Induction cooktops are a popular choice for kitchen upgrades, but are they for everyone? If you haven’t tried induction before, there’s a learning curve involved, and most people never look back. Magnetic induction technology heats cookware directly, so there’s less heat around the surface. The best induction cooktops have a minimalist design, cook timers, heat boosters, and other high tech features. They can be pricey, but an affordable portable induction cooktop is often a good place to start.
What Is An Induction Cooktop and How Does Induction Work?
An induction cooktop utilizes electromagnetic technology to directly heat cooking pots and pans resting on a ceramic glass surface. Magnetic waves penetrate the cookware and the resulting magnetic resistance generates heat. Standard radiant cooktops, by comparison, heat ribbon coils beneath a similar heat resistant surface, which in turn heat the cookware.
Only cookware that has magnetic conductivity can be used on an induction cooktop. If there is no magnetic connection, no heat is generated, so in that sense induction cooktops are very safe. Some such cooktops will have virtual flame technology for a more familiar feel, but the glass cooktop will still conduct residual heat, so they also have a hot surface indicator.
Induction vs Electric vs Gas Cooktop
When choosing the best built-in cooktop for your kitchen, you have three choices in cooking technology - gas burners, radiant electric coils, and magnetic induction plates. Understanding the similarities and differences between these, can help you decide whether an induction cooktop is the best thing for you.
1. Pricing and Installation
Gas cooktops are cheaper in general compared to electric radiant coil cooktops, but sometimes you can pick up competitive deals. Built-in induction cooktops are a lot pricier overall, while portable induction cooktops are relatively affordable.
Induction and radiant coil cooktops usually require a hardwired 220V / 30‒40 amp connection. Quotations vary, but to run a new 220V conjunction line can cost between $175 to $300. The cost of a gas line installation can vary a lot from an average of $280 to over $500 depending. A gas cooktop also requires a standard 110V connection to operate electric ignition and other features. Counter modification costs depend a lot on location and type of materials.
2. Heat Responsiveness and Efficiency
Gas has instant on and off heat properties, and you can see how hot the flame is. Gas generally heats pans evenly, and can also heat up the sides of a skillet or a wok.
Induction has the same instant and even heat properties as gas, and although radiant coils respond fairly rapidly, they take longer to cool down. Electric and induction cooktops maintain high temperatures more accurately than gas, and induction can heat a pot of water the fastest. Tests show, however, that electricity is only slightly better than gas for simmering.
Studies have shown that induction cooktops have a 90% efficiency rate, while radiant cooktops only transfer 74% of heat to food, and gas just 40%.
3. Design Features
Gas cooktops come in a fixed geometric grid. Glass smoothtops are more flexible with plate arrangements, and you can do more with the surface space.
A key difference with a gas cooktop is the continuous grate which means you can easily drag your cookware around or off the surface. Glass tops are easily damaged by rough use, but they are easier to clean. Some gas cooktops, however, do have a ceramic glass surface around the burners.
Unlike gas range cooktops, hardly any built-in gas cooktops have oval burners. This is where both types of electric cooktops have a distinct advantage— they can have mergeable elements, or an expandable heating surface, to fit a griddle pan or large oval cookware. Gas burners, however, are easier to repair.
Another difference is controls. Gas cooktops have familiar knob controls, but induction cooktops have only digital, while radiant tops can have either. Digital controls take time to master or get used to, but digital controls often include plate cooktimers with automatic shutdown. With gas and electric coil cooktops, controls can be in front or on the right hand side, but induction controls are almost always upfront.
4. Health and Safety
Gas cooktops are potentially less safe than electric cooktops, and not just because of open flames. If they are not vented properly with either a quality range hood or a downdraft extractor, they pose a risk to indoor air quality health. Regardless, any sizable cooktop with four plates or more should be properly ventilated.
It is often said that induction cooktops are the safest because no heat is generated without compatible cookware, and little residual heat is produced. Even so, health and safety advocates often advise caution with induction cooktops because of the potentially harmful effects of EMF radiation.
For most people, induction cooktops should pose little risk if used in the correct way:
Various research and guidelines advice that pregnant women and young children should avoid standing close (ref:p.50) to induction cooktops. Other studies indicate there is only a minor risk for certain categories of people with pacemaker implants, and reputable brands will have a warning in their operating manual.
