Best Portable Cooktops
Portable cooktops offer up a lot: whether it’s letting you enjoy a hot meal on a camping trip, helping keep your food warm at a potluck dinner, or just being the extra hob in your kitchen if you’re a multitasking entertainer who could do with some extra cooking space.
If deciding whether to buy a portable induction cooktop, a portable electric stove, or a camping gas cooker is proving to be more difficult than you thought it’d be, keep reading to find out which product is right for you.
Latest review: After about a month of use I'm finding constant 'E2' errors with cookware that it previously had no problem with. I certainly won't be paying an electrician $90 an hour to fix a $60
Price (RRP) $44.99 to $49.99
- Build Quality3.0 (1)
- Value for Money3.0 (1)
- Ease of Use4.0 (1)
- Cleaning & Maintenance 3.0 (1)
High power output
Great range of temperature settings
Power output sometimes difficult to control
- Control TypeButtons / Switch
- Control LocationFront
- Dimensions 290 x 365 x 65 mm
- Colour / FinishBlack
The Breville Handy Hot Plate BHP150 has proved itself to be efficient at slow, low cooking and food warming, however the jury is still out on its high-heat cooking performance.
Quick heating time
Difficult to control temperature
Hard to do high-heat cooking
Control easily bumped to "on" position
- Build Quality4.0 (1)
- Value for Money5.0 (1)
- Ease of Use5.0 (1)
- Cleaning & Maintenance 4.0 (1)
With the Campmaster CM2218B by your side, you can still enjoy a hot, homely meal in the great outdoors - making it the perfect companion for your next camping trip, boat outing, or even your next picnic.
The Campmaster Double Burner Butane Stove complete with steel plate could very well be your next camping essential - it’s efficient, reliable, and is used by outdoor novices and enthusiasts alike.
A wide heat output range, high energy efficiency, and an inbuilt timer make the New Wave NW-300 Portable Induction Cooker the ideal unit for home chefs who want to cook up a variety of dishes.
Latest review: Just thought I'd follow up on my previous review. My induction cooker is still going really well a couple of years down the track. The reason I like it is that I can get the heat low enough to
Latest review: it worked for a few years, always well looked after, not that it was used all that much probably 50 boils The gas valve failed ( no gas flow ) and the replacement part is more that half a whole new
Latest review: As the title states. Can not expect much for $60 so do not be surprised that it does not last much longer than the warranty period. If you are happy to replace every two years then this is a good
Latest review: So disappointed in this thing. I just want to set the temperature and leave it, but no, it has a mind of it’s own. I just wanted to slowly cook some soup, so put it on simmer. It turns itself down so
Latest review: The noise coming from grill was alarming so I took it back and the BCF fix-it bloke agreed with me. It didn't sound at all right so he replaced it without question. The new one sounded a little
Latest review: I've been through 3 of these in 2 years. The LHS element keeps blowing. Save up for a better brand. I've noticed the brand name slightly changes over time, perhaps to avoid warranty claims? It's
Types of portable cooktops
Portable induction cooktops
are electric in that they don’t use gas or another flame to heat up, however they differ from regular electric cooktops in that they heat up using electromagnetic induction. This means that heat is created directly in the pan instead of on the cooktop.
- Energy efficient. More heat goes into the pot or pan rather than into the air of your kitchen - this also means you can keep your cool while cooking.
- Fastest cooking times. You can start cooking instantly, and cook quickly.
- Precise temperature control. A lot of induction cookers allow you to set it to an exact temperature - this helps you keep your cooking consistent.
- Safer. Because the pan (rather than the cooktop) is heated, you don’t have to worry about residual cooktop heat burning you or someone else.
- Easy to clean. They have a single, flat surface that you just need to wipe down with a damp cloth. Because the surface doesn’t get as hot as their electric counterparts, food spillages don’t harden.
- More environmentally friendly. Induction is more eco-friendly than gas.
- Initially pricier. A cooktop will likely set you back more than buying a gas or electric cooktop - however, ongoing costs are lower.
- Requires compatible cookware. You need magnetic crockery to cook with induction (unless you buy an induction interface disc that lets you use non-magnetised cookware).
- Can be interfered with. The radio waves of other home items - such as radios, TVs, and mobile phones - can sometimes interfere with its effectiveness.
- Can be unsuitable for some types of cooking. Sautéing or cooking with a wok may be unsuitable on an induction stove, as they usually stop running when you lift the pan off the surface.
Do induction cooktops require special pans?
Yes, an induction cooktop requires compatible cookware that has the magnetic field needed for the cooktop to transfer heat into. You need to use pots and pans that contain iron, such as cast iron and magnetic stainless steel.
Tip: If a fridge magnet sticks to your cookware, then you can use it on a portable induction hot plate.
Portable electric cooktops
- Offers residual heat. The residual heat once the cooktop is turned off can be used to keep food warm, or even continue to slightly cook.
- Easy to use. Portable electric cooktops are generally easy to use - you usually just have to plug it in and press a few buttons.
- Can use any kind of cookware. Any cookware - such as ceramic, stainless steel, and cast iron - is compatible with an electric cooker.
- Slower to change temperature. Because they have a lot of thermal mass and the electric coils have to heat up or slow down before the cookware can, they’re slow to heat up or cool down.
