Stoves are well and good, but when you need a more portable way to cook, an electric burner can really come in handy. The best electric burners are inexpensive, easy to use, easy to clean, and powerful enough to reach high temperatures quickly. With that in mind, a 1,500-watt cast iron hot plate will be your best bet for most cooking tasks.
Conventional electric hot plates tend to be both inexpensive and less susceptible to dings or cracks from heavy cookware. These feature an electric coil that is either exposed (which is often cheaper but can heat less evenly and be more annoying to clean) or encased in cast iron (which is pricier but often easier to clean). Electric burners can take about 10 minutes to heat up, which makes them fine for most cooking — but if you're impatient or really value energy efficiency, induction or infrared cooktops are the way to go. Induction burners use electromagnets to directly heat your cookware, rather than to heat the surface of the cooktop (and indirectly, your cookware), which makes them the most energy efficient of all — though infrared burners are still more efficient than electric coil burners.
Due to its extreme efficiency, induction is often faster to heat up as well — but unlike standard electric and infrared burners, it must be used with magnetic cookware. If you want the speed without having to worry about using the right type of cookware, go with infrared. Otherwise, induction is the fastest, electric coils are the cheapest, and a cast iron electric burner is a good, solid, middle ground. If you need more cooking space, you can also opt for a double burner.
From a standard hot plate to a portable induction model, here are five of the best electric burners on Amazon.
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