As concerns about gas cooktops grow, induction cooking becomes more and more popular. There's no better way to try out induction than with a good portable induction cooktop. They are also an excellent tool in their own right, providing a convenient portable cooking surface, lightning fast heat, an extra burner, and more.
But portable induction cooktops can be confusing to buy. How do you choose from among the hundreds of models on the market? How do you know what to look for? Or how much you need to spend to get the features you want--and what ARE those features?
We've spent hundreds of hours researching and testing portable induction burners, so we can answer these questions. Here we share the best models and teach you about important features and what to look for so you can pick the best portable induction cooker, whatever your budget.
The Best Portable Induction Cooktops at a Glance
Here are our favorite portable induction cookers (PICs) in what we thought were the most helpful categories. See more detailed reviews below.
100 power settings (50-1800W)
Best Commercial Grade under $500:
20 power/20 temp settings
Best Affordable Model:
20 power/20 temp settings
Boil/Keep Warm shortcut keys
Best Under $100:
15 power/15 temp settings
Sensor touch panel
Who Needs a Portable Induction Cooktop?
Just about anyone who cooks regularly can benefit from having an extra burner. Here are some reasons why a portable induction cooktop is a great thing to have in your kitchen:
- For entertaining (an extra burner for big cooking jobs, as an omelet station for brunches, etc.)
- For cooking outdoors when it's too hot to cook indoors...
- ...Or, for cooking indoors when you don't want to heat up your kitchen
- When you want easy cleanup
- To take the place of your gas stove, which seems to have some health issues associated with it
- For cooking in your cabin, RV, boat, or tiny home
- For emergencies (your stove breaks)
- For beer brewing and home canning
- For camping (if you're not the totally rustic type)
- An extra burner for outdoor grilling and barbecues
- To experience induction without committing to a full-sized cooktop
- To give your college student for cooking in her dorm room
- For a downsized cooktop if you move to a smaller space.
The great thing is, you can have the convenience of an extra burner for as much as you're willing to pay for it: you can spend less than $50 or more than $500. As long as you know what you want and what you're getting for your money, this price range offers excellent choices!
Note: The more you spend, the closer the portable induction cooker will mimic a full-sized induction range.
The great thing about the portable induction cooktop market is that you can spend as much or as little as you want to. As long as you've done your homework and understand what you're paying for, you'll be happy with your purchase.
How Do Portable Induction Cooktops Work?
It's a little more complex than this, but for simplicity, we've boiled induction down to two main concepts: magnetism and pulsing.
These are the basic aspects to understand about induction technology. They're also the aspects that are going to most affect your purchasing decision.
Induction works by magnetism rather than heat transfer. Current is passed through an electromagnet (the burner), and when you place a magnetic pot on the burner, it completes a circuit, which creates heat.
There's more to it, but it's all you really need to know because having induction-compatible cookware (i.e., magnetic) is a crucial part of the induction equation. We talk more about induction compatible cookware in the next section.
Here's a short video from Vollrath (who makes one of our favorite induction cooktops) that explains induction cooking technology in a little more detail:
Pulsing is how induction cookers control heat: they pulse power on and off to reach and maintain the set point.
This is important because it sets higher-end induction burners apart from inexpensive induction burners. That is, when you pay more for an induction burner, you are paying for more sophisticated heat control.
In inexpensive portable induction cookers, the pulsing is crude and poorly controlled, which accounts for the scorching that can happen with induction cooking and the inability to hold a nice simmer. (Read reviews on Amazon to learn more about scorching.)
In more expensive induction cookers, the pulsing has better controls, with the ability to speed up and slow down and use different wattages to reach and maintain the set point. This results in smoother temperature transitions and better ability to hold constant temperature, particularly low temperatures (which most inexpensive induction burners do poorly). The result is less scorching and gentle, constant simmers.
You don't have to pay a fortune to get decent pulsing: Duxtop makes several models with good pulsing options for the price. They're not as good as Vollrath and other commercial brands, but they're better than every other induction cooker in the Duxtop price range that we tested.
How an induction cooktop pulses power is the primary difference between a mediocre one and a great one.
What Is Induction Compatible Cookware?
As we said aboive, you need induction-compatible cookware to use an induction cooktop.
Induction compatible cookware has to be magnetic.
Aluminum and copper cookware won't work unless it has an induction base welded to the bottom.
