Induction cookware SOS!
Help! My husband and I recently got a great deal on a Kenmore Elite 30' induction range from our local Sears Outlet. We had initially looked at a similar model with a standard electric cook top but when the opportunity to switch to the highly touted induction presented itself, we couldn't resist. As the delivery date approaches I find my self with a serious case of buyers remorse! How can it be this difficult to find decent quality induction capable pans that won't break the bank!? (I'm looking to spend around $200 - $250 for a set.)
I'm a novice cook and what little experience I have is solely with nonstick cookware so I'm eager to stick (no pun intended) to that surface. I have looked into an Infinite Circulon set that seems to be a pretty decent buy but there isn't much in the way of customer reviews for me to feel fully confident. Today I stumbled across a set from Cuisinart under their Green Gourmet line that touts a chemical free nonstick induction experience but about half of the reviews say that although it starts out great the pans eventually turn to junk.
Am I fooling myself into thinking that I can find the pans I need for the price I'm willing to pay???
I think all non-stick pans eventually turn to junk, regardless of the cooktop involved. But then again, I may just be hard on my pans.
You know, now might be the opportune time to stretch your cooking skills a bit, step out and get some "regular" pots and pans that are quality and will last? You could supplement with one or two induction non-stick saucepans or saute/fry pans that don't cost too much and that you could use for specific purposes?
Just an idea, because you really have a premium cooktop there that with just a little experimentation and desire could really be put to awesome use. I kind of see this as getting a Ferrari and sticking to 30mph roads...As they say in Italy, "Coraggio!"
Just a thought...
Yowza, unlimited? Well, the main thing IMHO is to get the most durable pots you can with the right amount of iron in them. Unlimited funds? Fly to Paris, check out Dehillerin, and buy a set of InducInox Pro Chef series. But then, I'm biased as that's what I have. It isn't really necessary, I just happened to be there and bought the pots and pans on a whim as I needed new cookware and it luckily happened to be induction suitable cookware which we didn't really twig onto for another 10 years. But the trip to Paris was fun!
Instead of a brand, I would go to a specialty kitchen supply store and ask for induction suitable pots with riveted handles, not tack welded handles. And a lid for every pot. And they should be heavy, which means durable.
If you are so inclined, here are a couple of really good articles about cookware. The first is specific to Induction cooking:
and the other is from Cook's Illustrated:
Cooks Illustrated seems to give All-Clad the ole thumbs up:
I read all of this before I bought my induction cooktop and was relieved when I didn't have to purchase new cookware. If I had to purchase, I'd be looking at All-Clad.
And, time in research is seldom wasted. You'll make the right choice, I'm sure!
We're just going through tne new induction cookware frenzy now. After looking at several different sets of pans we chose the 12pc set of Emrilware ProClad. Got it on Amazon. Fully clad, good handles, not too heavy, turned lips on everything for easy pouring.
The two skillets that come with it are not non-stick but will still see use for things that we don't need non-stick for.
For non-stick skillets we chose de Buyer blue steel. Not teflon and require a brief seasoning but work great so far. Good handles and 2mm thickness means they aren't too heavy. We got a 9.5" crepe pan for eggs, pancakes and french toast (Amazon). Got a 10" frypan (WS *not* available on Amazon) for lots of other stuff. Got a 12.5" Country Fry Pan (Amazon) for larger quantaties. It's got a helper loop on the far side for easier handling.
That's hold us for now.
I got my induction a little over a year ago and still love it.
I got the some Tramontina triply at Walmart which I love:
I also got a few nonstick at IKEA. I bought my IKEA first just to have something(I hadn't discovered Tramontina) and they have worked well (they have several grades of pans (not all non stick, but all work on induction) and I didn't get the cheapest, but also not the most expensive). I agree with freia that non stick is wonderful for specific uses and fast clean up.
I also got a couple of pieces of All Clad when I ran across them on deep discount and they are wonderful too. I also use my Tramontina and Le Creuset Dutch Ovens on the induction stovetop as well as in the oven.
