May 19

The Best Portable Induction Cooktops (in Every Price Range)

By trk

Last Updated: August 12, 2021

Duxtop, induction, portable induction burners, Vollrath

After hundreds of hours of research and testing portable induction cooktops, we've picked the top 3 at different price points. Whether you want to spend $50 or $500 (or more), you can buy with confidence and know you're getting the best cooker in its class.

Best Portable Induction Cooktop Recommendations at a Glance

Here are our favorite portable induction cooktops and their most important features. You can learn more about these features also read more detailed reviews below.

NOTE: Table may not be visible in mobile view.

Features

Best Overall:

Vollrath Mirage Pro 59500P

Vollrath Mirage Pro portable induction cooktop

Best Consumer Grade: Duxtop 9600LS/9610LS

Duxtop 9600LS portable induction cooktop

Best Budget Option: Duxtop 9100MC


Duxtop 9100MC portable induction cooktop
Cell

Wattage:

1800W

1800W

1800W

# Power Settings:

100 (50W-1800W)

20 (100W-1800W) in staggered increments*

15 (200W-1800W) in  staggered increments*

Temp Settings:

32 (80-400F in 10F increments)

20 (100-460F) in staggered increments*

15 (140-460F) in staggered increments*

Run Time:

Unlimited

10 hrs

170 minutes

Delayed Shutoff:

Yes; 60 seconds

Yes; 60 seconds

Yes; 60 seconds

Control Panel:

Digital readout with plastic push button panel and dial adjust.

Digital readout with sensor touch buttons (under glass).

Digital readout with plastic push-button panel.

Coil Size:

8 in. (works w/pans 4-12" bottom diam.)

About 6 in. (works w/pans ~6-12" bottom diam.)

About 6 in. (works w/pans ~6-12" bottom diam.)

Timer (w/Auto Shutoff):

Yes/Yes (up to 3 hr in 1-min. increments)

Yes/Yes (up to 10 hr in 1-min. increments)

Yes/Yes (up to 3 hr in 1-min. increments)

Fan Type:

Ball bearing

Sleeve bearing

Sleeve bearing

Housing:

Stainless/aluminum

Plastic

Plastic

Size/Weight:

14x15x3 in./13.7 lbs

14x11.2x2.5/6 lbs

16.4x13x3.8 in./6 lbs

*Staggered increments mean better low temp control. Read more about power and temperature increments below.

About Portable Induction Cooktops (PICs)

Induction cooktops have been around since at least the 1970s. While full-sized cooktops have been slow to catch on in the US, with only about 8% of households having induction stoves--portable induction has had huge success.

Portable induction cooktops ("PICs") are small, countertop devices used to heat food. They come in a wide range of prices, from $50-$2000 dollars. On the low end, you'll get a mostly plastic housing that will heat induction-compatible cookware incredibly fast, but not work so well at simmering (we explain why below). At the high end, you'll get stainless steel housings and more sophisticated temperature controls that work as well as or better than a full-sized cooktop.

All induction cooktops require induction-compatible cookware. That is, cookware must be magnetic, at least on the bottom, to work with induction. 

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Portable Induction Cooktops Pros and Cons

This is a basic pros/cons list. For more detailed information, see our article Induction Cooktop Pros and Cons.

Pros
  • Super fast heating
  • Very fast temperature changes
  • Very safe (only the pan gets hot)
  • Energy efficient
  • A cooler kitchen
  • Easy to clean.
Cons
  • Temp control isn't very good on low-end models (less than about $300)
  • Must use induction compatible (magnetic) cookware
  • Can be noisy, especially inexpensive ones (though that can be the cookware you use too).

How Do Portable Induction Cooktops Work?

An induction cooker is basically an electromagnet. When you place a magnetic object on it, a current is created. The ferric metal in the cookware resists the current and becomes hot--very hot, very fast.

This is why you need induction compatible cookware: if it isn't magnetic, it can't complete the circuit, and it won't work on an induction cooktop.

There’s more to it than that, but the magnetism is the important thing to know.

Here's a short video from Vollrath that explains induction cooking:

All induction cookers get very hot, very fast--this is the easy part! A more important consideration is: how precise is the heating on a portable induction burner?

Precision can vary widely, especially at low temperatures--and this is the main difference between cheap units and expensive units. 

Note: See also this Wikipedia article on induction cooking for more information.

Pulsing: All or Nothing

In induction cooking, heat is controlled by pulsing power. The induction cooker sends power to the burner until it reaches the setting, then it will pulse power on and off, on and off continually to maintain the setting.

In most lower end units, the pulsing is not very well controlled. Many inexpensive PICs can only pulse at full power in an on-off, on-off cycle. Thus, they can greatly overshoot, then undershoot, a temperature many times before achieving equilibrium. In fact, they may not achieve equilibrium at all, but rather keep overshooting and undershooting the set point without ever actually hitting it.

This is why many reviewers complain of pans overheating (and even warping), food burning, and difficulty achieving a slow simmer; these are all characteristics of this full blast-or-off pulsing.

In fact, the on-off pulsing in some portable induction burners can make simmering almost impossible; a liquid is either boiling hard or just sitting there doing nothing. This problem is compounded by the fact that inexpensive units (typically, those under $300 or so) have fewer settings than their more pricey counterparts to begin with, usually 10 or less, which means big jumps between power or temperature levels, thus less overall control. 

The problem is made worse in two ways: first, because of how induction works: the pan gets hot, but the burner, not so much. So the pan can get much hotter than the actual tempersture setting.

Second, the temperature sensor is underneath the glass surface of the burner, so there's a delay between the heat transfer and when the induction cooker registers it. This happens even in expensive units, although to a lesser degree because of the more sophisticated heating controls.

Pulsing: Gentle and Gradual

Higher end PICS also pulse, but they have more precise controls. Instead of running full blast until reaching setpoint and then shutting off, they’ll gradually reduce power as they approach it, then pulse more gently to maintain the setting. Thus, the swings in temperature are smaller, the unit takes less time to achieve equilibrium, and it is able to keep equilibrium in a more constant way, without blasts of heat that induce scorching.