Some mitigating steps are to: 1. Use cookware with insulated or non metal handles 2.Do not use metal spoons with induction cooking 3. Try to match the cookware to the plate size 4. Do not stand too close to the cooktop.
If an induction cooktop is not for you, have a look at our reviews of the best radiant electric cooktops.
Best Cookware For an Induction Cooktop
Technically, if your cookware does not contain a sufficient amount of ferrous metal, it cannot be heated by an induction magnetic field. This means copper, aluminium, and some types of stainless steel will not work. If you place a magnet on the bottom of your cookware and it sticks, you can use it on an induction cooktop.
However, induction cooktops—especially portable induction cooktops—have increased in popularity and so too have innovation solutions for induction cookware. Induction friendly cookware often has a ferrous metal base, while the rest of the cookware is made from a different heat conductive material.
Here are our recommendations for the best induction cookware:
- Lightening Deal - granite non stick set with silicone handles
- Vremi 8 Piece - ceramic non stick marble coating
- Carote - deep fry pan with lid and titanium coating
- Cuisinart - hard anodized double burner griddle
- Gourmex Toughpan - 11 Inch induction square grill pan
See individual reviews for more specific induction cookware recommendations.
Bare cast iron, while induction compatible, may damage and scratch the glass surface. Enameled cast iron such as a typical dutch oven pot is fine, but you should start with low heat and heat them up slowly. For incompatible cookware, you can always use an induction heat diffuser, and there are also non slip induction pads for putting under your pots to protect the surface.
Reviews of The Best Induction Cooktops in 2021
Our selection of the best built-in induction cooktops includes a variety of sizes and prices ranges, the best inset single burner, as well as the best portable induction cooktops to stand on your countertop.
- Empava 36 Inch Induction Cooktop - Best to Buy
- Ecotouch 24 Inch Induction Cooktop - Best Value
- Duxton 1 800W Single Burner - Best Portable Induction Cooktop
- Frigidaire Gallery - Best 36 Inch Induction Cooktop
- Gasland Chef - Best 30 Inch Induction Cooktop
- True Induction T1-1B - Best Built In Single Burner
- K&H Double Burner - Best Dual Plate 24 Inch Cooktop
Here are our top picks for the best induction cooktops in 2021:
1. Empava 36 Inch Induction Cooktop - Best to Buy
This Empava has individual controls for all cooking zones, as well as 5 minute heat boosters and automatic cook timers. The central zone accommodates 11 inch cookware, and all this comes with an additional 2-year warranty.
Large central cook zone
Control display for each zone
Booster mode of each zone
Cook timer for each zone
Cook zones very similar size
No cook pause button
Design and Controls
The layout of this cooktop is such that the two larger 2 400 watt zones are on the right, so can boil at the back and do intense searing or frying in the front. This could get a little cramped depending on the cookware size. The smaller 2 000W zones on the left are better for simmering, or medium heat with smaller pans.
Most large induction cooktops have a wide center element, and this one is 11 inches reaching 3 700 W— so it's quite powerful. This cooking zone is meant for a large stock pot, but because the front controls are flat and digital, it’s also great for a square griddle pan, and the best place for a large induction wok.
Each plate or cooking zone has its own control panel and power display bar, so this makes it easy to see at a glance what’s going on. Most people have no problems with the controls being too sensitive or over-reactive.
Things That Stand Out
Each cooking zone has 9 power settings from melt to boil, and each zone has a special booster button. When you press this, the heat will boost to the maximum temperature for 5 minutes before returning to your selected setting, or sooner if you cancel.
A favorite feature is the independent 99 minute cook timer for each zone. Simply press the activation button for your desired zone, touch the timer icon, enter your cook time and press the icon again. The time displays in countdown mode, so you know exactly when cooking will end.
Compared to most other manufacturers, Empava has a 2-year warranty for their cooktops and not the standard 1-year. This cooktop also cleans easily and maintains a nice appearance.
Things That Could Be Better
Some people find that if they move the pots around, the plate switches off. This cooktop doesn’t have a pause button which suspends heating, and then continues with the same settings. This function is found on the premium mergeable zone 36 inch model and the 30 inch model. Otherwise, the performance and features of these models are much the same.
