If you’re intrigued by the technology of portable induction cooktops but aren’t sure if you’d really use one, this article is for you.
Believe me, I had the same reservations about induction cooktops. They looks so cool, I thought. But do I really need one? Would it really be that different from my stove? Could it really make my cooking life easier?
Then I got one as a gift, and all my doubts evaporated as quickly as a pot of water on a hot induction cooktop.
Induction is, hands down, a superior technology to both electric and gas cooking.
(I know many people will argue that gas is better than induction, but having used both for many years, I heartily disagree, for reasons I'll explain below.)
Why is induction so much better that you should run, not walk, to buy yourself one of these kitchen gadgets? Read on...
1. Induction Is Safer
You may have not thought of it this way, but cooking is one of the most dangerous things that most people do on a daily basis. Practicing safety in the kitchen is important, especially if you have little ones to watch out for.
Induction is the safest cooking technology available. This is because the burners themselves don't get hot--the pans do. That's right; through the magnetic magic of induction, heat is transferred directly into the cookware. (This is why induction-compatible cookware has to be magnetic.)
Because the burner needs magnetic cookware to function, the burners shut off automatically when cookware is removed. Some induction cooktops have a delay, but all burners will shut off after about a minute. No more worries about "Did I leave the stove on????"
2. Induction Is Faster
An induction cooktop is waaaaay faster than gas or electric cooktops. The magnetic reaction that occurs when you turn on an induction burner is instantaneous: the pan is completely heated through in less than a minute. You'll be able to make meals faster--so much faster, in fact, that you'll probably have to modify your cooking methods.
For example, you can't turn on a burner to heat a pan and then start chopping an onion. Make sure your ingredients are ready to go before turning on an induction cooktop.
And don't walk away from an induction burner set to a high heat, because that food is going to burn if you do.
3. Induction Is More Responsive
This goes along with being faster, but it deserves its own section: it is one of the features that make induction such a joy to cook with.
Because induction cooktops react so quickly to changes in settings, they are extremely responsive. In fact, they're much more responsive than gas cooktops.
Although the temperature response is instantaneous with gas, heat lingers, so there is always a bit of lag built in to a gas burner.
This is not the case with induction burners. Because the pan itself gets hot (not the burner), there is very little heat to linger in the burner when you change the setting.
For this reason, induction is extremely responsive and extremely precise. So much so that it will change how you cook--but once you get used to it, you will love it.
The responsiveness alone should be enough to make all serious cooks sit up and take notice of induction.
4. Induction Is Cleaner
Because induction cooktops themselves don't heat, spilled food doesn't stick to them. You can wipe it up immediately when done cooking, so nothing gets crusted on to the stove top. And, because the cooktop is smooth glass, there are no nooks and crannies for food and cooking grease to get trapped in.
But wait, there's more! Because the induction cooktop itself doesn't get hot and because the heating technology is magnetic, you can actually place paper towels or newspapers right on the cooktop while you're cooking.
Here's a short (about 30 seconds) video showing this super cool feature:
You may not think you're ever going to want to pack up your induction cooktop and take it with you, but trust me, occasions arise. Some PICs even come with carrying cases (or they're sold separately) for this reason.
Maybe you and your friends are having a cookie bake get together--wouldn't an extra burner be nice?
Or maybe you've volunteered to help out at church or school function--they might appreciate you bringing your own burner!
Parties, charity events, holiday get-togethers...there are so many occasions for portable induction cooktops to come in handy, you'll wonder how you got along before you had one.
6. Portable Induction Cooktops Make Entertaining Easier
If you've ever cooked for a crowd, you know how useful an extra burner can be. Whether it's to brew coffee, keep the gravy warm, or set up an omelet station in the dining room for a Sunday brunch, portable induction cooktops are an easy way to add an extra burner to your entertainment repertoire.
Next time you go to a restaurant for Sunday brunch, check out the omelet station. It's almost certainly a couple of PICs, hard at work for your dining pleasure. 🙂
7. Induction Is Energy Efficient
Induction cooktops are also more energy efficient than gas and electric cooktops. This is partly due to the speed with which they work, and partly due to the fact that they produce very little ambient heat (almost all of the heat is in the cooking vessel itself, remember?).
