If it's time to replace your kitchen range, you may be trying to decide whether you want to do your cooking with gas or electric. We have a better suggestion: induction. Professional chefs have embraced induction cooking for years and there are many good reasons for home cooks like you to make the switch in your kitchen.
Why we think induction cooking is the best option
Induction cooktops have numerous advantages over gas and electric burners. Induction cooktops don't actually have heated burners—let's call them "elements" to make the distinction. We've explained the science before, but here are the practical reasons you'll love induction cooking:
You're much less likely to get burned. Rather than heating the element itself, induction works by exciting the iron atoms of the pan. So the pan gets hot, but the stove surface won't, saving your hands.
Induction cooking is energy-efficient. Since induction heats the pan directly, between 80 and 90 percent of the heat goes right to the food.
Water boils twice as fast. In our tests, we've observed that water can boil in three minutes on an induction cooktop. Your big pasta pot is ready for spaghetti much sooner.
Induction has superior temperature control. Your sauce can take its time to develop great flavor, simmering at an extremely low temperature. (We've seen induction cooktop temperatures reach just over 100°). If you want to sear a steak, an induction "burner" can hit an average of 666° degrees.
Cleanup is easier. You're unlikely to have to deal with baked-on food because the elements on an induction range don't actually heat up. We've even heard of cooks using parchment paper on induction cooktops to keep any drips under control.
Your existing cookware will probably work with induction. Most modern stainless pans do. It's easy to find out: If a magnet sticks to the bottom, the pan will work on an induction stovetop. The winners of our Best Stainless Steel Skillets roundup all cook with induction.
Off means off. When you turn off an induction element, the electromagnetic energy stops transferring, so heating stops immediately. That is not the case with a regular electric burner, which takes some time to cool down when you turn it off.
When induction isn't the right choice for you
Induction might not be right for you if you already have a gas hookup in your kitchen and can't or don't want to do the electrical work for a 220V line. If your cookware is not induction compatible (aluminum, for example) and you don't want to replace it, induction might not be your first choice. There is a learning curve with induction cooking and not everyone is up for it, so if you own a rental unit or an Airbnb, that's probably not the best place for induction. For some home cooks, the look of the blue gas flame is irreplaceable.
The value prop on induction cooktops
If you've been hesitant to welcome induction into your kitchen because the ranges were so pricey, rest assured—an induction range can be more affordable now, with some models on the market for under $1,000. Induction ranges can still be expensive, but they don't have to be. And the way induction ranges can up your cooking game makes them a good value from day one.
Induction ranges might be a good value in the future, too. We've spoken with some developers and contractors who say that, depending on geography, homes with induction ranges may command higher prices when they sell, but you should consult your local listings to verify.
How we test induction ranges
Our expert testers put ranges through rigorous paces in our labs, making sure performance is strong before we recommend them to you. For example, we record the time it takes each burner to bring six 8-ounce cups of water to a boil. Averaging an incredible three-minute-and-seven-second boil time (with some newer ranges boiling even faster), induction wins the race easily over gas and electric.
In our tests, we also compile data on the temperature ranges of gas, electric, and induction burners. On average, induction cooktops reach a maximum temperature of 665.5°F, compared to just 428°F for gas. While radiant electric cooktops can get hotter—741.8°F on average—they take a lot longer to cool after you turn down the heat.
We also test for usability. The induction cookers we've tested generally turn on with a simple push of a button. Some even let you use an app to set the cooking time and temperature. That's not something you can do with gas.
Induction ranges you'll love
After testing numerous induction ranges, here are some we can recommend for your kitchen:
Frigidaire Gallery FGIF3036TF
We love this Frigidaire range for its sleek looks (it's a slide-in style that could pass for a built-in), high-power elements, and great price. In fact, at under $900, it's the least expensive induction range we've seen that also has a convection oven. We recommend this range because it provides an intro to induction cooking at a great price—and it also does a creditable job baking and broiling.
If you've been waiting to begin cooking with induction, the Frigidaire FFIF3054TD is another good way to get started. Like its sibling, the FGIF3036TF, its boiling time is fast—the FFIF3054TD hit the boiling point in a mere 2.5 minutes. There's no convection bake mode in the oven, but in our tests, the cookies we baked turned out perfectly. That could promote you to be the winner of the next holiday cookie swap.
The LG LSE4617ST is a 30-inch slide-in range with excellent burner performance. If you're a fan of appliance technology, the LG SmartThinQ app will delight you. You can rely on it to preheat the oven, check the timer, and turn off the oven without actually being present in the kitchen. It's not bargain-priced, but if you buy this induction range, you'll appreciate its five elements. The oven is roomy and has an integrated meat temperature probe.
Bosch Benchmark HIIP055U
If you can spend more money, you could be very happy with the Bosch Benchmark HIIP055U induction range. The attractive design is an asset to your kitchen, and the controls are clear and easy to use. You'll like the Flexinduction element, which combines two cooking elements into one. The oven has true convection, and you can keep dinner hot in the warming drawer in case somebody shows up late.
Prices are accurate at the time of publication but may change over time.