10 best induction pans for efficient and expert cooking

·13-min read
We considered the weight, size, shape and how well the pan conducts heat as well as their resilience  (The Independent )
We considered the weight, size, shape and how well the pan conducts heat as well as their resilience (The Independent )

It’s a common misconception that you have to buy a whole new set of pans to work well with an induction hob, but most pans actually work fine on them. An exception is those made from aluminium, which lacks the magnetic qualities required to react with the induction hob.

While many pans will work perfectly well on an induction hob, if you’ve spent the time and money researching and buying a carefully chosen cooker, chances are that you’ll want pans that really make the most of its potential.

The best induction pans are ones that react well with the technology, to come up to temperature fast, and react well to changes when you dip or increase the heat. Depending on the recipe, it can be handy to have some pans that retains heat well over a sustained period – a cast iron skillet, for instance – as well as ones that fluctuate easily for dishes that need a flash fry to begin with before being simmered low and slow, such as a good old-fashioned spag bol.

How we tested

There are all sorts of factors that affect how well an induction pan performs, and we tried to take a range of things into account during our testing. Weight, size and shape are all important, but what about how well the pan conducts heat, how resilient it is or whether or not it can function both on the hob and in the oven for flexible cooking? To ensure our recommendations are as helpful as possible, we got to work with real-world testing.

We cooked and cleaned each pan several times, taking notes with each use to be able to report back with our findings, to bring you a comprehensive list of the best induction pans available at the moment. We’ve included big-name, high street brands as well as smaller more unique pans, which have been made by master craftsmen (and women) for something really special.

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The best induction pans for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Crane S series 4 stainless steel pan set: £393.76, Cranecookware.com

  • Best non-stick pan – Ninja foodi zerostick 5-piece pan set: £199.99, Ninjakitchen.co.uk

  • Best design-led pan – Smeg 28cm frying pan: £99, Smeguk.com

  • Best cast-iron design – 33cm oval cast iron cocotte grenadine: £349, Zwilling-shop.com

  • Best for aspiring MasterChefs – Anolon X seartech 6 piece cookware set: £550, Anolon.co.uk

  • Best classic pan – Le Creuset 3-ply stainless steel 4-piece cookware set: £450, Lecreuset.co.uk

  • Best lifetime pan – Skeppshult professional cast iron and stainless steel frying pan: £115, Souschef.co.uk

  • Best family pan – Zwilling 5-piece stainless steel cookware set: £349, Zwilling-shop.com

  • Best uncoated pan – Kuhn Rikon allround stainless steel saucepan set: £167.20, Kuhnrikon.co.uk

  • Best small pan – KitchenAid steel core enamel saucepan, cream, 26cm: £105, Johnlewis.com

Crane S series 4 stainless steel pan set

Best: Overall

Rating: 8/10

With a legion of high-profile fans (including Anna Jones and Michelin-starred chef James Lowe from Lyle’s), Crane Cookware is having a bit of a moment. Once you’ve cooked with them, it’s not hard to see why these induction pans are proving popular. The pans combine style and substance thanks to a clean, pared-back look and excellent heat transfer. Double, even, ergonomic handles ensured safe and efficient movement between hob, oven and tabletop, and the sleek brushed stainless steel finish meant they were attractive enough to double up as a serving dish, too. Handmade in England, Crane’s pans are built to last and come with a lifetime guarantee.

The set covers just about every functionality you could want, but our favourite is the saute pan. With high sides and a snuggly fitting lid, we loved using this for all kinds of dishes – from bolognese through to curries – and found it came up to temperature quickly and evenly, reacting well to any changes. Stainless steel is naturally a little trickier to clean than non-stick pans, but given their performance we were willing to put a bit more elbow grease into tidy-up time. If you don’t have big bucks to spend, there’s also the option of buying each pan individually.

Buy now £393.76, Cranecookware.com

Ninja foodi zerostick 5-piece pan set

Best: Non-stick pan

Rating: 7/10

Non-stick pans have a bit of a troubled past (turns out people aren’t all that keen on inhaling a chemical cocktail), but thankfully brands like Ninja are making easy, everyday cooking both safe and simple. This set of nonstick induction pans are oven safe up to 260C – which is a much higher threshold than a lot of the competitors on the market – and are flake- and scratch-proof, meaning even metal utensils are given the seal of approval. Having started in the USA decades ago, Ninja now has a global cult following thanks to its sensibly priced, high-performance induction pans. We really loved cooking with these.

