I need a large skillet to use for browning on my portable induction cooktop. The heating surface on the cooktop is somewhat small, so the skillet needs to spread the heat evenly across the larger bottom surface of the pan. What type/material of pan is best for this?
This may be more detailed than you were looking for, but it gives you a lot of useful information.
You’ll need a cladded pan with some aluminum to spread the heat more evenly, but it’s best to not get a pan with a base that goes much outside the circular target: that’s more important than the materials. In practice, that means you’re limited to a 10" skillet–11" might be OK.
With my induction unit, I have 3 cladded pans–one 9" and two 10". The 9" is tri clad (one layer of aluminum); the two 10" are 5 cladded (two layers of aluminum): all three heat evenly.
In theory, one could add more and more aluminum to the base and maintain evenness up to 12.6", but there are tradeoffs. They take longer to heat up, they’re heavier, they overlap the induction unit, and, of course, they cost more.
I’ve never used an induction cooktop but I do know that Stainless Steel Cookware Sets Plus has some great sets of cookware or single pans that work well with induction cooktops.
(I thought my name was America until I was in the third grade, they called me by my middle name instead of my first name. Wonder why?)
If you are only using the bottom surface of the pan to brown solid foods , that is, you’re using the skillet like a hot griddle, then I would say it would be logical to get the thickest bottomed pan with a magnetic stainless base over a thick aluminum disc.
The best of these are made by Fissler, an expensive German cookware company. But the good news is that there are plenty of Induction disc bottomed pans for cheap out there. Some have the aluminum disc bottom fully encapsulated within a shell of stainless, but do you really care? The cheaper ones are solely impact bonded on and you can see the (hopefully) thick aluminum layer.
It is important that the disc goes all the way to the edge of the pan. Even though many folks will say get fully clad skillets, I think for your purposes it’s not actually as good, unless you ‘need’ the sides of the pan to be as hot as the bottom for some reason.
Since you want to spread the heat across the pan, I would recommend a cladded pan. You cannot use a straight copper or straight aluminum pan because they don’t response to induction field. So you best bet is a cladded pan which is induction-ready. Basically, something with a iron based bottom which can absorb the energy from the induction stove, but also has an aluminum or copper core to spread the heat.