How to Use A Hot Plate? 5-in-1 Complete Guide

By Kristy Warren •  Updated: 01/30/21 •  16 min read


Hot plates are alternative cooking appliance, which is more convenient to stoves, induction cooker, and typical gas burners.

But using a hot plate may look somewhat complicated, in case you’re using it for the first time.

In this guide, we’ve talked about 5 aspects of using a hot plate that includes cooking/warming, cleaning, safety concerns, energy consumption, and handling/carrying different kinds of hot plates. By the end of it, you’re supposed to be 100% confident about how to bring the most out of your hot plate without any help.

Seems promising? Buckle up and let’s go right in-

What is a hot plate?

A hot plate is a portable heating instrument that is often used as either a stove or as a replacement of a gas burner or oven where full kitchen facilities aren’t available.

Hot plates usually have a flat surface of both round/rectangular shapes. They also come in various sizes and the smaller ones are mainly perfect for traveling.

Typically, nowadays most of the hot plates are electrical-powered. Within that, there are both corded and cordless electric hot plates in the market. But gas-fired ones were also available in the 19th century.

How Do Hot Plates Work?

hot plate heating element


Simply put- hot plates or electric hot plates work by converting electric energy into heat energy that helps in cooking.

Electric wire is hidden under the metal coil(usually aluminum) of a hot plate. If you switch the hot plate on, an AC current of about 600-1500W power runs at 8-12 amp throughout the wire. Because of the molecular resistance of the aluminum coil, the electrons collide and produce heat energy in the coil. This heat is transferred to your cooking pot via the glass or metal cooking surface.

Unlike gas or firewood, there are no flames involved. Even sometimes, there’s no glass/metal cooking surface involved in hot plates, and you can directly put cookware directly on top of the coil. the Elite Gourmet ESB-300X is an example. These are called ‘open’ heating elements.

Usually, hot plates run on AC power from a wall outlet. You might wonder about how do cordless hot plates work?

Well, cordless hot plates can retain heat within their metal heat sink(cast iron) even when it’s not plugged in. So, you need to plug it in for 8-10 minutes and heat it up, and it will keep your food warm for 1-2 hours while unplugged. Cordless Warming Tray by Salton is a good model of this kind, in case you’re interested.

How to Use Electric Hot plate? A 5-Step Guide

Using a hot plate is somewhat easy if you are aware of the right ways of doing it. To make sure you get a foothold on every aspects of using a hot plate, we’ve splitter the guide into five segments-

  1. Cooking and heating on a hot plate.
  2. Cleaning hot plates.
  3. Safety and casualties of using a hot plate.
  4. Eenergy consumption and how to optimize it with a hot plate.
  5. Transporting, storing, and carrying a hot plate.

Given that you’re a regular, household user of a hot plate, this guide should take you through everything you need to know about how to use a hot plate. Let’s start with cooking and heating on a hot plate.

Part 1 of 5: Cooking/Heating on A Hot Plate

As you know by now, corded hot plates are used to both cook and reheat food. On the other hand, cordless or portable hot plates are used to keep the served food warm. Hence, we’ll talk about how to use corded hot plates first, and move on to the cordless one later.

Using A Corded Hot Plate for Cooking/Warming

Cusimax Hot Plate Electric Burner

Credit: Hot Plate Electric Burner)

Here’s a simple and generic guide to cooking a dish on a corded hot plate-

  1. First of all, place a stove heat-resistant pan on the hot plate. Make sure to dry the lower bottom of the pan. If you need to spray oil, do it before putting the pan on the plate.
  2. Now plug in the hot plate and turn it on moderate mood, select the watt and desired cooking temperature. Don’t keep the hot plate turned on without placing a pan on top of it for long.
  3. Add the ingredients while the pan is being hot on the plate.
  4. Cook the dish according to your recipe. Use protective gloves while handling the hot pan on the plate. Never touch the pan while it is still hot. In case you’re heating it up
  5. After the cooking is done, remove the pan from the plate. Unplug the plate if you are not going to use it for now. Let it cool for the time being.

