5 Tips for Induction Hob Cooking

Induction hobs have never been more popular, outshining the romance of gas hobs and the AGA with pure practicality. They are environmentally friendly, safer (especially around children), and easier to keep clean. Our partners at Rencraft estimate that 19 out of 20 bespoke kitchens they fit opt for induction. The vast majority of new buildings come with induction hobs, too.

The crowning feature of an induction hob is not just avoiding fossil fuels, but how it saves energy—by working at almost double the speed of traditional hobs. In 2021, Which? conducted a study where they compared how quickly a pot of water comes to a boil in a gas versus induction hob (The Guardian). The pot on the gas hob took 9.69 minutes; the induction pot took half that time at 4.81 minutes. If your pan is heat-responsive, an induction hob will allow it to really show off this talent.

However, most cookware, even if it is induction-compatible, cannot withstand that level of heat (and does not need to). An induction hob also makes quicker, more abrupt changes in a pan’s temperature, which could shock metal and cause it to warp. In addition to making a pan wobbly, warping will make a pan incompatible with an induction hob, as the bottom of a pan needs to be completely flat in order to respond to the hob’s electromagnetic force.

Warranties do not cover instances of misuse, including misuse on induction hobs. But follow these tips and your pans will stay shipshape.
De Buyer's Prima Matera range features induction-compatible copper pans; shop here.

1. Choose the Right Pans

This seems obvious, but it’s worth noting that not all pans are induction-compatible. Traditional copper pans, for example, or pans that have rounded bottoms (like some woks), as well as materials like aluminium and glass, are not compatible with induction.

If you’re opting for copper or stainless steel, look for induction-compatible copper pans and ferromagnetic AKA induction-friendly stainless steel. Most non-stick pans are made from aluminium, so look for induction-compatible non-stick cookware—and be extra careful when using them on induction, as high heat can damage the coating; never go above medium heat. Cast iron pans, as long as they are flat, are naturally induction-compatible, as are carbon steel and spun iron, but be careful with the latter two as they are not as thick as cast iron, and therefore more sensitive to temperature.

As a general rule, the thicker the construction—i.e. five-ply versus tri-ply—the more robust it will be against the heat of induction. But however robust a pan, it cannot outsmart physics, so the following rules should be followed no matter what induction-compatible pan you are using.

2. Don’t Use the Boost Function

Since an induction hob delivers heat much more powerfully than others, the boost function is rarely needed. There is one exception where it is okay to use boost: When you are bringing a large pot of water to a boil, like for pasta. In that case, make sure to reduce the heat once a boil has been reached.
Once your food reaches optimal temperature (i.e. this beautifully seared steak), reduce the heat to low-medium.

3. Be Careful with High Heat

When cooking with any heat over 5, reduce the temperature as soon as your food looks like it has reached optimal temperature. For example, if chicken has browned or a pancake releases from the surface, you can turn the temperature down. This regulation of temperature comes intuitively to chefs and seasoned cooks, as it stops food from overcooking. In the case of induction cooking, it could save your pan from warping. According to Mauviel, the maximum heat you need to go on an induction hob is 7.

4. Heat Oil or Fat on Low

When adding oil or fat to a pan at the start of cooking a dish, never—and we mean never—do it over high heat. This is true for all pans, but since an induction hob is especially powerful, it’s crucial not to overheat oil and fat. Oil will burn onto the surface of pans, which takes time and effort to clean. It will also make your smoke alarm go off, so really, this is in your favour. Heat oil over low to medium heat, wait up to two minutes, then cook to your heart’s content (and pretend like the ‘boost’ function doesn't exist).

5. Avoid Heating an Empty Pan

Heating an empty pan is the main culprit of warped pans and damage to non-stick coating. To avoid this, add a layer of oil (never above medium heat!) and wait for it to heat up before adding food. A good way to tell when oil is ready to cook is by swirling it around the pan—if you see lines dragging here and there, like what happens when you swirl wine around a glass, it’s ready for food. If you’re using a non-stick pan and want to avoid oil, add a splash of water until it evaporates, then add food.