If you have old clad stainless (made prior to the mid-1990s or so), it may or may not work--testing the pot bottom with a magnet is the best way to know.
Cast iron and carbon steel cookware is always induction compatible.
As induction cooking grows in popularity, more and more cookware is induction compatible. But if you're buying nonstick or copper cookware, it's important to make sure it has a layer of magnetic steel to make it induction compatible, like this All-Clad HA1 nonstick cookware:
For more info, check out our Guide to the Best Induction Cookware.
Are Portable Induction Cooktops Safe?
Induction cooking is extremely safe. Because the pan gets hot but the burner doesn't (except for residual heat from the pan bottom), induction is much safer than gas and electric cooking. It also has built-in safety features such as not coming on unless it detects a compatible pot, and shutting off automatically when the pot is removed from the burner (ideally after a short delay in case you removed the pot intentionally).
These are often touted as safety features, but they're really just by-products of how induction heating works.
There are two other issues to consider, though.
If you or someone in your household has a pacemaker, consult with your cardiologist before buying a portable induction burner. Some (not most, but some) pacemakers are affected by the magnetism in induction cooktops.
This isn't because induction is inherently dangerous; it's just that some pacemakers are affected by magnetism, and induction burners are basically magnets.
It is unlikely to be a problem, as the pacemaker would have to be in very close proximity to an operating induction burner for a good length of time (probably several minutes) for a malfunction to occur.
However, it's always better to be sure than to be sorry--so ask your doctor before purchasing an induction cooker if this is a concern.
EMFs (Electromagnetic Fields)
There are a lot of anti-induction people out there who are afraid of the electromagnetic fields given off by induction cooktops. We have done a lot of research on this and the evidence overwhelmingly says that induction cooking is safe.
Even one frequently-cited study about the dangers of induction claims (in the conclusion) that no real dangers were found. (Sorry, the study link is no longer available.)
For more info, please see Is Induction Cooking Safe? We discuss this study and much more about EMFs in general and induction cooktops in particular.
And if you are worried about stray magnetic fields, there is an easy way to minimize them to almost zero: just be careful about centering the pot in the middle of the burner. This eliminates about 95% of the stray magnetic fields given off by induction burners.
Proper pot placement--centered on the induction burner--reduces stray magnetic fields by 95% and results in faster, more efficient heating.
Are Portable Induction Cooktops Energy Efficient?
Induction cooking is the most efficient type of cooking. Both gas and conventional electric cooktops have a high rate of wasted energy--energy that is lost to the ambient air.
With induction, because the pan itself is what heats up, there is very little loss of heat to the environment. About 90% of it stays with the pot and the food you're cooking.
Induction Cooktop Pros and Cons
- Fast response time
- Great low temp control (not on inexpensive models)
- Energy efficient
- Safer than gas and electric
- Easy to clean (no burnt-on food, and you can use paper towels under a pot to catch splatters!)
- Require induction-compatible cookware (must have magnetic bottom)
- Glass cooktop can scratch easily, esp. if using heavy cookware like cast iron
- Cheaper portable induction cookers can scorch food and don't hold simmer temps very well
- Cheaper portable induction cookers can be noisy--they have noisy fans and sometimes "whine" or "squeal" with certain cookware.
For a more detailed discussion, see Induction Cooktop Pros and Cons. You might also want to read Is Induction Cooking Better than Gas? (And If So, Why?)
Important Features of a Portable Induction Cooktop
We divided portable induction cooktop features into three categories: standard features, safety features, and special features:
- Standard features: "Features" that all portable induction cookers have;
- Safety features: Features that make a portable induction cooker safe; most are standard on all PICs;
- Important features: Features found only on higher quality induction burners that set it apart from the more mediocre ones.
The important features (see below) are the ones to educate yourself about and pay attention to when selecting a PIC.
All portable induction cooktops have:
- Auto pan detection and shutoff (although a delayed shutoff is a great feature)
- Burners that won't switch on if no pan is detected
- Power (wattage) and temperature setting options (but how many they have is important--see below).
All induction cooktops have these "features." For example, all induction burners shut off automatically when a pan is removed because removing a pot breaks the magnetic circuit. Thus, it's not really a feature, it's just how induction burners work. (However, some cookers have a delay before shutting off, which is an excellent trait--imagine having to switch a burner back on every time you move a pan).
