What every best Cooktops has:
- Easy cleanup.
- The right types of burners.
- A useful burner layout.
Best electric cooktop
GE Profile PP9030SJSS
Electric cooktops are available with either coil burners or smoothtop surfaces, which hide radiant elements below a glass or ceramic pane. Smoothtops are outpacing coil cooktops in popularity, but plenty of folks still love their coil models, so we cover that type as well at the end of this section. Induction cooktops look similar to radiant smoothtops, but use electromagnetic rather than radiant heating to cook food; you can find out more about those in their own section. If you think you'd prefer a gas cooktop, those are also covered elsewhere in this report.
In the electric smoothtop category, we can confidently recommend the GE Profile PP9030SJSS (Est. $1,500). It's been our Best Reviewed selection for the last two years and this year's research found no reason for knocking it off its perch. It's as popular as ever with owners, and earns top feedback with experts, with Excellent ratings for its performance at both low and high heat from Consumer Reports.
The GE Profile PP9030SJSS is fully featured. Its five elements include a center 9 inch/6-inch Power Boil dual element with an output of up to 3,100 watts. There's also an 8 inch/5-inch dual element with an output of up to 2,200 watts; two 7-inch, 1,500 watt elements; and a 6-inch, 1,200 watt element. A SyncBurners feature acts to bridge the two 7-inch elements, letting you heat large cookware, such as a griddle, evenly. That, along with the addition of a keep-warm mode and a melt setting, give the PP9030SJSS the versatility needed to handle most cooking situations.
The cooktop's contemporary look is enhanced by its Glide Touch digital controls, which let you set heat levels precisely with one swipe. There's a built-in timer, and that can be set to time the entire cooktop or to time each element independently. For safety, there's the usual hot surface warning indicator, but also a lock-out control to prevent accidental activation by a curious child or a rambunctious pet. Some functions, such as LED brightness, touch-control feedback and alarm loudness, can also be customized to some extent.
There is plenty of owner feedback for the GE Profile PP9030SJSS and it's overwhelmingly positive. Most users praise it's sleek, modern, high-end appearance and say it doesn't lag one bit in performance either. Quite a few who replaced a broken or older smoothtop are amazed at how powerful this GE cooktop is. Complaints about performance and reliability are few and far between. Those that do register lower feedback largely do it over drawbacks that all black smoothtops have in common -- that they show every dust mote and smudge, and that as the smoothtop is glass, scratches can appear with rough -- or even not-so-rough -- handling. The PP9030SJSS is black with a stainless steel trim, but it also comes in plain black as the GE Profile PP9030DJBB (Est. $1,400).
The KitchenAid Architect Series KECC604BSS (Est. $1,100) is another solid choice in this category. It actually costs a few hundred dollars less, and Consumer Reports gives the otherwise-identical black version, the KitchenAid Architect Series KECC604BBL (Est. $1,000), a slightly higher rating (94 points out of 100 overall versus 92 points).
What keeps this KitchenAid out of our top spot is that it earns slightly lower ratings overall from owners and many of the reviews we spotted are extremely brief, originate from the manufacturer's web site and were submitted in exchange for an incentive such as a free sample or sweepstakes entry -- something that often skews the ratings upward. Still, when you dig into the reviews and focus only on those that are verified purchases and were not part of the manufacturer's promotion, the KitchenAid KECC604BSS is clearly a very well-liked cooktop. Owners say it's very easy to use and an excellent performer as well.
While not quite as feature-rich as the GE Profile Series, what the KECC604BSS offers plenty of versatility for most people. The four elements include a flexible element for either 9- or 12-inch pots; a 10-inch, 3200-watt element; and two 6-inch elements, one is 1300 watts and the other is 1200 watts. It also has the usual array of indicator lights to show the burners are on -- or that they're still hot after they're turned off.
The only real quibble we saw regarding the KitchenAid KECC604BSS are the type of controls -- standard knobs rather than the sleek digital controls found on more upscale-looking cooktops. Located on the right side of the cooktop, some do say that they make this unit very easy to use, others note that it's simply not a very attractive look and they wish they'd gone for a cooktop with digital controls.
Another worthy choice in this category, and one that costs less than $1,000, is the Whirlpool Gold G7CE3034XP (Est. $800). In testing at Consumer Reports, the black version of this Whirlpool cooktop (this model is white) performs well enough to earn a Best Buy rating. It also does well in testing and has a decent number of features. One notable plus is a dual-element 3,000 watt burner that can be switched between 9 inches and 12 inches in diameter to accommodate different sized pots and pans. That burner also has an AccuSimmer mode that allows for more precise low-heat cooking for preparing sauces, melting chocolate and similar tasks. The rest of the burner lineup includes a 10-inch 2,500 watt burner and a pair of 6 inch 1,200 watt burners. For safety, a hot surface warning lights when any of the elements are in use.
On the downside, as with the KitchenAid, it lacks digital controls and we see some comments from people who say it doesn't look as high-end as smoothtops without knobs. However, as again is the case with the KitchenAid, others specifically call out the knobs for their ease of use and for the side location that makes it hard for little hands to reach. The knobs are dishwasher safe, and the ceramic glass cooktop cleans up with a wipe. That said, while the majority of owners report high satisfaction, many of those posting lower scores do so over challenges of keeping their cooktop clean -- a complaint we see about every smoothtop there is.