This cooktop is a bit smaller than 36 inch cooktops from other manufacturers, so if you’re replacing your cooktop or upgrading, you may or may not have to do some counter modification. This appliance needs to be hardwired to a 220~240 volt junction box with a 40 amp circuit breaker.Check Latest Price on Amazon
2. Ecotouch 24 Inch Induction Cooktop - Best Value
A basic and affordable cooktop with one front booster plate for faster boiling or quick braising. It also has 99 minute cook timers with automatic shutdown for all plates.
Economic on space
1 booster element
99 minute cook timer each plate
Over heat protection
Company info lacking
No online manuals
Up to 9 inch cookware only
For most people a four plate cooktop is sufficient, and this EcoTouch is only 24 inches, so it doesn’t take up too much counter space. There’s not a lot of difference between the cook zones with two 7 inch and 7.9 inch plates, but the space between them ensures the cooktop doesn't get too cramped. On the other hand, the largest cookware you can use is about 8.5 to 9 inches in diameter.
The smaller plates reach up to 1500 watts and the larger ones 2000 watts with 9 power levels for each. That’s not incredibly high spec, but enough to take care of all your cooking needs. The front left plate has a booster feature that will boost the heat level to 2200 watts, which is sufficient to get your water boiling faster, or enough extra heat for a quick braising or a stir fry. There’s a 99 minute cook timer and overheating protection for each cook zone, and the cooktop has a child lock.
As affordable as this cooktop is, there’s not a lot of information readily available on EcoTouch, nor is there an online manual to download. They are contactable by email and seem to be responsive enough to customer concerns. The minimum installation needs are a hardwired 208-240 volt connection with a 30 amp circuit breaker.Check Latest Price on Amazon
3. Duxton 1800 W Induction Cooktop - Best Single Portable Burner
This popular single burner is very easy to store away and transport, comes in two color displays, and you can cook by power gradient or temperature setting.
Easy to store and transport
Cook by temperature
Cook by power gradient
Countdown cook timer
No child lock
No adjustable legs
This Duxton is one of the best selling and most popular reviewed portable induction cooktops. That said, there are sound reasons why people like it as much as they do, but it may not be suitable for all. Duxton is a brand of Secura which is an American small appliance manufacturer.
Things That Stand Out
This is a very lightweight device which weighs some 2.9 kgs or 6.5 lbs, so it’s easy to pick up, transport, and store away. It also has quite a long power cord (5 ft / 60 in) which adds value to its portability, however, because it draws 30 amps of power, you should use it with a dedicated 110v socket.
Its most useful feature is how you can cook by power gradient or temperature. Most induction cooktop have a typical 1 to 9 power gradient with levels one and two for low and high simmering, and up to 9 for power boiling. The temperature setting allows you to choose a temperature that the burner will heat to, but you can only adjust the temperature within 30 or 40 degree increments. This might not suit more specific needs, and the lowest setting is 140℉ or 200 watts.
Another nice feature, which is relatively common with induction cooktops, is a cook timer with automatic shutdown, and this Duxton can be set up to 170 minutes. People report it heats evenly and maintains the correct temperature. An additional safety feature is an overheat protection in case your pot runs dry.
Things That Could Be Better
The cook by temperature adjustments are fixed increments, but finer adjustment is probably beyond the range of this portable technology. The largest cookware ring is 8 inches, but if you go beyond this, the pan rim will be too close to the controls. The controls are also flat to the cooking surface and not at an angle, so they can easily be affected by larger cookware.
This portable cooktop works best on a flat surface, but the legs are not adjustable, which is not a difficult feature to incorporate. Also, there is no child lock if this is important to you, and the instructions do not give a warning for people with pacemakers.
Many people buy these small portable cooktop as an extra appliance, and then find out that their cookware is not compatible. In this case, you could use a heat diffuser, which is also very useful for tea infusers or coffee pots that are not induction compatible— but there some nice induction stove kettles you can get.
A lot of people ask whether this Duxton can be inset into their counter top. This appliance is not designed to be a built-in cooktop, and it requires 4 inches of ventilation around. For an inset single burner cooktop, have a look at our other product review.Check Latest Price on Amazon
4. Frigidaire Gallery - Best 36 Inch Induction Cooktop
A high quality cooktop which is visually appealing with a speckled glass top for easier cleaning and maintenance. Each plate has a 10 minute booster function, and the individual controls are easy to see and use.