Using A Cordless/Portable Hot Plate for Keeping Served Food Hot

Cordless Warming Tray by Salton

Credit: Warming Tray by Salton)

Cordless hot plates are heated up first and they are supposed to retain that heat for 1-3 hours. Here is how to use a cordless hot plate for keeping your served food warm-

  1. Plug the power cord in of the portable hot plate or hot tray, and turn the power on.
  2. Heat the hot plate for 8-10 minutes. If there’s any indicator of saturation, that would help you to measure the timing better. Otherwise, just use a stopwatch app on your phone to time precisely.
  3. Unplug the device and detach the power cable.
  4. Place it on a secure surface where food is supposed to be served. Place ceramic, glass, metal or any oven-friendly containers to hold the food.
  5. Keep using it for the next 1-2 hours, which is the usual heat retention timespan for cordless hot plates.

Part 2 of 5: Cleaning A Hot Plate(Regular/Deep Dirt and Rust)

Metal or glass, over regular use, hot plates get dirty to dirtier. On different kinds of hot plate material, different forms of dirt take place. So, it’d be hard to pull off a generic, go-to guideline to clean every dirt on every hot plate under the sky.

To make things simpler, let’s address the kinds of dirt you’d see on a hot plate, followed by their respective cleaning solutions-

Cleaning Burnt Food, Grime, and Grease from Hot Plate

On regular usage, these are the most common kinds of dirt you need to clean from your hot plate. Burnt food, oil, grease, grime- they’re pretty easy to remove, but the removal has to be done almost after every cooking session. Upon ignorance, it becomes tougher and becomes harder to clean.

To make such cleaning fast and effective, you can use a griddle cleaning kit, which comes with scrappers, pads, and handles as well. It works for both glass and metal top hot plates.

Cleaning Tough Stains, Burnt Marks from Hot Plate

the next kind of threats are a bit stubborn and will take a little more effort to clean. We’re talking about the oil stains, tough burnt marks, built-up grimes, etc. They take place mostly on hot plates made of tempered glass, enamel, and aluminum hot plates.

To clean these tough enemies might look like a lot of scrubbing for you, but actually, it’s not. A deep cookware cleaner like this one from Weiman or this one from Cerama Bryte is good enough. Just make sure you’re following instructions of the respective products carefully, and cleaning at least once in a couple of weeks.

Cleaning Rust From Hot Plate

Metal cookware catches up with rust, almost all the time. The same goes for metal hot plates, no matter how ‘protected’ the brands claim to be. It also takes place if the hot plate is left unused for a long span of time.

Said so, cleaning it can be somewhat tough, but not impossible.

Using a water-based rust remover like Evapo-Rust ER004 makes it pretty easy to take off the surface-level rust from cast iron burner or nearby metal surfaces of a hot plate. In absence of that, a solution of 2 tsp baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar will also do.

Rust that is deeply rooted, might not be entirely restored. But cleaning once every couple of weeks or so makes the hot plate function better.

Part 3 of 5: Safety and Protection from Hot Plate

Although, safety and risk factors are usually addressed in laboratory hot plates. But for kitchen hot plates, it’s no less of a concern at all. We’ve splitter the safety concerns into a few segments, and each of them carries equal importance for the user.

Have a look-

Basic Operating Safety

While using a hot plate for cooking and warming, a number of safety cautions have to be maintained. Here’s a list that you can follow-

Overheat Protection

One of the primary safety concerns of electric cookware like hot plates is overheating protection. But the good news is, it’s taken care of by the manufacturer most of the time.

Usually, brands incorporate a number of overheat protection modules built-in hot plates. For example, this model from CRUX has an auto shut off after 120 minutes. Some like Cusimax Hot Plate have a thermal fuse with it, which cuts off once the temperate hits a preset value. The same can be obtained via a thermostat as well.

Temperature Controls of A Hot Plate

Controlling the temperature properly is essential for cooking the food properly. And many hot plate models have a temperature control system. You can control the temperature by adjusting the voltage and power you are using for the hot plate. Comparing to induction cookers, the control of temperature is more diverse and precise.