Also, no induction burner will power on if it doesn't detect a pan. If you turn on an induction burner without a pan placed on it, you will just see an error message in the display. This, once again, is just the natural outcome of how induction works: it needs a pot to complete the magnetic circuit.
We share these so you know what's standard, because a lot of makers will list these as features when they're standard to all induction cooktops.
Induction cooktops are the safest choice you can make, so safety features shouldn't be a big selling point. But for the sake of thoroughness, here are the most common safety features found on induction cooktops (in addition to the auto shutoff and pan detection, discussed above):
Lockable controls: Some portable induction cooktops have safety features like lockable controls so settings can't be changed inadvertently. Most important for households with children.
Hot Burner caution: "HOT PAN" or something similar flashes on the display until the burner has cooled down after use.
Overheat Shutoff: Most PICs (probably all of them) also have an overheat function that switches them off automatically if they go past a certain temperature. This is to save the internal components from overheating, and is a good feature (but also a pretty standard one).
Max Run Time/Auto Shutoff: Some induction burners have an auto shutoff feature that switches them off after a certain max running time. This time can vary from 2 hours up to 99 hours; some have no max run time at all and will run until you switch them off.
In general, less expensive models tend to have shorter max run times--probably to save wear and tear on the internal components.
We talk more about max run time below in Important Features.
TIP: Inexpensive portable induction cooktops tend to have shorter max run times; some as short as 2 hours. This is probably to protect their components from wear and tear. More expensive cooktops, especially if they're commercial models, will run longer, with many having no max run time at all. If this feature is important to you, be sure to check the specs before buying.
Important Features (What Makes a Portable Induction Cooker Great)
Important features include:
- Number of power levels and power progression
- Number of temperature levels and temperature range
- Coil size (e.g., burner diameter)
- Control panel
- Delayed shutoff
- Fan type
- Maximum run time/timer.
Number of Power Levels and Power Progression
The more power levels a cooktop has, the more control you have over the cooking process.
Power levels: Most inexpensive induction cooktops have between 5 and 10 power settings, from a low of 200 or 300W up to the max wattage, usually 1800W. So if there are 5 settings, the jumps will go 300W, 600W, 900W, 1200W, 1800W. If there are 10 settings, then there will be more granularity, and thus better control over the setting.
Thus, the more power levels there are, the better control you'll have over the setting. How many levels are good? Well, of the two Duxtop models we recommend here, the 9100MC has 15 levels, and the 9600LS has 20 levels. These are both higher than most other portable induction cookers in this price range.
And the Vollrath Mirage Pro has--wait for it--100 power levels. This dwarfs any other portable induction cooker on the market, at any price point, except for the Breville Control Freak, which has 397 power levels.
The more power levels, the better the control.
Power progression: Power levels are not all created equally. The best induction cookers do not have a linear progression of wattage (100W, 200W, 300W, etc.). Instead, they offer smaller jumps at low wattage, where more control is needed, and have bigger jumps at higher wattage, where control is less important.
For example, many induction cooktops have a low wattage level of 200W. This is pretty high wattage, so they're going to have a hard time maintaining a constant low temperature. They will pulse on/off frequently to try and hold the low temp, but because of the high wattage, food will follow the boil-off-boil-off pattern, or scorch because of the high wattage pulses.
The Duxtop 9600LS is an inexpensive induction cooktop that has really good low temperature control. It has a low wattage of 100W, with small jumps from 100W to 660W and bigger jumps at higher power levels. As far as we know, this is the best control you can get at the $100ish price point. This means good simmering and little or no scorching of your food.
Most portable induction cooktops in this price range do not have such a low wattage level, and also do not non-linear progression; this means scorching and the inability to hold a simmer well.
More expensive induction cookers use even lower low wattage levels, meaning a wider range of power options. For example, the Vollrath Mirage Pro has a low wattage level of just 50W. This is unsurpassed by any other induction cooker as far as we know, and results in excellent temperature control and the ability to simmer at ultra low temperatures--even better than a gas range.
Some induction cooktop makers overstate the number of power options their units have. They might count all the preset function keys and programmable features to arrive at a large number. But the only thing that matters is the number of power levels, and how big the jumps between the levels are.
For example, a "Simmer" shortcut key is the same as putting the cooker on its lowest power setting, so it doesn't count as an additional power setting.
The same goes for temperature levels...
Number of Temperature Levels and Temperature Range
Temperature levels go hand in hand with power levels: the more levels, the more control you have over the cooking process.
