Hot plates have more uses than you might think. For many people, hot plates conjure up images of hungry college students, huddling around a single burner trying to heat up some chicken-noodle soup. While that is a popular use, hot plates are more versatile than they once were, and they can be used not only as a substitute for a stove, but as a complement to it.
If you're thinking of buying a hot plate, read this helpful buying guide with advice on how to choose the right one. Below you can also read reviews of some of our favorites. Our pick for Best of the Best, the Cuisinart CB-30 Cast Iron Single Burner is a great choice.
Considerations when choosing hot plates
While some use them as a kitchen accessory to work in tandem with their own range at home, others use them for camping equipment. How you plan to use your hot plate will be the greatest factor in determining what type you purchase.
Single vs. multiple burners
Whether you choose a hot plate with one or more burners depends on your most likely use for the hot plate. If you plan to use it to make small meals for one to two people, then a single burner hot plate is probably best. If, however, you plan to make a main course and a side dish at the same time, then you'll need to opt for a hot plate with a double burner. Keep in mind that some double burner hot plates have one side that's more powerful than the other.
Electric hot plates
Electric hot plates come in the form of either exposed coils, integrated coils, or glass. They all have their own pros and cons, so think about what you prefer in terms of safety and performance before choosing between the three.
Gas hot plates
Most gas hot plates run off of propane fuel. These are popular for camping because they don't require any outside power source. One benefit of gas hot plates over electric ones is that they cook food more evenly than electric hot plates.
Induction hot plates
Induction hot plates use a lot less energy than electric ones because they heat up via an electromagnetic field. A disadvantage of induction hot plates is that they require special cookware, some of which is expensive.
Cool touch surface
Some induction hot plates have cool-touch surfaces. These are made from ceramic glass and can stay cool to the touch even when the burner is heating the cookware from below.
Adjustable temperature control
While more basic hot plates will have a simple on/off setting for the burner, some have adjustable temperature control. This gives you more control when cooking different types of dishes.
Some high-end induction hot plates come complete with a digital display. This screen will usually display the current burner temperature, as well as a timer, if that is a function that's included.
Most hot plates will cost anywhere between $10 and $100. Keep in mind that the more expensive models tend to be more durable.
Q. Do hot plates require a lot of power to run?
A. That depends on your specific model. Some use as little as 750 watts, which is not much at all. Larger induction hot plates might use as much as 1,800 watts.
Q. Are there a lot of differences between cooking on a stove vs. a hot plate?
A. There isn't much difference, other than the fact that a stove will cook food more evenly than a hot plate typically will. Also, a hot plate takes longer to cool down than a stove will, so be mindful of this difference.
Q. Aren't hot plates considered a serious fire hazard?
A. Hot plates are only dangerous if they are poorly made or improperly used. As long as a hot plate has a mark from Underwriter's Laboratory (UL), it has been tested and meets electrical safety standards.
Hot plates we recommend
Best of the best: Cuisinart CB-30 Cast Iron Single Burner
Our take: A quick heating hot plate for a good price.
What we like: Simple to use with excellent temperature regulation.
What we dislike: Cord is too short.
Best bang for your buck: Proctor Silex Fifth Burner
Our take: A safe and simple cooking option within your budget.
What we like: One of the easiest hot plates to use on the market.
What we dislike: Takes longer to heat up and cook than some of the other options.
Our take: Not perfect, but offers double the cooking space for your needs.
What we like: Stainless steel look is stylish, and powerful 1,500 watts of combined power heats up quickly.
What we dislike: Some items slide around on the smooth burner surface.
Adam Reeder is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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