Gas? Electricity? Those are some old hat ways to cook a meal.
Okay, we’re being facetious, but it’s true that new technology has brought an alternative to older cooking methods. Induction cooktops have been around for a while, but new innovations have transformed them into a viable competitor to electric and gas cooktops over the last two decades.
Safe, efficient, and cheaper than they once were, induction cooktops are growing in popularity as an alternative to electric and gas and manufacturers have taken note. Users love them for their flexibility, energy and cost efficiency, and convenience.
There is a wide range of cooktops now available on the market. In this guide, we take a look at what induction cooktops are, how they work, and how to buy one. We’ll also give you our top picks for the best full-size induction cooktops of 2020—along with a selected portable option.
Our Top Picks: Summary
- Best Overall: GE Cafè CHP9530
- Runner Up: Bosch 800 series NIT8069UC
- Best Portable: Duxtop 9100MC
- Best 36-Inch: Samsung NZ36K7880UG
The Best Induction Cooktops: Our Top Picks
Best Overall: GE Cafè CHP9530
GE Cafè CHP9530
Combines features, quality, and style for an excellent all-rounder.
Why We Picked It
Combining features, style, and quality, the GE Cafè CHP9530 is our choice for Best Overall induction cooktop.
The GE Cafè is a 30-inch cooktop with 5 elements in different sizes, including two that can be synchronized for cooking with larger pots and pans. The elements have pan-detection technology, so they’ll turn on only when cookware is present or off when cookware is removed.
This model has simple, touch-based controls arranged in an easy-use layout. A multitask timer makes it easy to juggle a full complement of pans, and precise temperature controls allow you to maintain a set temperature with a 1° variance. The cooktop also includes a melt setting that allow you to easily melt ingredients like butter.
The GE Cafè has a modern design and will blend well with most kitchen decor, and its low-profile touch controls keep it looking sleek.
The GE Cafè cooktop comes with a 1-year warranty.
Keep in Mind
Touch controls are easy to use, but a lack of tactile controls like dials may not suit some users.
In a Nutshell
- Five elements including two linkable burners
- Simple, touch-based controls
- Multitask timer
Runner Up: Bosch 800 series NIT8069UC
Bosch 800 series NIT8069UC
A feature-rich, high-quality induction cooktop.
Why We Picked It
Our Runner-Up is the Bosch 800, another feature-rich induction cooktop for buyers looking for quality.
The Bosch is a 30-inch cooktop with 4 elements and an ultra-minimalist design. The cooktop has 17 power levels and a SpeedBoost function to speed up cooking, and one of the cooking zones is extra large to accommodate bigger pots and pans. All cooking zones also have pot-sensing functionality.
The Bosch features a touch-control interface with child-proofing and an AutoChef function to regulate temperatures while cooking—a feature that takes full advantage of the strengths of induction cooktops. A Keep Warm function makes this more flexible still, giving you complete control.
This cooktop is also WiFi-enabled and can be synced with Bosch’s matching hood for a smart kitchen experience.
The Bosch cooktop also comes with a 2-year warranty.
Keep in Mind
Touch controls may not be tactile enough for some users.
In a Nutshell
- 4 elements including larger cooking zone
- Feature-rich, with SpeedBoost, AutoChef and Keep Warm functions
- WiFi connectivity
Best Portable: Duxtop 9100MC
Induction cooking on the go.
Why We Picked It
If you’re looking for an induction cooktop you can use on the move, then most of our other picks won’t work for you. We’ve chosen the Duxtop 9100MC as our Best Portable to suit shoppers who need portability.
The Duxtop is lightweight both in portability and ease of use, with a single burner, accessible button interface, and digital display. It features 15 power levels ranging from 200 to 1800 Watts and a temperature range of 140 °F to 460 °F. The cooktop also features auto-pan and overheat detection and a diagnostic error system. A warm air outlet at the rear of the unit discharges excess heat.
The unit is sleek and compact, making storage, transport, and set-up easy; all key features in a portable cooktop.
The Duxtop comes with a 2-year warranty.
Keep in Mind
Portability comes with the tradeoff of limited, one-burner capacity.
In a Nutshell
- Lightweight and portable
- 15 power levels
- Single burner
Best 36-Inch: Samsung NZ36K7880UG
Ample space and excellent features make for a luxury induction cooktop.