So, if an induction cookware has 6 temperature settings between 140F and 450F (a standard temp range), this means it will jump from 140F to about 200F to about 260F to about 320F to about 380F to 450F. You're stuck with these temperature settings, which means, for example, that you can't set something to boiling temperature (212F).
As with power settings, this is particularly important at low temps, which are harder for induction cooktops to maintain at a steady rate because of the wattage pulsing they use to control temperature.
Temperature isn't quite as important as power. Not because it doesn't matter (it does), but because it's harder to control due to the temperature sensor being below the glass burner, which creates lag-time in temperature reading. This is true even in expensive portable induction cooktops (except the Control Freak, which has the temperature sensor right on the cooktop surface).
Temperature settings are notoriously bad on induction burners for this reason, so people tend to use the power setting most of the time.
However, the lag time is particularly bad in cheaper units because the controls aren't sophisticated. You'll get a lot of boiling and scorching before the induction cooker settles into a steady temperature--and even then, it will have a hard time keeping a steady, constant low temperature.
The models we recommend here have enough temperature levels to provide good control--but you will probably be using the power setting more often, so it's not quite as important as having several power levels.
COOKING TIP: Even if you want to set the induction cooktop to a specific temperature, use the Power setting first, then switch to Temperature after it's warmed up. This will help prevent wild fluctuations and scorching (due to the buried temp sensor).
WHAT TO LOOK FOR (POWER AND TEMPERATURE):
POWER: Induction cooktops can have 6, 8, 10, 15, 20, or 100 power levels. Fewer levels means bigger jumps between settings and thus less control over the cooking process. If you want to use your induction cooktop for more than just boiling water, look for at least 20 power settings. You also want the widest wattage range you can find (e.g., 100-1800W is better than 200-1800W), which means better simmering and low temp control in general.
TEMPERATURE: The standard temperature range for most consumer grade portable is 140-450F. You can find them with a wider temp range though (including some reviewed here), and even if you don't need anything lower than 140F, a wider temp range indicates better temperature control in general--so less of the On/Off, On/Off pulsing that causes that annoying cycle of scorching and no cooking at all.
Weight is an indication of how well-built an induction cooktop is.
It indicates sturdy internal components and a good quality housing (preferably steel, but sturdy plastic is alright, too).
If you're unsure about a portable cooktop and what its specs are telling you, look at the weight. This is a good indiction of a well-built unit.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Cheap induction burners almost universally weigh in the range of 5-8 lbs. The cheapest PICs will be at the bottom of this range (5-6 lbs). Many mid-range induction cooktops ($100 - $200 or so), with stainless housings but lacking durable internal components, will be at the top of this range (8 lbs or so). "Commercial" grade induction cooktops and those with stainless steel housings and durable components will clock in at over 10 lbs--some close to 20 lbs.
If the specs aren't making sense to you, look at the weight. This is a good indication of the build quality and durability.
Coil Size (Actual Burner Diameter)
Contrary to what the marketing literature might lead you to believe, the coil (that is, the actual burner size) is not the same as the cooktop dimensions.
Coil sizes are approximately 4-6 inches in diameter. But the coil size doesn't matter as much as people might think.
Small coil size often gets blamed for scorching food (in Amazon reviews in particular), but scorching has more to do with how induction cookers work (that is, pulsing--see the discussions above).
The coil size range is surprisingly small, although a more expensive unit is likely to have a larger coil. Duxtop coils are around 4 inches, while Vollrath coils are around 6 inches.
While a bigger coil is nice, it doesn't affect performance all that much, believe it or not. Think of the circle of flame on a gas stove--it's probably 4-5 inches in diameter, but you think nothing of using it to heat 10-inch or even 12-inch pans. This is because the pan itself distributes heat evenly, with some hot spots right where the flame is, which you accommodate for by stirring and moving food without even thinking about it.
So don't worry too much about coil size. Do, however, have good clad stainless cookware to use with your induction cooker. Its ability to spread heat evenly makes a huge difference!
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Unless you're going to be using large pans ALL the time, don't worry too much about coil size. If you have good clad stainless cookware to use with your induction cooktop, even heat distribution shouldn't be a huge issue. (And remember, as discussed above, scorching is more a factor of how an induction cooktop pulses power, and less about coil size.)
You'll be fine with cast iron and carbon steel, too, but be sure to let it preheat for several minutes.
