Induction burners work very differently than traditional burners. Instead of heating a pan using a flame or radiant heat, they use powerful magnets to cause the pan itself to generate heat. The pros of induction heating include extremely short warming times, increased efficiency and significantly easier cleaning. One of the few downsides of induction burners is that they require specially designed pans to work properly.
If you’re looking for a quality induction cookware set, the Le Creuset Toughened Nonstick Pro Cookware Set is about as good as they get. This six-pan set comes from a renowned cookware manufacturer and is built to last a lifetime.
To put it simply, only pans with magnetic bases work with induction burners. This includes some more traditional cookware like cast iron skillets, but for the most part, you’ll have the best success with cookware that’s specifically designed for induction burners. Not all induction-focused pots and pans are made entirely from magnetic alloys, but even those made from hard-anodized aluminum, for example, have a layer of magnetic metal in the base.
For reliable high-speed heating, it’s important that a pan maintains even and consistent contact with the induction burner. For this reason, most people avoid using any old pans they happen to have in the cupboard, even if they’re made from a magnetic alloy. Pots and pans designed specifically for induction burners tend to have reinforced bottoms made from durable materials that should resist warping for many years, if not a lifetime.
One thing to keep in mind when looking for any cookware set is that manufacturers and marketers will do everything they can to make their products look better. As a consumer, this adds a little wrinkle to the buying process. When a cookware set is advertised as having 10 pieces, that number almost always includes the lids. It’s not really a big red flag as it’s such a common practice these days, but it is something to be aware of.
Induction ranges have one thing in common with gas and radiant electric ranges: they’re most effective with thick, heavy pans that can conduct a lot of heat. Luckily, most cookware sets that are engineered for use with induction burners are designed with dense, thick bases at the very least.
Nonstick pans and their convenient surfaces are more durable and longer-lasting than ever before. Unlike the original Teflon pans from years past, many nonstick surfaces can even withstand contact with metal utensils, although it’s still recommended to stick with silicone or wooden cooking tools with nonstick pans.
On the other hand, not everyone prefers nonstick pans. This shouldn’t be a problem while searching for the right cookware set for you, as there are a huge variety of stainless steel pots and pans from quality manufacturers, and most of them have the flat, rigid bases needed for induction cooking.
The quality of glass used in a pan’s lid is a decent indicator of a cookware set’s overall quality. Non-tempered glass will, over time, develop a significant risk of breakage, which would ruin a meal and could possibly injure a home cook. Make sure to select a cookware set with tempered glass lids.
The most affordable induction cookware sets cost around $100, and you can spend nearly $1,000 on a truly premium set with a wide variety of frying pans, sauce pots and other pieces.
A. Absolutely. If you only have a single or double standalone induction burner and a traditional range for the bulk of the cooking, an induction-ready cookware set is the perfect choice. Neither a gas range nor a radiant electric cooktop will damage induction-ready pans or alter their performance in any way.
A. At regular cooking temperatures, nonstick coatings are 100% safe for humans. If you overheat a nonstick pan (that is, to temperatures around 600 degrees or higher), the coating can break down, and if you inhale the resulting vapors you can exhibit flu-like symptoms that should pass after a few hours.
There is one important caveat. Even though off-gassing happens only at extremely high temperatures, even small amounts can be dangerous and even fatal for birds. If you have any pet birds, the best practice is to avoid purchasing or using nonstick cookware that uses the common PTFE coating.
What you need to know: This premium nonstick cookware set comes from one of the most well-known manufacturers on the market.
What you’ll love: Its thick and durable construction retains plenty of heat and is highly resistant to scratches. With proper care it can last for years. It comes with a pair of frying pans, two saucepans, a braising pan and a stock pot.
What you should consider: Its only real drawback is that it’s quite expensive.
What you need to know: Like many of T-fal’s products, this set offers plenty of functionality at a reasonable price.
What you’ll love: A total of seven pans gives you the ability to whip up large and complex meals without having to do much washing up during the process. The bottoms are flat, rigid and effective on any type of stove. It even comes with a non-marring spatula and cooking spoon.
What you should consider: The pans aren’t quite as heavy as others, which makes them easy to move around but also means they don’t retain heat very well.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: For fans of stainless steel, it’s hard to find a better value than this 12-piece set.
What you’ll love: If, for whatever reason, you prefer to avoid nonstick cookware, this set offers premium construction at a reasonable price. It’s especially durable, shined to practically a mirror finish and includes a pasta straining and steaming insert for the stock pot.
What you should consider: The stainless steel finish is more difficult to keep clean, especially if you do a lot of pan-frying.
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Chris Thomas Bohnlein writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.