in America.
Can cast iron cookware be used on induction?
Yes, cast iron cookware does work on induction cooktops. Induction cooking only needs the metal cookware to be made of magnetic material for the process to work.
Cast iron is made up of a magnetic iron ally. This ferrous metal will react with the induction burner’s magnetic fields and conduct magnetism to heat up. However, there are some downsides (and upsides) to using cast iron with induction, which I cover below.
Will Cast Iron scratch induction cooktops?
You might have already considered this question: won’t the rough exterior of my cast iron scratch induction cooktops? This is one of the biggest downsides to using cast iron pots and pans on your induction stove. The rough, scratchy exterior of your cast iron cookware could potentially scratch the glass cooking surface of your induction cooker if you are not careful.
Towards the end of this article, I have included a few tips and tricks to ensure that your cast iron cookware does not scratch your induction cooker. That way, you can continue enjoying the benefits of slow cooking with your cast iron skillet or cast iron pot without damaging your stove.
Pros and Cons of Using Cast Iron on Induction Cooktops
There are advantages and disadvantages to using your cast iron cookware with your induction burner. It is not about whether or not cast iron works on an induction cooktop because it does. Rather, it’s about whether or not you want to include it in your induction cooking methods process. These are some of the pros and cons of using it.
Its high thermal density ensures that it heats evenly and hotter longer than other cookware materials would. This is great for stews, slow cooking, or anything that needs to stay at an even high temperature for a long time.
This is arguably beneficial for any kitchen, but cast iron pans and pots are heavy-duty and built to last over the years, especially if properly maintained and seasoned over its lifespan. If properly seasoned, it provides an easy release cooking surface. On the other hand, both of these advantages could also be considered a disadvantage as well. Its heavy-duty, durable design means that it is also heavy to hold and could be potentially dropped (on the floor, on the stove, etc.). Then, re-seasoning it can seem like a chore because you might have to do it often and the steps that you must take to maintain it. Depending on your viewpoint, this might still make it worth it.
Although cast iron has excellent heat retention, it is not the best thermal conductor. This means that it will not heat up quickly, it could cause hot spots while heating, and it will also be less responsive in general to any temperature changes. One of the benefits of induction cooking is the precise temperature control that it allows. Using cast iron with your induction burners would negate this benefit because it would not be able to rapidly adjust in temperature (whether heating up or cooling down).
As mentioned before, the heavy, rough exterior of bare cast iron could potentially break or scratch the cooktop if care is not taken. If you slide it across your cooktop, it could scratch the surface. If you set it down too heavily, it could chip or crack it. Enameled cast iron has a smooth surface exterior, which would keep this from being a major con. Plus, enameled cast iron limits any iron from coming off of the cookware and into your food, which might be an advantage or disadvantage depending on whether or not you have any iron deficiencies.
Cast Iron on Induction Stovetops: Tips and Tricks
One of the easiest ways to avoid any issues with your cast iron is to use a porcelain-coated or enameled cast iron skillet and pot, which has a smooth surface as opposed to the bare cast iron. With a smoother surface, you won’t have to worry about accidentally scratching.
However, if you prefer seasoned cast iron cookware or do not want to replace your original pieces, here are some tips and tricks for you.
One of the most important tips is to keep your stove and your cookware clean. If any food residue is left on it after you are finished cooking, there is a chance that your cooktop could get damaged the next time that you cook.
A simple trick that you can try is to place paper towels or a piece of parchment paper in between the induction burners and your cast iron skillet. You do not have to worry about it catching fire because induction heats the cookware directly, not the surface. In addition, this provides a barrier between the two so you can move without worrying.
If you do not like the idea of a paper towel, then do not move or slide your cast iron pan across the surface. When you are ready to begin your cooking session with your cast iron skillet, place it firmly and carefully on the induction burner. This movement prevents any accidental damage from last-minute adjustments.
This next trick is a bit tedious to execute and might not be 100% effective, but it can still help cut down on obvious rough patches damaging your burner while cooking. File down and smooth out the flat bottom of your cast iron pan. If you make sure that it is completely smooth, you will not have to worry so much about accidentally scratching or damaging it while cooking.
One point that people try to argue against is that cast iron does not provide an efficient non-stick surface. This is because it has not been properly seasoned in a while, and the non-stick surface has worn out over time. However, you can easily re-season by applying a thin layer of vegetable oil or cooking oil and cooking your cast iron skillet in your oven at high temperatures.
Bottom Line Is it Safe To Use Cast Iron on an Induction Cooktop?
Yes, it is safe to use cast iron on an induction cooktop. There is a slight increase in the risk that you might damage your glass cooktop if you use cast iron; however, there are also quite a few advantages that make it worth the risk. Personally, I have not stopped using my cast iron pieces, but I do make sure to take the necessary steps and precautions to limit any risk of damage.
On a final note, I would not recommend using cast iron as your only type of cookware. Not only does day-to-day use increase your risk of damaging your cooktop, but there are a few things that it cannot do as well as other types of cookware. I have a cast iron dutch oven and skillet to supplement the rest of my induction-compatible cookware in my kitchen.
Hopefully, this has helped to answer any questions that you might have had regarding cast iron cookware and using it with an induction stove. With the proper precautions, you can continue enjoying the benefits of cast iron on your induction cooktop without worrying about breaking the glass.
This article is by Kara Randle.