Cast Iron on Induction Stovetops: A Chef’s Guide

There are numerous ways in which you can cook your food. Some of the popular methods are using a stove with burners, grills, ovens, air fryers, induction, and much more. Among all of these, using thermal conduction or induction is the most popular choice, since your options are limited when you use an oven, grill, or air fryer.

For all of you who cook, there is always a dilemma when you have to choose the best induction cookware, especially if you have an induction stovetop. While it is a useful addition to any kitchen, it can get easily scratched by your pots and pans. This is why people take a detour from stainless steel cookware and opt for cast iron cookware.

Cast iron is known for its durability, lasting for years on end. In this article, we will discuss whether using cast iron on an induction cooktop is a good idea or not.

Table of Contents

Does Induction Cooking Really Work?

Induction Cooking

Before we dive deeper into the pros and cons of cast iron cookware, let’s talk about what  induction cooktops are first. Induction cooking has been around for quite a few years and has garnered a lot of popularity, with various appliance manufacturers rolling out newer models every year.

Basically, an induction stove makes use of an electromagnet to heat up your pot or pan. The magnetic fields create an electrical current that passes through a copper wire coil and charges iron molecules, thus producing a high temperature that heats up the cooking surface which, in turn, heats up your cookware.

Benefits of Induction Cooking

The process of induction is much more effective than cooking through thermal conduction, and it helps cook your food almost 30% faster than thermal conduction. So, if you are short on time, you can replace your oven or grill with an induction stove, and be done with your food much earlier. Other than, induction cooking also has a wide range of benefits, such as:

  • Faster boiling time

Induction generates heat instantly, which means it heats up pots much faster than on a thermal conduction cooktop. There is minimal heat loss in this process, which reduces the boiling time by half and ensures you get hot water faster.

  • Accurate temperature control

Induction cooktops enable you to control the temperature more precisely, as compared to stoves that use thermal conduction. Thanks to heat control, you can cook your food in the perfect heat setting without burning or undercooking it. It also prevents the oil from overheating, which can cause your food to burn.

  • Easy-to-clean surface

Induction cooktops have a smooth surface that can be easily cleaned with a wet cloth or a cleaner that is specially used for cleaning stovetops. The induction stove also cools down quickly after you turn off the heat, so you can clean the mess quickly. They have a glass surface, which is much easier to clean than other materials.

  • Even heating

As compared to electric or gas cooktops, induction stoves compared to gas provide even heating throughout the base of the cookware, which ensures that your food gets cooked properly. Most of the recent induction cookers also come with an auto-detection feature that adjusts the heat distribution according to the size of the pot or pan placed on top of it.

  • Low energy consumption

Last but not least, induction cookers are much more energy-efficient than other cooktops with a burner, mainly because they cook your food much faster and they are better at keeping your pans hot for much longer.

What is Cast Iron?

Now that we have discussed induction cooktops in detail, let’s also have a look at what cast iron is. Basically, cast iron was first manufactured in China in the 6th century, and it involves pouring molten metal into a sand mold. As the mold starts to get hot, it cracks into small pieces, causing the metal to come out in the shape of a pan.

Cast iron is highly durable and is used to build nonstick cookware, such as skillets, pots, pans, and much more. With the passage of time and innovation, manufacturers came up with new ways to develop cast iron cookware, which also brought about the creation of enameled cast iron.

Enameled cast iron has a similar construction to cast iron cookware, but the addition of a porcelain coating, which has a glossy finish and makes it possible to produce cast iron skillets and other cookware in a variety of colors.

Apart from this, another advantage of using enameled cast iron is that its enamel layer also prevents the cast iron material from rusting or reacting with certain types of foods as it gets hot.

Another benefit of using enameled cast iron is that you can scrub your dirty pans and skillets by soaking them in soapy water, as the porcelain layer won’t come off due to reaction with soap. This adds to the benefits of using cast iron pans and pots for cooking.

Benefits of Cast Iron Cookware

Let’s have a look at some of the benefits of using cast iron cookware in your kitchens:

  • Long lasting

As compared to stainless steel cookware and other types of materials, cooking with a cast iron pan is much more beneficial, as the iron develops a layer of “seasoning” on top of the cookware. So, the more it is used for cooking, the more seasoned it becomes, and thus makes your cooking better.

Moreover, with repeated usage, cast iron skillets also develop a nonstick property that you normally find in aluminum or stainless steel cookware.

  • Better heat retention

Another wonderful quality of cast iron cookware is that it retains heat much better, as compared to stainless steel and aluminum pans and pots. Once they are heated, they stay hot for a longer time, which also means that they allow for low energy consumption. This is why a cast iron skillet is better suited for cooking on high heat, such as steaks and other grilled food.

