What is Induction Cooking and How Does it Work?

Induction cooking can be described as “the best of both worlds” because not only are induction cooktops sleek and easy to clean like smooth top or glass top electric cooktops, but they also provide the accuracy and control of gas cooktops.

Read on to discover what an induction cooktop is, the advantages of using one and how induction cooking works. Review our best induction cooktops or explore our cooktop buying guide to find out what to consider when purchasing an induction or other type of cooktop.

Person cooking on induction cooktop Person cooking on induction cooktop

What is an Induction Cooktop?

An induction cooktop is a stove top that uses electromagnetic energy to interact with compatible pots and pans and turns them into their own heat source. This electromagnetic current passes through coiled copper wire underneath the surface of the cooktop which creates a magnetic current within the cookware, heating it up.

Induction cooktop heating the pan but not the surface of cooktop Induction cooktop heating the pan but not the surface of cooktop

How Does an Induction Cooktop Work?

When you turn your cooktop on, a current begins to flow through a copper coil under the ceramic glass, creating a magnetic field around it. When an induction compatible pot is placed on the cooktop, the magnetic field creates electrical currents inside the pan, turning the cookware into a “heater.” One of the most significant benefits of this type of electric cooktop is that it produces a rapid rise and fall in temperature. So not only will food and water come to temperature quickly, the cooktop cools off rapidly when the pan is removed from the surface.

Overhead view of an induction cooktop surface with food Overhead view of an induction cooktop surface with food

What are the Benefits of an Induction Cooktop?

Some of the benefits of induction cooktops include responsive temperature control, quick cooking times and easy cleanup since the surface doesn’t get as hot. Additionally, they may reduce heat loss while cooking since the heat is created directly within the cookware and isn't transferred from a heating element through the cooktop surface.

1. Increased Responsiveness

Induction cooktops cut out the added step of first heating up the heating element that then heats up the cookware. Instead, the electromagnetic currents heat up the pan itself which leads to fast changes in temperatures, for more precise cooking.

2. Precision Control

Induction cooktops heat up the entire bottom surface of the pan quickly and they have fast response times to temperature change, so you can go from a boil to a simmer in a shorter amount of time.

3. Easy Clean Up

Since the surface of an induction cooktop does not generate its own heat, it stays relatively cool compared to a radiant electric cooktop. If spillage occurs when cooking your favorite sauces or meals, the cooler surface can reduce baked-on, charred spills or burnt-on grease stains. Some heat can transfer from the pans to the cooktop, so be sure to allow the cooktop to cool completely before cleaning. Follow the steps for how to clean an induction cooktop in our helpful guide to keep your cooktop looking and performing at its best.

Person cooking using an induction cooktop Person cooking using an induction cooktop

Are There Any Disadvantages to Induction Cooking?

While there are quite a few advantages to using an induction cooktop, it may not be the right choice for everyone. There are a few things to keep in mind with induction cooking, including the need for compatible cookware, getting used to a new style of cooking and some unfamiliar sounds coming from your cooktop.

1. May Need to Replace Cookware

Because the electromagnetic waves have to interact with certain types of metal in order to heat up, you'll need to use cookware made of metals like cast iron, steel, or pots and pans that state they're induction ready. 

However, if you want to see if your existing cookware can be used for induction cooking, you can perform a simple test. Simply flip your pan over, and place a magnet on the bottom of the pan. If it sticks, then the pan is ferromagnetic and can be used for induction cooking.

2. Learning Curve 

If you're new to induction cooking technology, it may take a little time to master the nuances of your cooktop. Keep in mind that induction cooktops are highly responsive and can heat up or cool down quickly.

3. Unfamiliar Sounds

You may notice a buzzing or humming sound coming from your cooktop when using it on a higher setting, as well as the sound of the fan that cools the electronics. To help reduce noise, you can use heavy, flat-bottomed pans.

Induction cooktop installed on white countertop Induction cooktop installed on white countertop


Both electric and induction cooktops offer sleek, smooth surfaces that are easy to clean, but electric cooktops operate a little differently than induction cooktops. Radiant electric cooktops use infrared energy to heat an element, which in turn heats the pan holding your food, while induction heats the pan directly. Unlike induction cooktops, electric cooktops take a bit longer to cool off. Our electric configurations come in 2-burner or 5-burner options.

When deciding whether an electric or induction cooktop is best for you, here are a couple of things to consider:

  • Induction cooktops heat pans quickly, which might change your natural cooking rhythm. Getting everything prepped and ready to go before you turn on a heating zone is important when it comes to induction cooking. Explore more about the benefits and “how-tos” of mise en place cooking.

  • Induction cooktops may produce operational sounds that you’re not used to hearing on other cooktops including – a low humming noise when cooking at high power, a crackling sound when using cookware that consists of different materials not compatible with induction and a fan noise that comes from a temperature control feature.


Use soap, water and a soft cloth or sponge to clean your cooktop. To avoid damage, don’t use bleach, abrasive cleansers, steel wool or rust removers on your induction cooktop. Always wipe with a clean, wet cloth or sponge and dry thoroughly to avoid streaking and staining. Cooktop cleaner is recommended for regular use to cut through tough, cooked-on residues and for a streak-free, polished shine while a cooktop scraper is recommended for removing stubborn spills.

Person cooking lamb chops on a gas cooktop Person cooking lamb chops on a gas cooktop

Induction Cooktops vs Gas Cooktops

Gas cooktops have been popular for a while thanks to the responsiveness they bring to cooking. A natural gas or propane flame is the heat source used by gas cooktops. A flame ignites when the burner is turned on and immediately starts heating the cookware that in turn heats your food.

When deciding whether a gas or induction cooktop is best for you, here are a couple of things to consider:

  • Induction cooktops deliver accuracy and control similar to gas cooktops.
  • Since they deliver similar results, they can be a good alternative if you have an interest in a gas cooktop but don't have an existing hookup.
  • The smooth, quick-to-cool cooking surface gives induction cooktops an edge in cleaning ease over most gas cooktops.

Discover more about the different cooktops available and let us help you zero in on one that matches your making. Browse our full selection of induction cooktopselectric 4 burner cooktops and gas downdraft cooktops to find the best fit for your kitchen.

Person performing magnet test on KitchenAid® cookware Person performing magnet test on KitchenAid® cookware

Do You Have to Use Special Pans for Induction Cooktops?

You’ll want to use pots and pans that are labeled as induction compatible or are made from metals like cast iron or steel. Use the magnet test mentioned above to see if your existing cookware can be used on an induction cooktop. If you do need to replace them, KitchenAid offers induction compatible cookware designed to heat evenly for a perfectly executed meal.

Veggies cooking on an induction cooktop Veggies cooking on an induction cooktop

Can I Use Stainless Steel on Induction?

You can use most types of stainless steels on an induction cooktop. However, if you’re not sure if your stainless steel cookware is compatible, take a magnet and stick it to the bottom of the pots and pans. If the magnet has a strong pull then you can use it for induction cooking.

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