Hot plates are portable cooking units great for meal prepping on the go or for use in small cooking spaces without traditional kitchen access. With a hot plate, you can cook a meal from scratch, warm leftovers, or keep food hot for an extended duration. A portable hot plate can be used in small living spaces, small kitchens, offices, and vacation spaces.
But hot plates aren’t only ideal for small spaces. Even larger, fully equipped kitchens may require an extra cooktop area in conjunction with food preparation for parties and holiday dinners. So in addition to your cookware and bakeware, adding a portable hot plate to your cooking arsenal isn’t a bad idea. Commercial units are also available for catering and professional use.
- BEST OVERALL: Duxtop Countertop Burner Induction Hot Plate
- UPGRADE PICK: Duxtop LCD Portable Double Induction Cooktop
- BEST WITH HANDLES: Techwood Double Infrared Ceramic Hot Plate
- ALSO CONSIDER: CUSIMAX 1800W Ceramic Electric Hot Plate
Types of Hot Plates
Hot plates are separated into three categories based on the type of heating: electric, induction, and gas. Each type has a specific set of benefits. Understanding the features of the different types of heating elements can help you decide which is the best hot plate for your needs.
Electric hot plates usually have one or two burners. The heating element is either a traditional exposed coil burner or an integrated coil with a flat burner. While integrated coil burners cook more evenly than exposed coil, they do take longer to heat. Heavy-bottomed cookware is recommended for exposed coil hot plates to minimize uneven heating. Some exposed coils come with a glass covering, making cleanup a little easier.
Induction plates use an electromagnetic field instead of ambient heat, which means this type of hot plate also requires cookware that works with induction heating. Induction-ready stainless steel and nonstick cookware with magnetic bottoms are required for induction plates. Some induction hot plates come with an induction-ready pan, which is convenient if you don’t already have a piece of suitable cookware. Induction hot plates are often preferred over electric ones because cooking is quicker with induction heating. They also don’t get hot to the touch, nor do they pose the same fire hazard as gas plates.
Gas hot plates are a great camping accessory. Most often, gas hot plates use propane fuel to heat the cooking plate. Gas is also known for its ability to heat and cook more evenly than electric heat. Additionally, the portability of gas hot plates makes them a great choice for camping and other outdoor events that don’t have access to electricity. Some industrial gas hot plates come with removable cast-iron grates for easy cleaning and maintenance.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Hot Plate
There are a few things to consider before buying a hot plate––primarily heating type and temperature control. Portability may also help guide your choice if you plan to use your hot plate for outdoor activities or in a variety of locations. Also, what are your preferences when it comes to versatility and durability? How many burners might you need, and do you plan to purchase a more expensive model that offers a greater degree of temperature versatility and safety features?
Size and Weight
Hot plates are designed with saving space and ease of transport in mind. However, body composition and the type of cooktop surface affects each unit’s size and weight. Stainless steel bodies and cast-iron cook plates will make the units a little heavier, but also provide extra stability. Whether the hot plate features one or two burners will determine the unit’s size. One-burner units average around 9 inches by 9 inches, and two-burner units are approximately double that in length.
Electric hot plates can require from 750 to 1,800 watts of power, depending on the size and heating element type. Whether a hot plate has one or multiple burners will also factor into the unit’s wattage use. If you plan to use an electric hot plate, rather than one powered by gas, you’ll also want to make sure that you have access to a 120-volt electrical outlet or generator.
Single vs. Multi Burner
Single burners are a convenient cooking option for individuals or couples with low-maintenance cooking needs. Single burners are also small and lightweight, making them easy to store and transport. Multi-burner hot plates allow you to cook more than one course at a time––boil spaghetti while your sauce is simmering, for example. However, you’ll want to be aware that some double burner hot plates include a regular heating burner with the second serving only as a warming plate.
Hot plates are available with several plate types, including glass, coil, or cast iron. Traditional coil surfaces are lightweight but more difficult to clean. Glass and cast-iron cook surfaces offer a more modern appeal and are easier to clean. However, it is useful to note that not all cook surface types are compatible with all cookware.
Hot plates are available with a variety of heating control options. Some have mechanical knobs to adjust the temperature, while other units feature digital temperature controls and displays, which may be preferred if temperature precision is a priority.
The low-profile design of hot plates makes them relatively stable; however, features like heavy stainless steel bodies and slip-resistant feet ensure safety is a priority. It’s recommended to use hot plates on flat, fixed surfaces for maximum safety.
Hot plates can come with a variety of safety features. Some have an automatic shutoff feature that turns the unit off if a pan is not detected on the plate’s surface (this is also referred to as auto-pan detection). Units with two burners can come with overheat protection to prevent the unit from exceeding its maximum wattage while both burners are in use. Another important safety feature is child safety locks that prevent little fingers from turning the burners on. While safety features vary from unit to unit, most come with nonslip pads on the feet to prevent the unit from slipping around on smooth surfaces while in use.
