Can cook continuously for 99 hours
8-inch induction area
Heats up to 575 degrees
Design not as sleek as other brands
Durability may be an issue
Portable induction burners like the NuWave PIC Pro come in handy for a wide range of reasons. They’re great for outfitting a mobile kitchen, whether that’s in an office or a cabin. They can keep a dish warm on a buffet table. They also can function as a much-needed auxiliary cooktop when holiday gatherings render your usual stovetop inadequate. Induction cooktops are the most efficient and safest cooking surfaces around because they heat the cookware directly and only the pot gets hot, not the surface around it. Since portable induction cooktops are so practical and easy to use, more cooks are adding them to their arsenal of tools. We recently tested one of the more expensive models to see if it’s worth the higher price tag. Did it live up to its promise? Read on to find out.
Setup Process: No trouble
All you need to do to set up the NuWave induction burner is clear a spot on your countertop near a 120-volt outlet. It’s best not to share the outlet with any other appliances, though, and the burner should be set at least 4 inches away from anything that could block the airflow of the fans.
Design: Not fancy
All black instead of glass or stainless steel, rounded instead of rectangular, and with a digital display rather than an LED, the NuWave isn’t exactly sleek and sophisticated or even “pro” looking. But it’s not cheesy either.
The buttons on the control panel are easy to read and since they’re set below the cooking surface they’re protected from being damaged by pots and pans. At first, the array of buttons seemed confusing, but we quickly figured out how easy they are to use. It’s worth noting several reviewers online have mentioned that the cover on the buttons can crack fairly quickly.
NuWave features a heating area that’s a whopping 8 inches in diameter, which is several inches larger than other brands we tried.
The NuWave is very compact and portable. Since it’s rounded instead of rectangular, it takes up less space on a countertop. It’s also very lightweight at just over 5 pounds (the manual says it’s 4.5 pounds, but we weighed it and found out it was more), so it’s easy to pack away. It easily fits into our cabinets, and at less than 3 inches tall, it could even be tucked into a drawer.
The surface is slick and easy to clean, with no crevices to attract spills. Food doesn’t get baked on since the burner only heats up where it comes into contact with the pan.
Heating Capacity: Powerful
The initials “PIC” in the name of this unit refer to “precision induction cooktop,” and it seems an apt description. The NuWave uses 600 to 1800 watts and can cook as low as 100 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 575 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a bit higher than most other burners we’ve tried, which only heat as high as 450 to 460 degrees, making the NuWave great for both keeping dishes warm on low heat or searing dishes over very high heat.
The NuWave has six temperature buttons: low, medium-low, medium, medium-high, high, and sear. Each button sets the burner to a particular temperature, which makes it super easy to switch from, say, low to high. Instead of having to push a plus or minus button several times to raise or lower the temperature, we could hit just one button.
If the setting was not quite what we wanted, we could then adjust up or down in 5-degree increments using the plus and minus buttons. This offers far more control than the 20- to 25-degree increments of most other induction burners. It also means cooking with the burner is a bit more intuitive than having to select a numerical heat setting, like 1 or 5, or having to select a particular temperature. After all, most people don’t know what temperature “low” or “medium-low” translates into.
All that being said, the unit can only detect the temperature at the base of the cookware where it touches the burner, which means the actual temperature of the food inside the pan is usually different. We tested the accuracy of the temperatures using a digital thermometer as we heated water and oil (separately). The temperature was usually 10 degrees higher (or more) than the setting. It’s best to use these temperatures as guides for increasing or decreasing heat rather than for precise cooking control.
If the setting was not quite what we wanted, we could then adjust up or down in 5-degree increments.
According to the manual, NuWave features a heating area that’s a whopping 8 inches in diameter, which is several inches larger than other brands we tried. It can accommodate a range of pan sizes and weights. It works with pans as large as 12 inches in diameter and as small as 3 inches in diameter. That’s smaller than the 4- to 4.5-inch minimum specified by other brands. It can also take up to a 50-pound weight load.
Keep in mind that induction burners require a specific kind of cookware in order to work. The cookware must be made with enough ferrous metals (i.e., iron) in order to create a magnetic field that agitates the electrons in the metal to produce heat. Cast iron, enameled cast iron, and stainless steel will work. Stainless steel and aluminum pans must have a magnetic layer in the bottom to make them induction friendly.
