Cooktop Buying Guide
The Perfect Cooktop

Swapping a range for a cooktop can be an appealing option. The look is sleek and modern plus you have some flexibility where you install your new cooktop. Just know that wherever you install a new cooktop in your kitchen, it's best to store pots and pans in a cupboard under the cooktop.

Factors to Consider

Size
Most cooktops are 30 or 36 inches wide, so that's what we test. But you’ll find cooktops ranging from 21 to 48 inches. Some have five or even six burners, but that doesn't mean you'll have room to use them all at once.

Fuel
For cooktops, both electric and gas are capable of delivering a fine performance. But you may find it easier to judge heat by the 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 almost immediately. 

Electric elements tend to heat faster and maintain low heat better than gas burners. Electric induction cooktops use an electromagnetic field to directly heat pans, offering quick response and control. In our tests no other technology was faster than the fastest induction elements, but we're talking 2 to 4 minutes faster to bring 6 quarts of water to a near boil. 

Cooktop Types

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

Image of a smooth electric cooktop.

Smoothtop

Electric radiant smoothtops are the popular pick. All of the models we tested 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 really settle at the lower setting. Smoothtops do make it easy to clean up spills, but require a special cleaner, and dropped pots and sugary liquids can damage them. 

Electric cooktops Ratings
Image of an induction cooktop.

Induction

Electric induction cooktops use magnetic coils below the ceramic glass surface to quickly generate heat directly to the pan, offering precise simmering and control. You'll see these models in our Ratings of electric cooktops. 

Magnetic cookware is needed for induction to work. If a magnet strongly sticks to the bottom of a pot, it will work with an induction cooktop. Some stainless-steel cookware is induction-capable, and some isn't.

Electric cooktops Ratings
A gas cooktop.

Gas

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 low.

Response time is particularly quick, especially when compared to 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 with most gas burners you can strike a match to light them when your power is out. Dinner by candlelight. Not so bad. 

Gas Cooktops Ratings

Features Worth Considering

Some features really do boost safety and convenience.

Cooktop Brands

Bosch: This higher-end brand offers a full selection of German-engineered kitchen appliances. Bosch gas, electric, and induction cooktops are priced from $800 to $3,300. Bosch is sold at Lowes, Sears, Best Buy, and independent appliance retailers.
GE:This midlevel, mass-market brand sells a variety of appliances. The line includes gas and electric cooktops priced between $500 and $1,500. The appliances are sold through Sears, home centers, and independent appliance retailers. GE Profile: This midlevel, mass-market line includes gas, electric, and induction cooktops priced from $700 to $2,000. GE Monogram: This higher-end line offers pro-style gas, electric, and induction cooktops that cost $1,400. Monogram appliances are usually sold through independent appliance retailers.
Jenn-Air: The cooking line from this higher-end brand includes gas and electric cooktops priced from $820 and electric wall ovens starting at $1,500. Jenn-Air was the first to introduce self-ventilated cooktops. The appliances are sold through Sears, home centers, and independent appliance retailers.
KitchenAid: This high-end brand sells gas, electric, and induction cooktops that cost $800 to $2,100. KitchenAid appliances are sold through Sears, home centers, and independent appliance retailers.
Miele: This luxury maker sells gas and electric cooktops that cost $1,450. The appliances are sold through independent appliance retailers.
Thermador: This luxury brand sells pro-style gas, electric, and induction cooktops that cost $1,725. The appliances are sold through independent appliance retailers.
Viking: This luxury brand sells gas, electric, and induction cooktops that cost $2,200. Viking is considered the original pro-style brand. The company adds premium features to its ovens and cooktops and offers the Professional and the Designer series, both sold through independent appliance retailers.
Whirlpool: This midlevel, mass-market brand sells gas and electric cooktops priced between $630 and $1,000. The appliances are sold through Sears, home centers, and independent appliance retailers.
Wolf: This luxury brand sells gas, electric, and induction cooktops that cost as much as $5,200. Wolf targets consumers who want a pro-appliance look and high performance. These appliances are sold through independent appliance retailers.
Other brands to consider include Frigidaire, Kenmore, and Maytag.
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