A portable induction cooktop with the capability to pulse small amounts of wattage works better at low and medium settings, which require more precise control.

The better the heat control, the more expensive the burner. Achieving precise temperatures and holding them requires better equipment. This is why higher end units tend to be heavier as well as more expensive; they’re not just sturdier, they have more expensive controls that read and adjust heat in a more sophisticated way.

The upshot: If all you want is an extra burner to boil water or just heat hot and fast, any inepensive PIC will work. But if you want a burner that can simmer and generally hold low temperatures without turning off and on constantly, you're going to have to get one with better (i.e., more expensive) heating controls.

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Are Portable Induction Cooktops Expensive to Operate?

Actually, no, PICs are economical to operate.

Induction is the most efficient type of heating. It has the least amount of wasted heat compared to gas and electric, both of which give off a lot of ambient heat to the atmosphere. Since induction works only in the pot it's being used on, there's very little waste.

On the other hand, portable induction cooktops require at least 1300 Watts of power, which is a lot compared to other small kitchen appliances. All of our recommended PICs use 1800 Watts, which is the maximum wattage you can get out of one standard household outlet. (Use a dedicated outlet for your induction cooker, or you may end up blowing fuses in your kitchen.)

All in all, portable induction cooktops are not expensive to use. If you're using one instead of a full-sized range, you will save both power and money.

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Are Induction Cooktops Safe?

Cool induction

Only the pan gets hot.

Because only the cookware gets hot and there is no open flame or hot burner, induction is one of the safest ways to cook. Many induction cooktops also have safety lock features so settings can't be inadvertently changed. 

However, there are two issues you should know about before you buy: pacemakers and electromagnetic waves.

Pacemakers

If you or someone in your household has a pacemaker, you should consult with your cardiologist before buying a portable induction burner. Some pacemakers are affected by the magnetism in induction cooktops. 

This isn't because induction is dangerous or unsafe. It's because some pacemakers are affected by magnetism, and induction burners are basically magnets.

Problems are rare, however. And a pacemaker has to be in close proximity to an operating burner--less than a few inches away--for a good length of time (probably several minutes) to be affected. 

Though it is unlikely to be a problem, you should always ask your doctor before using any induction cooktop.

Electromagnetic Waves (EMFs)

A lot of people are afraid of the electromagnetic fields given off by induction cooktops (as well as other electronic devices). We have done a great deal of research, and the evidence overwhelmingly says that induction cooking is safe.

Even one frequently-cited study about induction cooking claims that no real dangers were found. (If you read the study, read it carefully, and be sure to read the conclusion, where they state that no actual dangers were found.)

For more information, see our article Is Induction Cooking Safe?

Pot Placement

One final issue with induction cooking is pot placement. If you are concerned about EMFs, you can keep stray waves to a minimum by centering pots carefully on an induction burner. Doing so will put the maximum amount of inductive energy into the cookware rather than sending it off into the surrounding atmosphere.

All induction burners have burner outlines to help you place pots correctly--use them!

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What Is Induction Compatible Cookware?

Magnetic cookware (for use with induction cooktop)

Induction cookware needs to be magnetic--and the stronger, the better.

As we already mentioned, induction cooktops work with magnetism, so your cookware has to be magnetic (also called "ferrous," which means it contains iron).

In fact, the stronger the magnetic pull, the better the cookware will work on induction.

Magnetic cookware includes:

  • cast iron
  • enameled cast iron
  • carbon steel
  • clad stainless steel.

Not all clad stainless steel cookware is magnetic; it must have an outer layer of magnetic stainless steel. This includes most brands of clad stainless made since the mid-90s; if it's older than this, it may not be magnetic.

Cookware that doesn't work with induction includes:  

  • aluminum
  • copper
  • 100% glass or stoneware cookware. 

Many aluminum cookware brands now add a steel base to their pots just for use with induction cooktops.

You should always make sure cookware is labeled "induction ready" or that it is induction compatible before buying, especially if you're buying nonstick cookware, which is usually aluminum: some have a steel disc for induction compatibility, and some don't. 

And if you want induction but don't have magnetic cookware? Think of it as an opportunity to get new stuff!

You can read more about this in our Guide to the Best Induction Cookware.

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How Much Should You Spend on a Portable Induction Cooktop?

This depends on what you want to do with the cooktop.

If you just want to heat things fast, any induction cooktop can accomplish that, and you don't need to spend a lot.

If you want more sophisticated control, with the power to do low heat cooking like simmering stock and melting chocolate, you need to spend more--probably upwards of about $500.

And if you want a PIC that can stand large, heavy pots, you'll need to buy one with a stainless steel housing, which will start around $150 (like this professional Duxtop 961LS--it has the same components and specs as the 9600LS with a stainless housing).

Another reason to spend a little more is quality: more expensive PICs are built more durably and are going to last longer. If you're planning on using your PIC frequently, especially for long jobs like making stock, you will appreciate the longer life and better components found in higher end products.

On the other hand, if you're getting a PIC for occasional use or primarily to heat water for your coffee or tea, there is no reason to spend more than $100. 

The range of options is huge, and you have to do your research and figure out what you want. 

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Why Do Some Induction Cookers Make Noises When You're Using Them?

Induction cooktops can make many noises, from barely perceptible buzzing to annoying high-pitched whining. They do this for a number of reasons:

Low humming is simply the sound of the induction cooktop in operation. Some of these noises are louder than others, some will go away as the cooktop warms up. This is standard and should not be a problem or a concern. 

Fans can also cause noise. The internal parts of an induction cooktop need to be cooled constantly when in operation, so a fan is always running during use. Some induction cooktops, especially inexpensive portables, have loud, rattly fans, while more expensive portables and full-sized cooktops tend to have quieter fans. (You can read more about this below in the Important Features section.)