Our Top Picks
To help you choose the best hot plate for your cooking needs, check out the list of hot plates below that have the above features in mind.
The Duxtop Countertop Burner Induction Hot Plate has one burner and features an LCD screen with sensor touch panel for straightforward use. Its nonstick glass surface is easy to clean. This induction cooktop keeps safety a priority with a child safety lock button, automatic shutoff when not in use, 60-second auto-pan detection, and overheat protection. Additionally, induction plates mean no open flames or toxic gas fumes.
The Duxtop is designed with two types of cook modes, power and temperature. In power mode, 20 preset power levels ranging from 100 to 1,800 watts give you control over how quickly the plate heats. In temperature mode, 20 preset temperature settings, from 100 to 460 degrees Fahrenheit, allow precise temperature settings for common cooking methods, such as frying or sautéing.
The automatic timer can be set from one minute to 10 hours. As a bonus, it also has boil and keep-warm buttons for convenience. Be sure to use magnetic-bottom cookware designed for induction heating. Measuring 11.41 inches by 14.05 inches, this burner’s compact, lightweight design makes for easy transport, use, and storage.
The Duxtop LCD Portable Double Induction Cooktop features two burners, each with independent heating controls and 20 preset heat levels. The LCD display is easy to read and provides precise temperature measurements so you can accurately control the cooking temperature. You can choose from either power mode or temperature mode, depending on if you need the plates to simply heat quickly or want to maintain a specific temperature to avoid overcooking or burning your favorite dish.
The unit has a power-sharing feature that automatically adjusts the power usage of one burner when both are in use to prevent the unit from overheating. Safety features include a child safety lock system and skid-resistant rubber feet. It utilizes 100 to 1,800 watts of energy, measures 14.2 inches by 23.9 inches, and the burners are compatible with a variety of magnetic bottom cookware.
The Techwood Double Infrared Ceramic Hot Plate is a great choice when you’re looking for a safe, versatile alternative to a gas hot plate. The plate’s infrared heating mechanism and cast-iron plate ensure quick heating with consistent temperature output. The adjustable thermostat controls enable you to warm or cook your favorite sauces and foods with precise temperature control.
The ceramic plates are compatible with all types of cookware. It’s equipped with stay-cool handles for easy transport, and the brushed steel body is easy to clean. The feet are slip-resistant for safe use on smooth surfaces. It features 1,300 watts of power and measures 21.4 inches by 7.9 inches. A single-burner unit is also available.
The CUSIMAX double hot plate’s simple but modern design is suitable for a kitchen or dorm room and is compatible with all types of cookware, including glass. The ceramic plates heat quickly and evenly, and you control the temperature with an adjustable thermostat knob. The unit’s safety features include an automatic safety shutoff, nonskid feet, and an indicator light that illuminates when the plate is on.
The CUSIMAX’s adjustable heat settings make it easy to cook anything from eggs over easy to your favorite fettuccini dish. It measures 19.7 inches by 13 inches, and the stainless steel body and crystalline glass plates are easy to clean.
FAQs About Hot Plates
Getting familiar with the specifications of a hot plate can help you get the most out of it. Here are a few common questions and answers about hot plate features and operation to get you on your way.
Q. Is a hot plate the same as a stove burner?
While a hot plate and a stove burner are similar in function, hot plates tend to be less efficient in terms of energy use and heating capacity. The type of heating element a hot plate uses determines its efficiency (e.g., traditional coil is slower than induction). Additionally, hot plate burners tend to be smaller than stove burners, so it’s important to consider whether you have the right-sized cookware for a hot plate.
Q. How do I choose a hot plate?
Choosing the best hot plate for your cooking needs depends on how and where you plan to use the plate. You’ll also want to consider what type of cooking you intend to use it for as well as what type of cookware is compatible with the model you choose.
Q. What can you cook on a hot plate?
As long as your cookware matches the size of the hot plate, you can cook almost anything. Keep in mind, however, that some cuisines require specific temperatures, so a hot plate with precise temperature control might be the best option depending on your cooking needs. If you only need to boil water or keep food warm, there are options for that, too.
Q. How hot are hot plates?
The maximum heating temperature of a hot plate will depend on the type of heating element the plate utilizes. Some plates are designed only for warming, while others can reach temperatures optimal for boiling and frying.
Q. Does a hot plate use a lot of electricity?
Electric hot plates can use anywhere from 750 watts to 1,800 watts of electricity, depending on the size of the unit and the number of burners included. How often you intend to use the hot plate and the type of cooking you want to do with it can help you determine which wattage is right for you and what the average energy consumption might be.
Q. How long does it take for a hot plate to cool?
Most hot plates require about 20 minutes to cool. But, prior to handling, it’s a good idea to check the manufacturer’s instructions regarding cooling recommendations after use. Wearing oven mitts can help prevent unwanted burns if you need to handle a hot plate before it’s completely cooled.