Long the go-to choice for recipe presenters, food vendors, dorm cooks, and even professional chefs, the portable induction hob is more than just a simple electric hob. These single-burner appliances can come in handy in even the most well-equipped kitchen. Whether you’re trying induction to learn a new technique, cutting back on your stove, looking for tabletop equipment for family pot night, or needing extra cooking space for the holidays, an induction hob is a quick and efficient way to increase your kitchen’s cooking capacity.
To find the best portable induction cooktop for your kitchen, we spent the winter preparing classics like French onion soup and beef bourguignon on a few different models to find the best option.
Best Overall Portable Induction Cooker
Compact and powerful, the Duxtop heats up food quickly and cooks it more evenly than any other we’ve tested. This burner also comes with a host of useful settings, such as child safety locks, timers, and boil and keep warm presets.
Best Budget Portable Induction Cooker
About half the price of the 9600LS, the Duxtop 8100MC Portable Induction Cooktop is powerful and cooks just as well, though it drops convenience features and has a less appealing style.
The Duxtop 9600LS Portable Induction Cooktop is the best all-around induction cooktop we’ve tried. It performed well in our cooking tests, handling a variety of tasks with ease. Because an induction hob efficiently heats pans directly via electromagnetic waves, it can heat up faster than flame or traditional electric burners, and the Duxtop 9600LS heats up the fastest (and maintains temperatures more accurately). It cooks just as well as our brand new The LG Electric range is just as good, but only takes a fraction of the time.
The Duxtop 9600LS was the top performing burner in our cooking tests. With 1,800 watts of power and temperature settings from 130 degrees Fahrenheit to 460 degrees Fahrenheit, the 9600LS handled every ingredient and task we tested well. It boiled two quarts of water in 4 minutes, faster than some cooktops that take 5+ minutes to fully boil. The 9600LS burner also lightly sautéed onions, caramelizing them perfectly instead of blackening or charring like other ranges we tested. On the highest heat setting, the 9600LS can also brown roast beef chuck beautifully in a cast iron skillet.
The 9600LS is compact—approximately 11.5″ wide x 14″ deep—fitting even in cramped kitchens, and its clean, functional design, with its responsive, easy-to-read angled control panel, allowed us to take full advantage of this burner’s cooking capabilities. You can adjust the burner’s output by power level or temperature; we found it easier to maintain a steady simmer with the power setting, rather than the temperature selection. Child safety lock, timer, boil and keep warm settings round out the selection of useful functions.
The only issue we had was the high-pitched whine that is common when the induction hob is used with certain cookware. This is actually less of an issue with the 9600LS than with other cooktops we’ve tested, so that’s a plus if you’re sensitive to sound.
The Duxtop 8100MC is an excellent choice for occasional use, those on a tight budget, or those who are tight on space. The Duxtop 8100MC costs about half as much as the 9600LS, yet cooks nearly as well, browning meat, sautéing onions, and simmering better than the competition. It even brings water to a boil faster than its bigger brother, taking about 3.5 minutes.
The 8100MC is slightly more compact than the 9600LS (it’s about an inch shorter in depth) and has a similarly intuitive design, albeit a slightly less aesthetically pleasing display with a simpler display. Like the 9600LS, the 8100MC allows you to adjust settings based on temperature or power level, although these settings are less granular, spaced in 40-degree Fahrenheit increments instead of the 20-degree Fahrenheit on the 9600LS – even more than the higher-end models, we found Easier to stick with adjusting burner output via wattage.
The 8100MC also has a timer function, but lacks child lock or boiling water presets and similar common features. That said, the lack of presets doesn’t seem like a dealbreaker, as it’s still possible to simply set the burner to low (or high) and maintain a constant temperature, whether or not there’s a dedicated button. By the way, we like the 8100MC’s tactile buttons, they’re a joy to use.
Like the 9600LS and other ranges we tested, the Duxtop 8100MC whined when in use, but again, we didn’t find that to be a deal breaker.
Induction hobs work very differently than the electric or gas ranges you may be familiar with, and their advantages over these two traditional technologies make them a great addition to your meal prep routine. Instead of transferring energy to pots and pans by heat conduction (which is what happens when using a flame or electric coil), induction burners heat the pot directly by electric induction.
Induction burners work by passing a rapidly oscillating electrical current through a coil located just below the surface of the burner. This creates a magnetic field (you may remember experimenting with electromagnets in school), and the current (alternating at high frequency) creates eddy currents in the pan on top of the coil; the resistance inside the pan then creates heat.