Clad cookware can also make a rattling, buzzing, or high-pitched whining sound. This is caused by the layers of cookware vibrating against each other. In general, this happens more frequently with cheaply made clad cookware and less often--if at all--with good quality clad cookware. This noise is most likely to occur at high power settings. If your pans make annoying noises, the only way to stop it, unfortunately, is to use different cookware.

Cookware can also rattle and buzz if it has loose handles or an uneven bottom. For best results on induction--both noise-wise and efficiency-wise--your cookware should have flat, smooth bottoms and tightly fitting handles. 

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What's the Best Double Induction Cooktop?

True Induction double induction cooktop

There are many double induction cooktops to choose from.

Double induction cooktops are a good fit for small spaces such as RVs, boats, and tiny homes; some, like the True Induction brand, are even designed to be installed like a full-sized cooktop.

Doubles are also great as extra burners for entertaining--but they do take up twice as much space as portable single cooktops, so be sure a double is what you want before you buy.

There are several double induction cooktops on the market (True Induction even makes a triple), and they are really a different option than a single cooktop. For this reason, we aren't going to discuss them in any detail here. See our articles Double Induction Cooktop Reviews and True Induction Cooktop Reviews to learn about the issues involved and which double induction cooktops made the cut.

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Important Features of a Portable Induction Cooktop (What to Look at When Buying)

When you shop for portable induction burners, you'll see, with some frustration, that the listed specifications don't tell you everything you want to know: on paper, a unit costing $50 can have literally the same specs as a unit costing $500 or more: 1800 watts of power, a 10-in. cooking area, auto pan sensor and shutoff.

It’s no wonder that people throw their hands up and decide to buy either the most popular unit on Amazon or the one they’re familiar with from the TV infomercials.

However, there are distinguishing features among brands and there are reasons some PICs cost more than others. If you know what to look for, you can make sense of the sometimes vague information provided and purchase a model you’ll be happy with. 

So how do you know what to look for? Here are the things to consider.

Wattage

A portable induction burner can have anywhere from 1300-1800 watts of total power. Most of the new portables have 1800 watts, as do all of our recommendations in this article.

Less wattage is fine. Your induction cooktop will still get screaming hot, it will just do so at a somewhat slower rate if it has less than 1800 watts of power.

There are disadvantages to 1800 watts to consider, too. 1800 watts is the maximum amount you can get out of a standard US outlet, so if you have an old house, you may blow a fuse now and again. And you probably shouldn't plug anything else into the outlet your induction cooktop is on, also to avoid blowing a fuse. 

If this is an issue for you, you may want to find a portable cooktop with less than 1800 watts. If not, 1800 watts is going to provide the fastest heat.

Power and Temperature Settings (The More the Better)

A portable induction burner can have anywhere from 6 settings to 100 or more. The more actual settings--meaning the number of jumps between power and temp settings and not counting the presets, shortcut keys, programmable options, or anything else--the better, because it means you have more granularity and thus are better able to control the power or temperature.

Temperature settings: Say a unit has 10 temperature settings. If the unit's temp range is 140F-460F, this is equivalent to about 30 degree jumps in temperature. This isn't too bad, but depending on the PIC's actual settings, you may have trouble maintaining a simmer: 170F is too low, 200F is too high, and there are no other options..

Power settings: Same goes for power (wattage), which you will probably use more than temperature (a lot of users just set the unit to the highest setting--1800W--and leave it there for rapid heating/boiling tasks). Portable induction cooktops typically have the same number of power settings as they do temperature settings, so if the PIC has 10 power settings, you have to deal with large jumps just as with temperature. 

So you can choose, say, 340F or 380F, but you can't choose 350F. Or you can choose 200 watts, not quite enough power to make a liquid simmer, or you can choose 260 watts, which will result in a vigorous boil. (Or more likely, 200W will result in a rapid boil and there are no options for a lower setting).

If a PIC has only 6 or 8 power and temp settings, you are almost guaranteed to have problems simmering.

The main spec to understand is the gaps between settings. Some manufacturers list a hundred settings or more, but when you read the details, you see that they're including all the presets, time sets, and programmable functions to reach that number, when the truth is that these units have only 10 temp settings and 10 power settings (or less), the same as most others in the $100-or-less price range. 

Conversely, some more expensive portable induction burners actually have 100 settings or more (such as the Vollrath Mirage Pro 59500P). This kind of granularity is expensive, and you simply aren't going to find it on units at the $100-or-less price point.

10 settings each is the minumum we recommend, even if you just want the cooker for fast heating. 20 settings is better, like the Duxtop 9600S (especially with a range of 100W-1800W).

The Mirage Pro's 100 power settings--as well as its 50W-1800W range--is better than even most full-sized induction cooktops. You probably don't need that much granularity, but it pretty much guarantees the unit will hold constant power or temp levels well at any setting, which is the whole reason you'd buy a model this expensive.

Power Range

You also want to look at the range of wattage: most $100-or-less induction cookers have a range of 200W-1800W, but one that goes down to 100W (like the Duxtop 9600LS) or even 50W (like the Mirage Pro) are going to provide much better simmering and low temperature control in general.

We recommend buying a PIC with a power/wattage range of 100W-1800W and skipping those with a low end wattage higher than this.

Temperature Range

While high temperatures and lightning fast cooking are what induction cookers are best at, you should also look at a PIC's temperature range and understand what it means.

Most portable induction cooktops have a temperature range of 140F to 460F. The better ones, like the Duxtop 9600LS and other newer Duxtop models, have a range of 100F to 460F.

Most PICs, even high-end commercial models, don't go below 100F. The only one we know that does is the Vollrath Mirage Pro, which has a range of 80F-450F (and is one of the few PICs that can hold a steady temp, as well).

Having said that, remember that because of how PICs pulse power to achieve a set point, the low end control often isn't great, anyway. But a range that goes down to 100F is an indication of better simmer control (about 185-195F) than a range that goes only to 140F.

One other tidbit about temperature control is that most PICs will overshoot 460F by quite a bit: most of them can reach temps well over 500F on the highest setting.

