While cooking with induction is becoming more and more popular in both home and professional kitchens, for those who haven’t made the switch from traditional cooking methods, there might be some confusion as to what the options and the benefits are when changing to the easier to control, safer to use, and more efficient option of induction.
So, we thought we would clear that all up for you.
Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Induction Cooktop
If you’re in the market for an induction cooktop, there are some important factors to keep in mind to find the best cooktop to meet your needs in the kitchen.
Types of Induction Cooktops
While there are a variety of induction cooking devices ranging from deep fryers to huge kettles or from large cabinet-style rice cookers and multi-basket pasta and noodle boilers, we’ve broken it down into the three most basic types of induction units: Freestanding, Built-In, and Portable.
Freestanding induction units can either be plug and play or hard-wired into the wall. Depending on the space you have available, a freestanding induction unit can fit anywhere in your kitchen and does usually does not require any cabinetry or counter work. It can stand on its own or in between cabinets or other cooking units.
Sometimes called “fixed” cooktops, these induction units are installed into your countertop or table. While not as flexible as a portable unit, built-in units offer users a number of design options at home or in the professional operation where they can be installed in the front kitchen or the back kitchen or even a buffet table or countertop.
With built-in units, it’s best to first consult with a professional installer to make sure it’s installed and wired in perfectly to meet your cooking and serving requirements.
These induction cooktops are generally plug-and-play and are built to be more compact and lightweight to easily move from place to place. Whether you’re cooking up award-winning fajitas in a taco truck, preparing a meal outdoors, or wherever your dish is being prepared, portable induction cooktops and warmers are a great option for chefs on the go.
One of the first things you need to know is the size of the area you’re going to install your induction cooktop.
Depending on which type you choose, the size will vary from as small as 30cm to as large as 90cm wide. And that’s not even counting what you’ll likely find in a professional kitchen, where an induction kettle can be as large as a small car at nearly 1.8 meters wide.
There are also a wide variety of portable options such as a single-zone warmer or cooktop that usually average around 30cm.
Temperature and Power Settings
Unlike traditional electric and gas cooktops, induction cooktops offer much more precise temperature settings with near perfect accuracy.
Depending upon where and what you’re going to use it for, you may not even need a cooktop at all, but a warmer instead. If you ever wondered how your favorite buffet keeps dishes at perfect temperatures then they are likely using and an induction cooktop (or an induction warmer) which keeps dishes ready to serve for long periods of time without overheating them.
Single vs. Multi-Zone
Induction cooktops typically feature either single or multiple cooking surfaces that can be independently controlled to meet your needs in the kitchen. Deciding the right number of cooking zones will depend on what you’re using it for. If you’re a professional kitchen preparing several dishes at once, then the more zones the better.
Control panels can feature a variety of different interfaces including buttons, knobs, touch sensors, or pre-programmed controls. With the more basic models, you simply choose the appropriate setting for each cooking surface that best suits the dish you’re preparing.
Many come with handy have timers, while others offer pre-programmed options that you can either set yourself or you the preset manufacturer temperatures for whatever you’re cooking.
Smart Induction Technology
Unlike conventional gas or electric cooktops, even the most basic induction cooktops feature advances in technology that are simply not available with traditional cooking methods.
There are also cutting-edge induction units that can be paired with smart technology that allows users to control the temperature and settings through their phone or tablet. Some induction cooktops even come compatible with recipe apps that automatically adjust temperature settings as needed with each step of a recipe.
Aside from the obvious safety benefit of not cooking with a gas flame or a very hot electric coil, induction is the far superior choice when it comes to safety for you, your family, or staff working in a busy professional kitchen.
Gone are the days of loose clothing or an oven mitt catching fire, or the dangerous emission of harmful gases.
Some safety features to look for when choosing your induction cooktop:
- Auto-off – This turns the element off when a pan is no longer detected or after a specific period of time.
- Lock Buttons – These allow you to set a cooktop at a particular temperature and lock it in to avoid accidentally changing it and ruining that perfect dish you are preparing.
- Overflow Sensors – Especially handy when cooking dishes with a liquid-like consistency, sensors in the cooktop detect when there is a spillover and automatically power the unit down for safety.
And always remember, while the induction cooktop doesn’t release dangerous heat, it does heat the pot or pan that’s placed on it. So always be careful!