It took me a long time to finally make the decision to buy an induction burner. They are expensive, bulky, and frankly do the same job that your stove top does, so it’s a difficult purchase to justify. That being said, I’m thrilled I did eventually take the plunge and am happy with the model I chose.
Do you need an induction burner? The primary reason often given for purchasing an induction burner is that it speeds up the time it takes for something like water to come to a boil. While this certainly is the case, I’m not one to spend hundreds of dollars for a few seconds of additional time.
For me, the ultimate benefit has been demonstrated when using it for deep frying. I always struggle with deep frying during a dinner party. I never know when to turn the heat on so that the oil is ready when I need it but doesn’t get too hot. I’ve had countless times when the oil has gotten way to hot and then takes forever to cool down to the appropriate temperature, either leaving me waiting impatiently or burning my food in my haste.
A good induction burner, emphasis on the good, will not only get your oil to the proper temperature in record time, but it will also keep it relatively close to the desired temperature. Because an induction burner is not an immersion circulator which monitors the temperature of the liquid, but rather something that approximates through an external monitor, you will never get the same precision. But I’ve found that with the Vollrath 59500P, if I set the temperature for 10°F cooler than what is desired, no matter how long I leave it on the heat, the temperature is just about where I need it to be.
The other frequent use is for items that need a constant temperature for a long period of time such as yogurt or even custards like my parmesan crème brulee. For both of these uses (deep frying and constant cooking temperatures) you also want to invest in a quality digital thermometer. You can check out my reviews and tribulations of a variety here.
Other models are not nearly as sophisticated so make sure you know what you are buying before taking the plunge.
Vollrath 59500P Mirage Pro Countertop Induction Range 14 inch
This is the model I purchased (Aug 2013), and I can honestly say I’m completely satisfied. At around $450 here, it’s certainly not cheap, but it’s the most sophisticated and temperature sensitive of all the models available today. It works in both heat levels as well as direct temperature with increments of 10°F, which allows you to get really close to the perfect frying (or candy) temperature. It has a temperature range of 80°F to 450°F which is the best you can get in this price range and for the home cook.
At 14 inches, it holds even my largest pots, but as with all induction cook surfaces it needs to be made of a magnetic material-note my standard non stick calphalon’s work perfectly well. The top is made of ceramic, which is both durable and easy to clean. After nearly a year of use, I have no stains or scratches and I’m a pretty brutal cook.
If you really want something that is going to give you a large range of precise temperatures, this is by far the recommended model. There are others that are cheaper and will produce varying results, which I’ve discussed below. But if you do need more information you can read additional reviews and find buying options here.
There are a myriad of other brands and models that are available on Amazon. Let me outline why I wouldn’t recommend any of them:
- None of these has the temperature control of the Vollrath. Most have wide jumps in temperature ranges or feature warming levels that don’t correspond to any specific degree setting. This makes it useless for anything other than bringing water to boil as quickly as possible
- Most are of cheaper quality with glass that can easily scratch and plastic trimming that can melt if it comes into contact with a hot pot or pan or corrode over time.
- Many models are quite loud, emitting some sort of buzzing noise when in use.
- Most models are smaller than the 14 inch Vollrath which makes them impossible to use with larger items given you need the pot and surface to connect in order to produce the heat.
Point #1 above is the main reason I recommend purchasing the Vollrath if you want an induction burner.