Maximum Run Time

The maximum run time of a portable induction cooktop can vary from 2 hours up to unlimited. 

If you're going to use the cooktop for fast heating, the run time probably doesn't matter that much. If you're going to use the cooktop for making stocks or other long jobs, then you'll want to get one that has a long max run time. 

You may not need the unlimited run time you'll get with a commercial-grade cooker, but you should get one that runs for several hours; our pick is the Duxtop 9600LS, which has a 10 hour run time.

Note that our budget choice, the 9100MC, has only a 170 minute run time: that's a huge difference for only about $30 more.

In general, run time is often dictated by the build quality of the PIC: well-made PICs can run longer without harming the components than less expensive ones.

Weight

The weight of a portable induction burner might seem like an odd thing to consider, but you can use it to distinguish a well-made burner from a mediocre one. Internal components are what we’re really talking about here, but since these are rarely discussed by manufacturers, we are going to instead talk about weight, which is usually listed in the specs and is an excellent indication of an induction cooktop's quality. 

If you're in a quandary over which model to choose, weight just may be the tie breaker for you. If two units have similar specs but one is heavier than the other one by more than a few pounds, our advice is to buy the heavier one. It's likely to have a better build quality, even if it everything else is equal (such as the number of power and temp settings).

A well built portable induction burner--usually called "commercial grade" though this isn't always accurate--with a stainless steel housing is going to weigh upwards of 10 pounds. Most consumer grade models weigh between 5 and 8 pounds. 

Sometimes the difference, as with the Duxtop 9600LS (6 lbs) and the professional Duxtop P961LS (13 lbs) is only in the stainless steel housing, because otherwise they are identical. But if you're going to be making large pots of stock or soup, or your favorite pot is enameled cast iron, the sturdier housing of the P961LS is well worth the extra $50 (or so).

Control Panel (Is it Easy to Use?)

Duxtpo 9600LS portable induction cooktop

Angled control panel.

Duxtop E200A PIC

Tablet (flat) design.

Some control panels are very simple, with just a few buttons for power, mode, timer, and +/- keys for setting. 

Some, like the Mirage Pro, have a dial for setting, which is even simpler and easier to use.

Other control panels are confusing, with all sorts of programmable settings, memory keys, shortcut keys, and more.

A PIC is a simple device to use. So simple, in fact, that you may not get a lot of use out of memory keys and programmable settings, and all they do is make the device seem harder to use. But if you want those features, they're definitely available; this NuWave PIC is a good example of a control panel with several keys (which may or may not make the user experience better, depending on your point of view).

NuWave Titanium portable induction cooktop

Another consideration is how durable the control panel is. Most control panels have a tough plastic overlay; if you happen to drag a hot pan over it, you can destroy it--so you want a PIC with an angled control panel that makes this hard to do. (Some PICs, such as the Duxtop 8100MC, have a "tablet" design with the controls on the same plane as the heating element; this is a bad design if the controls are on a plastic panel.)

Sensor touch panels are durable, with all the controls under glass. They also look sleek and modern. However, these can be hard to operate with wet fingers (or wet panel). 

You may also want to consider how easy the panel is to see when standing over it or from across a room. In general, angled control panels are easiest to see and safest from hot pans.

If you really like the tablet design, we recommend getting a sensor touch model with controls impervious to heat, such as the Duxtop E200A (the same specs as the 9600LS in a tablet, sensor-touch design).

Delayed Shutoff

One of the most frustrating aspects of induction cooking can be that when you remove a pan from a burner, the cooktop automatically shuts itself off. This is a safety feature and a part of the induction design, and it's actually a really great thing. 

But what if you want to shake the pan, or take it off the heat just to add an ingredient? Do you really have to turn the cooktop back on every time you move the pan?

If your induction cooktop has the delayed shutoff feature, then you can have up to a full minute before the cooktop shuts itself off. This is usually plenty of time to shake or toss the pan and get it back on the burner without having to restart the unit.

Delayed shutoff is standard on full-sized induction cooktops and also found on the more expensive portables. It typically isn't found on inexpensive portables, although it is becoming more common (which is great).

All the models we recommend have a 60 second delayed shutoff. (We're not sure we could use or recommend induction cooking without it.)

Coil Size

The surface dimensions of the cooktop are not the burner sizeFor example, an induction burner that is a total of 12 inches wide does not have a 12-inch burner, or even a 10-inch one.

This is important to remember because specifications will often give total dimensions, but not tell you the size of the actual heating area. This might lead you to think that the heating area is larger than it actually is. 

In fact, the average portable induction burner has a heating element from 4 to 6 inches in diameter, with a total cooking surface around 9 to 12 inches. Here's what the inside of the burner looks like (from Wikipedia):

Induction burner insides

As you can see, the heating element definitely does not cover the entire cooking surface.

The cooking area on all induction burners is clearly marked because proper pan placement is important to efficient operation. This does not mean the pan must be the same size or smaller to work on the burner. Principles of heat transfer make it possible to use larger pans with good results.

On the other hand, if pans are too small (usually less than 4-inches in diameter on the bottom), they may be too small to create the magnetic circuit requrired to run the induction burner.

In fact, it is not really a drawback to have  a 6-inch heating element or to have parts of a burner hotter than the rest. All cooking technology has limitations along these lines. For example, gas burners are also only about 6 inches in diameter (if that), with the hottest parts where the flame contacts the pan. This is why you have to stir food, or learn to adjust heat for whatever surface you're cooking on.

You may read reviews of induction cooktops that attribute hot spots or scorching to "small burner size," but this is a misunderstanding of how induction burners work. When reviewers complain about hot spots and scorching, this is usually not attributable to the “small” burner size. Rather, it is a function of the quality of the heating element (remember the pulsing discussed above?), the quality of their cookware, or both.

So don't worry too much about burner size. And you can use a pan larger than the actual heating area--but be careful. While a 12-inch pan might get the job done, you'll get more even heating with a 10-inch pan on a 9-inch cooking surface.