Portable induction cooktop control panels can be all digital or a combination of digital and manual. What you prefer is largely a personal choice.
Our opinion that the easiest controls to use are dials. This may not be important to you, but more expensive portable induction cooktops tend to have manual knobs, while cheap ones tend to be all digital, requiring several button clicks to set. (E.g., you have to scroll through a menu to get to a desired setting.)
Also, a lot of control panels offer several extra keys. Some of these make operation easier, like the "Simmer" and "Sear" keys that allow you to bypass Up/Down key presses to select a specific power level.
Some control panels are overly complicated. They may have programmable functions that allow the cooker to "remember" your most used settings. On some, you can set time/temp to turn the PIC on and off, run it at a certain setting, and plug in your favorite "recipes" so you can recall them with just a couple of button clicks.
Some of these are nice extras, but in general, the best controls are the simplest ones.
From what we've seen in our research, cheaper units often have more complicated controls, while more expensive units often have little more than a Power/Temp button and a dial to easily change the setting.
Anyway, here are the NuWave Titanium control panel (top) and the Vollrath Mirage Pro control panel (bottom):
Which looks easier to use?
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: While you should go with your own preference, look for a simple interface, preferably with a manual dial because it's the fastest way to change settings.
As we mentioned above, all portable induction cooktops stop working when a pan is removed from the burner. This is because induction technology requires the pan to complete the magnetic circuit.
However, some portables (and most full-sized induction cooktops) have a delay feature that keeps the burner operating for up to 60 seconds before it switches off. This is great if you need to remove a pan for any reason, or if you like to do the "chef toss" to move food around.
Duxtop is one of the few lower cost brands that has a 60-second shut off delay, while the more expensive and commercial grade brands all have it (e.g., Vollrath).
All the portable induction cooktops we review here have a delayed shutoff feature.
There's not a lot you can do about fan type. If you buy a cheap portable induction cooktop, it's going to have a cheap fan. This fan will most likely be a sleeve-bearing fan, which is noisy and not as durable as the ball-bearing fans found in more expensive units.
Just know that a durable fan is one of the things you get when you buy a more expensive portable induction cooker--and one of the first corners cut on cheaper ones.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Price. Low price = cheap fans. High price = durable (and quieter) fans. You just have to know this going in.
What makes one fan better than another? Here's a 5 minute video that explains the different fan types. It's about computer fans, but the same basic designs are used in induction burners. At the end, it has some valuable information about getting the most life out of your fan (regardless of type):
(Video courtesy of Techquickie)
Maximum Run Time/Timer
We talked about max run time/auto shutoff above in the Safety Features section. However, it is also an important feature that can affect how you use the cooktop.
Max run times can vary from 2 hours up to unlimited, so if you want to use your cooker for long cooks like making bone broth or stock, be sure you know what the max run time is: nothing is more frustrating than a unit that shuts itself off after just a couple of hours--especially if you didn't know it did this when you bought it.
In general, inexpensive induction cookers tend to have shorter max run times, probably to protect the internal components.
Timer: Along with max run time, consider the timer: Most induction cookers have a timer, but some units switch off when the time elapses, and some beep and keep going.
We think a timer that switches the cooker off is more useful, but the most important thing is that you know how the timer functions on your induction burner.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: If a long run time is important to you, make sure you know the max run time before you buy. (We give the run times for all the models reviewed here.)
Also make sure you know how the timer works: does it shut the unit off, or will it keep running?
Important Portable Induction Cooktop Features Summary Table
Here's a summary table of important features that you should think about before you buy. It always depends on what you're looking for: if you just want to boil water as fast as possible, any induction burner can do that. But if you want one for simmering stocks and other low-and-slow tasks, you need to buy one with fairly sophisticated controls, a high quality cooking fan, and enough heft to indicate a durable build quality.
Important Portable Induction Cooktop Features
What to Look For
Number of Power Levels (Wattage)/Power Progression
As many power levels as you can afford: The more power levels, the more granular the control. Better cooktops have non-linear progression, with smaller jumps at the low end, where more control is needed.
Number of Temperature Levels
The more temperature levels, the more granular the control (though you will probably use the power levels most of the time).
A heavier unit indicates better quality, sometimes the only way you can tell. 10 lb+ is a good weight.
Coil Size (Burner Diameter)
Burners can range from 4-6 inches, but good cookware can compensate for a small coil.
