Cooktop Buying Guide

    Cooktop Buying Guide

    There are plenty of reasons to choose a separate cooktop and wall oven for your kitchen, as opposed to a range. For starters, you can mount the oven higher up in wall cabinets, so you don’t have to bend to pull out a large roasting pan or a hot tray of cookies. You also gain some flexibility with your kitchen’s layout—if you’re adding the appliances as part of a larger remodel, you can install a cooktop in an island instead of against a wall. You can mix and match cooktops and wall ovens from different brands, securing the best performance across appliances. And you can freely mix heat sources, opting for a gas cooktop and an electric wall oven.

    Keep in mind, however, that supply chain issues still exist and may affect availability, particularly for electric smoothtop and induction cooktops. Not all appliances have been hit equally by shortages and back orders, though. You may find you have an easier time securing a cooktop, as opposed to a range, because ranges are more popular. But buying a new cooktop and a wall oven at the same time might prove to be more difficult. So if you’re redoing your kitchen, or replacing the major cooking appliances, make sure you can buy both appliances at the same time. Our advice? Look to local independent dealers, consider scratch-and-dent models or floor samples, or be ready to be flexible about which models you select—some models can ship in days; some may take months. 

    Factors to Consider

    Size
    Most cooktops are 30 or 36 inches wide, so we test models in these sizes. But they can be as small as 21 inches and as large as 48 inches, too. Many have five or six burners, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have room to use them all at once. Generally, most 30-inch cooktops have four or five burners, and most 36-inch cooktops have five or six. 

    Fuel
    For cooktops, both electric and gas are capable of delivering decent performance. But with gas, you may find it easier to judge heat by appearance of the gas flame. And when you turn the knob from high to medium on a gas model, the pot and the food in it experience that change in temperature almost immediately.

    Electric elements tend to heat faster and maintain low heat better than gas burners. But burners need time to react, so pots and pans take longer to adjust to changes in temperature.

    Induction cooktops use the same hookup as a regular electric model, but they use an electromagnetic field to directly heat pans, offering quick response and control. In our tests, induction tends to be the fastest to heat water and the best at maintaining a steady simmer. But you’ll need magnetic cookware for the induction elements to work. 

    If you qualify, the Inflation Reduction Act might save you some money on an electric cooktop, including an induction model. Eligibility for rebates depends on how much you earn and where you live.

    Cooktop Types

    Choose from electric smoothtop, electric induction smoothtop, and gas. Each has its advantages.

    Electric Smoothtop Cooktop

    Electric Smoothtop Cooktop

    Electric radiant smoothtops are the popular pick over induction, largely because they cost less. All the models in our ratings have at least one high-power burner. Most have expandable dual or triple elements that let you switch from a large, high-power element to a small, low-power element within it. 

    There is a lot of residual heat, so when reducing the heat, it can take a few minutes to settle at the lower setting. Smoothtops make it easy to clean up spills, but they require a special cleaner, and dropped pots can crack the glass surface, while sugary spills can stain the cooktop permanently. 

    Electric Smoothtop Cooktops Ratings
    Induction Cooktop

    Induction Cooktop

    Electric induction cooktops use magnetic coils below the ceramic glass surface to quickly generate heat directly to the pan, offering precise simmering and control.

    Magnetic cookware is needed for induction to work. If a magnet strongly sticks to the bottom of a pot, the pot will work with an induction cooktop. Some stainless steel cookware is induction-capable, and some isn’t. As a group, induction cooktops are the fastest to heat and best at maintaining a steady simmer.

    Prices have also dropped in the past few years. The Inflation Reduction Act—providing incentives for electric cooktops and ranges, including induction—can also make this option more wallet-friendly for eligible buyers.

    Electric Smoothtop Cooktops Ratings
    Gas Cooktops

    Gas Cooktops

    If you prefer cooking with gas, we get it. The flame makes it easier to judge the heat, to get a feel for it, and to quickly move from a high setting to a low one.

    Response time is particularly quick, especially when compared with a smoothtop. When you turn the knob from high to medium on a gas cooktop, the pot and the food in it experience that change almost immediately.

    And you can strike a match to light most gas burners when your power is out. Of course, you’ll need natural gas or propane service at your house if you want to install a gas cooktop.

    Gas Cooktops Ratings

    Cooktop Brands

    This higher-end brand offers a full selection of German-engineered kitchen appliances. Bosch gas, electric, and induction cooktops are sold at Best Buy, Lowe’s, and independent appliance retailers.

    This midlevel mass-market brand sells a variety of appliances, including gas, electric, and induction cooktops. The appliances are sold through home centers and independent appliance retailers. GE is also the parent company behind Café, Monogram, and Profile appliances.

    The cooking line from this higher-end brand includes gas and electric cooktops. Jenn-Air was the first to introduce self-ventilated cooktops. The appliances are sold through home centers and independent appliance retailers.

    This high-end brand sells gas, electric, and induction cooktops. KitchenAid appliances are sold through home centers and independent appliance retailers.

    This popular manufacturer of gas, electric, and induction cooktops offers models in 30- and 36-inch sizes.

    This luxury appliance maker sells gas and electric cooktops. The appliances are sold through independent appliance retailers at a premium price.

    This manufacturer makes gas and electric cooktops (including induction), primarily in 30- and 36-inch configurations.

    This luxury brand sells pro-style gas, electric, and induction cooktops for high-end kitchens. The appliances are sold through independent appliance retailers.

    This luxury brand sells gas, electric, and induction cooktops with big price tags. Viking is considered the original pro-style brand. The company adds premium features (such as heavy-duty knobs) to its ovens and cooktops, and offers the Designer and Professional series, both sold through independent appliance retailers.

    This midlevel mass-market brand sells gas and electric cooktops. The appliances are sold through home centers and independent appliance retailers.

    This luxury brand sells gas, electric, and induction cooktops. Wolf targets consumers who want a pro look and high performance. These appliances are sold through independent appliance retailers.