There are three main types of cooktop to choose from – gas, ceramic and induction – and each one has its advantages and disadvantages.
Whatever style you're after, from a basic electric model to a high-tech piece of induction art, there are several big decisions to make so you don't get burnt buying the wrong model for your kitchen.
If you're after instant heat control, a gas cooktop could be the answer. Gas cooktops use an electronic ignition system that creates a spark (that clicking noise you hear) when you turn the burner on, creating the blue flame.
Turning the control knob allows you to control how much gas reaches the burner – the higher you turn, the more gas released.
- Heat is easy to control with visual feedback when you raise and lower the flame.
- Gas cooktops come in a variety of designs and finishes, including enamel, glass and stainless steel, as well as enamel or cast iron trivets.
- If you love to cook stir-fries, many gas cooktops come with a specially designed burner for woks.
- Some larger options have an oblong shaped burner to use with a grill or hotplate for barbecuing.
- Gas cooktops must be installed by a qualified gas professional.
- They don't have cooking timers or child locks.
- They have many parts that need to be removed for cleaning.
- Cast iron trivets can be bulky and difficult to clean.
- Glass and stainless steel finishes require more effort when cleaning.
- Gas flames release small amounts of contaminants such as nitrous dioxide, which can exacerbate asthma and other respiratory conditions.
Check that mains gas is available where you live before buying. If it isn't and you've still got your heart set on a gas cooktop, you can use bottled LPG with many models, but keep in mind this is more expensive than mains gas.
Ceramic cooktops are worth considering if you're after a sleek and stylish design for your kitchen. Ceramic cooktops have coiled metal elements under the glass surface and are electronically heated.
- Ceramic cooktops have a continuous surface with few to no dirt traps, so they're easy to clean.
- They're particularly useful for cooking foods that require very low temperatures, like melting chocolate.
- Ceramic cooktops aren't as instantly controllable as gas – they're slower to respond to changes in the temperature setting.
- Spills can bake on, so you need to wipe them up quickly.
- There's often no lip around the edge of the cooktop to contain spills.
- The ceramic glass holds heat, so you need to take care with delicate foods.
- They hold heat even after being switched off – many come with residual-heat warning lights that stay on until the surface reaches a safe temperature.
For superior performance and stylish design, look no further than an induction cooktop. Induction works via a magnetic field that essentially turns your cookware into the heating element.
- Induction is the fastest cooking method and just as controllable as gas.
- Induction cooktops have a continuous cooking surface with few to no residue traps.
- They're very quick to heat up and respond instantly to temperature changes.
- They come with many safety features like safety sensors that monitor temperature, automatic switch-off that turns the element off if the cookware is overheating, safety cut-out for protection against overspills, child locks and pan detection.
- Food is cooked via the heat of the cookware, not from the cooktop itself, so the cooktop doesn't get hot.
- Many induction cooktops come with "power boost" for boiling water, stir-frying or searing meat. It heats up the cookware even faster, saving around one third of the normal heat-up time.
- Many come with cooking timers that can be used for programming zones to switch off automatically.
- They're easier to clean than other cooktops.
- Induction cooktops are generally more expensive than ceramic or gas cooktops.
- There's no visual feedback.
- You can only use certain types of cookware that are compatible with induction (suitable cookware needs to have a ferrous base).
- The size of the base of the cookware needs to closely match the cooking zone – if it's too small it won't respond, and if it's too large it won't be energy-efficient.
- They usually needs a dedicated circuit, typically 20 amp or greater, which will need to be installed by an electrician.
- You might notice some noises – a buzz or hum is common and could occur if the cookware doesn't have a strong magnetic hold. The cooling fan for the electronics can also be the cause of some noise.
Freestanding cookers (or upright cookers or freestanding ovens with cooktops)
These combine your cooktop and oven in the one unit and can come in gas or electric configurations. Check out our freestanding cooker buying guide for more information.
Radiant coil and solid hotplate cooktops
Ceramic and induction are by far the two main types of electric cooktops but there are two cheaper options – radiant coil and solid hotplate. However, they aren't as widely available.
Radiant coil cooktops use a coil element to heat the cookware, and those coils can be a hassle to clean. Some can be unplugged and removed while others have a hinge so you can lift them for easier access to the drip trays underneath.
Solid hotplate cooktops have a solid metal disk for each hotplate that's slower than all other types of cooktops to heat up and extremely slow to cool down, making them difficult to control.
Gas cooktops are favoured by many home cooks and praised for their fast heat-up times, ease of temperature control and versatility with different types of cookware. However, a 2021 report from the Climate Council, Kicking the Gas Habit: How Gas is Harming Our Health, sheds light on the dangers of using gas in the home for cooking (and heating).
Poor indoor air quality can have significant negative effects on our health and some of the main culprits of indoor air pollution include household cleaning and personal care products, cigarette smoke, mould and fuel-burning combustion appliances like gas stovetops and heaters.
Swapping a gas stove for an electric one has been associated with a 51% decrease in the levels of nitrogen dioxide in the kitchen after three months
One way to reduce indoor air pollutants is to consider swapping your cooktop from gas to induction. Electric cooktops and ovens have been shown to produce significantly lower levels of air pollutants than their gas counterparts. In fact, one study found that swapping a gas stove for an electric one was associated with a 51% decrease in the levels of nitrogen dioxide in the kitchen after three months.
While there has been limited research comparing induction to electric cooktops, induction is likely to produce even fewer pollutants than electric.
Comparing the efficiency of the different types of cooktops gives you another reason to make the switch from gas to induction. To assess efficiency, our kitchen experts conduct a boil time test whereby they see how long it takes one litre of water to reach boiling point. Our test results show induction cooktops to be the most efficient, followed by gas and ceramic.
So you've settled on a cooktop type, but which brand should you buy? We identify the best cooktop brands based on our test results for gas, induction and ceramic cooktops and feedback from our members.
Our experts have tested more than 115 cooktops in the CHOICE labs over the past six years from all major brands, including AEG, Beko, Bosch, Chef, Electrolux, Fisher & Paykel, Miele, Smeg, Westinghouse and more.
There is no Best Brand cooktop for 2023. We have stringent eligibility criteria for awarding the title of Best Brand, and this year we didn't have enough brands that met our criteria.
Best cooktop brand for 2022: AEG and Bosch
AEG and Bosch took out Best Brand cooktop in 2022, with strong scores in our test results in addition to being reliable brands with highly satisfied customers.
To find out which specific cooktop models we recommend based on our test results, and to make sure you buy the best, click on the 'Recommended' box in the filters section of our gas cooktop reviews, induction cooktop reviews, ceramic cooktop reviews and portable induction cooktop reviews.
Best cooktop brand 2022 scores
1. AEG – 80%
2. Bosch – 80%
3. Fisher & Paykel – 79%
It's important to note that the performance of specific product models may vary quite significantly, so don't assume that one brand's products are the best across the many different features, functions and price points.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.