Unlike traditional cooktops, which require burners of different sizes to accommodate the range of pots and pans most people own, induction technology uses a flat-bottomed induction-compatible pan to power a magnetic field that can reach any spot on the stovetop.
This makes induction cooktops more efficient than other types of electric cooktops and allows them to heat up faster. Induction also offers precision that’s hard to match with a conventional gas or standard electric cooktop.Portable induction cooktops have a compact design that’s ideal for small kitchens, dorm rooms, RVs, and other spaces where you need to use a single burner.
They plug into a regular electrical outlet and are easy to clean. They typically have a glass-ceramic cooking surface that’s scratch-resistant, crack-resistant, and heat-resistant. Some models have a digital display that lets you set the desired temperature and a timer, while others have an indicator light that indicates when the cooktop is hot to the touch or when the cookware has finished heating.
In our tests, we looked for portable induction cooktops with the best combination of features at a reasonable price. We wanted a good-sized coil with a wide range of power settings, a programmable timer with up to 99 hours and 60 minutes, and a low weight and price point. We also prioritized cookware compatibility, ease of cleaning and maintenance, and other user-friendly features.
The Duxtop 9600LS Portable Induction Cooktop is the clear winner in our test. It has a large coil that covers most of the cooking area, 20 power levels, and several useful features. Its LCD display has a built-in timer and a "keep warm" function that maintains a set temperature for up to 30 minutes. Its auto pan detection and child safety lock are an added bonus. This model is also one of the least expensive induction cooktops that we tested.
Other features to consider when buying a portable induction cooktop include the number and type of heat settings, maximum run time (auto shut-off), and wattage. The more power levels a cooktop has, the more precise its control is. Induction cooktops with a wider temperature range can better regulate lower temperatures, preventing the on/off pulsing that can burn food.
Generally, less expensive models tend to have shorter max run times, which may be to save wear and tear on the internal components. The higher-end models in our test have longer max run times, which means they can be used for a long time without needing to be restarted.Another feature to consider is how quickly the induction cooktop shuts off when you remove a pan.
The quicker this happens, the more energy it conserves. Lastly, a higher-end model will have a display that shows the temperature per wattage so you can see how much energy your food is using. This is an especially helpful feature for novice cooks who might not know exactly what temperature they should be cooking at. It's also a nice feature to have if you're making a lot of meals or want to keep track of your energy usage.