- Residual heat can be unsafe. As it takes a while to fully cool down, an electric cooktop hob could burn someone who touches it - if you have young children or pets in your home, this may be an issue.
- Sometimes uneven heat distribution. With electric burners there’s a chance of electricity not being distributed evenly over the entire length of the coil, which can make cooking more difficult.
Portable gas cooktops
- Can instantly modify heat. You can instantly adjust the flame, making it easier to regulate to suit your cooking.
- Cooks quickly. Because flames heat up the sides of cookware as well as the bottom, food usually cooks quicker.
- Compatible with all types of cookware. You can use cookware of any material with a gas cooker.
- Can be used anywhere. You won’t need mains power to operate a portable gas stove - you can cook as long as you have your gas bottle with you.
- Great for wok cooking. The trivets on gas stoves support round wok bases well.
- Flames can damage sides of cookware. If you let the flames travel high up the sides of your pots and pans, they can warp the sides.
- Less environmentally friendly. Because they use disposable fuel and aren’t powered by a renewable energy source, gas cooktops are less eco-friendly than other cooktops.
- Can be a safety hazard. The open flame on gas cooktops could burn you.
- Sometimes difficult to use. Some portable gas cooktops have a bit of a learning curve to using them safely - you should however be a pro after using one for a while.
Factors to consider when choosing a portable cooktop
Where and what you cook plays a huge role in determining which portable cooktop is right for you. Are you after a stove to supplement the cooking space in your kitchen? Or are you after a stove for camping?
This will usually determine how portable your stove needs to be - by “portable”, we’re talking about cooktops that aren’t rangetops, meaning they’re not built into your kitchen counter.
Many portable cooktops are still mains powered, so in a sense they aren’t completely portable, however there are cordless, battery-operated induction and electric cooktops available to buy. Portable gas cooktops aren’t mains powered, so as long as you have the right gas bottle with you, you can use one - making them preferable for campers.
What you plan on cooking can also affect your stove choice - the stove you use to boil soup or make a quick meal might look very different to the cooktop you need to make a three course meal.
Size and weight
If you’re in the market for a portable stove top, how heavy, large, and easy to carry a cooker will likely play a large role in your choice, but just how small, how light, and how portable you need it to be depends on where you want to use it.
If you’re just using it to use in your backyard or dinner table as a food warmer and won’t need to carry it far, then you only really need to think about how much space your cooker will take up in storage.
However, for those hiking, camping, or needing to take their stove over quite a distance, size and weight becomes more of a concern. Consider how you’ll transport it to see whether it’s practical to take along in your backpack, small car, 4WD, or other vehicle.
There are plenty of hiking stoves that fit in the palm of your hand, which can easily fit in your hiking pack. Some also come with a pot that’s specially designed for the stove, making your whole cooking set compact and easy to carry around and slip into your pack.
Keep in mind that for gas stoves, you’ll also need to carry around a gas canister, so ensure you factor in this extra weight - particularly if you’re after a hiking stove.
Number of burners
Thinking about how many burners or hot plates you want will usually help you narrow down which portable cooktops would be suitable for your purposes.
- 1 burner is great for feeding 1-3 people, and suitable for hiking trips.
- 2 burners are suited to feeding 4-6 people, and can be easy to carry around when car camping. They’re also great to have at parties when you need an extra cooktop or food warmers.
- 3 burners suit cooking for a larger group of 7 or more people, or those who just want a three course meal on their holidays away.
If you get a double burner, check that the stove width is compatible with the size of your pots and pans - if they’re too close, you may only be able to use smaller cookware.
Here’s a list of features to look out for that can make preparing food with your portable hot plate easier, quicker, and safer.
- Trivet: A trivet keeps pots and pans steady while you cook and protects tables from being damaged by hot pots.
- Windshield: A windshield protects the flame of a gas burner and keeps it safely contained in windy weather.
- Piezo ignition: Piezo ignition on a gas stove is an auto ignition button that you push, meaning you don’t need a lighter or matches to light it.
- Drip tray: A drip tray catches the fat that drips down while cooking, making for an easier clean up.
- USB port: Some newer portable cookers have a USB port that uses power created from the stove’s heat so you can charge your phone, light, or other camping gear.
- Timer: An inbuilt timer can help you set and forget for meals that need to bubble away on their own for a bit, so you don’t need to spend all your time at the stove.
- Residual heat sensors: On electric cooktops, a residual heat sensor lets you know if the cooktop is still hot after you’ve turned it off. The light will then turn off once the portable electric hot plate has completely cooled down.
- Safety shut off: On induction and electric cooktops, an automatic safety shut off turns off the power when it detects that the pot has spilled over - some also shut off when the pot has boiled dry.
A portable cooktop can set you back anywhere from $20 (usually a cheaper gas camping stove) to $400 and over (usually for portable gas stoves).
Portable induction cooktops usually cost somewhere between $120 to $200, and you may have to purchase compatible cookware if you don’t already have some. While they may cost more than their electric counterparts, their cooking efficiency might save you more on your power bills.
Investing in a quality portable cooktop is investing in convenient cooking. Whether you want to boil soup on your next hike or want to make a Michelin meal somewhere other than your kitchen, understanding your own cooking needs and going from there can help you find the right cooktop for you.