Cooktop Reviews

Editor's note:
It's practically a landslide win for GE in this update. They dominate in the electric smoothtop, electric coil, induction AND gas cooktop categories. However, we found terrific budget and runner up choices with Frigidaire, Whirlpool and KitchenAid, with Therrmador a high-end option.
 
GE Profile PP9030SJSS Review
Specs that Matter
Cooking elements - 5Flexible elements - 2Colors - Black with stainless trim, plain black
Best Reviewed

Best electric cooktop

GE Profile PP9030SJSS

Excellent performance, useful features and a stylish look make the 30-inch GE Profile PP9030SJSS smoothtop electric cooktop easy to recommend. It includes two expandable heating elements to handle virtually any size of stovetop pot or pan. Gone are old-fashioned knobs, replaced by easy-to-use Glide Touch controls. Cooking performance is excellent, whether bringing water to a boil in no time flat or gently simmering delicate sauces. The PP9030SJSS has a black ceramic glass top with stainless steel trim, the GE Profile PP9030DJBB (Est. $1,200) is the same cooktop in plain black.

Frigidaire FFEC3024LB Review
Specs that Matter
Cooking elements - 4Flexible elements - 0Colors - Black
Best Reviewed

Best cheap smoothtop

Frigidaire FFEC3024LB

Although its MSRP Is $629, it's not unusual to find the price of the Frigidaire FFEC3024LB hovering around $400, which makes a compelling case for seeing if you'd like to switch to a smoothtop cooktop. In spite of the low price, it gets raves from experts and owners for its terrific performance and fast heating. There aren't a lot of features, and it's only offered in black, but that doesn't seem to bother too many people; especially those who bought it to upgrade their kitchen and say it looks plenty upscale.

GE JP328SKSS Review
Specs that Matter
Cooking elements - 4Flexible elements - 0Colors - Stainless, black, white
Runner Up

Electric coil cooktop

GE JP328SKSS

If you still love an electric coil cooktop -- as many people do -- you'll be very happy with the GE JP328SKSS. Owners say the JP328SKSS is very easy to install, heats up quickly, and consistently maintains the chosen temperature. The hinged lid with support rod makes it very easy to lift and clean underneath the cooktop, too. This is the stainless steel version, it also comes in black as the GE JP328BKBB (Est. $300) or white as the GE JP328WKWW (Est. $300).

GE Cafe CHP9530SJSS Review
Specs that Matter
Cooking elements - 4Flexible elements - 1 bridgeColors - Gray with stainless steel trim
Best Reviewed

Best induction cooktop

GE Cafe CHP9530SJSS

The 30-inch GE Cafe CHP9530SJSS induction cooktop gets great ratings in owner and professional reviews. Performance is excellent, it's very stylish, and it's loaded with features -- including digital Glide Touch controls that allow you to precisely set power levels. Other pluses include a feature that syncs two elements together for use with large pots and pans, or a griddle -- and one is included with the cooktop. The cooktop comes in gray ceramic class with stainless steel trim, and a similar 36-inch version is also offered.

GE Café CGP650SETSS Review
Specs that Matter
Cooking elements - 5 burnersFlexible elements - 0Colors - Stainless
Best Reviewed

Best gas cooktop

GE Café CGP650SETSS

The GE Café CGP650SETSS is a 36-inch, stainless-steel, pro-style gas cooktop that looks as good, and performs as well, as models that cost hundreds more, earning raves from experts and owners. It has five heavy-duty sealed burners that range from 5,000 to 20,000 BTUs, topped by continuous cast-iron grates that make it easy to slide heavy pots from one burner to another, and the grates are easy to remove and are dishwasher safe for cleaning. For smaller spaces, there's also a 30-inch version.

Whirlpool WCG51US6DS Review
Specs that Matter
Cooking elements - 5 burnersFlexible elements - 0Colors - Stainless, black, white
Best Reviewed

Cheap gas cooktop

Whirlpool WCG51US6DS

The 36-inch Whirlpool WCG51US6DS isn't a pro-style cooktop, but most owners say it looks plenty high-end in their kitchen. They also love the continuous grates, report that the WCG51US6DS is very easy to clean, and that it performs very well. Five burners offer plenty of flexibility, and the simmer burner comes in for particular praise. This version is stainless, but it also comes in black as the Whirlpool WCG51US6DB (Est. $630) or white as the Whirlpool WCG51US6DW (Est. $630).

