Which electric burner is best?
Once upon a time, a standalone electric burner was called a hot plate. It was small, inexpensive and a favorite of people living in dormitories or anyplace without a kitchen. They could plug it into a standard socket and heat a can of soup, fry an egg or boil water for tea or coffee.
These days, electric burners are essentially portable stovetops small and light enough to take along camping, boating and RV-ing. All you need is an electrical outlet and a level surface to put it on. Another great use for a standalone burner is when you’re cooking for a large group at home. An extra burner comes in handy when you’ve filled your stovetop with pots and pans.
If you are looking for a small but powerful electric burner, take a look at the Cuisinart Cast-Iron Stainless Steel Single Burner.
What to know before you buy an electric burner
Just as with a kitchen range or cooktop, you start by choosing from one of three basic designs: individual coils, glass cooktops and induction cooktops.
Once called calrods, coil burners use electricity to heat spiral-shaped cooking surfaces that have metal wires encased inside ceramic coils. This is the same technology used on stovetops and inside dishwashers and ovens. Coils are the least expensive of the burner surfaces, and the hardest to keep clean.
This is the burner design that is easiest to clean, because the infrared heating elements are hidden beneath the smooth surface and never touch your cookware. Sometimes called radiant heating, glass cooktops also serve as extra counter space when you’re not cooking. The downside is that you need to use caution to avoid cracking or scratching the glass.
Electromagnets beneath a hybrid ceramic and glass surface heat the food inside your cookware while the cooktop surface stays cool to the touch. Induction cooktops heat more quickly, give you more precise temperature control and are easy to clean because the surface is smooth and seamless.
What to look for in a quality electric burner
An electric burner’s power is measured in watts. The more watts, the more power you are getting — and the more the burner will cost you. Most electric burners have from 1,000 to 1,800 watts.
Ease of cleanup
Glass tops are the easiest to clean. Smooth iron plates are also lots easier to clean than coil burners with drip trays.
The best controls are easy to read, easy to reach and easy to operate. Digital readouts let you set the exact temperature you want and digital controls are easier to read.
Look for electric burners with a one-touch setting that keeps food warm without burning or drying it out.
How much you can expect to spend on an electric burner
Those with coils cost anywhere from $10-$100. Those with glass cooktops run $20-$300 and induction cooktops go for $50-$250. All costs vary by the number of burners, the amount of power and the kind and type of features included.
Electric burner FAQ
How does using an electric burner differ from using a stovetop?
A. Portable burners take longer to cool down, so don’t just turn yours off; make sure you remove your pots and pans from the cooking surface. Unlike with your stove, there is no space to set down your hot cookware, so have a trivet nearby to keep from damaging your countertops and tabletops.
Why are my foods heating unevenly?
A. The number one reason is that your cookware is not coming in full contact with your burner. Frying pans are especially prone to warping, so lay yours on a surface you know to be flat and tap the edges all the way around the rim. If it wobbles, replace it.
How do I keep my coil burner clean?
A. Very little food or liquid will stick to a hot coil for long before getting burned off. The bigger problem is that spills and drips collect in the recessed area underneath your burner. Wait until you are sure the burner has cooled to room temperature, then tilt it up and unplug it to clean underneath. You can make your coil cooktop easier to clean by using inexpensive disposable aluminum drip plans.
What’s the best electric burner to buy?
Top electric burner
Cuisinart Cast Iron Stainless Steel Single Electric Burner
What you need to know: You get 1,300 watts in a small footprint.
What you’ll love: The cast-iron plate takes up less than 1 square foot and is only 2.5 inches tall. You can choose from any of six temperatures for simmering, bringing water to a quick boil and everything in between.
What you should consider: Some buyers say the cord should be longer.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top electric burner for the money
Proctor Silex Single Electric Burner
What you need to know: The coil design is safe to use with all cookware types, including aluminum, while induction cookers are not.
What you’ll love: You can heat foods and liquids quickly on this lightweight 1,200-watt burner. Pots and pans rest directly on the coil. The hinged coil lifts up and out for easy cleaning of spills and drips and the entire appliance weighs only 2.2 pounds.
What you should consider: This is a basic model with no frills.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
Nutrichef Portable Double Induction Cooktop
What you need to know: You get two burners, digital controls and 3,600 total watts in a footprint not much bigger than a laptop.
What you’ll love: You get two separate heating zones with independent temperature settings. You can switch from manual cooking to warming with one touch of a button. The controls are on the front where they are easy to see and use, and the child lock protects curious kids.
What you should consider: Some reviewers report that both burners cannot be on the highest heat setting at the same time.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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