It's probably not enough to see any significant savings in your electric bill from the induction cooktop itself. However, induction cooktops make cooking on hot days much more pleasant because they don't heat up the kitchen--and they may save you a few bucks on your A/C bill.
8. Portable Induction Cooktops Are Great for Outdoors
...and if it's so hot that you can't bear to work in your kitchen, you can just move that PIC outside. It's as easy as finding an extension cord to cook out on your deck or patio with one of these little devices.
9. Portable Induction Cooktops Are Great for Special (Basement or Garage) Projects
If you read through Amazon reviews, you'll see that a lot of people buy induction cooktops for special projects that require cooking, but aren't necessarily done in the kitchen. Two prime examples of this are home brewing and canning. Induction is great for these because it doesn't get as hot as other methods, it's precise and responsive, and when you're done you can easily store the PIC out of sight.
In fact, if you know any home brewers, ask them about induction cooktops. They probably have some well-informed opinions about them.
10. Portable Induction Cooktops Are a Great Way to Experiment with Induction Cooking
Full-sized induction cooktops are an expensive prospect. And while I'm sure once you have one you'll never want to cook on your old electric cooktop again, you may take a little more convincing than that.
A great way to try out induction before committing to such a major purchase is by buying an inexpensive portable induction cooktop. For less than $100 you can get a taste of how induction works and find out if it's really that much better. (It is! But the point is that you don't have to take my word for it.)
Of course, the cheaper PICs aren't going to translate perfectly; full-sized cooktops are going to be much more powerful and precise, with better low temperature control. (Inexpensive PICs are notoriously poor at holding simmers. If you want to know why, see How to Choose a Portable Induction Cooktop or The Best Portable Induction Burner--Reviews. Both of these articles go into a lot of detail about how induction works.)
11. Portable Induction Cooktops Are Great for Small Spaces
Downsizing? Sending your kid off to college? Trying to furnish an RV, cabin, or live-on boat? Or just tired of firing up your kitchen stove now that it's just the two of you?
A PIC is excellent for small spaces and small families. It creates very little heat, is easy to clean up, and is safer than gas or conventional electric (as mentioned already). 🙂
You may have a small space, but with a PIC, you don't have to make any sacrifices.
12. Portable Induction Cooktops Are a Great Backup in Emergencies
Uh-oh. Your stove just died and you've got fish in the fridge that's on the verge.
No worries! Just fire up the PIC and you'll have a gourmet meal ready in no time.
Call the service guy tomorrow--and save yourself that hefty after-hours charge.
How to Choose a PIC
This is just a quick summary of how to choosing induction cooktops. For a more detailed article, see How to Choose an Induction Cooktop (And the Best Ones to Buy). (Also: see the Induction menu at the top of the page for even more great articles on induction technology and the best products to buy.)
$100 or Less
Finding the right portable induction cooktop can be tricky. There are hundreds on the market (on Amazon alone!) and you have decent choices at a lot of different price points. Of the dozens that are less than $100, there are two models that are head and shoulders above the rest. These are the Duxtop 9600LS, and the Duxtop 9100MC. These two have more heat settings and better low temperature control than other models at this price point.
Some people also like the NuWave products (see them on Amazon), and while they have decent temperature control, they are cheaply built and for that reason, I don't recommend them.
For more info, see the Duxtop Induction Cooktop Reviews.
To get full-sized induction cooktop performance, you have to spend upwards of $300. Two PICs that I love are the Vollrath Mirage Pro 59500P and the Mr. Induction 183C Commercial Induction Burner. They will both give you outstanding performance. In the case of the Vollrath Mirage Pro, even better performance than most full-sized induction cooktops.
For more info, see:
I hope I've convinced you that induction cooktops are amazing appliances, and that you'll benefit from having one. Whether it's for everyday use or an emergency backup, you really will love this versatile little device.
It's also a great gift idea for anyone who's into cooking!
Thanks for reading!