A cooktop is a great choice for a flexible kitchen design

Imagine taking your range, and just cutting off the top cooking surface -- what you end up with is a cooktop. While cooktops are no help if you have to bake a cake or roast a turkey, what they lack in functionality they make up for in flexibility, at least in terms of kitchen design and layout. Since they're not attached to a large oven, cooktops can be installed anywhere in the kitchen, including in a kitchen island, perfect for making cooking a social activity.

If you choose to go with a cooktop in your kitchen instead of a range, you'll also need a wall oven in order to bake. We cover both in separate reports. And, to wrangle the smoke and grease from skillet cooking, you'll need a range hood as well.

Types of Cooktops
Smoothtop Electric Cooktops

These are by far the most popular type of electric cooktop. They feature radiant burners under a layer of ceramic glass. Experts say the burners on smoothtops excel at maintaining temperature, particularly for simmering. Basic smoothtop electric cooktops may have only four burners of fixed sizes, but higher-end models will typically have more, including flexible burners that can accommodate several different pan sizes; special burners for quick boiling or low, slow simmers; and bridge burners for very large pots or oblong griddles. Most electric cooktops measure 30 inches wide, but some 36-inch models are available.

Electric Coil Cooktops

Electric coil cooktops are largely being supplanted by smoothtops, but reports of their death has been greatly exaggerated. Many people love this type of cooktop, and we saw plenty of comments from owners who -- fed up with finicky smoothtops that showed every smudge -- went back to coils. Coil cooktops are easier (and cheaper) to repair if they break and, unlike smoothtops, you don't have to worry about scratching or breaking the unit's surface. They also tend to be a lot cheaper than smoothtops.

Induction Cooktops

Induction cooktops also have smooth glass surfaces, but they use electromagnetic elements that heat the pan directly rather than transferring heat from a radiant element to the pan bottom. Cookware must be magnetic -- made of stainless steel or cast iron -- in order for an induction cooktop to work; glass and ceramic cookware won't do. (We have suggestions for induction cooktop-compatible cookware in our cookware report.) In professional tests, induction cooktops excel at quickly boiling water and holding a precise simmer. Because the induction process heats the cookware material itself -- rather than applying heat with an exposed burner or cooking element -- these cooktops stay relatively cool to the touch.

Gas Cooktops

Many people adore gas for stovetop cooking for several reasons: they can actually see the heat level, temperature adjustments are instantaneous, and there's no waiting for a burner to heat up. Gas cooktops typically have four or five burners with at least one high-powered burner (for tasks such as boiling water) and one smaller burner (for simmering or keeping food warm). The heat output of each individual burner is measured in British thermal units (BTUs). Most gas cooktops have sealed (one-piece) burners, which are easier to keep clean than unsealed models because there's no burner well for crumbs to fall into. Many gas cooktops -- even some basic models -- have continuous grates that fit together seamlessly so you can slide heavy pots and pans between burners. Gas cooktops are typically available in both 30- and 36-inch widths.

Finding The Best Cooktops
Our Sources1. ConsumerReports.org
Cooktops and Wall Ovens2. Reviewed.com
Cooktops3. HomeDepot.com
CooktopsSee All

Overall, we found ConsumerReports.org to be the best source for cooktop reviews. Editors report test results for around 40 electric, induction and gas cooktops on their website. Cooktops are tested on their ability to boil water under high heat, and simmer tomato sauce and melt chocolate under low heat without scorching. However, rankings and test results are available only to subscribers. Reviewed.com is another helpful source. It does not review as many cooktops as ConsumerReports.org, but does a more complete job of discussing a model's high and low points. Again, coverage includes gas, electric and induction cooktops.

Even more helpful are the user reviews that help us evaluate how well a cooktop performs in the real world as opposed to a test lab. Most of the cooktops in this report receive dozens -- and sometimes hundreds -- of reviews at sites like HomeDepot.com, BestBuy.com, Lowes.com and elsewhere. Amazon.com even carries a few cooktops that get enough feedback to be helpful. However, with the exception of BestBuy.com and Amazon.com, many user review sites now incorporate feedback that was originally posted elsewhere -- most often manufacturer sites -- into their ratings. We took duplicate feedback at various sites into consideration when evaluating user reviews to get as accurate a read as possible on actual user satisfaction with a given cooktop.