Why We Picked It
Shoppers looking for a super-sized induction cooktop will want the full, 36-inch experience. For that, we’ve chosen the Samsung NZ36K7880UG.
The Samsung is a five-element induction cooktop with an additional flex zone element. The flex zone is a large area able to accommodate a range of pot and pan shapes for maximum flexibility. The Samsung features 15 heat settings and a Power Boost mode for faster boiling.
The Samsung is also an aesthetic and stylish model with a modern, minimalist profile. It combines a digital touch display with the tactile experience of analog dials, though the analog dials are removable for full user customization. Burners in use light up with gas-effect LED lights, which improves usability and looks great. A fingerprint-resistant finish keeps it looking good for many uses.
This cooktop also comes with full WiFi connectivity, so you can control the unit remotely from your smartphone. It can also sync to Samsung’s paired hood for linked functionality.
The Samsung comes with a 1-year parts and labor warranty.
Keep in Mind
This is a luxury cooktop that may not be suitable for shoppers on a budget.
In a Nutshell
- 36-inch, 5-element design
- Flex zone for maximum flexibility
- WiFi connectivity
How We Chose the Best Induction Cooktops
To choose the best induction cooktops, we looked at several categories to give the most complete picture of each model. Here are some of the categories we use:
Much like a microwave, the cooking power of an induction cooktop is rated by its wattage. Each cooktop has its specific range of cooking power, with lower settings rating in the hundreds up to 3,000+ watts for boiling liquids.
We look at the cooking power of each cooktop to give you a sense of the level of control and convenience you’ll get with each model. Models with finer control over their cooking power are better-suited to more complicated or delicate recipes.
Ease of Use
In general, most people choose to emphasize convenience in the kitchen. Ease of use plays a key role in that. That’s why we look at how easy it is to set up and use each cooktop, as you’ll need to tangle with it every time you cook. We consider ease of use an essential feature when rating our cooktops. We look at how easy it is to use typical features like temperature adjust, and also take into account more complex features like auto-adjust controls.
Our design category includes both the aesthetic and the practical. We looked at the visual style of each cooktop along with its controls, burner layout, and other features. The cooktop’s design factors into its ease of use, too, so we looked for designs that lent themselves well to everyday use. Although most induction burners maintain a modern, sleek aesthetic, their design can vary in the details. For instance, between models with touch vs. more tactile controls.
Induction cooktops are on the expensive side for most shoppers, so it’s important to us that a model offers good value for money. We look at the unit’s price to give you a sense of what you’re getting for your money, and we chose the models that offered the most value. The real standouts here are those that offer excellent performance and great features without breaking the budget. Popular brands often have the luxury of charging more for their products, which comes with the benefit of peace of mind for buyers.
Customer reviews are indispensable to forming our top picks because we can otherwise only give one perspective on each model. Customer reviews give us a much wider range of data to draw from, so we can give you a complete picture of the model, including its stand-out features and drawbacks.
What is an Induction Cooktop?
Most people are familiar with cooking on electric and gas and have an intuitive understanding of how these work. It’s easy to see how the direct application of heat transfers heat to a pan, after all.
Induction cooktops use slightly more complicated principles. These heat through magnetic induction. A coil in the cooktop generates an alternating electric current (and with it a magnetic field) that in turn creates an electric current in the nearby pot or pan. Through resistance, this current causes the vessel to heat up. In other words, it’s a form of wireless power transfer. In principle, it’s like transplanting the coil of an electric cooktop directly into the bottom of a pan for as long as the induction element is active.
Induction cooktops have been around since the mid-1950s but didn’t become widely available until a brief run in the 70s. Even then, they remained out of favor until the 2000s, when new technology and lower production costs made them more practical for general use.
Today, a range of manufacturers make induction cooktops, leading to a wide range of features and styles. Most induction cooktops are designed to replace a gas or electric one as the kitchen’s primary cooktop. They’ve gained attention as a more efficient and safer way to cook.
Induction cooktops also come in portable varieties, which are easy to disconnect and move from one place to another. These are popular for social occasions like community events and with those who like to travel.
Benefits of Induction Cooktops
Induction cooktops have a range of benefits over cooking with gas and electric. Let’s take a look at some of those benefits:
- Efficient: Induction heating causes the pan to act as its own heat source instead of heating via conduction. This keeps your kitchen cool and reduces energy waste. Much of the heat from a gas or electric burner is lost to the room via radiation.
