Jan 12, 2024

The 3 Best Portable Induction Cooktops 2023

The Max Burton 6450, our former runner-up pick, has been discontinued and we’ve removed it from our lineup.

Portable induction cooktops allow you to cook almost anywhere you can find an outlet—from your back porch to a dorm room to an RV. They don't emit heat but instead make your pan hot using electromagnetic induction, so they work quickly yet are cooler and safer than other portable burners. Our pick, the Duxtop 9600LS, is reliable and precise, and it offers a wide range of temperatures to tackle everyday cooking. You might find yourself choosing to use it even when you don't need to.

We made pasta, rice, eggs, sautés, and stews, and we seared proteins and reheated leftovers on each machine countless times.

We browned flour over each burner to determine where the hot and cold spots were.

Every burner can get a pan blazing hot, but better models can maintain a temperature low enough to melt chocolate.

We conducted a reader poll and also took reader comments into consideration to come up with our criteria.

For this update, we also reviewed several specialty burners (all priced over $120) designed for precision cooking, cooking along with recipe apps, or working with larger pots and pans. We also tested one double burner and two entry-level commercial burners just for kicks. For our recommendations from those tests, see Other good induction cooktops.

An important note: If you have a pacemaker, most manufacturers recommend consulting your doctor before operating an induction burner. (According to one 2006 study, having a pacemaker doesn't preclude you from using one, just that people with certain kinds of pacemakers might want to be more careful about how they use the appliance.)

In our tests, this induction burner was the easiest to use for everyday cooking, with great features and a modest footprint.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $116.

The Duxtop 9600LS has the best combination of settings, consistency, features, and usability in its category. It costs a bit more than our former main pick, the Duxtop 9100MC, but the extra money buys you a slicker control panel, as well as the ability to cook everything with more precision and less frustration. The 9600LS has 20 power settings and 20 temperature settings, the largest range of any burner we tested, and it maintains lower temperatures better than our previous pick. Of all the induction cooktops we tested, this one was also the smoothest at maintaining a target heat or temperature level, so there's less scorching or spattering and less need to hover over a simmering pot. It has an all-glass interface and a bright LCD screen that's easier to clean and to read than that of our previous pick, and it takes just a little less room on a counter. It also has several useful features, including a rare 10-hour timer, as well as lock, boil, and warm buttons, which we found were extremely useful for everyday cooking.


Although this former top pick is not as easy to cook with as our top pick, it's a great machine for a good price, and its lack of bells and whistles may be ideal for infrequent or low-tech users.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $75.

Our previous top pick, the Duxtop 9100MC, has 15 power settings and 15 temperature settings. However, during testing this burner didn't maintain a set heat or temperature as smoothly as the Duxtop 9600LS, which means you have to pay more attention to cooking and change the temperature more often with the 9100MC. In addition, the old-school control panel is as plain as it gets: The panel is not glass, and it uses buttons instead of sensor touch controls. It also omits lock, warm, and boil buttons, and it's a little bigger and beeps a little louder than our top two picks, too. (Unlike the Duxtop 9100MC, the 9600LS has rounded edges, which make that model just a bit more space efficient.) None of these flaws are total dealbreakers at this model's lower price tag—and in fact, the 9100MC might be especially good for the tech-averse, the occasional user, or an Airbnb space where a constant stream of guests have to figure out how to use it.

In our tests, this induction burner was the easiest to use for everyday cooking, with great features and a modest footprint.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $116.

Although this former top pick is not as easy to cook with as our top pick, it's a great machine for a good price, and its lack of bells and whistles may be ideal for infrequent or low-tech users.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $75.

Rachel Wharton is a food writer and reporter who has decades of experience in breaking down complicated culinary subjects for readers, as well as many years of hands-on experience testing recipes for cookbooks. The latter is ideal training for testing induction burners, as you learn to pay attention to small details during the cooking process. Rachel is also an avid home cook, which was important in helping her evaluate these cooktops from that perspective. It also helps to have experience using them: To test these burners, she used our picks several times a day for more than six months.

The research in this guide builds on the work of Wirecutter senior staff writer Michael Sullivan, who wrote the original version of this guide, and the 2019 update by Sharon Franke, who was a kitchen equipment tester at the Good Housekeeping Institute for more than 30 years.

Almost anyone can benefit from having a portable or extra burner, whether to cook on every day, to keep food warm for a party, or to create at-the-table meals like hot pot. They can also be helpful for reducing your household's reliance on gas, or for emergency situations, such as when you’re running a generator after a storm.

Portable induction cookers, in particular, offer all these benefits with the added draw of increased safety and efficiency. Unlike gas or electric burners, the burners on induction cooktops don't emit any heat and literally don't operate without a pan on top—plus, they automatically shut down when the pan gets too hot, such as when all the liquid inside boils away. This means they remain cool to the touch (except for residual heat from the hot cookware) and safer when in use, making them an ideal choice for close quarters, families with young children, or anyone who is the slightest bit forgetful. They’re also less messy to use than gas or electric burners—splashes and drips don't heat up and glue themselves to the surface since the burners get hot only directly under the pan, and their glass cooktops are easy to wipe off. Last but not least, if you have a hard time keeping your kitchen cool in the summer, an induction cooktop is a great tool to have. Induction cooktops emit markedly less heat, especially compared with gas burners, which heat the bottom and the sides of a pot as well as the air around it. (If you’re especially curious, we go into more detail about how portable induction burners work below.)

However, before you buy one of our picks, you should be aware of these cooktops’ limitations, which mostly have to do with the kind of pots and pans you can use. For example, with most models, you may be frustrated cooking with skillets or pans that are greater than 10 inches in diameter. We discuss more of the drawbacks of induction cooktops below. We’ve also updated this guide with a few specialized recommendations, namely a double-sided burner, a small machine for travel purposes, a machine that works with an integrated smartphone app, and a high-end cooktop that represents the very best of the technology.

We’ve revamped how we evaluate induction burners based on reader comments and a reader poll, as well as long-term testing notes, a review of new models, and actually cooking most of our meals with these appliances to better understand how they work. We also read reviews from other publications and sites like Epicurious and The Rational Kitchen, as well as forum threads, and we looked at the best sellers on Amazon and other big retail sites, paying close attention to customer reviews. Based on our new insights, we tested a few newer induction cooktops, but we also retested some previously dismissed models.

When researching and testing portable induction cooktops, we wanted to rate them first and foremost on how easy they were to cook with. We considered the following criteria in our evaluations, largely in this order:

More nuanced temperature and heat settings: Most induction burners let you choose a power level or a temperature to adjust the heat under your pot or pan. With the power level, the burner continually cooks at the level of heat you choose, such as at level 2 for low heat or level 6 for higher heat. With the temperature setting, the burner works to keep the pot or pan at a set temperature, like 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Induction cooktops for home kitchens offer somewhere between 10 and 20 each of heat and temperature settings, though a few models have only six or eight of each type of setting. The larger the number of settings, generally, the easier the burner is to cook with—simply because you have more options for adjusting the heat.

We decided to focus on induction burners that offered (or claimed to offer) at least 15 settings. We found that with 10 or fewer settings, it's harder to dial in the right heat level, especially in the low-heat and simmer zones; at that point, cooking becomes frustrating, and you face a higher risk of burning food, undercooking it, or wasting lots of time adjusting the heat. What's more, the models with 20 each of power and temperature settings give you a few more options at the lower end, which is exactly where you need finer adjustment in heat. Induction burner makers and many reviewers out there tend to fixate on how fast these appliances can get a small pot of water to a boil, but that's actually a much easier task—and a much less useful feature—than keeping the contents of a pot at a controlled, lazy bubble.

