There’s often some confusion over which size pan to use on an induction hob.
The smooth, glass surface of the hob leads everyone to believe you can place a pan anywhere you choose.
That’s only possible if you’ve invested in a multi-zone induction hob. But what happens with a regular induction hob?
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What is an induction hob?
The induction hob was first launched in the 1950s. But it took another fifty years for this technologically advanced piece of kitchen equipment to gain sustained popularity.
If you’ve recently chosen an induction hob, you were no doubt attracted by its sleek, good looks. And with no awkward burners on show, it’s remarkably easy to keep clean.
An induction hob uses electromagnetics to directly heat the food inside the pan. Amazingly, the glass surface remains cool to the touch.
But to cook food successfully, you’ll need to place the pan in the area where the hidden coil of wire or element supplies the heat.
Does an induction hob need special pans?
Whatever size pan you’re using, it has to be magnetic. The direct heat method of an induction hob has to form a complete circuit by connecting the element and the pan. Copper, glass and aluminium pans aren’t magnetised so they won’t be able to form a circuit.
You’ll need to use iron or steel pans. Alternatively, choose pans with a layer of magnetised metal at the base. If in doubt, keep a magnet handy. If it sticks to the base of the pan, it’s ideal for an induction hob. Then you only have to choose the right size.
Can you use a pan that’s bigger than the burner on an induction hob?
Yes! However, it won’t cook your food as effectively as if it matched the size of the ring. The electromagnetic system needs to be in direct contact with the pan in order to work properly. That’s why your pans should have a heavy, level base to ensure a good surface connection.
But what if the pan is larger than the element? It will only generate heat in the centralised zone that’s in contact with the element. The surplus that extends beyond the element will remain cool.
You can usually counteract the contrast between cool and hot zones in the pan by regular stirring. It blends the different temperatures of the contents to help redistribute the heat. However, your food may take longer to cook thoroughly.
Can I use multiple big pans on an induction hob at the same time?
You can cause problems for your induction hob’s circuitry when using several larger pans at once. The main danger is that they’ll overlap the burners and come into contact with each other.
This is like using one large connected pan and confuses the electromagnetic field. But some models, including a few 13 amp induction hobs, are designed to cook over two burners at the same time. It’s the type of hob to look for if you like using large pans.
Will larger pans damage my induction hob?
With a traditional electric hob, pans that are too large for the burners can cause problems. Excess heat from the burner becomes trapped beneath the additional width of the pan. This quickly leads to overheating which can often shorten the life of the burner.
However, this isn’t the case with an induction hob. It’s only the magnetised area of the pan’s base that activates heat from the element. There’s no excess heat to accumulate. Using a pan that’s too large for the concealed burner shouldn’t do any damage to the hob or the burner.
Is there a limit to how much a pan can exceed the burner?
Your induction hob’s manufacturer should provide the exact preferences for your particular model. But in general, it’s one inch (2.5 centimetres) that’s acceptable for an induction hob burner.
This measurement refers to the total diameter or if you judge by radius, 0.5 inches on either side. Beyond that, you’ll have too many cold spots in your pan.
Can square/rectangular pans be used with an Induction Hob?
Square/rectangular griddle style frying pans can be used with an induction hob. This type of pan is usually heavy with a cast iron base. The pan will probably be much larger than the circular burner. However, the corners of the pan usually remain unheated as they are not in direct contact with the concealed burner.
Can you use a pan that’s smaller than the burner on an induction hob?
You can use a smaller pan, but it needs to be centrally placed over the burner. If it isn’t, the electromagnetic system might not even recognise there’s a pan waiting to be heated.
On an electric hob, the entire burner heats up even if the pan’s base is much smaller. This wastes energy. However, using a small pan with a large burner on an induction hob generates a lower total amount of heat.
You can use a pan with a base that’s larger in diameter than the burner of an induction hob. But to gain the best results, it’s best to match the pan size to the burner. It distributes heat more efficiently, cooking food thoroughly without wasting energy.