There are three main types of cooktops to choose from (gas, ceramic and induction) and we're here to guide you through those decisions, and help you pick the cooktop that's best for you.
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.
Ideal if you're after instant heat control. Gas cooktops use an electronic ignition system that creates a spark (the 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.
- Visual feedback when you raise and lower the flame.
- 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 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.
- 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
Before buying, check that mains gas is available where you live. If it isn't and you're still set on a gas cooktop, then you can use bottled LPG with many models, but keep in mind this is more expensive than mains gas.
Worth considering if you're after a sleek and stylish design. Ceramic cooktops have coiled metal elements under the glass surface and are electronically heated.
- 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, such as melting chocolate.
- Not as instantly controllable as gas; they are 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'd 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.
- Fastest cooking method and just as controllable as gas.
- Very quick to heat up.
- Responds instantly to temperature changes.
- Food is cooked via the heat of the cookware, not from the cooktop itself so the cooktop doesn't get hot.
- Easier to clean than other cooktops.
- Generally more expensive than ceramic or gas cooktops.
- You can only use certain types of cookware that are compatible with induction. Suitable cookware needs to have a ferrous base.
- Usually needs a dedicated circuit, typically 20 amp or greater, which will need to be installed by an electrician.
Our induction cookware buying guide reveals what you need to know about induction compatible cookware.
Freestanding cookers (or upright cookers or freestanding oven and cooktop)
These combine your cooktop and oven in the one unit and can come in gas or electric configurations. See 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 utilise a coil element to heat the cookware. The 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. This also makes them the least controllable.