  • High durability

Another reason why cast iron pans and pots are long-lasting is that they have a high level of durability that makes them last no less than 15 to 20 years. Even if you subject them to rough use, they can be easily restored as well. Moreover, you can also have a layer of enamel added to your existing cast iron cookware to prolong its life and make it as good as new.

does Cast Iron on Induction Cooktops Work?

Cast Iron Work on Induction Cooktops

Since induction cooktops work on the principle of electromagnetism and make use of electrical current to heat up a copper coil, it requires cookware that has a high degree of magnetic conductivity is also ferromagnetic, which is the ability of certain materials to become magnetic upon coming in contact with an electromagnetic field.

To work on an induction cooktop, the criteria for choosing cookware is:

  • The cookware should have a flat bottom and surface
  • Its surface should also be smooth
  • It should have magnetic qualities, i.e. be able to attract a magnet

In induction cooking, there are no burners like you have in an electric stove, and the cooktop itself doesn’t heat up at all. Its job is to pass the electric current to the cookware so that the process of induction is carried out without any disruption.

This is why cookware with a flat bottom is necessary so that it has maximum contact with the cooker. A pot or pan with an uneven surface can not only disrupt the induction process, but it can vibrate and move around on the glass top, which can also scratch the surface.

Benefits of Using Cast Iron Cookware on an Induction Cooktop

Not all types of cookware can work on an induction cooker. When it comes to choosing an induction-compatible material, nothing else comes even close to cast iron, as it possesses all of the qualities that are needed for proper cooking. It has a flat and round surface that establishes full contact with the glass surface of the cooktop and ensures maximum cooking induction. This also prevents the presence of any hot spots that can cause your food to get overcooked at any point.

A major benefit of using cast iron on an induction cooker is that cast iron has high heat retention, so it can easily withstand the high amounts of heat that are produced due to induction. It is also suitable for slow cooking and gets seasoned after frequent usage, which adds to its nonstick qualities.

As mentioned above, you can also use cast iron cookware on an induction cooker to get hot water much faster than you would through burners that use thermal conduction.

Will Cast Iron Scratch an Induction Cooktop?

Cast iron is one of the most popular materials that is used to cook food on an induction cooktop. Nowadays, you will also find special types of cast iron skillets or pans that are formulated to work with induction. Although a cast iron pan is much heavier than other materials, it has a wide range of benefits that overpower this issue.

However, using a cast iron skillet for cooking is not without its disadvantages. Although it is the best material to work on induction cooktops, cast iron has a rough texture, which means that it can scratch the smooth glass surface of your cooktop when you move or place the pot on the burner.

Even if your cookware has an enamel layer on it, it can scratch the burners. It doesn’t have an impact on the performance, but it won’t look as smooth as it does now.

Moreover, if a cast iron skillet is heated quickly, i.e. you turn up the burner to maximum heat since the start, it will cause hot spots to form underneath it. Cast iron also retains heat for much longer, which means that it also takes a lot of time to cool down. So, you can’t clean it up until it is fully cooled, because you will risk scratching its coating.

To make your cast iron pans work efficiently with your cooker, you can follow a few effective methods, such as:

Don’t slide your cast iron

You can actually make cast iron work without scratching the glass top by being a little more careful when you place it on the cooker, as well as when you take it off the heat. This way, you will be able to protect the glass for much longer.

Use Enameled Cast Iron

In our view, enameled cast iron is the ultimate solution to all problems. Its enamel provides a protective coating between your pan and the glass, which can prevent scratches.

Invest in a Scratch Protector

You can also find scratch protectors in the market, which you can place on the glass top to protect it from scratches. It doesn’t hamper the induction process, so there won’t be any problem. Alternatively, you can also place a parchment paper or paper towel between the pan and burner to reduce the chance of scratching.

Caring for Your Cast Iron Skillet

One of the key things to do to prolong the life of your cast iron skillet is to gradually heat it whenever you are cooking food, otherwise, the base can get burned and also become rough. You can smoothen the base of your skillet or pan by using a sander. You should also keep your skillet dry and clean to prevent it from rusting.

Cleaning Your Cast Iron

To keep your cast iron skillet or pan clean and well-maintained, scrub it with a brush with soft nylon bristles when it is warm. After doing so, you can wash it with hot water. Once this is done, you can use a paper towel to dry it off and prevent rust.

Conclusion

This concludes our guide on using cast iron pots and pans on induction cooktops. If you are planning on shifting to an induction cooker, make sure to have the appropriate cookware and utensils. This will give you a proper and enjoyable cooking experience.

Colin Matthews

Colin is a passionate chef by trade and a kitchen nerd on the side. Growing up in the kitchen, Colin has always had a passion for learning the absolute best way to cook a dish. He quickly realized most kitchens have duplicate cookware and small appliances and had to decide which ones were going to be the “keepers” – causing him to take a closer look at all his products.

As it turns out, small differences make a big impact on the experience. Whether it’s how hard you have to press a microwave button, to how long a cast iron skillet stays warm after you turn off the heat, these little difference changed everything.