Gas vs induction: the great cooktop debate

Richard Ousby would have both gas and induction cooktops in an ideal world.
Richard Ousby would have both gas and induction cooktops in an ideal world.

It used to be that nothing could beat the speed of a gas cooktop. Indeed that's where the term 'cooking with gas' originates.

But induction cooktops are giving gas a very solid run for its money. Even some of Australia's top chefs vacillate between the two.

Multi-hatted chef and Electrolux ambasssador James Viles said he has been using induction for years in his home and restaurants.

"My top tip for purchasing a cooktop is to go for a size which works with your bench space and leaves you enough room to prepare food and ingredients next to it. I much prefer cooking on direct heat as I find it cuts my cooking time in half," he said.

"Induction also tends to keep your pots and pans in better condition long term because it doesn't leave behind carbon residue on your cookware like gas does."

Stokehouse Group's Richard Ousby, also an Electrolux ambassador, said in an ideal world he'd install a gas 2-burner and have solar powering and an induction cooktop.

"I always grew up with gas and I loved it, but in my experience, induction is super accurate and more cost-effective.

"It's important to consider the cookware that you own before you decide on a cooktop - what will work best with your equipment? I own a lot of cast iron enamel cookware which works brilliantly on both, but not all cookware works well on induction, so this is an important thing to consider," he said.

An easy way to check if your cookware will work is the magnet test. If a magnet sticks to your pots, they will work. That's because induction uses an electromagnetic field below the glass top surface. The heat is transferred to the pot or pan - that is what heats up instead of the cooktop (which is why you don't get the red glow). As soon as you remove the pot, the heat stops transmitting, which can be a good safety feature if you have kids around.

That's a benefit for Chef Massimo Mele.

"Being a father now, safety in the kitchen is one of the most important considerations for me. My son climbs up on the kitchen bench and having induction over gas is a much safer option as the induction cook top stops heating and is cool to touch post cooking.

"Another consideration when you have small children is the speed you can cook at - I can boil water quicker, which means I can throw the pasta in quicker for my boys as dinner time with small children is always fun," he said.

If you're thinking induction, check the wattage of your cooktop power outlet first. Most home will have a 10amp connection, whereas most induction cooktops need at least 20amp, or even up to 42amp to work properly.