As noted, the Whirlpool Gold G7CE3034XP is a white 30-inch cooktop. The black version is the Whirlpool Gold G7CE3034XB (Est. $800). If you want something just a little more upscale, it's also available in black with stainless steel trim as the Whirlpool Gold G7CE3034XS (Est. $900).
Though the Whirlpool cooktop is modestly priced for an appliance with this level of performance and satisfaction, and you can often find it on sale for even less, if your budget is tighter still, we found some smoothtop cooktops that are regarded nearly as highly, yet are priced lower still.
The Frigidaire FFEC3024LB (Est. $500) is a terrific choice for those who want top performance from a cooktop, but don't want to pay top price. It earns Best Buy status at Consumer Reports, as well as a rating of Very Good for high heat performance, Excellent for low heat. Owners agree, giving it strong feedback (for example a 4.5 star rating at Home Depot based on more than 150 reviews) and praising its fast, consistent heating. It features four cooking elements, two are 6 inches and two are 9 inches. None are flexible (meaning one burner can accommodate two pot sizes), but most users say there's still enough flexibility for the majority of cooking tasks.
Although the Frigidaire FFEC3024LB is a fairly basic looking smoothtop cooktop -- it only comes in black and has control knobs, not digital controls -- we saw very few complaints about its appearance. It seems to be a particularly popular choice for those who are upgrading from an electric coil cooktop -- they say it's really given their kitchen a more modern vibe. As with all black smoothtops, we saw the usual complaints of the cooktop showing every smudge, and confusion over how to keep it clean, something we give some advice about in the buying guide of this report.
The black GE JP3030DJBB (Est. $600) is just a little pricier than the Frigidaire FFEC3024LB, but it also offers two additional color options: white as the GE JP3030TJWW (Est. $650) or black with stainless steel trim as the GE JP3030SJSS (Est. $700).
Reviewed is a fan of the GE JP3030DJBB, giving it a score of 8.8 out of 10 and an Editors' Choice nod. It's not the most feature-rich cooktop the site has tested, but Kori Perten says that "You'd be hard-pressed to find a better deal," adding that "the JP3030DJBB isn't just one of the most affordable cooktops we've tested—it's also pretty darn good at cooking your food." In testing, it brings six cups of water to a boil in just over 7 minutes, which Perten says is "good enough"
The GE JP3030DJBB has four standard burners with a melt setting and a keep warm setting that adds some versatility. Perten says that the four burners -- two 8-inch, 2,500 watt Power Boil elements and two 6-inch, 1,200 watt standard elements -- have "excellent temperature range, from mild lows to screaming highs."
Users largely agree. Though the cooktop scores a little bit lower than Frigidaire, most give the GE JP3030DJBB pretty good marks. They particularly praise the Power Boil feature, which most say is much more powerful than previous cooktops they have owned. It's also reported as easy to install. Again, many of the lower ratings we see are due to a lack of understanding of how to clean the cooktop.
Smoothtop cooktops may be all the rage these days, but electric coil cooktops are still more common than most people realize, especially in apartments, rentals and older homes. In addition, some people who move to a smoothtop dislike them so much they go back to coil cooktops. While coil cooktops are harder to clean in some ways -- because you have to remove or lift the coils to clean them when food falls through -- they also don't show every single scratch, smudge, splotch or dust mote like smoothtops do.
Ease of cleaning is one of the reasons the GE JP328SKSS (Est. $400) is so well-liked. The lid is hinged and features a support rod to easily lift it and clean underneath. As with most coil cooktops, the drip bowls are removable and can be tossed in the dishwasher. And, if they get really stained, they can be easily replaced.
Although no experts review electric coil cooktops, owners say the GE JP328SKSS heats very quickly and maintains consistent temperatures. The stainless steel version, which we cover here, also comes in for a lot of praise for its attractive appearance. It's also available in black as the GE JP328BKBB (Est. $320) or white as the GE JP328WKWW (Est. $320).
The 30-inch GE JP328SKSS has two 6-inch burners and two 8-inch burners that provide 5,600 to 7,400 watts of power. There is an indicator light to let you know when the cooktop is on. The knobs, which are removable and dishwasher safe, are located on the front of the cooktop and have temperature options that range from one through nine as well as low and high settings. Owners say the JP328SKSS is very easy to install, even if you're replacing a smoothtop.
For a little less money, the Whirlpool WCC31430AR (Est. $315) is another popular choice with owners. It's also a four burner (two 8 inches and two 6 inches) cooktop, with the controls located on the side. It's a bit less powerful than the GE at 2,350 and 1,500 watts, but owners say it still heats up plenty quickly. It's also not quite as easy to clean since it does not lift up, but most praise the SpillGuard design that helps keep spills under control. The knobs are removable for tossing in the dishwasher.
The Whirlpool WCC31430AR, which is chrome, is reported as attractive and easy to install. It also comes in black as the Whirlpool WCC31430AB (Est. $285) and white as the Whirlpool WCC31430AW (Est. $285).