The non-stick coating has a slightly grippy finish which meant oil didn’t immediately disperse to the edges yet nothing – and we mean nothing – stuck to the interior. In the frying pan we got beautifully crispy fish skin, for instance, while the saucepans made fluffy rice without any residue in the bottom. The set of five pans has been carefully thought through, with a size for nearly every job, and we found ourselves reaching for these again and again during testing – the perfect family set to furnish a kitchen in one fell swoop.

Buy now £199.99, Ninjakitchen.co.uk

Smeg 28cm frying pan

Best: Design-led pan

Rating: 7/10

Aesthetes rejoice, we’ve found your perfect induction pans. Undeniably stylish, Smeg’s brand-new pans have been given the same attention to detail as the brand’s world-famous fridges. This isn’t a case of style over substance, though, and clever engineering has been employed to ensure practicality. Details include the ridges along the handles, an element that has been added to allow for quick and easy drying. The sunburst pattern across the base of the pan ensured these pans came up to heat almost instantly, with just a couple of minutes to wait before we were cooking with them. A choice of cherry red, rich cream or charcoal means there’s a style for every kitchen, and we loved the retro feel of them.

A slight annoyance was the length of the handles, which look good but take up a lot of precious cupboard space in a small kitchen. However, in balance the non-stick coating performed really well, and made cleaning them a breeze.

Buy now £99.00, Shop.smeguk.com

Staub 33cm oval cast iron cocotte grenadine

Best: Cast-iron design

Rating: 9/10

If you’re looking for lifelong cooking companions for your kitchen, we don’t think you can beat traditional heavyweights made by Staub. These meticulously crafted pans are beautifully made to last and come with some unique benefits. One of the best things about Staub pans is the design of the lids, which have bumpbs across the underside. These help condensation to pool across the top which then bastes your food as it cooks, and honestly you can taste the difference. Pretty clever, we think.

We made an oxtail stew in our cocotte, which demonstrated its usability perfectly. The base came up to temperature moderately quickly, and once the pan was hot it retained its heat steadily, becoming a sort of mini oven itself. This sort of bubble effect meant super tender meat and a rich gravy thanks to the self-saucing environment the lid creates. We also loved this for reheating food gently, popping leftovers in it and bringing it up to temperature slowly for piping hot food that didn’t become dry.

Buy now £349.00, Zwilling-shop.com

Anolon X seartech 6 piece cookware set

Best: For aspiring MasterChefs

Rating: 7/10

Fancy the ease of a non-stick pan with the heat conduction of a good old stainless steel pot? We’ve got a solution for that. With an ingenious little metal cross cross grid slightly raised above the overall non-stick surface, this is the perfect pan for foodies who can’t face the fuss of scrubbing scraps off a cast iron pan at the end of a long day. We pan-fried white fish while testing ours out, and it came out with a gorgeous golden skin and a crisp criss-cross pattern, which gave it a bit of a cheffy feel.

There was the odd bit of food stuck to the metal at the end of cooking, but because these pans are dishwasher safe we just threw ours in a regular wash and they came out without any obvious deterioration. The gently curving sides of the frying pans in this set were particularly nicely crafted too, making stir-fries easy to keep moving over a high heat with just the flick of a wrist.

Buy now £550.00, Anolon.co.uk

Le Creuset 3-ply stainless steel 4-piece cookware set

Best: Classic pan

Rating: 8/10

It’ll come as no shock to anyone that some of the best induction-safe pans are made by Le Creuset. While the brand might be most famous for its cast iron pans, we actually think the stainless steel pans are its best range for induction hobs. They came up to heat the fastest out of any of the pans we tested, and maintained their warmth well throughout cooking for great, even colouring on things like pancakes – the frying pan has a top-notch non-stick coating for the best of both worlds.

Rounded edges made for easy stirring when making saucier meals, and also meant cleaning was speedy with just a sponge cloth and soapy warm water. The tight-fitting lids with no vents ensured steam stayed in, helping to keep food hot for long periods. Enough pans to kickstart a kitchen and lifetime guarantee that is actually backed up (we had a 35-year-old pan replaced recently) make these an investment worth the price point.

