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The portable induction cooktops to avoid buying

They can be a cheaper way to trial induction cooking, but these ones scored so poorly they could put you off induction altogether.

generic portable induction cooktop thumbs down
Last updated: 27 October 2023

More and more people are making the switch from gas cooktops to induction, and for good reason: gas prices are rising and research has linked gas cooking to various health issues. Induction is a great way to get those gas cooktop feels without the gas cooktop dramas. 

But induction cooktops don't come cheap: they're anywhere from $600 to $6000 dollars. 

If you're contemplating induction but you're worried about dropping that sort of cash before knowing if you'll like it, a portable induction cooktop can be a way to get started  – it's a lower-commitment option that's cheaper and doesn't require big changes to your kitchen like a full-size induction cooktop does. 

They are useful for small spaces like granny flats, campervans, tiny kitchens and office spaces where you can't squeeze in a full-size cooktop.

And since they're so portable you can use them for cooking in other spaces – think outdoor cooking or keeping a dish warm on the dinner table. 

But while there's a lot to love about them, there are also some seriously underwhelming models on the market. 

Of the 15 models our experts recently tested, they recommend only two, so you need to be careful about what you buy

Of the 15 models our experts recently tested, they recommend only two, so you need to be careful about what you buy. Many of them didn't turn down low enough to simmer or cook at low temperatures, which means you can't get the full induction experience that you'd have with a full-size induction cooktop.

If you're thinking of switching to induction cooking, our experts recommend booking in an induction cooktop demonstration rather than buying a portable model. However, the two recommended models will stand you in good stead if you need to go portable.

We don't want you to end up with a dud buy, so here are the products that scored lowest in our lab tests. Consider becoming a CHOICE member to see the best performers.

spector induction cooker ultra slim sk 20cb12t kt0129

The Spector Induction Cooker failed the low-temperature cooking test.

Spector Induction Cooker (Ultra-Slim) SK-20CB12T KT0129

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 61%
  • Cooking performance: 55%
  • Price: $150

With a serious name like this, you'd expect serious performance – but unfortunately the Spector Ultra-Slim doesn't deliver. 

It left our experts with mushy but browned rice that was stuck on the bottom of the pan, and it actually failed our low-temperature cooking test, which is where our experts melt chocolate to assess how well the cooktop works at low heat. The chocolate seized within just 40 seconds and stuck to the base of the saucepan – not what you need when you're in the middle of a complicated recipe! 

Its instruction manual left plenty to be desired, which meant our experts had to use trial and error to find the right setting to suit the food they were cooking. If a kitchen expert with 30 years' experience found it tricky to use, what hope do regular home cooks have?

The list of good points for this model includes praise for some low- and high-temperature cooking tasks, good power level range and a small price tag – but they're far outweighed by the bad points. 

To see exactly how it performed in our testing, read the full Spector Induction Cooker review.

apuro induction hob 3kw ce208 a 03

The Apuro Induction Hob: an overpriced underperformer.

Apuro Induction Hob – 3kW CE208-A-03

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 62%
  • Cooking performance: 55%
  • Price: $423

You don't need to spend a fortune to get a great portable induction cooktop: some of the products our experts recommend cost less than $150. 

And there's definitely no need to spend this kind of money on a portable induction cooktop that performs so poorly. 

Our experts also found it difficult to cook rice with: it left the rice grains mushy on the top, with more than half of the rice browned and stuck to the bottom. 

And when melting chocolate at a low temperature, the chocolate seized within two minutes and stuck to the base of the saucepan 

If you have $400 to spend on a portable cooktop, you can definitely do better for your money. Make sure you check our portable induction cooktop review to see which models are better to buy.

Read the full Apuro Induction Hob review.

philips induction cooker 5000 series hd4902

Low price, low scores: the Philips Induction Cooker 5000 series.

Philips Induction Cooker 5000 Series HD4902

  • CHOICE Expert Rating: 62%
  • Cooking performance: 60%
  • Price: $99

It may be the third-cheapest portable induction cooktop in our test, but this Philips cooktop's low price aligns with its low scores. 

Our experts rated its cooking performance as just barely 'OK' at 55%, and it completely failed the low-temperature cooking test, with the chocolate seizing in just one minute. 

It's also lacking a child lock, and has only five power levels (most other models we tested had around 10). 

If you're looking for a portable induction cooktop around this price, there are plenty of other options that perform much better, so we suggest looking elsewhere. 

Read the full Philips Induction Cooker 5000 Series review

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Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.