- Fast temperature change: Induction heats pans quickly and allows them to shed heat quickly, too, as induction burners remain cool.
- Easy clean: As induction burners don’t get hot, any spillages won’t burn and adhere to the surface.
- Safety: A cold cooking surface makes induction cooking a safer option for environments with children and pets.
- Sleek and stylish: Induction cooktops are low-profile and modern, so they bring an excellent minimalist aesthetic to your kitchen. In this respect, they stand in particular contrast to gas cooktops.
Be aware that induction cooktops aren’t compatible with all pots and pans. In general, pans made with ferrous (i.e. magnetic) materials are induction cooktop compatible. If a magnet sticks to your pan, it’s probably induction compatible.
What to Consider When Choosing an Induction Cooktop
When choosing an induction cooktop, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Doing so will help you choose the perfect induction cooktop for you. Here are a few things to consider:
Built-in vs. Portable
If you’re making a permanent, long-term alteration to your kitchen by upgrading to an induction cooktop, then a built-in model will likely be the perfect choice for you.
However, there are plenty of reasons to opt for a portable model. People in rented accommodation, for instance, may not have the option to make permanent changes to the kitchen. Some people may opt for a smaller induction cooktop for specific uses. A portable cooktop is also an excellent choice for socialites and travelers, who can take their cooktop along to community events or transfer it to the caravan when on vacation.
Induction cooktops usually feature between three and five burners, which may be arranged in any number of ways, though some use a typical symmetrical layout as you would find on a gas or electric cooktop.
However, induction cooktops can be more flexible. Many feature either extra-large cooking areas for larger pots or flexible, multi-use areas that defy the usual burner conventions.
Portable designs typically have fewer elements and cooking zones to keep them lighter.
Induction cooktops come in a wide range of designs, as they’re not limited to the burner layout associated with gas and electric cooktops. This means there can be large aesthetic and practical differences between different models of induction cooktop. You’ll need to weigh this against the other items on this list to find a design that not only fits your other criteria, but also offers your desired functionality.
Induction cooktops range from the basic to the feature-rich. Common features include smart controls, auto-shutoffs, and other safety features. They may also offer keep-warm functionality or auto-controlled temperature. Some more advanced models even offer WiFi connectivity and allow syncing with supported hoods for a smart kitchen experience.
When shopping for a cooktop, you’ll need to weigh these features relative to your budget and your needs. Some shoppers will consider certain features must-haves where others can skip them—for instance, buyers without pets or small children may rate safety features as a nice-to-have only.
Most buyers will, of course, want to keep an eye on the price as they shop. Induction cooktops are available at a range of prices, which reflect their features, quality, and brand, though they are a more expensive option in general. An induction cooktop represents a significant investment for most shoppers, so nailing down your budget before you shop can help you sift through the options and dodge disappointment. Buyers who place a high value on peace of mind way consider spending extra for a known brand, which can help you feel more confident about your investment.
How to Care for Your Induction Cooktop
An induction cooktop represents a serious investment for many shoppers, so you’ll want to know how to make it last. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your induction cooktop.
- Read the manual: Induction cooktops aren’t as familiar to most users as electric and gas, so be sure to read the manual. This will often include care tips and troubleshooting advice specific to your model.
- Cleaning: Cleaning an induction cooktop is easy, as its surface temperature prevents the burned-on messes of other cooktops and there are no complex surfaces to work around as on a gas cooktop. Clean spills up quickly before they can dry to take full advantage of this, though beware any lingering heat from contact with the pan. Unlike an electric cooktop, however, the burners should be cool to the touch in most cases. Always be sure to turn the cooktop off, however, to avoid the risk of unintended heating of ferrous metals. Avoid using abrasives to clean as it’s usually unnecessary and may damage the cooktop’s surface. Glass cleaners or white vinegar can be used to remove more stubborn stains.
- Preventive measures: To avoid extra cleaning and to keep spillages away from components like controls and displays, be sure to take care while cooking. Monitor temperatures and leave room in your pan when boiling liquids, and use lids where appropriate.
- Troubleshooting: In the rare event that you have a problem with your cooktop, be sure to contact your manufacturer quickly. Your cooktop will usually have a warranty you can use to get a repair or replacement unit.
Looking for more kitchen guides? Be sure to check out our other pages.