IKEA, really!? Now that's a place I would have never thought of! I'm such a sucker for nonstick, that Tramontina looks really nice but I wouldn't have the first clue as to how to use them without everything I cooked it in turning to cement. Perhaps a cooking class is in my future... Thanks so much for your reply! I'll be checking out IKEA for sure! :-)
Go to Costco - buy a nice set of stainless steel pans - $200. "Set," you will hear people say that sets are not the way to go However, I wonder why they've been selling 'sets" for so many years. I have two 'sets' of stainless steel from Costco, both made in different countries, but both sturdy as all-get out. They have a lovely lip - I would advise getting pans with a lip. Yes, I use all my pans, plus I have filled in with many more speciality pans in the last 10 years.
I envy you a nice induction range. I've looked at them briefly lately. Even though DH says we can install one, and our cooktop is not yet but a few years old, I'm thinking about it. I can't think of one pan I have that I cannot use on induction. Choose wisely - use your money wisely.
I have a induction 'hob' that I use most every day in some small way or in some big way. So I really appreciation induction; I know you will LOVE it.
Once you have a set to cook from - after all, you are yet a novice -- then you can go from there and buy extras that you like. However, get a decent set of stainless.
About a year ago I bought one stainless steel pan 2 qt. a name brand that a magnet would hardly stick to, but it would not work on induction. I would say that's an exception, though.
There are methods for minimizing sticking in stainless steel, though I haven't mastered them. You need to get the pan hot enough, and use enough oil. And also be ware that, as the oil heats, it tends to thin in places (especially in the middle of the pan).
For some things sticking is fine, such as when searing meat. Go ahead and let it stick; after a while it will loosen by itself.
If starchy things like oatmeal stick, I turn off the heat and let it sit for a minute or two. The stuck layer loosens and I can mix it in. Same goes for after the meal, let the pan sit with water in it to loosen food. But try to catch this sticking before it burns.
Another point on stainless steel. The ideal steel for cooking 18/10, is not magnetic, and does not work by itself on an induction burner. But an induction ready stainless steel pan will have a layer on the bottom that is magnetic. Look for a symbol (usually a coil) on the pan or its label indicating that it is induction capable. These pans tend to have a very thick and very flat base.
Please please PLEASE make sure the Costco set has enough magnetizable iron to work with Induction. Sometimes the less expensive pots sold as sets just don't work on Induction. Its pretty common, actually, so please make sure there's enough iron before buying any pots! The first link I sent you says that clearly, so just be warned. And please remember that the less expensive pans can be thin and as a result, the bottoms may warp over time (this happened to a few less expensive pots), so if you want a good set, you might be looking at spending a bit more than you originally thought. But you don't have to, that's for sure. Just make sure they are induction compatible....
And I have inexpensive induction-compatible nonstick saute pans. I'm hard on them, get no more than a year out of them. :)
The Costco sets - I'm speaking of the Kirkland brand - are heavy and quite magnetizable.
I have bought one name brand, one pot only, which I posted about, that was not magnetizable.
I would compare my two sets of Kirkland pans to All-Clad pans and give my recommendation that both are fantastic. The first set of my Kirkland brand, however, I believe is better than the second set. I cannot put my finger on the reason I feel this way. I actually did weigh them and examine them thoroughly, but I can't get a grip on it. However, I do keep them interchangeable on the shelf and don't notice any difference any longer.
I don't buy or use or keep in my house nonstick pans, so I cannot comment on them for induction use.
Induction pans do not have to be expensive. For tasks like boiling water, the cheapest enameled steel does great (e.g. the blue speckled stuff from Mexico).
I've gotten some good induction pans at TJMaxx, not all at once, but with patience, and an eye for what makes a good pan. Examples include:
3qt stainless steel Chantal 'dutch oven'
1.5 qt stainless sauce pan
8" stainless skillet (really more of a shallow sauce pan)
All of these are European designs, and thick induction compatible base.
I also have 3 induction compatible cast aluminum fry pans with non-stick coating. Cast aluminum distributes heat well. Induction compatibility comes from a steel insert in the base - look for a metal base with lots of dots. Again, these are European designs (even if made in China).
I try to use the stainless steel pans where possible, and reserve the nonstick ones for cases where sticking is an issue, or the high conductivity of the aluminum is a plus (e.g. frying eggs, starchy things that stick easily etc).