Dials are easier to use than menu keys, but usually cost more. Some panels have shortcut keys, some don't. Look for a control panel that you find easy to use.
A great feature that allows you to remove a pan for several seconds without having to turn the unit back on. Only a few inexpensive PICs have this feature (including the Duxtops we review here).
Cheap fans are louder and don't last as long. Most cheap cookers have cheap fans, while most expensive ones have quieter, more durable ball bearing fans.
Max Run Time/Timer
If you want a PIC for long simmering projects, get one with at least a 10 hour run time (and unlimited is better).
A timer should turn the cooktop off when done (not all do). Be sure your model has the kind of timer you want.
How Much Should I Spend on a Portable Induction Cooktop?
How much you want to spend on a portable induction cooktop is a personal choice. As long as you know what you're getting for what you pay, you can be happy at any price point.
Here, we give our picks at several price ranges, plus a few honorable mentions.
Where's the Best Place to Buy a Portable Induction Cooker?
You can find portable induction cookers on several Internet sites. Amazon has the largest selection (which may be more frustrating than it is helpful, at least until you know what you're looking for), the fastest shipping, and a good return policy--even if you don't have Amazon Prime.
So, we like Amazon for buying portable induction cooktops. It's not great for full-sized induction ranges or cooktops (appliance dealers are best for those), but for portables, you'll find the best deals, best shipping, and best return policies on Amazon.
However, if you're looking for a commercial grade induction cooktop (like the Vollrath Mirage Pro), you may have better luck if you check restaurant supply sites. They have more options and the prices might be better.
For more on commercial grade induction cooktops, see our article The Best Single Burner Commercial Induction Cooktops.
Best Portable Induction Cooktop Overall ($300 - $600 Range): Vollrath Mirage Pro 59500P
The Vollrath Mirage Pro 59500P (see it at Webstaurantstore.com) is a commercial induction cooker, so it's a well-built, heavy duty product with a ton of great features. It the best all-around model on the market today.
It has a temperature range of 80F - 400F (but goes up to about 550F) and a wattage range of 50W-1800W. It also has an unmatched 100 power settings--more even than some portable induction cookers that cost hundreds more!
If you're looking for a portable induction cooktop with a large coil, this is the one to get: the Mirage Pro has an impressive 6-inch burner, one of the largest on the market.
It has a temperature/power control system that Vollrath calls "G4." It's one of the most sophisticated temperature control systems seen in portable induction burners and is able to hold constant temperatures, as low as 80F, very well. You have to spend at least twice as much to find another portable induction cooktop that can do this.
In our testing, the Mirage Pro was able to hold a steady temperature within about +/-10F. That's not good enough for sous vide, but compared to the other PICs we tested for this review, it's incredibly impressive.
You probably don't need 100 power settings. But the Mirage Pro's ability to hold constant temperatures and go down to 80F are fantastic features. For example, this means you can set a temperature and walk away without worrying about scorching or shutting off. It means you can simmer for hours at a time. And it means you set a temp, set the timer, and walk away without worrying about burning or undercooking.
The Mirage Pro is made in China to American specs and design. It's an excellent portable induction cooktop--tough to beat at any price point.
The one drawback of the Mirage Pro is kind of a big one: it's a commercial unit, so Vollrath's warranty won't be honored for home use. Even so, we highly recommend this induction burner. You won't find another one as good for anywhere near this price. If you want it, try to get a warranty through the seller (such as Amazon) or your credit card. But even if you can't get one, the risk is worth it. We've had this model in our test kitchen for about 5 years now, without a moment of trouble. This is a super durable unit and should last for many years.
Read our detailed Mirage Pro review if you want more details.
- 100 power settings (from 50W to 1800W)
- Temp range of 80F - 400F (but gets up to 550F)
- 8-inch coil diameter (w/4.5-inch heating core)
- Easy to use control panel
- Auto shutoff timer
- Fahrenheit/Celsius display option
- Stainless steel housing
- Quiet ball bearing fan
- Unlimited run time
- Manual dial (no menus to scroll through).
- Warranty probably won't be honored if purchased for home use.