Two models we tested claimed to allow temperature adjustments in 5- or 10-degree increments in between the presets, theoretically offering far more temperature settings than the listed 10 or 20. In both cases, however, we didn't notice a temperature change until we had arrived at the next preset. Some burners do offer a larger range or the ability to set an exact temperature through a connected probe or other external temperature-management device; we describe those models later in this section.

Can hold very low temperatures: While the majority of burners tend to bottom out at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, some go as low as 80 or 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is barely warm. It's a nice feature to have, especially for melting chocolate or butter. Some reviewers have reported that the lower a burner goes in temperature, the better it manages pulsing for all lower temperatures. That seemed to hold up in our testing: The top-performing models went to 100 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. On the higher end of the temperature range, most burners went to around 450 or 460 degrees Fahrenheit, and some could hit 500 degrees Fahrenheit. We found that all those we tested could get our pan smoking hot as long as we used the right-size pan for the burner.

Smoothly maintains target heat level: Induction burners control the heat level or maintain a set temperature by adjusting the wattage. For example, for a lower heat or temperature, the burner might apply 600 watts; for a higher heat or temperature, it might apply 1,400 watts. Induction burners usually switch back and forth—or pulse—between higher and lower wattages to maintain a target temperature or even a lower heat level. In conducting our tests, and in using the appliances to cook everyday meals, we could easily see that some models were better at this task and alternated more gently more often, instead of blasting between higher and lower temperatures more sporadically or even turning the wattage off and on.

A coil that works with cookware 4 to 10 inches in diameter: Induction burners create heat within a ferromagnetic pan—one made of a strongly magnetic material such as cast iron or magnetic stainless steel—by sending a current through the electromagnetic wire coil that sits just below it, under the surface of the glass-ceramic top. The electromagnetic element works only on the part of the pan that is directly on top of it, so no matter how wide the top of the machine is, the element size is what actually determines the range of pan sizes that will work on the burner. A model's owner manual usually specifies minimum and maximum diameters that work best: Use too small of a pot, and the burner won't "see" it; use too large of a pan, and you won't get much heat at the outer edge. Whereas a full induction range or cooktop could have a couple of different element sizes or even an entire surface that serves as a cooking area, portable cooktops with only one burner generally provide a medium-size element that works with a broad range of pots and pans.

Few portable induction cooktops tell you the exact size of the element they have, and some models specify only a minimum pan size. We were able to determine element size through a flour heat-map test, and we found that the vast majority of models in our test group—including all of our picks—seemed to have about the same element size, one that works best for pan sizes between about 4 inches and 10 inches wide.

Lower-priced burners seemed to have smaller elements (and tended to specify a slightly smaller minimum pan size) and often struggled with anything larger than a small skillet or medium pot (that is, anything wider than 8 inches). A few higher-priced models in our test group claimed to have larger elements, such as the Max Burton XL, which made cooking with a 12-inch or 14-inch skillet possible (though not perfect), but the appliances themselves didn't impress us enough to make the cut.

When you’re evaluating the shape and size of a burner, it's also good to remember how the elements work. A large, flat, rectangular cooktop won't heat more effectively than a smaller, rounded cooktop if the element sizes are the same, because the glass won't transfer any heat. You can also make some educated guesses before you buy a model we didn't review: Any burner that claims to work with a 3-inch pan—which is much smaller than even a 1-quart saucepan—probably has a smaller element. Burners that are very small or very cheap probably also have a smaller element. Smaller elements still work, but they perform best with smaller vessels.

A well-designed control panel: In our testing, we found that an angled display—rather than a fully flat top with the control panel on the same plane—was easier to see and use, since we could see the display without being right over it. As you cook, a fully flat panel is more likely to be spattered with whatever you’re cooking, which can also make it harder to use. We also found that touch controls were much faster and easier to use than raised buttons. If you have any issues with joint pain, you might find touch controls easier to use, as well. Someone with low vision, however, may find it easier to navigate raised buttons. We have picks with both types of control panels.

You may prefer the way a burner with a flat control panel looks on your countertop, which is a valid concern, but remember that the extra surface area on the top doesn't give you extra heating capability—the size of the electromagnetic element determines what size pan will work. The one burner we tested with a flat rectangular control panel seemed to take up extra counter space for no good reason. We prefer models that use space efficiently, even if they’re not the smallest available.

Compact size and lighter weight: Rounded corners and a slimmer profile make it easier to fit a portable cooktop on a small countertop or to fit other tools or items around it, as well as to move it aside when necessary.

Note that none of these burners are really designed to be stashed away easily, primarily because you have to be careful about the glass top. If you don't plan to leave your induction cooktop out most of the time, you may want to keep it in the box it came in. That way you can safely stow your burner in a closet or under a bed, flip it to whatever side works best, and even stack other things on top of it.

That said, if ease of storage is critical for you, consider one of the smaller machines we recommend, such as our travel pick.

A timer that runs for at least three hours: A longer timer gives you more flexibility. If the burner allows you to set a timer for eight or more hours, you can do overnight, low-and-slow cooking projects. Ideally, choose a machine that can run for at least three hours so you don't have to remember to get up and add time or to turn the appliance back on if you’re making stock or stew. Most models have at least a 170- or 180-minute timer, and some go to 24 hours and even beyond.

A warranty of at least one year: Nearly all models we considered come with a one-year warranty. Anything less than that should raise an eyebrow; anything more gets bonus points.

Stability: Working with hot pans can be dangerous, so having a stable burner with substantial weight and rubber feet to help it stay in place is important. All of the induction burners we tested had feet that prevented them from sliding. But some models can stick a bit and leave marks, while others might have rubber feet that come off when you move the unit, both of which can be annoying. No matter what, be sure your counter is clean before operating your burner—wet or slick countertops can make even the most stable unit slide around.

Noise: There's no way around it—cooking on a portable induction cooktop is noisy. All induction burners have a fairly loud fan that runs the entire time they’re on to cool the components inside, which is critical to keeping them from overheating at higher heat levels. Most of the machines we tested operated at about the same volume and were equally annoying. They were no louder than the average overhead fan on a range hood, and they were quieter than a window-unit air conditioner.

One less expensive burner we tested was slightly quieter than the rest, and that model's fan shut down the second we stopped cooking, instead of doing so after the machine was cool, like those of all the others we looked at. We actually consider such qualities a potential drawback, since the fan plays such an important role in keeping the appliance from overheating or breaking down. Lucy Greco, who makes product-review videos from the perspective of a blind person, points out in her video about one portable induction model that, because the fan continues to run after you’ve pushed the power button to turn off the burner, someone who can't see the display can't know whether the machine is actually off. Greco's video is about the Duxtop 9100MC, but this would likely be an issue with most models. Most fans should shut off within a minute or two after you’ve switched off the power, so one workaround would be to wait until you hear the fan stop running.

Most of these machines also beep a lot when you press the buttons or when you lift a pan, and a few do so more loudly than others, but they beep to let you know when they’re done cooking or something is wrong, and you’re rarely pressing buttons for longer than a few seconds. Our top pick happens to be one of the quietest in this regard, but that factor didn't play heavily in our decision-making.

Induction burners also tend to make funny little pops or squeaking sounds when you’re cooking, depending on the mix of metals in the pan you’re using, the burner's heat level, and whether the lid is on the pan. In some cases, certain types of cookware can produce a slight but steady high-pitched buzz. During our weeks of testing, we found that the various noises were equally random across machines and not that irritating, as they tended to happen every once in a while and often were drowned out by the fan. These incidental noises were not a factor in our decision-making, but if you’re sensitive to such sounds, you may want to try different pans to see if that helps.

Speed: When most people talk about induction cooking, they tend to say it's faster than cooking on other types of stovetops, and many reviews highlight how much faster one burner brings water to a boil over another. But although an induction burner might heat just a few cups of water to boiling a minute or two faster than a gas or electric stove, or quickly heat a skillet for searing steaks, the actual act of cooking isn't any faster unless you are cooking the item at a higher temperature than you typically did before. For example, if you’re making stock for two hours at a simmer, an induction cooktop won't save you much time even if it brings your pot to your target temperature more quickly.

Note that in some cases, we found that induction cooktops could sometimes even cook a little more slowly than a regular stovetop if, for example, we were using a pot or pan that was too big for the burner or we struggled to find the proper temperature because the burner lacked enough settings. For this guide, we paid less attention to how quickly a burner brought water to a boil—all the models we tested did so with 6 cups of water in a heavy teapot in under seven minutes—and more attention to how long it took for us to get the burner to cook something at just the right temperature.

Temperature accuracy: When you choose a particular temperature setting, the burner tries to maintain that temperature—automatically lowering the power when you add a lid or as the pot loses liquid, for example, or increasing the power if you add cold ingredients to the pot. This is a fantastic feature of induction cooktops, though it does have one serious drawback: The number is almost never accurate. All burner makers warn you that the number in the temperature setting is meant to be an estimate or a guide, because it comes from the surface of the pan, not the pan's contents. When we began our testing, we tried to evaluate how accurate these readings were. What we found was that they could be anywhere from 5 to 100 degrees off, depending on the size and build of the pan we used, what was in it, or the type of cooking we were doing. But although you can't count on the temperature of your food to match the readout, you can count on the burner to maintain the temperature, whatever it is.

Some models solve this problem with an integrated probe thermometer (see below), and we wish this were a standard feature on most portable cooktops. Until then, our advice is to use an external thermometer or good old-fashioned visual and audio cues—a few gentle bubbles for a simmer, say, or the shimmer of hot oil—to tell when you’ve reached the desired heat level, just as you would with a gas or electric cooktop or stove.

Probes, precision cooking, and app-connected burners: A handful of induction burners come with some kind of integrated probe thermometer, which measures the temperature of what you’re cooking and transmits that data to the cooktop. Probes allow you to do sous vide or real precision cooking. If you set a target temperature, the cooktop works to keep the contents as close to that temperature as it can by pulsing between higher and lower temperatures very quickly. Some burners with probes can also automatically shut off when something reaches the target temperature. For instance, if you were cooking chicken thighs, you could set your burner to shut off when the internal temperature of one of the thighs hits 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Some of these types of burners even work with integrated recipe apps on your smartphone or tablet, or allow for programming and saving your own recipes.

These features usually come with a higher price tag. We looked at a handful of models with this technology to evaluate their claims but found that for the most part they weren't as easy to use in manual mode as you might need for everyday cooking.

Wattage: The vast majority of portable induction burners top out at 1,800 watts, though a handful reach just 1,300, 1,500, or 1,600 watts. We tested a few of the latter category and found that while those models did just fine on most cooking tests, they took a little longer to reach high heats and had a harder time holding them. For example, those models usually took between six and seven minutes to bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a teapot, as opposed to five minutes for the competitors that reached 1,800 watts. Wattage wasn't a deciding factor for us in dismissing those machines, but those same models also had a more limited range of heat and temperature settings.

Safety features: Although previous versions of this guide noted all the auto-shutoffs and alerts for certain models—such as if there was no pan on the burner or things overheated—we didn't pay much attention to those features for our 2022 update. That's because all induction cooktops do those things, and all are inherently safer than gas or electric stoves because they don't employ flames or direct heat. They also can't get hot without a pot on them, because the pot is technically what heats up.

Still, some burners do come with a settings lock—a feature that many reader-poll respondents said was important—which theoretically prevents anyone from accidentally changing the settings of the machine. But since you could still change the settings by turning the unit off and back on, accidentally or not, such a lock is only a marginally effective tool, and not one we considered to be a major feature.

For this update we revised the way we test induction burners. One of the biggest shifts was that we used every one of our picks (as well as most of the burners we ended up dismissing) for daily cooking tasks for several days straight. We made pasta, rice, eggs, sauce, sautés, and stews, we toasted bread and tortillas, we seared proteins, and we reheated leftovers on each of these burners, countless times.

We also used a range of cookware, just as you would in your own house. We tried old scratched pots, new pots, square ones, round ones, thin metal pots and thick triple-ply pots (such as our picks for skillets and cookware sets), cast iron and enameled cast iron, tall spaghetti pots, wide Dutch ovens, and nonstick skillets, all in a range of widths, from 4 inches to 12 inches wide. To check temperatures, we used the ThermoWorks Dot (our pick for the best probe thermometer) in our testing, and it worked with every induction burner we tested.

After some experimenting, we also found that the tests below were the most helpful in determining which burner performed the best.

We also tested a handful of burners with special features like integrated temperature probes and recipe apps or extra-large elements. For those burners, we ran additional tests as appropriate to make sure their particular claims held up: We compared the temperature on the probe with that of an external probe, we tested the recipes, or we used extra-large pans to see how well the extra-large elements worked.

In our tests, this induction burner was the easiest to use for everyday cooking, with great features and a modest footprint.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $116.

The Duxtop 9600LS had the best performance and combination of settings, consistency, features, and design out of all the models we tested. Although it costs more than our former main pick, the Duxtop 9100MC (which is now our budget pick), we believe it's worth the extra money because it's so much easier to cook with.

One of the most important features of this burner is that it has 20 power settings and 20 temperature settings, the greatest number of any of our picks. (Some burners we tested claimed to have more options, but in our testing we found that they really didn't.) This gives you the greatest range of options for adjusting heat levels, which makes it much easier to cook anything well. You toggle between them with the menu button.

All induction burners pulse between higher and lower wattages (or off and on, in some cases) to maintain a specified temperature or heat setting. Of all the models we tested, the 9600LS was the smoothest at maintaining our target heat or temperature level, alternating between high and low more gently and more often. This approach lowers the chance of scorching and spatters, and it reduces the need for you to hover over a simmering pot.

The 9600LS also has a greater temperature range (100 to 460 degrees Fahrenheit) than our budget pick, the Duxtop 9100MC (140 to 450 degrees). The lower minimum temperature means you can very slowly melt butter or chocolate—without a double boiler—or gently finish cooking scrambled eggs, or keep tortillas just warm while you finish prepping something else. Our two top picks, both of which went down to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, handled pulsing and lower temperatures more smoothly.

Thanks to the 9600LS's long, 10-hour timer, you could even use this burner to incubate yogurt or slowly simmer bone broth. Our other picks max out at about three hours, so you would have to keep checking on them to increase the time if you wanted them to run longer. Some of the competitors we evaluated did offer even longer timers, but 10 hours should be plenty of time for longer projects, and you can always add more time.

The Duxtop 9600LS also comes with a warm button and a boil button, which essentially represent the third-to-lowest temperature setting (140 degrees Fahrenheit) and the highest power setting, respectively. Whereas in previous versions of this guide we dismissed such features as not being worth the extra money, during our latest round of hands-on testing, we found these buttons to be extremely useful. For starters, you might often want to bring something to a boil, or you might want to just slightly warm up oil or soften onions in a pan while you prep the rest of dinner. These buttons also make it much easier to quickly adjust the heat setting on the fly while you’re actively cooking, especially when you want to bring the heat down as low as possible as quickly as possible (maybe to prevent something from boiling over or scorching). The warm and boil buttons are also handy when you turn the machine on: Because the burner defaults to the medium setting upon turning on, you effectively have buttons for low, medium, and high, and you can quickly adjust up or down from there as necessary instead of scrolling up or down through 20 settings.

This burner also supports up to 25 pounds, good enough for your average pasta pot, a heavy Dutch oven, or a 2- to 3-gallon batch of beer or stock. (For best results, however, use a pot that is 10 inches wide or smaller, preferably with straight sides.)

The 9600LS's all-glass angled control panel and bright LCD screen are easier to clean and to read than those of our budget pick, the Duxtop 9100MC, and the interface is intuitive. Although there is a crevice separating the cooking surface and the control panel that could collect food, we found the 9600LS's all-glass surface simple to wipe clean with a damp kitchen towel. And because the entire surface doesn't get hot like on a gas or electric cooktop or stove, food doesn't get baked into the crevice.

Though it would be nice if the buttons themselves lit up—only the heat, power, and timer settings do—the labels are white on a black background, which makes them easier to see in very low light or if you have vision loss. All the buttons on the machine beep when you touch them, which helps in this regard, as well.

The 9600LS also comes with a black or silver base. And although it isn't the smallest or lightest model we tested—both this burner and the Duxtop 9100MC measure 14 inches long and 11.5 inches wide and weigh about 5 pounds—it fits easily on a small countertop with room to spare. Unlike the Duxtop 9100MC, the 9600LS has rounded edges, which makes it just a little more space efficient.

If you prefer to clean as you go, this machine may annoy you, at least at first. If you try to wipe the control panel, you’ll likely change the settings or turn the burner off. As you use it, you can figure out how to clean it so that doesn't happen, or you might avoid cleaning it at all. This is an issue with any induction burner that doesn't have old-fashioned push buttons like our budget pick, the Duxtop 9100MC, so it isn't a dealbreaker.

There is a lock button, which can theoretically keep other people and kids from changing the settings accidentally or on purpose. But you still can turn the whole machine off—which is what happened whenever we tried to wipe down the control panel during testing. If the on/off button were on the side of the machine or in some other place, the lock function would be more effective.

The control panel requires you to push the menu button after you turn it on, instead of immediately heating to the default medium setting. That's a little annoying, since it's a step beyond what you would normally do with a gas or electric burner, but it's common in many induction cooktops and ranges. (It also reduces the chance of accidentally overheating an empty pan, which can happen faster than you realize.)

The control panel is a completely flat, physically featureless surface with no way of distinguishing, if you have low vision, where the buttons and display are located or which buttons do what.

As with all induction cooktops, the 9600LS's fan can be loud, but it's really no louder than your average hood exhaust fan. As is usually the case with portable induction burners, the 9600LS's fan continues to run after you’ve turned off the power and until the machine cools down, so someone with low vision may not be able to tell easily whether the appliance is actually off.

If you don't set the timer, the machine will shut itself off after three hours, so you have to remember to set the timer if you’re cooking something that requires a lot of active time on the cooktop. When you make stew, for example, you might sear meats, sauté vegetables, and then let everything stew in that same pot for another two or three hours—but if you don't set your timer for the length of the stew time, the burner will shut down once it has been on for three hours.

Lastly, we should note that the beep on this machine is fairly quiet. If you’re in another room, you can miss when something is done, as well as when the machine shuts down. If you’re hard of hearing or buying this for someone who is a little forgetful or lives in a big house, this lower-volume beep might be an issue, though you could easily just set a louder timer. More important, this quieter beep is not a safety issue since the burner shuts off automatically when the timer sounds.

Although this former top pick is not as easy to cook with as our top pick, it's a great machine for a good price, and its lack of bells and whistles may be ideal for infrequent or low-tech users.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $75.

Our former top pick is still a great burner for its price, which at this writing is $20 to $40 less than the price tags on our other picks. The old-school design and the lack of bells and whistles on the Duxtop 9100MC—it has just six raised buttons and a notably small LED display—also make it extremely easy to use even without a manual. And because the control panel is not touch-sensitive, when you wipe it during cooking, you don't mess up any settings.

The Duxtop 9100MC has 15 temperature and 15 power settings, acceptable for daily cooking tasks but not quite as convenient or as flexible as the 20 temperature and 20 power settings you get on the Duxtop 9600LS. It also goes only as low as 140 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas the 9100LS goes to 100 degrees. Perhaps as a result, this model's pulsing in our tests was a little less smooth than that of the 9600LS—the pulsing happened less often and with more intensity, meaning higher highs and lower lows. We had to pay more attention to cooking and even manually change the heat setting more often than we did with the 9600LS.

The control panel is not glass and has raised buttons, so it doesn't stay as nice looking when you clean it. In fact, the unit we’ve been long-term testing for a couple of years has lost part of a sticker on one button (though the button still works). Some people might appreciate the not very high-tech look and feel of this model, and they may even find this burner especially easy to use, but it takes just a little longer and requires just a bit more effort to change the temperature using these buttons than with other models’ touch controls. This model also looks and feels a little outdated, frankly.

The 9100MC also lacks the convenient warm and boil buttons of our top pick and runner-up, so it offers no immediate way to drop the temperature quickly if it's too high, other than to turn the machine off. If you plan to use your induction cooktop daily, every second saved with touch controls and warm and boil buttons counts.

In addition, the 9100MC has the largest footprint of our picks. It's technically the same size (14 by 11½ inches) as the Duxtop 9600LS, but it has square edges instead of rounded ones. Even a quarter-inch or so makes a difference when you have limited counter space, as it can give you ​​just enough room for a spoon rest in front of the burner, say, or a place to rest the pot lid. The 9100MC also has a slightly louder fan and beep than our other picks, but only slightly. In fact, the louder beep might be useful to anyone who is hard of hearing.

While the raised buttons of the 9100MC may make it easier for someone with low vision to use in contrast to the touch controls of the 9600LS, this model, like all the others we looked at, has many design features that would make it difficult or impossible for a blind person to operate the appliance by themselves. As Lucy Greco, a product reviewer who is blind, points out in her video about this model, it offers no indication of what the buttons do, nor does it provide an easy way for you to keep track of what mode it's in or what setting you’ve selected if you can't read the display.

The biggest drawback of a double-burner induction cooktop is that the total wattage gets split between the two burners, which is one of the reasons we didn't recommend such models in previous versions of this guide. (For example, you could do both sides at half-power/medium heat, or one at 80% power and one at 20%, or one at 40% power and one at 60%. For an explanation, see the section below on how induction burners work.)

Yet there are definitely reasons that some home cooks might want a double portable induction burner, particularly if they need to use it as their only cooktop for any length of time. We chose to test the Duxtop 9620LS primarily because it met our criteria for a good burner. One side is essentially the same as our top pick, the Duxtop 9600LS, as it provides 20 heat settings and 20 temperature settings and all of the other benefits of that burner. The other side has the look and feel of the 9600LS but provides only 10 heat settings, so it's perfectly fine for many less demanding cooking tasks—such as slowly heating, simmering, or bringing water to a boil—which is often what you’re doing with a second burner.

While testing this burner, we found that although the wattage splitting was maybe a little frustrating at first, we very quickly learned how to work with it. And for everyday cooking, it is actually fairly rare to have to cook two things at extremely high temperatures at the same time, anyway. You can bring your rice to boil and then lower the heat before you bring your already cooked beans up to a simmer, for example, or you can heat your sauce on low as you boil pasta on a medium-high setting. We also found that we could even bring water to a boil on induction on a medium setting or even medium-low in a properly sized pot—it just took a bit longer.

The NuWave PIC Flex has received good ratings on Amazon and positive YouTube reviews for years and is widely advertised on TV, so we wanted to test it for this guide. It also promises programmable cooking—you can set the burner to change the temperature after a predetermined amount of time—as well as the ability to adjust the temperature in 10-degree increments between 100 and 500 degrees, which would give you far more than the 20 temperature settings of our top pick. And usually it offers all this for less than $80.

However, we found that the NuWave PIC Flex is not powerful enough for normal home cooking. It seems to have a smaller element than most of the models we tested, so it works best with smaller pots and pans—such as the 9-inch nonstick skillet it often comes packaged with—and goes only up to 1,300 watts, in contrast to the 1,800 watts of our top picks. (We go more in depth on the importance of element size and wattage elsewhere in this guide.) In our testing, we also had difficulty perceiving any real change in temperature except at each of the six built-in presets, which meant we were limited to just those six temperatures and weren't really able to make finer adjustments as the marketing material suggests. (There's also a button that lets you toggle between 600, 900, or 1,300 watts, which essentially sets the burner to low, medium, or high, respectively.) Additionally, the NuWave PIC Flex has an old-fashioned raised-button display panel, and its fan is quieter than most and also shuts down the second you stop cooking, instead of after the machine cools (which was the case with nearly all the other burners we tested). We’re concerned that this could potentially decrease the long-term shelf life of the NuWave model.

The good news? This was the only portable induction burner we tested that really felt like we could toss it into a tote bag or a suitcase for travel. It has a compact, round shape and a small footprint (4.5 pounds, or a pound or so lighter than the average induction cooktop). Plus, its limitations are fine on a trip, when you’re likely just making a small pot of soup in a hotel, say, or eggs in an RV. And theoretically it works with a travel-size 3½- to 4-inch coffeepot, depending on the material and design.

The Hestan Cue is one of two induction burners we tested that are designed to work with integrated apps you manage on a smartphone, and it's the only one of the two we’d recommend buying, though with some big reservations. (The other such burner is the Tasty One Top by Cuisinart, which we discuss in the Competition section.)

The Hestan Cue is meant to be used with either a special wireless probe (see the discussion on probes in Less important considerations) or proprietary cookware with built-in wireless temperature sensors, all of which you can buy separately or in various bundles with the burner. Using data from the probe or the pans, the cooktop works to keep the contents as close to a target temperature as it can by pulsing between higher and lower temperatures; it can also change a temperature or turn off when it reaches a target temperature.

The Hestan Cue is primarily designed to work with a series of recipes created by trained staff for the app. You work through the recipes one step at a time—all the recipes have videos for some of the steps, as well—and if you’re using the proprietary Bluetooth probe or cookware, the cooktop detects the temperature of your food and adjusts the heat as you cook your way through the recipes (though you can also advance through the steps manually). The recipes we tested worked well, and the app also has a decent supply of them (600 and growing). The company hopes to eventually release a feature that allows you to create and save your own. The app might not teach you how to cook, per se, but it can help to ensure success for many techniques that people often have trouble with, such as deep-frying or pan-cooking meat and fish. Although the recipes can feel very Euro-centric when you’re sorting through the app's range of cuisines (for now, you can choose from American, Mexican, Latin American, Asian, Italian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and French), the selection is stronger when you’re searching by technique or using other tabs with labels like "main ingredient," "light and healthy," or "family friendly." The app also has a small handful of recipes from guest chefs such as Sean Brock, Brandon Jew, and Bonnie Morales.

The Hestan Cue app also allows you to use your phone to adjust the temperature of the probe or the company's proprietary pot or pan to any degree between 100 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit. You use your finger to easily set any temperature in that range in 1-degree increments. As a result, you could use this burner to do sous vide or other types of cooking at specific temperatures and times, such as making yogurt at 112 degrees or cooking stew at exactly 186 degrees. (When you use the app, there's no limit to the timer; with the manual buttons on the machine, the timer will run for up to 10 hours, though we did not confirm this ourselves in testing.)

This feature—and the potential to program and save recipes—is what moves this burner closer to being an affordable version of the $1,500 (as of this writing) Breville Control Freak induction cooking system, which is widely considered the Rolls Royce of portable induction cooktops (we discuss that model more below). The Hestan Cue burner and probe bundle is $300 at this writing.

There's one big drawback, however: If you want to operate the Hestan Cue manually, as you would a regular induction cooktop, it doesn't stack up against our picks. It has only 10 power settings, which is not a great range for day-to-day cooking. The machine is also perfectly round—it's about 12½ inches wide, so it's slightly larger than the NuWave PIC Flex—which is nice, but the control-panel functionality is an afterthought. There's a small on/off button and one small button for changing the heat level up and then back down. The heat level is noted not by a number but by a bar of lights that gets longer the higher the heat is.

You might be thinking that you could simply use the app to get more temperature levels in that case. That is true, but in our tests we discovered that trying to change a set temperature under a pot or pan quickly via an app on a phone is not an ideal cooking situation—especially if you’re holding a spoon in one hand.

The Hestan Cue also goes up to only 1,600 watts. Although that translates to just a little less power for high temperatures—water might take longer to boil, for example—this is not a problem for most cooking.

Ultimately what all of the above means is that you are spending $300 or more (at this writing) on a model that is hard to use as an ordinary induction cooktop. If you’re looking for an all-purpose induction cooktop for everyday cooking, this model isn't for you. If you’re interested in sous vide (and don't already have the dedicated equipment on hand), this model could be for you. If you want a fun but not-so-cheap kitchen gadget that might help you learn new recipes and pick up a few new skills, this model might be for you.

Still, if the Hestan Cue had 15 or 20 power settings and a manual control panel that was just a little easier to use, it would be a real contender for an upgrade pick.

We also took another look at Breville's staggeringly expensive Control Freak, as this burner is often described as the best portable induction cooktop you can buy. That claim is probably true—if you can afford this machine. Whereas the Hestan Cue relies on a smartphone to be, well, smart, all of that functionality is built into the Control Freak. The Control Freak has more features and functionality than many high-end induction ranges we’ve tried, and it's very impressive and fun to use: You can use it with an integrated probe thermometer for extremely precise cooking, you can choose any temperature between 77 and 482 degrees Fahrenheit using a sleek spin knob, you can set a 72-hour timer to count either down or up, you can set the "intensity" to heat up a pan slowly or quickly, and you can save recipes as programs so that you or someone else can perfectly repeat the process—you can even save them to a USB stick to use with other Control Freak machines.

However, the Control Freak has a few issues that even those folks who can afford a $1,500 induction burner should consider. As with the Hestan Cue and the Tasty One Top, using the machine manually—without programs or probes, as you would a more traditional cooktop—is a little less intuitive. Instead of selecting a power or heat level the way you do with most cooktops, with the Control Freak you scroll to adjust the temperature, which takes some getting used to. The Control Freak is also really big—as tall as a commercial machine and a little longer—and it takes up about as much counter space as a 1980s microwave. (The manual also recommends leaving 8 inches of space between the appliance and the wall, as well as plugging it into a wall outlet with a safety switch.)

The US Environmental Protection Agency recently gave all induction cooktops an Energy Star Emerging Technology Award because induction cooktops lose less heat to the surrounding air than gas or even electric cooktops. (This also helps to keep your kitchen cooler, possibly lowering the load on some air conditioners during warm weather.) According to Energy Star, gas stoves transfer energy at an abysmal efficiency of 32%, electric cooktops (also known as resistance heating) transfer energy at an efficiency of 75% to 80%, and induction cooktops have an energy-transfer efficiency of 85%.

Unlike gas or electric stovetops or burners, which heat using thermal conduction (also known as heat transfer), induction burners heat using electromagnetic induction.

Below the surface of the glass-ceramic top in an induction burner is a wire coil. Electricity running through this wire creates a magnetic field that causes the electrons in an iron or magnetic stainless steel pot to generate heat. Induction creates heat directly in the pan, instead of in an element on the cooktop's surface. This is why the bottom of a pan can heat up so quickly on an induction cooktop—it doesn't have to wait for something else to get hot first and then transfer that heat over. That means reducing the heat is almost instantaneous, too, as the pan doesn't have to wait for the burner to cool down before it's able to. With induction, you have a lot more control.

The cooking element works only on what is directly on top of it. This is what keeps your kitchen cooler, as the heat is produced in the pan itself instead of on the cooktop (some heat gets transferred from the pan to the cooktop surface, but it is mainly under the pan). That necessary direct contact also explains why you get better results with a pan whose base is not much bigger than the element.

With induction, you have a lot more control.

An induction burner controls the heat level by adjusting the wattage that runs through the element. For a lower heat it might apply 600 watts, for example, while at a higher heat it might apply 1,400 watts. Induction burners also usually go back and forth—or pulse—between higher and lower wattages to maintain a heat level or a target temperature, especially at lower settings. Some models are better at this than others: In other words, they oscillate more gradually and gently between high and low instead of spiking up and down abruptly.

The majority of portable induction burners that we looked at give you the option of adjusting the level of heat in one of four ways: You can set an actual wattage, you can set a power level, you can set a temperature (we discuss the accuracy of the temperature settings elsewhere in this guide), or you can choose between "low" or "medium-high" or "simmer" or "boil." Most offer some combination of these settings and usually give you between six and 20 options. No matter the language used or the number, a burner manages all of these by adjusting the wattage.

Note that a small but growing handful of more expensive burners now come with integrated temperature probes or sensors that allow you to set the heat with even more precision. They do this by monitoring the temperature of the pan or its contents and seamlessly adjusting the wattage to hit the target temperature. We looked at three such cooktops, and we liked the Hestan Cue and the Breville Control Freak, which you can read more about in Other good induction cooktops.

Because of the way induction burners work, they offer five big advantages over other types of stoves:

SafetyInduction cooktops are inherently safer than other kinds of stoves because they don't involve flames or direct heat. They literally can't get hot without a pot on them, because the pot is what heats up, not the cooktop. Some burners also come with a setting lock so that no one can accidentally change the settings (though you could still change them by turning the burner off and then back on again). All of the burners we tested self-regulate or shut down when pans get too hot. If you use a temperature setting, you can also make sure the burner maintains the same temperature over time so that it stays cooking at a steady simmer, for example, even as the volume in the pan reduces. Note that although some people say these burners don't get hot, that's not really true. They do indeed get very hot right where they’re in contact with the pot, and that spot could burn you if you accidentally touch it. A majority of the portable burners we tested actually flash the word "hot" on their displays until they cool down, which usually takes no more than a minute or so unless you were heating a very heavy pot over very high heat.

CoolnessInduction cooktops keep your kitchen far cooler than gas and electric-coil burners do because the heat goes directly into the pan, not into a heating element (or into the air) before the pan even heats up. We tested most of these burners in a fourth-floor apartment with a window AC unit in the middle of a New York City summer, and we can tell you that the difference between the induction cooktop and a gas stove was unmistakable—even while simmering stock for a few hours, the induction burner didn't heat up the kitchen.

CleanlinessInduction cooktops are also easier to clean than gas or electric burners since induction cooktops have a single smooth, flat glass surface that you can wipe clean. They also don't get hot anywhere except right under the pan, so food doesn't cook onto their surface the way it does with other types of burners. If you’ve ever had to clean up a gas or electric-coil burner after milk has boiled over, you’ll have some idea of how much better an induction cooktop is in this respect.

PrecisionMost induction burners give you an option for a range of temperature settings, and the burner tries to maintain that temperature—lowering the power when you add a lid or if the pot loses liquid or gets too hot, for example, or increasing the power if you add cold ingredients to a stew or to hot oil. Although we found that induction burners don't always cook food at the exact temperature you select, gas and electric burners lack that option altogether. Along with the ability to cook at a very low temperature, we found this feature to be one of the biggest perks of cooking with a portable induction cooktop.

Some more expensive induction burners now come with integrated temperature probes that allow you to set the heat with even more precision. They monitor the temperature of the pan or its contents and seamlessly adjust the wattage so that it hits the target temperature. We looked at three such cooktops, and we liked the Hestan Cue and the Breville Control Freak, which you can read more about in Other good induction cooktops.

Maintaining a low temperatureMost induction cooktops can easily keep a pot or pan at a low temperature, even below 150 degrees Fahrenheit, which is extremely hard to do on a gas stove in particular as the flame tends to blow out when you try to get it that low. With the best induction cooktops, you can melt chocolate without using a double boiler, or you can keep something just barely warm, like scrambled eggs that need just a little more time to set.

The biggest drawback of using an induction cooktop—other than its being more expensive than most other types of burners—is that getting the best results involves a learning curve.

With most portable induction burners, you have a limited number of heat settings that you press a button to get to, instead of a round knob that you turn to make fine adjustments. This can be frustrating, especially at first, before you become familiar with your burner and figure out what setting works best with which type of pan or style of cooking. You also have to learn how to properly use the temperature setting, which maintains a target heat level—an amazing feature—but doesn't necessarily match the exact temperature shown on the display.

Pans also tend to get very hot faster on induction than on gas or electric stoves, which can warp a thin or empty pan or burn what's in the pan if you’re not keeping a close eye. It's best not to start a pan on anything other than very low heat unless you’re really paying attention.

But the biggest part of this learning curve is determining which of your pans work best with induction. First, you need to use ferromagnetic cookware. Most everyone has some pots and pans that will work, but you might find that your favorites don't work very well—or at all—on an induction burner.

You also have to pay particular attention to the size and shape of the pot or pan, and make sure it's the right choice for your cooking project. A pot might fit atop the glass surface of your burner, but for best results its diameter should fit within the range specified by the manufacturer, and the bottom needs to sit flat on the cooktop surface. With older pots and pans, especially cast iron, you also need to make sure the bottom is clean, or else any residue on the pan will interfere with the interaction between the coil and the pan and can also stick to the surface of your cooktop.

Whatever isn't heated by the element is heated by thermal conduction—that is, the transfer of heat from one part of the pan to another. This means that pots and pans that are a lot wider than the element don't work as well and remain much cooler at the edges. Meanwhile, the sides of many pots and pans slope outward from the base, which also means the outer edges may not be in direct contact with the burner and don't heat up as much.

With nearly all the induction burners we tested, we found that the very largest pans that still worked well were about 10 inches wide (and were usually smaller across the bottom). When we tried to sauté things in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, the very outer edge barely cooked at all, which meant we had to almost constantly shift things around in the pan to get them to cook evenly. This is less of an issue with a gas or electric stove, as the heat those stoves emit tends to wrap up around the bottom of the pot, and you also can easily see the size of your heating element. The effect might also be less egregious with pans made of several layers of metal designed for induction, which we discuss below.

We also found that when we were using deeper pots, straight-sided saucepans or 5-quart or smaller Dutch ovens worked best. We learned this the hard way at the outset of our testing, when we tried to cook with Dutch ovens that had 8-inch bottoms and grew to 10 or more inches at the top. With a pot that shape and size, no burner could maintain a boil at its highest wattage. Each burner stayed slightly under the boiling point, which meant that it took longer to cook pasta. Frying in that larger Dutch oven was even harder because the burner rarely got above 305 degrees once we put food in the hot oil. Reaching a rolling boil or a fry temperature was not as much of an issue when we used smaller Dutch ovens or straight-sided pots.

This is definitely something to consider if you’re always cooking for four in a 12-inch skillet or if you were planning to use an induction burner to fry foods in your 5½-quart or 7¼-quart Dutch oven. You’d likely be frustrated with the results. (By the same token, you might also encounter problems with pots where the flat part of the bottom is slightly under 4 inches wide. With smaller-diameter pots, some burners possibly won't work at all because the element can't "see" the pan. But very few pots are that small, so this is less of an issue.)

As we noted earlier, if you have a pacemaker, consult your doctor before using an induction burner. Some people have also said that home electronics that use radio waves—such as radios, televisions, and cell phones—can sometimes interfere with an induction burner's electromagnetic field, causing it not to work well. We did not notice any such problems in our testing. We’ve also seen reviews claiming that the electromagnetic field can cause a digital instant-read thermometer to malfunction, but in our tests we had no problems using the ThermoWorks Dot, whose design allowed us to place the body of the thermometer slightly away from the appliance.

Since an induction burner transfers heat through a magnetic field, it requires cookware made from a ferromagnetic metal, such as cast iron or magnetic stainless steel. Copper, aluminum, glass, ceramic, and non-magnetic stainless steel (including 18/10 and 18/8) cookware pieces don't work—though fully clad cookware, which has a copper or aluminum core sandwiched inside magnetic stainless steel, does work, and so does cookware with a magnetic stainless steel plate affixed to the bottom. In other words, the pot or pan should be magnetic, and it should be strongly magnetic; a weak connection doesn't work. A non-magnetic or weakly magnetic pan won't hurt your burner—it just won't heat very well or at all. You can save yourself some time by testing the pan with a magnet.

(Note: Wirecutter's picks for saucepans, skillets, cast-iron pans, and Dutch ovens are all fully compatible with any induction burner, as is one of our picks for nonstick pans.)

For one portable induction burner, this is far less of a big deal than with a range. Most people usually have at least one or two pots or pans that work, and since you can cook with only one pan at a time anyway, a skillet and a saucepan or two is often all you need.

A non-magnetic or weakly magnetic pan won't hurt your burner—it just won't heat very well or at all. You can save yourself some time by testing the pan with a magnet.

You can buy an induction interface disk that sits on the surface of the burner and allows you to use non-magnetized pans. But such disks reduce the effectiveness of the burner, as you’re no longer heating the pan but transferring heat from the hot disk to the pan, so you’re losing all the heat efficiency that induction provides. (And you’re transferring some of that heat to your kitchen.) Such disks also heat or cool at different speeds than your pan, which makes it harder for you to nail the right setting on your burner as you cook. Even more important, an induction burner constantly adjusts itself to avoid overheating the vessel on its surface or to maintain a certain temperature, but with a disk, it is adjusting not to the pan but to the disk, which will always be hotter than the pan. If you had one pan you really needed to use on an induction cooktop for some specific reason, this add-on might be worth trying, but it is not a great long-term option for all your cooking.

In our cookware set review, we recommend fully clad cookware—the kind made from a single piece of aluminum sandwiched between stainless steel, with sides as thick as their bottoms—because we found that it heated more evenly in our tests on gas ranges. But in our previous induction-cookware tests, cookware with an encapsulated bottom, namely a thick disk bonded to the base, boiled water faster and heated more evenly across the entire surface of the skillet, which could be important for pans wider than your element. (By the way, we’ve also found that good old cast-iron cookware works great, as well, as long as it has a flat, fairly clean bottom and you keep it within the range of the element.)

Scott Misture, professor of materials science and engineering at Alfred University, told us that the pan with an encapsulated bottom likely cooked more evenly because it had a thicker layer of aluminum in its base. Aluminum is highly conductive, and a thicker layer better distributes the heat being generated by the pan's thin outer layer of steel. In our previous testing with encapsulated-bottom cookware, we used and liked the Fissler Profi 2-quart saucepan and the Fissler Profi 9½-inch fry pan.

If you already own induction-compatible cookware, we suggest starting with that, no matter the type, and seeing how it performs. If you use your induction cooktop often and find that you miss a non-induction-compatible pan of a certain shape or size, you can then consider investing in a few new disk-bottom pans.

In most cases a kitchen rag or a damp paper towel is all you need to wipe an induction burner's surface clean. (We found that a sponge tends to just smear the liquid around.) Although you can wipe down spills around the pot as you cook, before fully cleaning an induction burner, let the fan stop on its own and then unplug the appliance and let it cool completely. We found that it's best to clean the surface after each use, otherwise you risk staining the glass top because the next pot will heat up whatever might be left uncleaned underneath it. The staining isn't a big deal, though, since most models’ tops are black anyway.

For food spills that are difficult to remove, use a damp paper towel and wipe the surface clean in a circular motion. Never use harsh chemicals or abrasive sponges on the surface of the cooktop unless they’re clearly made for glass cooktops, as doing so can mar the surface. Avoid using ammonia-based glass cleaners, as they can remove the markings on the glass-ceramic surface indicating where to place your cookware. We hope it goes without saying that you should never submerge a burner in water to clean it—it's an electrical appliance.

You should also make sure the cooktop's surface (and the bottom of your pot or pan) is fairly dry before using it. Avoid placing cooking utensils on the surface of the cooktop, especially if they are made of magnetic metals—be careful about laying them across the top of the pot, too. Also, never move the burner while it's hot or when pots or pans are on top of it. If for some reason the cooking surface cracks, immediately turn off the burner, unplug it, and contact the manufacturer for repairs, if your appliance is under warranty. To avoid damaging the cord, be sure to keep the outlet and plug far enough away from the cooking vessel.

Always allow enough air to circulate around the exhaust vent (which is usually located toward the back of the unit). Most manufacturers recommend a clearance of at least 4 to 6 inches. If buildup occurs near the exhaust vent after prolonged use, some manufacturers suggest using a vacuum cleaner attachment to remove debris.

We plan to test the updated portable induction burner from IKEA, which is replacing the discontinued Tillreda, our previous budget pick. We’d also like to test the Duxtop E200, a flat-panel burner with 20 temperature and heat settings managed with a sensor-touch dial; it was unavailable at the time we began testing for this update. In addition, we hope that induction burner makers continue to upgrade and update their models with better features and functionality, particularly integrated probes. Conversely, we’d love to see the makers of higher-end models with integrated probes figure out a way to improve the use of their machines in a manual setting, as well as to make them more affordable.

The Max Burton 6450, our former runner-up pick, is discontinued. Aervoe, the company that makes it and the Max Burton 18XL (mentioned below), announced in late 2022 that it will stop manufacturing consumer cooktops. We loved the Max Burton 6450's tidy size and shape, which give you an extra inch of space on the countertop over the Duxtop 9600LS without a noticeable decrease in appliance build quality. This burner is light and unobtrusive, and it has an all-glass interface with lock, boil, and warm buttons, plus a bright LCD screen that is easy to clean and to read. The Max Burton has only 15 temperature settings and 10 power settings, which we found acceptable for daily cooking tasks but not as easy to use or as flexible as the Duxtop 9600LS's 20 temperature and 20 power settings. It was a little harder for us to find the right temperature with the Max Burton, especially when we were stewing or simmering, but it was also slightly cheaper, too. In short, it's a great little machine. We recommend buying it if you happen to find it used online or on a store sale shelf.

The Max Burton 18XL was designed with home brewers or canners in mind. It has a slightly larger coil that fits pans up to 14 inches wide, as well as a higher maximum weight of 60 pounds. It also includes programmable cooking functions so you can have it automatically change the temperature after a set amount of time, and it comes with a wireless probe that you can use to measure the temperature of the pot's contents rather than the surface of the pot where it hits the glass cooktop. However, you can adjust the probe only to one of the 20 preset temperature settings, so this model is not ideal for real precision cooking. The probe is also so long that it is very hard to use even with a large Dutch oven and impossible in anything shorter. (It would work in a large kettle or stock pot for beer-making or canning, however.) Although the 18XL has 21 temperature settings, it has only 10 power settings. It also has an odd half-bowtie shape and a light plastic body, and you spin a wheel to change the heat or temperature—all of these settings were a little wonky and seemed like they could be improved upon. In truth, this model feels like a prototype with lots of potential. While it is still widely available online, the company has stopped manufacturing consumer cooktops.

The Zavor Induction Pro Cooktop seemed promising. Of the burners we tested for this update, it's the only completely flat model, and it looked great on our countertop. It also claims to allow adjustments in 10-degree increments between 140 and 465 degrees. However, in our testing we had difficulty perceiving any real change in temperature except when the burner reached each of the eight existing presets, which is fewer than we think is useful for everyday cooking. The settings have names like "simmer," "boil," and "sauté," but their results didn't always match up to the type of cooking that takes place at those settings. What's more, the Zavor burner takes up a little more room than most of the models we tested, for no apparent good reason. We also found that an angled control panel was easier to use than an entirely flat cooktop like this.

Like the smaller NuWave PIC Flex, the NuWave PIC Gold has good ratings on Amazon and positive reviews on YouTube and is widely advertised on TV. It's essentially a larger version of the Flex, with slightly more wattage and what appears to be a larger coil. As with the Flex, we found that we couldn't actually adjust the Gold's temperature in 10-degree increments as promised, and that the appliance essentially limited us to just six built-in preset heat levels, which we don't think is enough options for everyday cooking. Plus, this model also has an old-fashioned raised-button display panel.

We really wanted to love the Tasty One Top by Cuisinart, which connects to an app managed by BuzzFeed's Tasty team. First released in 2017, the Tasty One Top is super cute, with a spaceship-like pentagonal design featuring rubber wings. However, the app is buggy, which is troubling since it has been around so long. The app should work like the Hestan Cue's: You should be able to use it to change the temperature to a specific degree, as well as to cook your way through a recipe. With the Tasty app, however, you can't change the temperature once you set it, unless you turn the burner off and on again. And the recipes we tried didn't work that well—not only were the instructions very confusing at times, but if we took too long to hit the Next button during the cooking process, we got dumped out of the recipe, and we couldn't pick up where we left off. This happened to us every time we tried to use the app, and it happened when we did normal things like stepping away to wash our hands, or when we were waiting for sugar to melt (per the recipe). The cooktop itself also has the same limited manual control options as the Hestan Cue, and it was the only model we tested where we could actually feel heat coming from the sides of the appliance around the bottom of the pot. (Maybe it was those cool rubber wings!)

The Vollrath Mirage Cadet was one of two less-expensive commercial models that we tested. We had reservations about testing Vollrath burners as the company specifically says that they are not for home use and that the warranty is voided if you buy one for that purpose. However, we found several reviews that include this model among their top picks, and we wanted to see if it was noticeably better than the household machines we’re recommending, as it provides roughly the same functionality as the Duxtop 9600LS—such as the temperature range, the number of settings, and the maximum pan size—but in a slightly larger and taller body designed to withstand commercial use. We tested the Cadet once, and we did not find it to be any easier or better to use than the 9600LS. It had only a 180-minute timer, whereas the 9600LS's timer goes up to 10 hours. But most important, this machine emitted a very loud and worrisome electrical hum whenever it was plugged in, even when it was off.

The second commercial model we tested was the Duxtop P961LS/BT-C35-D. This machine is essentially our top pick, the Duxtop 9600LS, but in a commercial-grade body designed for use in a professional kitchen. We found it harder to use because it was an inch or so taller and wider than the 9600LS (16½ by 13 inches instead of 14 by 11 inches). It doesn't make a lot of sense for most home cooks to spend so much more on the commercial version, as it takes up more room on a counter than our top pick.

Michael Sullivan and Sharon Franke contributed reporting. This article was edited by Winnie Yang and Marilyn Ong.

Portable Induction Cooktop Reviews (And How to Choose the Best One), The Rational Kitchen, August 13, 2021

Brenden Duncombe, hardware engineering team lead at Hestan Cue, phone interview, July 20, 2021

Rebecca Leber, How the Fossil Fuel Industry Convinced Americans to Love Gas Stoves, Mother Jones, July 17, 2021

Lukas Volger, The Best Portable Induction Cooktop for Stove-Free Cooking, Epicurious, June 8, 2021

Scott Misture, Inamori professor of materials science and engineering at Alfred University, email interview, January 20, 2019

Werner Irnich, Alan D Bernstein, Do induction cooktops interfere with cardiac pacemakers?, Europace, March 23, 2006

Rachel Wharton

Rachel Wharton is a senior staff writer at Wirecutter covering ovens, stoves, fridges and other essential kitchen appliances. She has more than 15 years of experience reporting on food issues and a master's degree in food studies, and has helped write more than a dozen books on that topic (including her own, American Food: A Not-So-Serious History). One of her first real gigs was reviewing kitchen gadgets in less than 50 words for the New York Daily News.

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An important note: More nuanced temperature and heat settings: Can hold very low temperatures: Smoothly maintains target heat level: A coil that works with cookware 4 to 10 inches in diameter: A well-designed control panel: Compact size and lighter weight: A timer that runs for at least three hours: A warranty of at least one year: Stability: Noise: Speed: Temperature accuracy: Probes, precision cooking, and app-connected burners: Wattage: Safety features: Safety Coolness Cleanliness Precision Maintaining a low temperature