You'll also have better results with higher-quality cookware because it distributes heat more evenly. (For more information, see our discussion on induction cookware.) 

Finally, do more expensive models have larger burners? Usually they're slightly larger, yes. But unless you routinely cook with gigantic pans, this isn’t a terribly important consideration. You will get slightly faster and slightly more even heating, but most induction burners are going to heat a 10-inch pan just fine, and even heat a 12-inch pan adequately. (Remember, pans are measured along the top diameter, so a 12-inch pan usually has only an 8-9 inch bottom diameter.)

Timer 

A timer is a nice feature, especially if the cooktop shuts itself off when the timer is done. Most PICs today have a timer, and most shut the unit off when done. 

A timer or lack of is not a deal breaker for us, as we don't see it as an essential feature--but if you do, you should definitely buy a model that has one. Every recommendation here has a timer.

You may not miss a timer if you don't have one, but it's nice to know it's there if you ever want to use it.

Fan Type 

Fan type depends on how much you spend, and there's not a lot you can do about it. But you should know before you buy that more durable, quieter fans are used in the more expensive induction cooktops, while cheaper, noisier fans are used in less expensive ones.

The better fans are called "ball-bearing" fans. The cheaper fans are called "sleeve-bearing."

We include this information mostly so you know that you actually do get better components if you spend more.

How much do you have to spend? Probably upwards of $300. The Duxtop models we recommend here are going to have sleeve-bearing fans; the Vollrath Mirage Pro has a ball-bearing fan (and runs very quietly).

Housing/Build Quality

Housings can be plastic, stainless steel, aluminum, or some combination of each, with a glass/ceramic composite cooking surface.

Lower-end models are primarily plastic. Thus they withstand less weight, their frames and control panels are more susceptible to melting if touched by a hot pan, and they tend to wear out faster. The advantages are that they are inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to store and move.

Higher end models have stainless steel or aluminum housings or a combination of steel, aluminum and plastic--such as a steel frame with a plastic control panel. They are more durable, can hold more weight, and are likely to have a longer life span (they're also likely to have better heat control, as discussed above).

If you plan to use a lot of heavy pots, such as large cast iron skillets or stockpots with large quantities of liquid, the housing is an important consideration. A plastic housing will not withstand a lot of heavy cooking vessels for the long haul.

Error Codes

Most, if not all, PICs with a digital readout have error codes to help you trouble shoot problems. These are useful and a great feature for any digital appliance.

Whichever PIC you buy, the list of error codes will be in the user manual that comes with the unit.

Safety Features

Induction is the safest way to cook because only the pan gets hot, but cooktops have extra safety features, too.

Automatic Shutoff

All induction cooktops will shut down automatically, even if they have delayed shutoff. 

So, if you remove a pan from a burner, the PIC will shut down, usually after no more than a minute.

Most induction cooktops also have a "high heat shutoff" safety feature that shuts down the unit if the internal components get dangerously hot. If this happens, it will result in an error code so you'll know that you just need to let the unit cool down for a bit before using.

Lockable Controls

Some portables and most full-sized induction cooktops have lockable controls, so once they're set and locked, they can't be inadvertently changed.

This is a nice feature is you have small children in the house who are curious about gadgets.

Also, lockable controls guard against inadvertent changes to settings by brushing against the control panel.

Hot Burner Caution

Some PICs have a warning light or a flashing message on the control panel to let you know that the cooking surface is hot. The warning will continue, even after the unit is switched off, until it is safe to touch without burning yourself.

For example, the Mirage Pro control panel flashes "PAN" until cooled.

Not all PICs have this feature, but it is a nice additional safety feature--again, especially if there are children in the house (as long as you explain to them what the flashing means).

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Best Overall: Vollrath Mirage Pro 59500P Induction Cooktop

Vollrath Mirage Pro portable induction cooktop

See the Vollrath Mirage Pro induction cooktop on Amazon

See the Vollrath Mirage Pro induction cooktop at webstaurantstore.com

See our full Vollrath Mirage Pro review

Vollrath is an American company with headquarters in Wisconsin. They've been around for more than 100 years and are best known for their commercial kitchen products. Some of their products are made in the US (including much of their cookware). Their induction cooktops are made in China, with American quality control and design specifications.

The Vollrath Mirage Pro 59500P is a commercial grade portable induction burner with some phenomenal features. Where Duxtop offers some of the best controls with 20 each Power and Temperature levels, the Mirage Pro has 5 times that with 100 power settings. This much granularity probably isn't needed--you won't even find it on full-sized induction cookers--but it's still great, giving you the option of extremely accurate control. 

The only other induction cooker we know of with this many power settings is the Cooktek Apogee MC1800G: a robust commercial unit that goes for about twice as much as the Mirage Pro, yet lacks some of the Mirage Pro's sophisticated electronics.

What do these sophisticated electronics do? Well, the unit can throttle power in such a way that it actually uses less power on highly inductive pans (saving you a bit on your electric bill). And it regulates voltage in an advanced way that allows it to send as much power to smaller pans as to full-sized pans (most PICs throttle power to smaller pans by just sending less; with the Mirage Pro, you get the same power no matter the size of the pan). 

The Mirage Pro accomplishes all of this with the use of what they call the G4 Engine: "Mirage® Pro induction ranges feature the G4 Engine, using four IGBTs so the workload is shared across four parallel switches. This increases the efficiency, control and longevity of the Mirage® Pro induction range.)" (from the Vollrath website)

It can also work with a pan as small as 4 inches in diameter. Most induction cooktops can't operate with pans under about 5.5-6 inches.

Issues: It's not perfect: First of all, there's the cost. At around $600, you'll pay for all of this excellence. And one small nitpick is that the Mirage Pro draws power constantly, even when not in use. The amount is very small, and is a tiny annoyance; if you really don't want to pay the extra few dollars per year of energy, you can unplug the unit when it's not in use (though if you do this, it won't remember the last setting, which is kind of a cool feature).