Buy the Vollrath Mirage Pro 59500P:
Best Portable Induction Cooktop in the $100 - $300 Range: Vollrath Mirage Cadet 59300
The Vollrath Mirage Cadet 59300 portable induction cooktop (see it on Amazon) is the Mirage Pro's little sister. It isn't quite as capable, having G1 internal components rather than the G4 of the Mirage Pro, but it isn't as expensive, either. It's a commercial unit designed for use in the food service industry, so it's a durable, heavy duty induction burner and it will hold a temperature down to 100F (although with a bit less precision than the Mirage Pro).
If you're looking for a portable induction cooktop with a large coil, this one has the same 6-inch coil as the Mirage Pro: again, one of the largest coils on the market.
With the Cadet, you're getting durable build quality and top notch performance, but it lacks the settings and accuracy of the Mirage Pro 59500P.
Still, with the ability to set temperature in 10 degree increments, you're actually getting better performance than you'll get on most full-sized induction cooktops and ranges, so the Mirage Cadet offers plenty of power and precision.
- 20 power settings from 100W - 1800W
- Temperature range from 100F - 400F (10-degree increments)
- 6-inch coil diameter
- Stainless housing
- Quiet ball bearing fan
- Unlimited run time
- 1 year warranty.
- All digital control panel (a con if you prefer manual controls, as we do)
- Warranty may not be honored if purchased for home use (get the extended warranty from Amazon if you can).
Buy the Vollrath Mirage Cadet 59300:
Best Portable Induction Cooktop Under $150: Duxtop 9100LS
The Duxtop 9600LS portable induction cooktop (see it on Amazon) is Duxtop's newest and most sophisticated offering yet. For the price, it has excellent power, temperature control, and a fairly durable build quality. In fact, it outclasses all other induction cooktops at this price range.
Like more expensive cookers, the 9600LS has finer control at the low end where it's needed. This means less scorching and better simmering capability.
Here's how the power levels work (from the 9600LS User Manual):
This chart shows that it has finer control at lower power levels, which enables it to keep a better simmer (or lower) temp than other induction burners at this price point.
The internal coil is about 6 inches in diameter, with about a 4-inch heating circle. This is standard for inexpensive induction cooktops and means that it will efficiently heat pans with a bottom diameter of up to 10 inches.
- 60 second-delayed shutoff when pan is removed--very nice feature not available on most models in this price range (except other Duxtop induction cooktops)
- 20 temp settings from 100-460F
- 20 power settings from 100-1800W
- 10 hour timer settable in 1-minute increments (will run for 10 consecutive hours!)
- One-touch Boil and Keep Warm shortcut buttons
- 1 year warranty
- Absolutely the best portable induction cooktop at this price point.
- Plastic housing and noisy fan (like all models at this price point)
- At about 7 pounds, not the most durable build quality.
Buy the Duxtop 9600LS:
Best Portable Induction Cooktop Under $100: Duxtop 9100MC
See the Duxtop 9100MC on Amazon
The 9100MC has 15 power settings and 15 temperature settings. This is rarely seen on any portable induction burner less than $100.
The 9100MC also pulses heat better than most induction burners at this price point. Instead of the all-on/all-off pulsing of most other induction burners, the 9100MC has smart features that allow it to pulse at less than 1800 watts. This means more precise temperature control, especially at low temperatures.
The 9100MC Duxtop induction cooktop has a plastic control panel with push-button operation. The panel is angled down from the cooking surface, which makes it safer and easier to use--less possibility of a hot pan bottom melting the control panel, and easy to operate even when in use.
The Duxtop 9100MC has standard Duxtop features such as pan sensor, error codes, 170-minute timer, and the hugely useful 60-second shut-off delay when you remove a pan.
The 9100MC has more capability than just boiling water quickly, but it won't provide the more precise control of the 9600LS above.
If you can afford the 9600LS, go with that one. If your budget is super tight, go with the 9100MC.
Check out our Duxtop Review for a more detailed review of all the Duxtop models.
- 20 power/temp settings (more than most at this price point)
- Angle control panel for safety and ease of use.
- Smaller temperature and power range than the 9600LS
- Only 170 minute max run time and timer
- Plastic housing and noisy fan (like all models at this price point)
- At 6 pounds, not super durable.
Buy the Duxtop 9100mc:
Two Other Good Portable Induction Cooktop PICks
Here are a few other portable induction cooktops to consider. We haven't tested these brands, but from our research we think they're good options.
The CookTek MC3500 commercial induction burner (about $2400 on KaTom Restaurant Supply or $2500 at ckitchen.com) has some excellent qualities that may entice you to pay the extra $$$$. It's made for commercial use, is super durable, and has extremely accurate controls. Temp range 80F - 500F with 20 power settings. One of its best features is that it's made in the USA.