We held a magnet to the bottom of our pans to see if it would stick, which indicates it should work with the burner. The magnet stuck to several of our stainless steel pans, but they still didn’t work because their magnetic properties weren’t strong enough. Luckily, we had a couple of induction-ready aluminum pans and cast iron pans in our collection.
The NuWave allows users to program 100 hours worth of cooking procedures.
We tested out the burner by bringing water to a boil in two different skillets of water (an induction-friendly aluminum skillet and a cast-iron skillet). We found that the ring of bubbles produced by the induction coils was closer to 6 inches in diameter than 8, but the bubbles quickly expanded to reach the sides of the pan, which proved the burner was fast and efficient. In fact, when we tested how fast it brought 8 cups of water to a boil on its highest setting, it only took 8 minutes and 11 seconds, which was the fastest of all the burners we tried.
We also noticed there were no hot spots at all when using an induction-friendly aluminum skillet. When using a cast-iron skillet, which isn’t as efficient at conducting heat, there was a faint hot spot, but not nearly as pronounced as when we used a cast-iron skillet on the other induction burners. It just didn’t spread the heat as quickly and evenly as the aluminum pans.
The NuWave’s fan was fairly quiet, even at its highest setting. It was the second quietest of the brands we tested and sounded similar to a computer fan.
Features: Lots of useful options
We were really impressed with the features the NuWave PIC offers. One of the most useful is the “easy start.” After plugging in the unit and setting a pan on top we could simply press “start” and the unit would automatically begin heating at 375 degrees Fahrenheit with a default time of 1 hour. This was a great way to get things preheating with one touch while we grabbed oil for the pan and readied ourselves to cook. Then we simply pressed one of the temperature buttons or pressed the plus or minus button to change the temperature.
We also loved the timer feature, which allowed us to set a timer while cooking. We used this time and again when boiling pasta, making rice, or simmering oatmeal. When the timer went off, the unit would beep and stop cooking so we didn’t have to run over and turn it off.
There were many times when we were cooking and wanted to pause things while we got something else ready. On our usual gas stove, we’d simply move the pan off the heat for a minute. This isn’t possible with induction burners, which will stop cooking when the pan isn’t in contact anymore. But with the NuWave we were able to press pause to stop cooking, then resume at our desired temperature by simply pressing start again. This was also useful when we needed to pick the pan up off the burner to scrape out the contents into a bowl. Instead of suffering through a loud beep and error code when we took the pan off the burner, we could just press pause. The burner also allowed us to tilt the pan off the burner without stopping the cooking. As long as part of the pan was resting in the cooking area it would still work.
For those who want to slowly simmer stocks or bone broth for hours and hours, the NuWave allows up to 99 hours and 59 minutes of continuous cooking. Most other units max out at 2 or 3 hours. And for those who cook the same things over and over, the NuWave allows users to program 100 hours worth of cooking procedures, and each one can have up to 10 stages. For example, if your favorite soup always starts out with a 5 minutes sauté at medium-high, then a 10-minute boil on high, then a 30-minute simmer on medium-low, you can program this in to make cooking the recipe a one-touch operation. There’s also a delay function, so you can start things cooking even when you’re not in the room.
Those who prefer Celsius to Fahrenheit can change the default setting, and if you’re using the unit in a place with limited wattage, such as an RV, you can reduce the wattage from 1800 to 600 watts. Of course, cooking times will increase as a result.
Like other induction burners, the NuWave displays error codes to alert users when it overheats or if it’s not compatible with the pan.
Price: On the high end
While most portable induction burners aimed at consumers (rather than pros) retail for about $100, the NuWave PIC costs a bit more, depending on the retailer. But for the extra money, you get many extra features that make using the burner a pleasure.
NuWave PIC Titanium Induction Cooktop vs. Duxtop 9600LS Induction Cooktop
Both the NuWave and the Duxtop 9600LS offer 1800 watts of power, and both can go as low as 100 degrees. But the NuWave can get as hot as 575 degrees compared to Duxtop’s 460 degrees. The NuWave also allows for heat changes as incremental as 5 degrees versus the Duxtop, which simply has 20 heat level options. The NuWave can run continuously for over 100 hours, but the Duxtop timer is capped at 10 hours. The NuWave is also programmable and has handy features like a quick start button and a pause button. The Duxtop doesn’t have these features, but it’s a bit more attractive and can be found for about $50 cheaper.
Still undecided? Check out our roundup of the best induction cooktops.