10 min booster all plates
Large 10 inch zone
Visual display for each zone
No cook timers
No cook pause function
When it comes to any cookware or cooking appliance, the less you cheap yourself the safer it is. This is especially true of induction cooktops, and because they are also expensive to repair, investing in a trusted brand with user affirmed quality is not a bad way to go, even for the price.
Design and Controls
The layout of this cooktop is similar to many in that the wider front plates have the higher power ratings and the smaller back ones the lower. Some people prefer to have a low heat or simmer element in the front, but with induction that doesn’t really matter so much because all elements are equally capable of low heat simmering.
The front cook zones reach a maximum of 3 200W— so you can do fast boiling and high seering up front quite easily. The center 10 inch, 3 800W element is for a large stock pot, but a lot of people don’t realize that it’s a perfect fit for a 9 to 10 inch square griddle pan. On most induction cooktops, plates are paired to a single power unit, meaning you can’t use them both on maximum power and you should get your food up to temperature one plate at a time. On this cooktop, the left plates are paired as are the right.
Separate power controls for all plates makes the cooktop easy to manage. The power level has a number display which people really like, and each plate has a booster button which gives you 10 minutes of maximum power with one press.
Things That Could Be Better
Most people are overwhelmingly positive about this cooktop, but for the price you pay on a premium Gallery brand, it doesn’t have cook timers for the plates. It has a standard timer that alerts you your food is done, but there’s no timed shutdown. Also, there’s no pause function, so if you remove a pot, the plate shuts down. A few users had issues with the central burner not being as powerful as it should be, so it would be best to test this burner with a large pot or a square griddle pan when you have your cooktop up and running.Check Latest Price on Amazon
5. Gasland Chef - Best 30 Inch Induction Cooktop
This is a good basic cooktop with a few additional features that make it a worthwhile affordable choice.
Auto shutdown cook timers
3 safety features
Responsive customer service
Not great with long cooking times
8 inch cookware limit
This cooktop is divided into two identical cooking zones with a smaller 1 500W plate and a larger 2 000W plate— so it’s good enough for searing, but stir frying may take longer. The largest two cook plates are 7.1 inches, so you can’t use cookware bigger than 8 inches in diameter.
It has a useful dual functional 99 minute timer. You can set the timer as a general alert timer, or you can set each cook zone individually to an automatic shutdown cook timer. If you run more than one cook timer, only the timer with the lowest countdown number will display. Although the controls are not so large, they’re easy enough to use, and a power level number will always display for each zone.
There’s the usual child safety lock and overheating protection, but there’s also an additional shut down mechanism in case of small articles left on the cooktop for too long. It also has a more common safety feature where power level 1 used for simmering will shut down after 8 hours, and power level 9 will shut down after 2 hours of continuous use.Check Latest Price on Amazon
6. True Induction T1-1B - Best Built In Single Burner
This True Induction can be used as a stand alone portable burner robust enough for outdoors, or a built-in cooktop which uses a standard 110v electrical socket. It also has a cook timer with automatic shutdown, and a generous 2-year warranty.
Inset or portable
110V plug point
Solid and study
150 min timer
Only 1 600W
Fussy with cookware
It’s not so easy finding a single induction burner that can be inset into your counter like any other built-in cooktop. Fortunately, True Induction has a relatively affordable option which can also stand on a counter like a portable burner.
This burner is a nice choice for a convenient extra cooking zone for boiling, simmering, frying, or just heating up an induction tea kettle. As a built-in cooktop it offers extra safety and security, and is particularly good for a rental property. It’s also a lot heavier and studier than a standard portable cooktop, so it’s ideal for using outside.
Compared to other portable burners which usually reach up to 1 800 watts, this True Induction is only 1 600 watts or 450℉, which is sufficient but not the fastest at boiling nor the best for stir frying. A number of people report that the cooktop doesn’t work so well with lower quality induction cookware.
It has an automatic shutdown cook timer for up to 150 minutes, which is also the maximum time you can run the cooktop before resetting. Installation is easier than a standard cooktop because you only need a regular 110V plug point. The manufacturer advises that granite counters over 2 inches need to be beveled at the vent holes, and you still need proper ventilation and airflow below.Check Latest Price on Amazon
7. K&H 24 Inch Double Burner - Best Two Plate Induction Cooktop
A spacious two plate cooktop with unique incremental power settings, cook timers, and liquid overflow protection. It can also stand on a counter, but requires a 208-240V connection.