No Warranty for Home Use: The biggest issue with the Vollrath Mirage Pro is that the 2-year warranty probably won't cover residential use. So if anything happens to your induction cooker, you may be out of luck. Vollrath is not alone in this policy; we haven't found a commercial-grade induction cooktop yet that's warrantied for residential use.

Though this sounds like a deal breaker, we don't think it is. This is a rugged, commercial-grade unit made for constant use under harsh restaurant conditions. For home use, you should get several years of use out of it without issue. 

And, there are a few workarounds you can employ here: One is to buy an extended warranty through the retailer you purchase it from if one is available. You may be able to think of one or two others, such as using a credit card with a buyer protection plan. There are certainly ways to protect your purchase.

Or, you may even just fly without a net and buy the unit without a warranty, as we did before our first review about 4 years ago. We really think it's that good. 

One known issue is with the dial. After a few years of use, it may stop holding a setting and only work at the highest setting. We had this issue, and were able to fix it with a $5 part in about 10 minutes. (if you want more information about this, contact us and we'll be happy to tell you how to do it.)

Features

  • G4 Engine (sophisticated heating controls)
  • Temperature Mode: Settings of 80F-400F (27C-204C), settable in 10-degree increments
  • Power Mode: Power level Settings 1-100 with approximate temperature of 80F to 400F
  • Unlimited run time (if you don't use the timer)
  • 180 minute timer with auto shutoff (settable in 1 minute increments)
  • Fahrenheit/Celsius display option
  • Manual dial control--fast and easy to change settings
  • Digital readout and troubleshooting display
  • "Hot Pan" display until unit cools to a safe temperature
  • Stainless housing with aluminum underside
  • Green LED display
  • Setting memory: remembers the last setting used when powered on
  • Fully framed ceramic top for durability
  • 2 year warranty (for commercial use only).

see the vollrath mirage pro and read reviews on amazon

see the vollrath Mirage pro and read reviews at webstaurantstore.com

Specifications

Black ceramic top in a stainless steel/aluminum housing with black/green control panel and red LCD readout

1800 Watts 

100 power levels, from 50W-1800W

Temperature range: 80-400F settable in 10 degree increments (can exceed 525F at highest setting)

180 minute max timer, settable in 1-minute increments

3-prong plug that plugs into a standard 120V wall outlet

6-ft. power cord

Dimensions: 15 in. x 14 in. x 3 in.

Weight: 13.7 lbs.

8-inch heating coil (app.)

Can accommodate pans between 4-12 inches in diameter

Made in China to American design specifications.

(Note: The Vollrath website gives 14-inches as the max pan diameter, but we are not sure how well this would work.)

Controls and Daily Use

Vollrath Mirage Pro control panel

Vollrath Mirage Pro control panel.

Basic Use: The Mirage Pro has a simple control with a Power button, a mode button (Power/Temp), Timer button, a digital readout, and a dial for adjustments in whatever mode you've selected. 

The Mirage Pro has a ton of cool features that make it a joy to use, such as remembering the last setting and the dial for fast, easy adjustments.

Fan: The quiet ball bearing fan is one of the features that hike the price on this unit. It is very quiet, and in fact you won't hear the fan at all unless you are running the unit at a high power level.

Coil and Cooktop Size: At just over 8 inches, the coil is larger than those on most PICs. Note that this doesn't mean the entire coil heats, but the area of heat is about 4.5 inches--larger than that on most PICs, and enough to evenly heat pans as large as 10 inches in bottom diameter.

You can heat pans of 4-12 inches diameter (bottom diameter)--but we suggest you use good quality pans with excellent heat distribution for best results if you're going any larger than about 10 inches. (Remember, most 12-inch skillets have a bottom diameter of 8-10 inches.) Also, a pan with a 12-inch bottom diameter is going to overhang the cooking surface a bit. 

Max Weight: No maximum weight is listed in the user manual, so we can assume that this induction cooker can withstand a lot of weight. The stainless steel housing makes this possible. Our recommendation is that you probably should not exceed 60 pounds (which equals about 7 gallons of water).

Safety: The Mirage Pro has standard safety features like high heat shutoff and auto shutoff if the heat goes too high. It also flashes a warning on the LCD panel if there is no pan or the wrong (not induction compatible) type of pan. It also flashes "Hot Pan" after use until the surface cools off enough to be safely touched.

The Mirage Pro doesn't have a safety lock, which is normal for a commercial grade unit meant for use in professional kitchens. Just be careful if you've got kids who might be curious about its operation.

The Mirage Pro's Power and Temperature Facts: The Mirage Pro has some amazing features that you won't find on any other induction cooker, including models that cost hundreds more and even most full-sized burners. 

One is the extremely wide temperature range, which goes down to 80F and up to 525F (though the highest setting is 400F, it will get considerably hotter at high power levels). 

The most amazing thing isn't the wide range, however; it's the fact that the Mirage Pro can actually hold a constant temperature, unlike most induction cookers. 

This means that if you set it at 200F, it will stay at 200F, and it does so without the frustrating on/off pulsing found in less expensive PICs. The Mirage Pro uses pulsing, but it has advanced temperature controls (the "G4 Engine") that keep the pulsing in a much tighter range that levels off as it approaches the setpoint.

In our use, we've found that in Temperature mode, the unit varies about +/- 10F from the setpoint (typically erring higher rather than lower). That isn't accurate enough for sous vide, but it's better than just about any other unit on the market (except for the $1500 Breville Control Freak).

It's not all perfect: because the temperature sensor lies below the glass cooktop, it will take awhile to reach a stable temperature, overshooting and undershooting somewhat until it gets there. But even so, it's miles ahead of cheaper units, and once at setpoint, it can hold a constant temp extremely well. 

This means that you can set a large pot of stock to simmer temp (about 190F), and not worry about scorching or undercooking. It's really quite amazing.

For more information on the Mirage Pro's amazing temperature controls, check out our detailed Mirage Pro review.

