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Aug 21, 2011 12:46 PM

Newbie to cooking - portable induction cooktop or portable butane cooktop?

Greetings everyone! I'm just starting my foray into the culinary world so please be gentle.

I currently live in a rental with a budget electric stovetop and it has been hit and miss so far with cooking (uneven heating pattern-more towards one side, unable to gauge level of heating, etc) compared to when I used a gas stove. I am looking at getting a portable cooktop for better control and to develop my skills.

Currently I am looking at either one of these:
Iwatani 35F

Max Burton 6000

Would I be at a disadvantage busting my chops (pun intended) on an induction unit?


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  1. I got some great advice on portable induction from chowhounders here:
    my only regret with the Belgian made BergHoff is that it came with terrible English instructions and I'm still not sure what the temp vs 1-10 heat settings mean. I thought the settings work independently but it doesn't seem like it so far. It has been useful this hot hot summer since it doesn't give off as much ambient heat during cooking as our electric stove. As for control, I haven't burned or scrambled a custard on the portable induction unit yet...

    I've never used a butane unit but if you're renting, check with your lease/landlord/local fire code to make sure you can operate a portable butane stove in your unit.

    1. I'd go with the induction, no need to buy butane canisters all the time, or hassle when they run out in the middle of cooking. You'll need appropriate pans.

      1. Here in south Florida, between the risk of hurricanes and Florida Flicker & Flash, the two are not mutually exclusive. As a matter of fact I have both. The induction caveat is that you need induction friendly cookware. After tinkering with a fagor induction burner, we ended up getting avthermador 36" induction cooktop. Still, sometimevwe pull out the butane burner

        1 Reply
        1. re: mrotmd

          I have both as well.
          I have a couple of portable induction units for the back yard when cookiing out there, and a butane unit that actually gives higher heat for wok cooking. I also keep several canisters on hand and bring it when camping.

        2. I have that exact same Max Burton and I really like it. I paid $75 on Amazon a few months ago, $65 is a great deal. I would recommend you get a 10" tri ply skillet to use it on, you'll discover that the portable induction units have a distinct "ring of heat" that is extremely noticeable in something like a cast iron pan that doesn't conduct heat as well as something like a tri ply skillet.

          1. I have both.

            The Max Burton gets regular use in the kitchen - more so than the regular burners. It is especially nice for small jobs like boiling water for my coffee, and warming leftovers.

            I've had butane stoves for years. I bought the first as a stable stove on a small boat. Now I use it mainly for dining table cooking, such as Japanese hot pot soups. I particularly like it for clay pots (e.g. Chinese sand pots). I also use it outside to char peppers. I get fuel at Asian groceries, 4 cans for $4-5.

            2 Replies
            1. re: paulj

              Thanks for the replies and the great advice everyone!

              Based on the responses and further research, I am leaning heavily towards the induction route.

              I just picked up a new Tramontina triply 8pc set for $70 on eBay, so I'm looking forward to breaking it in.

              So far, I've ordered "Essentials of Cooking" by James Peterson, "I'm Just Here for the Food" by Alton Brown, and the "Joy of Cooking" to start things off. I'm also debating about ordering "The New Making of a Cook" by Madeleine Kamman to round off the fundamentals.

              In the next few months I will pick up "Essentials of Italian Cooking" by Marcella Hazan, and Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen. Maybe "Complete Techniques" by Jacques Pepin?

              1. re: Roland_A

                Hi, Roland:

                A last thought: If you camp, or like cooked food when the power goes out...


                PS Your booklist looks good; by the time you manage those, you won't be able to claim you're a newb. I would suggest you get at least one comprehensive book that is illustrated, such as Good Housekeeping's Illustrated Cookbook.