Advanced induction with a familiar design.
The KICU509XBL doesn't stray too far from the standard ceramic cooktop template. In fact, if you didn't know it was induction, you may think it was just another radiant model. The simple black surface is understated and elegant while the angular controls offer an excellent counterpoint to the circular burners. True, fans of industrial-style ranges will be disappointed, but those who favor the minimalist approach are in for a treat.
Traditionalists may balk at the KICU509XBL, which eschews physical dials in favor of touch controls. We, on the other hand, were impressed with the sheer number of options on display. The cooktop features the standard functions common to induction: temperature level settings, a timer, and a control lock. Like nearly all induction cooktops, it will also automatically detect the size of a pan and adjust the magnetic field accordingly. Additionally, the Performance Boost feature bypasses the maximum high setting for ten minutes for even speedier boiling. This one also has a bridge function—which transforms the two left burners into one oblong burner to accommodate for large or unusually-shaped cookware.
The word of the day is, "Superlative."
One doesn't need to look further than the KICU509XBL's boiling scores to see the obvious benefits of induction. In our tests, the primary burner took just two minutes to bring six cups of water to a boil. Two minutes! To put that number into perspective, we consider five minutes to be an excellent time for a conventional gas or electric burner. And if you want to bring the temperature down, induction responds almost instantaneously. Boiling might as well be a binary condition. As incredible as those boiling speeds sound, just be aware that using an induction cooktop requires certain adjustments to one's cooking habits. In the case of the KICU509XBL, cutting the vegetables while you wait for the water to boil just isn't going to… cut it.
Predictably, the KICU509XBL also featured an wide-open range of temperatures. On the lowest setting, our pan reached just 101ºF—not the lowest we've ever seen, but gentle and stable enough for melting chocolate. We recorded an average high temperature of 693ºF, and a peak of 709ºF. Like a supercar that's governed at 155 MPH, KitchenAid wouldn't let the KICU509XBL get any higher for safety's sake. If you want to pop off the proverbial restrictor plate, the aforementioned Performance Boost bypasses the maximum temperature limit for a total of ten minutes.
America, we need to talk…
So, America, we have been meaning to talk to you for a while now. We understand that change is difficult and that trying new things can be intimidating. However, we're worried about your unwillingness to adopt induction cooking.
See, despite induction's obvious advantages over standard electric cooktops, the technology has been slow to take in the United States. The reasons for this are most likely financial: put simply, induction appliances are expensive, and they require magnetic cookware. The KitchenAid KICU509XBL, however, costs just a bit more than comparable radiant models but blows anything else out of the water when it comes to performance. Perhaps this will be the model that conquers the New World.
Meet the testers
Aside from reviewing ovens and cooktops, James moonlights as an educational theatre practitioner, amateur home chef, and weekend DIY warrior.
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