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • 100 Power levels (more than most full-sized induction cooktops)
  • Excellent temperature control
  • 60-second delay shutoff 
  • Unlimited run time (if you don't use timer)
  • Quiet ball bearing fan
  • Stainless housing can withstand a lot of weight (60+ lbs)
  • Manual dial makes adjusting power or temperature easy.
Cons
  • 2 yr warranty doesn't cover home use
  • Expensive.

Recommendation

If you want the best control and a proven unit and don't care about the cost, the Vollrath Mirage Pro is the one to get. Remember: the warranty doesn't cover home use, so be sure to buy an extended warranty through Amazon or another retailer if you can. (Yes, this is a major drawback, but the Mirage Pro is built for commercial kitchens and should last many years under home use.)

Vollrath Mirage Pro portable induction cooktop

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Best Consumer Grade PICk: Duxtop 9600LS/9610LS Induction Cooktop

Duxtop 9600LS portable induction cookto

Duxtop is a maker of small kitchen appliances, tools, and cookware sold for the home consumer. Their parent company is Secura (which is why you sometimes see "Secura Duxtop" or just "Secura" for Duxtop products), an American company with manufacturing plants in China. 

The Duxtop 9600LS and its sibling the 9610LS are the best portable induction cooktops on the market at the $100 price point. It's got some excellent features, like the 20 each power and temp settings and the 10 hour running time, that you're not going to find elsewhere at this price.

It's easy to operate and very portable at just 6 pounds. Duxtop also makes several other models with the same 20 power and temp levels and a different design, including one with a stainless steel housing that can withstand significantly more weight. Check out our full Duxtop review to find out what all your options are.

Features

  • 20 temp settings from 100-460F
  • 20 power settings from 100-1800W
  • Angled, sensor-touch control panel (all glass--no plastic)
  • 60 second-delayed shutoff when pan is removed
  • 10 hour timer, settable in 1-minute increments (will run for 10 consecutive hours)
  • One-touch Boil and Keep Warm shortcut buttons.
  • Auto shutoff after when using timer
  • Voltage warning system
  • Error codes for easy troubleshooting
  • Child safety lock
  • 1 year warranty.

Specifications

1800 Watts/15 amps (standard for all US households)

Plugs into standard 120V outlet

Dimensions (in.): 16.9 x 13.8 x 4.1

Approximately 4" heating ring on burner

Weight: 6 pounds

20 temp levels between 100F-460F (see table below)

20 power levels from 100W-1800W

10 hour timer settable in 1 minute increments

10 hour max running time

Angled control panel

Child safety lock

Voltage warning system

Error codes for diagnosing problems

5 ft. power cord

ETL approved

1 year limited warranty

Made in China.

Controls and Daily Use

From the user manual:

Duxtop 9600LS control panel

Basic Use: The 9600LS is easy to operate. The image above shows the control panel with callouts for the Shortcut Boil and Keep Warm keys, plus the glass cooktop. If you don't want to use the shortcut keys, you can use the +/- keys to select wattage or temperature, depending on which mode you're in.

Also use the +/- keys to set the timer, which shuts the unit down automatically when it's done running.

Fan: The sleeve bearing fan is a bit loud, but that's to be expected at this price point. (You won't get a quieter fan until you get into Mirage Pro price territory.)

Max Weight: You should not put more than about 25 pounds this PIC: that's a little less than 3 gallons of water, not counting the weight of the pot.

So if you're making stock, you can't make more than about 2 gallons at a time. 

Safety: Auto shutoff, error codes, and a child safety lock make this induction burner a safe choice.

About Power and Temperature Increments: The 9600LS has, as far as we know, the best power and temp controls of any PIC priced under $300. It has 20 power controls and 20 temperature controls, which is great, but what's also great is how the controls are designed, with more granular increments at low wattage and temperature where the granular control is needed. This means that you will be able to get a better constant simmer with the 9600LS than you will with other PICs in its class. 

It won't be as great as the Mirage Pro, but it will be better than just about every other $100 PIC on the market. 

This table from the 9600LS User Manual shows how the controls work:

Duxtop 9600LS Power-Temperature table

As good as the 9600LS is, it's not as good as it probably looks here, because it doesn't hold a steady wattage or temperature as the table implies. Instead, it pulses power, as we explained above.

Here's an example for the Power setting: To achieve 100 watts at Power Level 0.5--as shown in the table--the 9600LS will pulse on-off in 3-to-11 second intervals, with the 3 second "On" time amounting to about 460 watts. This averages about 100 Watts. 

Other power settings will operate similarly.

Thus, you may still scorch food at low settings during the "on" pulsing, and get no heat at all during the "off" pulsing. 

Cooking by temperature can have even more fluctuation because the temperature probe is beneath the surface of the burner, so it can take awhile for it to to measure temperature accurately. This is an issue with every PIC on the market except the Breville Control Freak, which has an exposed temperature sensor and crazy-accurate temperatures (as well as a price tag to match).

Even so, it's the best PIC in its class ($100 and under). 

Pros and Cons of the Duxtop 9600LS

Pros
  • 20 Power and Temp levels (most PICs at this price point have 6-10 each)
  • More granular Power and Temp control at low wattage/temperature for better simmering
  • 60-second delay shutoff (also rare at this price)
  • All glass sensor touch control panel
  • Boil and Keep Warm shortcut keys
  • 10 hour max running time
  • Up to 10 hour timer with auto shutoff
Cons
  • Better than other PICs at this price point, but you may still get some scorching
  • Plastic housing limits the weight you can put on it to about 25 lbs.
  • Loud fan.

Recommendation

The Duxtop 9600LS is the best induction cooker in its class. To get better quality, you would have to jump to the $300 mark. If you don't want to spend more than about $100, the 9600LS is absolutely the best choice on the market. If you want a different look, the 9610LS is the same model in an all-black housing.