Carbon steel and cast iron also work on induction burners, but don't heat well beyond the range of the induction coils. That means you will be happier with the heat distribution in an 8" pan than a 12" one.
Ahh, TJ Maxx, I hadn't thought of them. I mentioned this to a previous poster but I'm just going to have to get Stainless Steel Pans for Dummies. My attempts to use them in the past have been nothing short of hopeless. Carbon steel is a new concept to me, I'll have to check that out for sure! I've heard of cast iron being great for induction but with always the concern of it scratching the cooking surface. Any brands you suggest?
I like the enameled steel Tivoli brand, too. I have 3 (2 different sizes about 2 qt or 3 qt?) I believe they are about $15 at TJMaxx. I use these for anything with tomatoes or greens.
Recently I bought a very large stirfry All-clad which was a little over half-price, but I asked for half-price and they gave it to me. This can be used as a wok.
Carbon steel, though I like it is very heavy for a wee woman without much strength.
Others may have disagreement with using other brands than Le Creuset, both I find all that I have (quite a few for a home cook) very acceptable.
I think poster is worried about cooking in stainless steel. My best tips are:
get the pan good-and-hot first
and don't move stuff around until it has had a chance for the bottom to cook. You will save a lot of sticking problems if you follow just these two tips.
When I got my induction range last year I had to buy some new pans. I did get one of the circulon infinite for eggs and it works fine. I do not like nonstick pans and since I have parrots I do not use any other than that one pan once in a while. The rest of the pans I got were from T.J. Maxx and JC Penney. I bought some inexpensive ones to just get me through until I found something better but honestly they have worked just fine and I haven't bothered to replace any yet. While I do like nice pans I really don't think you need to break the bank on cookware. There are certain pans worth investing a bit more in but you can also cook in less expensive ones.
The best on induction you can get are by Chantal, they are going to be out of your price range if you try to buy a set. Buy one at a time, it is better to buy the pieces you want and will use. I never buy "sets" of anything, only open stock. Too help you get over the hump, Max Burton makes an induction converter plate that is under $40.00 put that on the induction unit and use any pan you want. It is not the best way to go, the induction won't be as efficient but it will be a help and you won't be looking at getting rid of all of your cookware. Next, not all stainless is magnetic. Take your magnet with you when shopping and pay attention to how well it stiks to a pan. Yes, it will stick to regular AllClad but not as firmly as it will to Chantal. The aluminum core inhibits some of the connectivity.
I've had some success by setting my non-induction pan into an induction-friendly pan, and even on a cheap stainless steel tray, on my induction burner. Not a long-term solution, to be sure, but certainly an inexpensive coping strategy. IKEA sells a line of stainless pans which are induction-friendly.
re-reading all the answers below, I want to add that if I would buy an induction range, and I didn't have money to buy pans vs. using my older pans by some alteration of pans/burners, I would rather make do with one good skillet, and one good pot.
You will pay for the label, "Induction qualified"!
Get a small magnet and test the pull strength against the labeled pot. Now test other non-labeled, but cheaper pots and compare the magnetic pull. This is a relative way to access the amount of magnetic material in the pot. Buy accordingly. We have two sets for our induction: All Clad and some enameled cast iron. Both work equally well!
Hi all! I wanted to update you on my induction cookware search. I ended up taking the "tote along a magnet" advice so many of you suggested and after having sticker shock at the local Le Creuset outlet near me I ended up at a kitchen supply store where I stumbled across a 10 piece set of T-Fal Professional (http://bit.ly/zfcAd4). It's fully nonstick just like I wanted, incredibly sturdy, and had the induction friendly symbol right on the box! The 10" fry pan ended up being a little small for daily cooking so I picked up a 12" pan to add to my set. I have been using them for going on three months and have nothing but great things to say about them! I can't tell you how much I appreciate each and every one of your suggestions, they helped so much!
Based on my experiences so far with the Max Burton induction cooktop, the last thing I would do is buy an entire cookware set; instead purchase individual pot & pans of various types from open stock, for specific purposes.
