Best Cookware for Induction Cooktops

Good news: Almost all your favorite cookware will work with an induction appliance

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two people in front of induction cooktop with pot on cooktop Photo: Courtesy KitchenAid

When you take a look at CR’s ratings of induction cooktops and induction ranges, it’s stunning how well they do in our tests. The top-rated induction cooktop gets an almost perfect score, and the ranges aren’t far behind. Yet despite their impressive performance, induction appliances make up only a small slice of the market. Why?

We’re digging into that dichotomy, but one possible explanation is that folks aren’t sure their favorite pots and pans will work on these not-so-newfangled cooktops. That’s because induction cooking surfaces work differently from those on traditional gas and electric cooktops and ranges. Instead of burners or electric-resistance elements that warm up, the heat on an induction cooktop is created by an electromagnetic coil that sits beneath the glass top. This coil creates a magnetic field that transfers current directly to magnetic cookware, causing it to heat up.

More on Cookware and Induction

The keyword here is magnetic. “The most important consideration for induction is acquiring cookware that’s made of ferromagnetic metal such as cast iron or some types of stainless steel,” says Gill Stansfield, assistant dean of the College of Food Innovation & Technology at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I. He recommends the old trick of using a magnet to check cookware for induction compatibility. If it’s strongly attracted to the pot or pan, you’re good to go.

You can take the magnet to the store if you’re in the market for new cookware, but start first in your own kitchen. You may be surprised to discover that almost all your existing pots and pans are compatible with induction, with the exception of a few nonstick aluminum pieces. “Magnetic stainless steel, cast iron, and pretty much all cookware made from multiple layers of metal is magnetic. It’s really just stamped aluminum fry pans and anodized aluminum cookware that won’t work,” says Paul Hope, a trained chef who is also our in-house cooking appliance expert.

Cookware manufacturers have gotten a lot better at labeling their wares as “induction-compatible.” We note whether or not a pot or pan can be used with induction in our cookware ratings charts and on each individual model page. If you scan our ratings, you’ll see that all the cast-iron Dutch ovens, cast-iron and carbon steel frying pans, and stainless steel cookware sets and frying pans we test can be used with induction cooktops. All-copper frying pans and aluminum nonstick cookware sets and frying pans typically cannot.

One important thing to note when you’re buying new or trying old cookware on an induction cooktop is that your pans should have a flat bottom that makes full contact with the heating element. That’s because unlike electric and gas cooktops, induction models tend to make a buzzing or humming sound when they work, especially at higher settings. You’ll get used to the noise, and it’s completely normal, but heavy, flat-bottomed pots can help reduce the vibration.

If you’re considering an induction range, keep in mind that only the cooktop uses induction technology. The oven works exactly like one on any electric range, so you can use all the cookware and bakeware you have in your cabinets now.

Here are some top-rated pots and pans from our tests that are suitable for induction cooking.

Stainless Steel Cookware Sets

Stainless steel is an alloy that comes in different grades. Most—but not all—food-grade stainless steel pans are induction-compatible, so make sure you check the label on the box or the description on the website before investing in a set.

Stainless Steel Frying Pans

Dutch Ovens

Most of the Dutch ovens in our tests are made of enameled cast iron, with the exception of our top-rated pan, which is made of enameled carbon steel. But both materials are induction-compatible.

Cast-Iron Frying Pans

Cast iron is ferromagnetic and compatible with induction, whether it’s coated enamel like a Dutch oven, or uncoated. Here’s one of each, but if you have a vintage model handed down by your family, that’s okay too.

Carbon Steel Frying Pans

Carbon steel pans have properties similar to cast iron in that they can take high heat and are great for searing, but they weigh less. You can use any carbon steel pan on an induction cooktop. Restaurant chefs swear by them.

Mary H.J. Farrell

Knowing that I wanted to be a journalist from a young age, I decided to spiff up my byline by adding the middle initials "H.J." A veteran of online and print journalism, I've worked at People, MSNBC, Ladies’ Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and an online Consumer Reports wannabe. But the real thing is so much better. Follow me on Twitter.