For this, the pan must be made of iron material, which is why aluminum and copper cookware will not work on induction surfaces. Cast iron and most stainless steel cookware should work just fine. A good way to test this is to keep a small magnet with you when you buy your cooker – if a magnet sticks to the bottom of the pan you’re interested in, it will work on an induction hob. Fortunately, the vast majority of high-quality cookware we’ve tested recently, from Dutch ovens and cast-iron skillets to nonstick pans, is EMC-compliant, and manufacturers, recognizing the interest in the technology, have been packaging and Compatibility is clearly stated in the label.
The benefits of induction are many (you can find a great article on the finer points of induction at Fine Cooking). For most tasks, induction burners are at least twice as fast as gas or electric burners. Since induction doesn’t rely on transferring heat energy, induction burners are comfortable and very safe to work on the front – only the pan itself is heated during cooking, so there is no waste heat and the surface of the burner remains relatively cool. Of course, there are no environmental risks or climate impacts, as there are with gas burners.
If you’re considering switching to a gas or electric stove, or if you rent but don’t have that option, a single-burner portable induction cooktop is a great way to experiment with the technology. Regarding the food processor’s footprint, they’re perfect for temporarily adding extra capacity to your kitchen during holidays or family meals, such as fondue that require a heat source at the table. Since they’re cool to the touch, they’re much safer than traditional hot plates—and they’re great, too. And they’re easy to keep clean and put away when not in use.
A common problem with induction burners – we’ve run into this to some degree on every burner we’ve tested – when pots or pans are placed on the burner that’s turned on, they tend to screech whining, whistling, rattling or buzzing. While the sound annoys us, some people are more sensitive than others and your mileage may vary. Either way, it’s not a cause for concern, nor is it the result of a defective burner.
The whining is more noticeable on high heat, or in lightweight pans, pans smaller than the burner coils, or pans with very little food, heavier cookware such as cast iron pans can lessen it somewhat because Always make sure to choose a pan that completely covers the burner area.
We tested each induction burner with a series of simple but standard cooking tasks, noting which models performed particularly well or poorly, and whether there were any design issues that affected functionality. We evaluated burners based on a range of criteria.
We tested how well the burner sautéed onions, noting if they caramelized or started to brown and burn. We also tested the burner’s ability to sear at high heat by searing a large roast of beef bourguignon. Finally, we did a few simple tests to see how quickly the burners boiled water, and then whether they could consistently maintain a simmer.
Right out of the box, we noticed the preset cooking functions, the size and build quality of each burner, and more. We also paid attention to any useful features, such as kid-safe watches or cooking timers. We’ll also note this if any of the burners beep when setting selections are made or when the timer starts. Finally, we noticed how the buttons felt tactile, if anything particularly unresponsive. Some burners only have membrane control panels, while others have physical buttons and switches.
Isiler’s portable induction cooktops are second only to the two Duxtop cooktops we recommend. The burner’s large footprint—about an inch deeper than the Duxtorp 9600LS—finally knocked it out of the competition. If you have a lot of counter space, this burner works just as well as our main recommendation, but in my small Brooklyn apartment, the extra depth meant it was harder to use and store.
The popular and affordable Max Burton 6400 Digital Choice Induction Cooktop has an attractive look, and the angled display makes setting up the burner easy. We ended up ditching this burner because the heat setting wasn’t fine enough to maintain a simmer – we could let the water boil or be completely still. It also had a higher-pitched whine than the others, which was unbearable, and the onions were charred rather than nicely caramelized.
The NuWave PIC Flex Precision Induction Cooktop has a great set of features such as listed heat settings with the proper cooking method (boil, sear, simmer, etc.) and no noticeable whining on any setting. But the NuWave only lets you adjust the temperature in steps (albeit in relatively fine increments of 10 degrees Fahrenheit) and only offers low, medium, and high power options (we prefer models that let us fine-tune the burner output in both power and temperature ). This is the only burner without a power off button, which we found inconvenient, and there is no child safety lock.
The Zavor Pro Portable Induction Cooktop works well and offers many features such as numerous preset cooking settings. If you are highly sensitive to noise, this burner might be a good choice, as we didn’t notice whining when using this model. However, the Zavor has the largest footprint of the models we tested, is more expensive than most induction hobs (over $100, even when they’re on sale), and its heat settings can only be adjusted by temperature increments, not wattage level, we missed the point when trying to keep it simmering.
The Aubers Induction Cooktop has a visually appealing design and is a great deal at around $56, but we found the buttons to be difficult to use and it couldn’t maintain a consistent simmer.