Buy now £450.00, Lecreuset.co.uk

Skeppshult professional cast iron and stainless steel frying pan

Best: Lifetime pan

Rating: 9/10

Not for the faint of heart, Skeppshult pans are extremely heavy to manoeuvre. However, with all that weight comes excellent performance. Handmade in Sweden, Skeppshult pans are each a miniature work of art, having been carefully honed and refined over the years into a hybrid cast iron pan. The base is a traditional shape and style, while the hollow stainless steel handle means it stays relatively cool while cooking on the hob (rather than becoming hot as a result of being cast in one piece with the main pan, as is typical of most cast iron pieces).

The only downside to this that we could foresee is that there’s a chance for sheering over time, but during testing we saw no movement in the join and suspect they would last a lifetime. We loved how hot you can get this pan on an induction hob, which meant searing steaks resulted in some of the best cooking we did during testing – a darkly caramelised crust and a perfectly pink centre. Over time the patina will build up, too, creating an unbeatable natural non-stick coating.

Buy now £115.00, Souschef.co.uk

Zwilling 5-piece stainless steel cookware set

Best: Family pan

Rating: 7/10

These surprisingly light induction pans struck the perfect balance between ease of use and performance. We loved that they weren’t too heavy to lug around the kitchen (even when they were full) but had thick enough bases to conduct heat well and maintain their temperature evenly. During testing, we did notice that the nice shiny finish tended to mark easily, and was harder to clean than brushed stainless steel equivalents. This aside, we thought the set was a great starter kit for any kitchen, and provided enough variety in size and shape to allow any cook to cater for a full family. Measurement markers on the interior of the pans made following recipes quick and easy, and we loved that over time it actually gave us a better estimation on quantities by eye. When the lids are upturned these stack on top of one another, but double handles mean they don’t nest easily, and they are lacking a secondary control handle.

Buy now £349.00, Zwilling-shop.com

Kuhn Rikon allround stainless steel saucepan set

Best: Uncoated pan

Rating: 8/10

Stainless steel is great if you’re looking for uncoated, durable saucepans that can be chucked in the dishwasher on a daily basis. These ones from Kuhn Rikon are oven safe and come with glass lids for easy viewing during cooking. The steam vents meant we could easily simmer vegetables and grains like rice without anything boiling over, and we loved that we could keep checking on things without having to get the pan out of the oven to look under the lid. The stay-cool handles performed particularly well on the induction hob with not a hint of overheating, even over prolonged periods, and the pans nest nicely for easy storage too. The rounded-off lip on each saucepan meant we could pour confidently and carefully from one to another, and we loved that the three sizes were perfect for family cooking. A solid all-rounder set was our verdict.

Buy now £167.20, Kuhnrikon.co.uk

KitchenAid steel core enamel saucepan, cream, 26cm

Best: Small pan

Rating: 9/10

We were surprised by how much we loved this KitchenAid pan, and thought that, despite its high price point, it was actually worth the splurge for serious cooks. A small pan is such an underrated piece of kit, and this little example from KitchenAid was just the perfect size for reheating a couple of portions of soup, making a quick sauce or even boiling a few eggs. The satisfyingly snug lid helped water to boil water, while the handle was double riveted for extra durability and longevity.

Tiny gripes included there being no secondary handle and the angular edges on the lid, which made hand washing tricky, but as this is a dishwasher-safe induction pan we didn’t think this was a big enough issue to put us off purchasing from KitchenAid in the future. The enamel exterior looks clean and contemporary, while the reasonably weighty body meant this pan came up to heat quickly and reacted well to temperature changes on the induction hob. This was one of our favourites throughout testing, and we found ourselves using it more than we initially anticipated, for lots of odd jobs in the kitchen – a real stand-out piece.

Buy now £105.00, Johnlewis.com

The verdict: Induction pans

For keen cooks, we thought Crane’s set was the perfect way to furnish a full kitchen for an induction hob in one easy purchase. The sleek, contemporary design was simple enough to suit modern living but also maintained a classic edge that we doubt will ever go out of style. Because they’re made from stainless steel they worked particularly well on an induction hob and came up to temperature extremely quickly, maintaining heat well and reacting fast to temperature changes.

While the full set is an undoubtedly big splurge, the ability to buy each pan individually means you could gradually build up to the entire collection. For a more affordable set, we also loved the Ninja pans, which are great for busy families who want the ease of non-stick induction pans with a good spread of sizes and styles.

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