Can You Use a Small Pan on a Large Ring on an Induction Hob?

Using a small pan on a large ring on an induction hob is often an everyday occurrence in many busy households. How many times have you just grabbed the first pan that’s free?

When cooking with a conventional cooktop, it might work perfectly well, but how does a small pan perform on an induction hob when it’s used on a larger burner? Let’s find out!

Can You Use a Small Pan on a Large Ring on an Induction Hob?

Yes, you can! It should usually work even though the burner’s diameter far exceeds the pan’s base. However, there are occasions when you’ll find it difficult to maintain consistent power in the ring or even activate the electromagnetics in the first place.

Is it Dangerous to Use a Small Pan on a Large Ring on an Induction Hob?

It’s not usually dangerous to use a pan that’s much smaller than the cooking zone or burner. The pan’s lack of size might prevent the system from igniting altogether. In this case, it leaves the cooktop comfortably chilled, preventing anyone from accidentally burning themselves.

Sometimes a small pan will have a large enough base diameter to attract the electromagnetic heat source. But does the surrounding, unused part of the burner become unbearably hot?

Not usually.

A small pan generally encourages a much weaker signal in a large burner on your induction hob. It means the heat it produces in this extended rim is often at a much-reduced intensity.

In effect, it’s not able to draw the electromagnetic heat into this area. Therefore, the surrounding cooking zone that’s not in contact with the pan shouldn’t be any more than mildly warm.

As for the hob itself, it shouldn’t be damaged by simply using a pan that’s too small for the burner. The inadequate sizing produces less heat or even none at all. It makes it much kinder to your induction hob than the problem of overheating when using a pan that’s too large.

Small Pan not Working on Induction Hob – Common Causes

It can be irritating when you’re busily preparing a meal and you find your pan’s too small to make the induction hob’s large burner work properly. Here are a few of the main causes and what you can do to solve the problems:

Why does a pan that’s only slightly smaller than the induction hob’s ring fail to heat?

The easiest way to fix this is to make sure your pan is properly centralised. Placing your pan in the centre of the cooking zone makes the electromagnetic connection effectively balanced. Otherwise, one half of the ring won’t be sufficiently in contact with the burner.

This can give the impression that the pan is even smaller than it actually is. It’s an easy mistake to make, particularly when you’re new to induction cooking. The smoky ceramic glass can sometimes obscure your view of exactly where the cooking zone is, especially at night when artificial lights cause too many reflections.

Why does the burner’s indicator light on my induction hob keep flashing on and off?

This shows the pan’s size is almost correct, but it’s struggling to maintain the connection. A cheat’s tip that usually solves this quickly is to fool the burner into thinking the pan is the right size. Partly fill an inexpensive, enamelled metal mug with water to prevent it from drying out. Then place it next to the small pan so that the sides touch.

It artificially extends the magnetic connection enough to improve the power flow. You can easily check the metal is magnetised by holding a magnet to the base. The stronger the attraction, the more successful your deception will be.

Why does food scorch in a small pan on an induction hob’s large burner?

A small pan that attracts the electromagnetic heat might find the power is too intense. Cooking on an induction hob is the fastest method we have, apart from microwaves of course. (Although as a fan of induction hobs, I sometimes wonder if microwaving counts as ‘real’ cooking!)

However, when using a small pan with a large ring on your induction hob it can be advisable to turn the temperature slightly lower. This helps reduce the speed and intensity of the heat. it should help save food from scorching when you’re not keeping watch.

Why does a small pan that’s been successfully used on an induction hob fail to heat?

The first thing I usually do is check the base of the pan. It can be that a small scrap of food debris has accidentally dried on. With a pan of any size, this type of obstruction can block the electromagnetic attraction between the burner and the pan. If the pan’s base is clean, wipe the surface of the ceramic glass with a soft cloth dampened with white vinegar to ensure any greasy residue has been removed.


Cooking with an induction hob is fast and energy-efficient, providing you use magnetised pans that are of adequate size. Most small pans should work well on an induction hob’s large burner if the two diameters aren’t too mismatched.

A miniaturised pan such as a one-egg frying pan may sometimes be too small and lightweight to maintain a good connection on the ceramic glass.

Always keep your pans centralised to ensure they can adequately draw the electromagnetic heat. Then using your induction hob with a small pan placed on a much large burner should usually work.