Popular Mechanics; Courtesy of Duxtop
What do campers, RV owners, cooking YouTubers, Tokyo capsule renters and college dorm residents have in common? It all depends, of course, but it’s likely that everyone could benefit from owning a small, portable electric burner.
These easy-to-use gadgets are essential for people living in small spaces and perfect for those who may not have access to a full-size stove in their living space. Electric torches are also an essential tool for those who are camping or anyone who needs a better camera angle when filming those home cooking videos for their YouTube channel. A solid electric burner provides enough power for frying, cooking and roasting on the go, and is lightweight for easy storage when not in use.
Whether you’re looking for an electric burner for your next adventure or just want to outfit a student with the tools they need to make more than instant ramen, we’ve rounded up the best electric burners money can buy below.
What to consider
Portability aside, not all electric torches are created equal. Here are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing the right portable burner.
In general, the more watts an electric burner can emit, the more powerful it is as a cooking surface. If you’re looking for more power to cook with, consider getting a higher powered electric burner. You may have to shell out more money for the extra performance.
Keep in mind that when you reach for a two-burner electric range, that wattage is split between each burner. For example, an electric burner designed to deliver up to 1,800 watts of power may only deliver up to 1,000 watts of power on one burner and 800 watts on the other during operation. To use up to 1,800 watts in this dual burner, you must use one hotplate at a time.
Each electric torch is made from different materials and there are a variety of finish types to choose from, with the performance of each model depending on the type of heat its torches use. Finishing options should be weighed for cleanliness and durability. The cheapest electric burners use cast iron coils to heat pots and pans. These are usually placed in recessed surfaces just above drip trays. These are prone to getting dirty, take longer to heat up than ceramic hobs and are quite difficult to clean.
If you spend a little more money, you can get a smooth cooktop – usually a glass-ceramic one. These distribute heat more evenly and are easier to clean and wipe than coils. However, some of these surfaces are prone to scratches and stains.
Induction vs. Infrared
Electric torches use induction or infrared electricity to heat their surfaces. Hot plates and electric torches that use coils use electricity to heat them, with heat being transferred to the surface of the coil by infrared energy. Coils — and glass or ceramic cooktops with coils underneath — typically rely on infrared energy. They use more energy than the alternative (induction) and glow red when finished. They’ll take more time to heat up to the desired temperature, although coils and infrared heat can transfer heat directly to any cookware you might have in your kitchen, from cast-iron skillets to ceramic-bottomed Dutch ovens.
On the other hand, induction cookers are more energy efficient and heat up faster than infrared. They also distribute that heat more efficiently, conducting heat from beneath their plates to the ceramic surface. However, induction cooktops require special cookware. Induction hotplates transfer the heat electromagnetically, so any cookware made of stainless steel and with a magnetic base.
As we have chosen
To find the best electric torches on the market, we scoured the web for the best sellers and most recommended products on Amazon. We’ve incorporated the opinions and hands-on testing of publications like The Spruce Eats and Wirecutter, and even referenced our own guide on the subject.
In addition to critical and professional reviews, we also consulted reviews from users who have practically used these burners, referencing hundreds of user reviews on Amazon. Not a single electric torch on this list has an average rating of less than 4 out of 5 stars. These are the best of the best, highly rated for safety, thermal efficiency, durability and portability.
Looking for more kitchen and cooking goodies? Check out our picks for the best chef’s knives, outdoor pizza ovens and cast iron skillets.