Duxtop 9600LS portable induction cooker

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Best Budget PICk: Duxtop 9100MC Induction Cooktop

Duxtop 9100MC induction cooktop

See the Duxtop 9100MC on Amazon now

See our full review of Duxtop portable induction burners

Before the 9600LS came out, the Duxtop 9100MC was our number one pick for consumer PIC. Though the 9600LS has finer settings and a wider temperature range, the 9100MC is a good choice if you want to save about $30. With 15 each power and temperature settings, plus some refined low-end temp control and the 60-second delayed shutoff, the 9100MC still comes out on top of most of the PICs in its class.

Features

  • 15 power settings (200-1800W
  • 15 temp settings (140-460F)
  • Angled control panel easy to read and safe from hot pots (no worries about melting)
  • 170 minute timer settable in 1 minute increments
  • 60 second delayed shutoff when pan is removed
  • Auto shutoff after when using timer
  • Voltage warning system
  • Error codes for easy troubleshooting
  • Child safety lock
  • 1 year warranty.

Specifications

1800 Watts/15 amps (standard for all US households)

Plugs into standard 120V outlet

Weight: 6 pounds

Plastic housing can support a max weight of about 25 lbs.

Dimensions (in.): 16.4 x 12.8 x 3.8

Approximately 5" heating ring on burner

6 ft. power cord

Push-button control on angled panel (plastic)

15 temp levels between 140F-460F (140F, 160F, 180F, 200F, 220F, 240F, 260F, 280F, 300F, 320F, 340F, 370F, 400F, 430F, 460F)

15 power levels from 200W-1800W (200W, 300W, 400W, 500W, 600W, 700W, 800W, 900W, 1000W, 1100W, 1200W, 1300W, 1500W, 1600W, 1800W)

170 minute timer settable in 1-minute increments

170 minute max running time

60 second delayed auto shutoff when pan is removed

ETL approved

1 year warranty

Made in China.

Controls and Daily Use

Duxtop 9100MC control panel

Basic Use: The 9100MC is easy to use; you probably don't even need to read the manual to get started (though you should). You simply press the Power button and use the +/- keys to adjust the setting. 

The 9100MC defaults to Heating (Power--wattage) mode. If you want to switch to Temperature mode, press the Temp key and use +/- keys to set desired temperature. 

The simple control panel makes the 9100MC easy to use, but you may miss that it has no shortcut keys such as Boil and Keep Warm like the 9600LS. Instead, you have to select a setting each time you use it. 

If you want to use the Timer, press the Timer key and use the +/- keys to set the cooking time.

Fan: The sleeve-bearing fan is a little loud, but no worse than other PICs at this price point.

Max Weight: You should not put more than about 25 pounds this PIC: that's a little less than 3 gallons of water, not counting the weight of the pot.

So if you're making stock, you can't make more than about 2 gallons at a time.

Safety: Auto shutoff, error codes, and a child safety lock make this induction burner a safe choice.

About Power and Temp increments: The 9100MC has finer temp and power settings at the low end of the range. One of the drawbacks of inexpensive induction cookers is that they lack good control at the low end. The 9100MC isn't as granular as the 9600LS, but it still has decent low end control--especially compared to other induction cookers at this price point.

It still pulse on/off rather than holding a constant wattage or temperature, but the pulsing is much more accurate than that of other brands. This means that you will be able to achieve a steady simmer rather than the boil/nothing pattern so often seen in inexpensive PICs. 

It won't be as great as the Vollrath, and you will still get some hard boil/nothing. But if you don't want to spend more than about $75, the 9100MC is a no-brainer choice.

Pros and Cons of the Duxtop 9100MC

Pros
  • 15 Power and Temp levels (most PICs at this price point have 6-10 each)
  • More granular Power and Temp control at low wattage/temperature for better simmering
  • 60-second delay shutoff (also rare at this price)
  • 170 minute timer with auto shutoff.
Cons
  • Max run time only 170 minutes
  • Temp range is 140-460F (better control w/a range of 100-460F)
  • Power range is 200-1800W (better control w/a range of 100-1800W)
  • No shortcut keys
  • Plastic housing limits the weight you can put on it to about 25 lbs.
  • No shortcut keys
  • Loud fan.

Recommendation

The 9100MC was one of the best in its class until the 9600LS came out. If you absolutely can't spend more than about $75, the 9100MC is the PIC to get. However, if you can go up to about $100, the 9600LS is a better model in every way.

Duxtop 9100MC induction cooktop

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Other PICs To Consider

We don't really recommend any other models below $100. You will be much happier if you spend a little more and get a Duxtop...

Vollrath Mirage Cadet: A couple hundred dollars less than the Mirage Pro but with far fewer controls at 20 each power and temperature settings. It also lacks the sophisticated G4 controls, but will still have better low end control than most $100 PICs.

Breville Control Freak: With an astonishing 397 settings, an accuracy of less than 2F, and an exposed temperature probe for extremely accurate feedback, the Control Freak is an amazing induction cooktop. It is theoretically accurate enough to do sous vide cooking without the circulator, but we haven't tested the truth of that statement. At about $1500, you will pay for all this accuracy, but it is an amazing induction cooktop.

Other Duxtop models: The link goes to our detailed Duxtop review, where you can see and compare all the Duxtop models: if you want the accuracy and control of the 9600LS but in a different package, there are a few other options, such as the P961LS "professional" with the same controls in a stainless steel housing, or the E200A, which has the same controls in a sleek, sensor touch tablet design. Do read all the specs carefully, though, because some models have slightly different specs (such as a shorter max run time than the 9600LS). Note also that some of the older Duxtop models, such as the 9100MC and 8100MC, have fewer power and temp settings than the newer models.

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Final Thoughts on the Best Portable Induction Cooktops

Vollrath Mirage Pro 59500P induction cooktop

Of the hundreds of portable induction cooktops on the market, there really are only a few worth considering. Here, we've given you the best options at a budget, average, and high-end price point. Maybe more importantly, we've given you the information you need to understand why these are the best options (and why we don't list any other models or brands).

There may be other portables out there with similar features, but these three are the best options no matter how much you want to spend.

Thanks for reading!

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