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The Best Portable Burners
An extra burner comes in handy, but which style—gas, electric, or induction—is the best choice?
What You Need To Know
We tested electric- and gas-powered portable burners to learn the pros and cons of each style and compared them to our winning and Best Buy portable induction burners. Our top-rated gas burner, the Grill Boss 90057 Dual Fuel Camp Stove, offers the flexibility of using either butane or propane. Powerful and easy to use and clean, it aced every cooking test. (Note: Gas burners should be used outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.) Our top-rated electric burner, the IMUSA USA GAU-80305 Electric Single Burner 1100-Watts is inexpensive and tiny and got the job done. It was simple to operate and maintain. If you can’t have a gas burner in your space and want even more power at your disposal than our winning electric burner has to offer, an induction burner is a great choice.
What You Need to Know
A portable burner is useful as a spare stove on holidays and during power outages, when traveling in an RV, for cooking tableside or outdoors—even just for messy frying projects in the backyard. They can be perfect in tiny kitchens or for access to a different technology (gas, induction, electric) than what’s installed in your kitchen.
We’ve previously tested and recommend portable induction burners. This time, we’re branching out to include gas and electric models, which are often less expensive and offer different advantages. The models in our lineup were priced from about $12 to about $110. On our wish list: plenty of cooking power, excellent temperature control, simple operation, and easy maintenance.
What to Look For
- Powerful Heating: Of the electric models, only our favorite had enough oomph to boil, stir-fry, and sear effectively. It had the highest wattage, and outshone its electric competition every time we used it. That said, it also took three times as long as the gas burners to boil water. Our gas burners ranged in power from 7,600 BTUs to 15,000 BTUs, and all boiled faster and heated more powerfully than the electric burners. Even the weakest (and least expensive) gas burner heated well.
- Dual-Fuel Burners: We tested with a variety of pans from skillets to saucepans to Dutch ovens, but not every burner could handle them all. This affected what we were able to cook on them. One small electric model had a weight limit, eliminating Dutch ovens (or stockpots full of food or liquid). Others limited pan sizes—or should have. The weakest electric burners only heated a small area, giving us a hotspot in the middle of a 12-inch skillet; they fared better with small pans. Gas burners using butane forbid pans larger than 9 to 10 inches across, because wider pans can extend over the fuel canister (which sits in a chamber n...
Everything We Tested
Reviews you can trust
Reviews you can trust
The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.