Induction-capable pots with a (n encapsulated) aluminum bottom work OK, but what diameter? an 8" bottom is about as large as the Burton unit can heat uniformly (to saute onions before making a soup or stew, for example)--and anything under 5" is too small--the unit won't sense a load, and will turn off. An 8" 3.2L pot a good general-puprpose one, except perhaps for spaghetti (too short); but taller 8" pots can be found in restaurant-supply stores.
As for fry pans, an 8" or 9" cooking surface (corresponding to a 10-10.5" fry pan) is the largest the Burton unit can heat uniformly (a 12" fry pan in a set would be useless); but it's very difficult to judge how hot a shiny fry pan is getting (an IR scanning thermometer is unreliable on shiny pans); for a smaller fry pan for omelets, a cast- or stamped-iron pan is definitely easier to work with. And for a real saucier (to make reduction sauces), the All-Clad Stainless 2qt saucier (which will take a 8" lid from an 8" pot) is the cat's whisker.
I'd stick to non-stick for skillets you would do eggs or fish in. Otherwise you'll get longer service from stainless tri-ply. I do think if you are determined to buy a set, you'll want to increase your price point. Have a look at HSN. I believe they are featuring a Cuisinart triply set that (I think) includes a non-stick skillet. I think the price is about $399--or it was about a week ago.
But I usually advise people to shop around locally, picking up pans to see how they feel. Shopping like this is good research. You'll feel empowered when you finally choose what you want. And you don't absolutely have to have a set. You can use cast iron on your induction cooktop as well.
In terms of non-stick pans becoming junk, it is more a problem of the pan itself outwearing the non-stick coating which does not last beyond a few years. Also, non-stick pans are often made lighter weight, signifying that the manufacturer does not think it is worth while building a great pan for non-stick. (My interpretation)
When buying non-stick I look for the thickest pan. The coating seems to last longer. Fortunately the induction compatible nonstick pans that I've found use a thick cast aluminum base, to which is bonded a steel trivet. These pans have the best heat distribution. For example the rim will get hot a lot quicker than with stainless steel pans.
Secondly, I try to limit the use of non-stick pans to applications where that quality matters. For boiling water, cooking oatmeal, searing meat, or sauteing onions, stainless steel does just fine.
I suggest you do a search for "MIU France" and/or "MIU" cookware on the web, then read the site you go to to make sure that particular MIU pan is induction compatible. Most of their cookware is. They are really good quality stainless steel cookware at half (or much less than half) the price of the big name brands, yet they cook as well. They are available individually, with digging, or in sets. Amazon.com offers two MUI 10 piece sets, one is copper core inside stainless for about 500 bucks"
The other is tri-ply aluminum core for around 200 bucks:
Frankly, I'm not convinced the copper core will outperform the aluminum clad by three hundred bucks worth, but what do I know. Well, I do know I have cooked on copper for years and cooked on aluminum for the same number of years and the performance difference between the two metals isn't that far apart. How easily they warp is another thing. But if the aluminum is cased in stainless steel, I can't see where that would come into play.
The on-line vendor where I bought mine doesn't currently offer MUI, and I did not buy a set but several sauce pans, a sautee pan, and a couple of stock pots. In both of the sets above, the fry pans are non-stick. I ONLY use a nonstick pan for omlettes.
I would strongly urge you to break away from non-stick cookware of any sort. There are so many stories about hazards and counter-stories about no hazards that you don't know who to believe. My single non-stick pan is Swiss Diamond, and I'm not exactly thrilled with it now because it is NOT induction friendly. I just seem to keep shooting myself in the foot. <sigh> Anway, with induction (or without, for that matter) there is absolutely nothing else on the market that can come close to cast iron fry pans! I've been cooking with cast iron for over half a century, and using it on induction for a bit more than a month. It's a whoooooole new ballgame, and simply amazing! Try it, you'll love it...!
Good luck with whatever you decide.
In case you're still looking: Anolon Nouvelle Copper cookware is nice induction-capable nonstick. Very reasonably priced too. I recently bought the 10" open skillet and made an excellent omelet on my induction cooktop. Here's a link to a set at Amazon:
PS. Nouvelle Copper is also available in non-nonstick (i.e., plain stainless steel), also induction-capable: