Kitchen Gear

The Best Hot Plates Can Easily Do What Your Regular Stovetop Cannot, According to Chefs

Photo: Getty Images/ Hobo_018
A hot plate is a convenient cooking tool to have. It’s beneficial for anyone limited on kitchen space, serving as an alternative to a traditional stovetop, and those who want to save on gas and electricity consumption. People who enjoy hosting parties may also find a hot plate useful as it can act as an extra hand to cook and keep food warm.

With all this in mind, there’s no denying this kitchen gadget’s versatility—and if you want one of your own, Well+Good consulted three experts for their recommendations for the best hot plates.

 

The best hot plates, at a glance:

 

Best overall

An induction hot plate from Zavor Pro
Zavor Pro, Portable Induction Cooktop — $130.00
This induction hot plate from Zavor Pro comes with the recommendation of chef-instructor of culinary arts at the Institute of Culinary Education Gill Boyd, who has used this device for more than two years. At 1,800 watts, “it has enough power to bring water to boil quickly and for sautéing and in most outlets,” he says. The appliance features a user-friendly digital display where you can adjust the temperature from 140-465°F in 10-degree increments. Alternatively, you can select one of its eight quick-launch settings (warm, simmer, boil, rapid boil, sauté, brown, sear, or stir-fry) at the push of a button. The built-in timer can be set up to 180 minutes to ensure the optimal cooking time, and its cooktop surface is made from tempered glass to withstand high heat.

Best budget

An induction hot plate from Tasty By Cuisinart
Tasty By Cuisinart, One Top Induction Cooktop — $100.00

For a lower-cost (but high-quality) option, Well+Good food writer Maki Yazawa recommends this induction cooktop from Tasty by Cuisinart. It connects to the Tasty app via Bluetooth, and the device automatically adjusts the temperature and time settings for Tasty recipes you’ve selected through the app. It also comes with a thermometer that plugs into the side of the appliance to ensure food is cooking at just the right temperature. For extra precision, you can also keep track of your pots and pans’ temperature. You’re also free to use the hot plate with any recipe you want to try, and toggle among different temperatures (ranging from levels one through 10) and timer settings.

Best splurge

An induction hot plate from Breville
Breville, PolyScience Induction Cooking System — $1,200.00

If you’re willing to splurge, you might want to consider this sleek and streamlined option from Breville. It comes with the approval of Tony Curet, the chef at Texas pizza truck Side Eye Pie, who refers to it as the “Rolls Royce of induction burners.” The device’s digital display allows users to control its temperature, time, and more. Plus, it has the ability to set and hold temperatures ranging from 86-482°F for any length of time. The included probe thermometer allows for precise cooking while the dual-fan system keeps the appliance from overheating. The cooking surface is made from a heat-resistant glass, and like the overall best option, it produces a whopping 1,800 watts of power.

What to consider when shopping for a hot plate

Type

There are three common types of hot plates: induction, gas, and electric.

Boyd, Curet, and Yazawa all recommend induction hot plates. Induction hot plates use electromagnetic induction to heat the pan and little else besides that and the food inside it. In turn, these varieties are more energy efficient than gas and electric variations. Plus, “it heats only when a pan is on the surface,” says Boyd, making it safe to use for beginners and pros alike. Keep in mind that only induction-compatible cookware can be used with this option. Fortunately, many cookware materials are induction-friendly. Think: cast iron, stainless steel, and most non-stick cookware.

However, if you’re looking for a hot plate that can operate without the use of electricity, you might want to consider a gas option. They’re a great choice for hiking, road trips, and camping, and they also come in handy in the event of a power outage. They aren’t often expensive, but recurring costs for gas refills can add up if used frequently.

Otherwise, you might prefer an electric hot plate, which features coils (typically hidden beneath a smooth glass or ceramic surface) to transfer heat between the burner to the pan. They usually outperform gas varieties in terms of cooking efficiency, but like induction hot plates, they require a power source.

Wattage output

As you shop for a hot plate, you may want to think about its power output (measured in watts)—and generally, they crank out 1,200 watts of power. “The more power or wattage generally means the cooktop or hot plate can heat up quicker, which gets your cooking going faster, especially when you want to boil or sauté,” says Boyd. Curet agrees, adding that he typically finds higher wattage hot plates to have more precise temperature and time features.

Temperature and timer settings

A hot plate with precise temperature and timer adjustments is important, according to Curet. Having control over the temperature and time means that you won’t have to worry about overcooking or burning your food, plus they come in handy for keeping food perfectly warm.

Boyd echoes this sentiment. He says it’s important that people have the ability to adjust a hot plate’s heat settings and for the hot plate to quickly change temperatures. “For example, if you are cooking rice and want to stop boiling, then you have to reduce heat to a low simmer,” he says—and a hot plate should be able to do that easily.

However, if you’re on a budget, a hot plate with a simple temperature dial may be sufficient. In fact, according to Curet, they only use a hot plate with three heat settings (low, medium, and high) at Side Eye Pie. “It works great for keeping [food] fresh and [at] the right temperature,” he says.

Single or double burner?

Hot plates typically come with one or two burners. Which option you choose is a matter of preference, but you might want to think about how you’ll be using it. If you’re cooking for one or preparing only one meal at a time, a hot plate with a single burner may be ideal. Those who frequently cook for a crowd might otherwise prefer a hot plate with a double burner.

Frequently asked questions

What is a hot plate?

Simply put, “a hot plate is a single or double burner electric cooktop for use in any stovetop cooking applications,” says Boyd, adding that “hot plates offer the ability to cook when there is no conventional stove or when extra burner space is needed.”

What is a hot plate useful for?

According to Curet, hot plates can work like traditional stovetops, serving to warm and cook food. Plus, “hot plates can come in handy when there is not a readily available gas line to connect to,” he says. He adds that it’s also convenient for those who want to opt out of using gas appliances in their kitchen “to save money and the effort of installing a gas line.” As a bonus, Yazawa says that they’re also great for at-the-table cooking, like hot pot or fondue.

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