17 power gradients
Quick touch power settings
Liquid overflow shutdown
Unique cut out required
This double burner has a conveniently sized horizontal layout which is 23.6 inches by 13.3 inches. This design may be more suitable than the typical vertical two plate design because both plates are easier to reach, and the distance between them is much greater (2.75 in).
What makes this cooktop a little unique are the power settings and control. By tapping on any power gradient number (e.g.5), that power level is activated. If you tap twice on a gradient, you get the half value (e.g.5.5), so in total you have 17 incremental power levels.
The cooking zones are both 8.3 inches and 1 850 watts each, however, you can’t use both plates on maximum setting at the same time. The maximum for both plates when used simultaneously is 1 550 watts—which is good for boiling, braising and frying—and some users also do home canning. You can use cookware ranging from 4.7 inches to 9.5 inches, so it takes relatively large sized pots or a square griddle pan.
Additional features include a 99 minute cook timer with automatic shut down for all plates, a child lock, and an automatic shutdown in case of liquid overflow. Although the warranty is the standard 1-year, they guarantee paid shipping costs for returns and replacements.Check Latest Price on Amazon
Comparison Chart of The Best Induction Cooktops
|Product||Cut Out Inches||Weight||Plates|
|W35.3 x D20||42.8 lbs||Five: 11 inch center zone, zone booster, plate cook timers|
|W22.05 x D19.29||22 lbs||Four: 1 booster zone, plate cook timers|
|W11.4 x D13 x H2.5|
(not to be inset)
|6.5 lbs||One: cook by power gradient or temp., cook timer|
|54 lbs||Five: power boil, power boost, 10 inch center|
|W22.1 x D19.3||24.7 lbs||Four: alert timer, cook timers, time safety shutdown|
|W11.31 x D14.43||10.05 lbs||One: 1 600W, overheat protection, 150min timer|
|K>H 24 Inch|
|W19 x D10.6||10.7 lbs||Two: 1850 W, 17 power gradients, cook timers|
How to Clean an Induction Cooktop
Keeping your cooktop surface looking great makes it a pleasure to cook on and maintains the aesthetic of your kitchen. Induction cooktops are generally easier to clean and maintain than radiant coil cooktops, but it’s important to follow the recommended cleaning guidelines.
- First, use a damp sponge or cloth to wipe spills and water condensation off the cooktop. It’s best to wait a little for the cooktop to cool down.
- For hardened residues, use a proper smoothtop scraper and not a hard edged implement. Sugary spills should be cleaned up immediately.
- Use a small amount of ceramic smoothtop cleaner around remaining stains, and rub clean with a cooktop scrubbing pad or a paper kitchen towel.
- For more resistant water stains that appear from time to time, you can use white vinegar to clean them off.
- Afterwards, buff the entire cooktop with a paper towel to shine.
Do not use any kind of abrasive cleaners, metal scourers, common scrub sponges, dishwashing agents, bleachers, or powder cleaners on your cooktop.
Some cooktops come with a brand or manufacturer endorsed cleaner, or you will need to buy your own:
- Weimen Cooktop Cleaner Kit - Best all round recommended cleaner
- Cerama Bryte Best Value Kit - Best recommended cleaner by GE
- Therapy Heavy Duty Cleaner - Best for more stubborn stains
See our post on best electric cooktops for tips on how to install a cooktop.
Induction cooking can be a game changer in how you cook and how long you spend in your kitchen. The best induction cooktops have unique features and capabilities that can make cooking a lot easier and even more pleasurable. If you have anything to add or a question to ask, please use the comment feature below. We are always here for you.
A writer and entrepreneur, Luna’s day doesn’t start at the computer keyboard, but in the kitchen.
Half of her working hours are spent on mixing ingredients for her recipes. The other half involve working with the tech team to research and test the tools and appliances that promise to make kitchen work effortless and mess-free. From a kitchen knife or water filter to the Instant Pot, if it can help save time and effort for the home cook, Luna and her team are on it.
Luna’s extracurricular pastimes include camping, travel, and photography.