Note that the "3500" refers to the wattage, which means that it requires a 240 volt outlet (not a standard 120 volt). If you want a Cooktek that plugs into a regular wall outlet, or one that's a little cheaper, check out the Cooktek MC1800 (about $1300).
The Iwatani IWA-1800 Table Top Induction Range (about $450 on Amazon) is another commercial unit, very durable, with excellent temperature control. The temperature settings (110F-410F) and power levels are right on the control panel, so you can see exactly what level you're on all the time, without being overly complicated. It is 1800 watts and uses a standard 120 volt power outlet.
Final Thoughts on Portable Induction Cooktops
There's a lot to know about portable induction cooktops, but we hope we've answered your questions so you can buy the right model. Despite the hundreds of models on the market, there are only a few worth considering because they have the widest temperature range, the most power settings, and the best build quality.
If money is no object, we recommend the Vollrath Mirage Pro. If you want commercial quality at a lower price, then go with the Vollrath Mirage Cadet, which has fewer settings but an equally impressive build quality.
If you want to stay on a budget, we recommend the Duxtop 9600LS, or, if you're on a really tight budget, the Duxtop 9100MC.
Thanks for reading!
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Thanks for this information. Very helpful.
I have the Vollrath Mirage Pro 59500P. Thanks for the article!
We use the Duxtop item for everyday cooking needs. We've had the cheaper brands and to be honest, we're pleased with them. We only give some thought to induction within the kitchen and have opted for a higher-quality device over the cheaper ones. This cooktop is of excellent quality. Very robust and intensely pleasant to use. I will be able to visit Duxtop again anytime. I feel that's well worth the money.
Thanks for commenting, Samantha! Agree about the Duxtop!
Thank you for a very informative article. Now I feel empowered to shop for a suitable cooktop for home use.
Thank you for a very informative article. Now I feel empowered to shop for a suitable PIC for home use.
You’re very welcome, Paul! Glad we could help.
Decided to get an induction cooktop and your article answered so many questions I had. I am curious about one thing, duxtop was my initial choice especially at the price point, reviews made me question the choice and then I started looking at nuwave which you mention but seem to not be as big a fan of. May I ask why before I make my purchase? Reviews on nuwave blew duxtop away on Amazon and seemed your important list was checked off pretty well but I must be missing something. My uses will be steam canning, general cooking and flexible on coil size.
Hi Dawn Renee, thanks for your comment. Well, it would be helpful if you asked about specific models since both Nuwave and Duxtop have so many. But I looked over the Amazon reviews and didn’t find a huge discrepancy between the brands. In general, they have a similar percentage of positive to negative reviews. Though Nuwave had a slightly higher percentage of positive reviews, they also had a higher percentage of one-star reviews than Duxtop (e.g, 14% NuWave PIC2 1-star vs. just 5% for the Duxtop 9600LS, our recommended model). Since negative reviews tend to be more honest, we think they are the ones to pay attention to; we try to not recommend any products that have more than 10% negative (1-star) reviews (so the 5% on the Duxtop 9600LS is great).
But more than that, the Duxtop has a better build quality, and it has better low-end temperature control. To see why, look at the wattage settings: NuWave promises 52 temp settings, but their wattage settings only go as low as (if I recall correctly) 300W, which is not going to provide great low temp control (it’s too much power). The Duxtop goes down to 100 watts, which offers better low temp control.
Having said that, you aren’t going to get stellar performance from any PIC in this price range. We explain why in the article (“pulsing”). And they are both going to have rather small burners (about 5″ diameter), so you’ll gave to let your cookware preheat awhile to distribute heat better, unless you’re primarily using it for boiling liquids. These are just the standard shortcomings of PICs in this price range: they’re good for blasting high heat, but not great for anything requiring precision. Good temperature control is expensive, so you’re not going to find excellence at this price–but the Duxtop 9600LS is your best bet if you don’t want to spend more.
If you’re going to be using heavy pots (as for canning), I recommend going with a “professional” option, such as the Duxtop P961LS, which has a steel body, or, if I’ve not convinced you to go with the Duxtop, then the NuWave PIC2 that can hold up to 50lbs.
Hope that answers your questions. Please let us know if there’s anything else we can help with.