Some plate has set for different types of cooking. You just need to press the button and the plate will automatically adjust the temperature according to the cooking style. In our expert’s opinion, one of the best hot plates currently available on the market is the Elite Gourmet Countertop Electric Hot Burner for your regular everyday uses.

Surface Protection

To make sure that the hot plate doesn’t slip off the surface that it’s on, every hot plate comes up with 4 feet with non-slip rubber feet on the bottom. All you have to make sure is, you’re not plating the hot plate on a wet, slippery, or included surface. Especially portable/cordless hot plates that have to be moved from place to place, has to be placed on secure surfaces.

Electric Safety

When you’ll plug a hot plate into a wall socket, it would intake anywhere from 700W to 2000W. And as an electric appliance, this might be pretty threatening, in case your wall socket is not capable of the load.

So, the first electric safety concern is to check if your wall socket is powerful enough for a hot plate. Follow this step by step guide to check this compatibility-

  1. Determine your available power on the wall outlet by multiplying the ‘Amp’ and ‘Volt’. For North America, there is 12-15 amp load at 110V. So it’d be- 110V x 15 amp = 1650W.
  2. Assuming that, the system efficiency is 90%, the available power a wall outlet would be able to provide will be= 1650W x 90% = 1320W.
  3. Now check if your hot plate watt is below the calculated wall limit of the wall outlet. Any hot plate below 1300W should be running smoothly without any electric threats.
  4. Otherwise, either use an outlet with more ampere load or go for a hot plate with less wattage.

Apart from justifying the load-consumption balance, also look for a faulty wall outlet or any leakage on your circuit board before plugging in a highly power-hungry device like a hot plate.

Part 4 of 5: Energy and Power Consumption

Hot plates are already pretty popular as an energy-effective way of cooking. Typically, if a 1200W single burner hot plate runs for 1 hour/day for 30 days straight, this will consume 36 kWh of units. Which will cost $5.2 a month. For double burner would cost about 75 kWh, which is about $9.9 in terms of energy bills.

On top of that, with a few hacks, you can save even further energy bills. Have a look-

Part 5 of 5: Storing, Handling and Transporting Hot Plate

The last but not the least aspect of using a hot plate is- how to store, handle and transport them safely. Especially, heavyweight cordless hot plates that are made of cast iron or so, are pretty tough to handle. For corded hot plates that claim to be portable, traveling with them from placer to place would be tough.

To save the day, we’ve put together a few handling and transporting tips for both corded and cordless hot plates. Let’s skim through them-

Are hot plates allowed in hotels and dorms?

On hotels and dorms, hot plates are allowed to cook onto if there’s a kitchen. In absence of a kitchen, this may be considered as a fire hazard. You should ask the hotel and dorm upfront in case you’re trying to use a hot plate in there.

Are hot plates allowed on planes?

If your hot plate is not heavy enough to surpass the airline’s weight limit, you can carry a hot plate on planes. For some planes, the maximum appliance weight limit can be as low as 6 kilograms.

Some Tips Before You Go

The main purpose of a hot plate is to prepare or reheat already cooked dishes. But there are a few things you need to keep in mind while using a hot plate:

  1. Try to avoid using any metal pan on the hot plate since it can damage the hot plate and cause accidents.
  2. Dry the lower surface of the pan before putting it onto the hot plate. Otherwise, both the hot plate and the pan will be damaged over time.
  3. Never put anything that is not stove heat-resistant on the hot plate.
  4. Use heat-resistant gloves while working with the hot pan on the hot plate.
  5. Don’t use the hot plate near any flammable and volatile objects.
  6. If there is any crack in the hot plate heating surface then don’t use the hot plate without repairing it or without asking the manufacturer.
  7. Maintain the recommended temperature for a different kind of cooking in the user manual.
  8. Most importantly don’t move a hot plate when you are done with using it. Let it cool in a safe place before storing the hot plate.

Make sure you are following these safety measures while using a hot plate so that you can avoid an accident.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are hot plates safe?

If handled right, both cordless and corded hot plates are safe to operate and use. Watch out for the electric and heat casualties before you operate a hot plate for the first time.

How well do hot plates work?

Hot plates work just fine when it’s about cooking, boiling, baking, and heating any food. For cordless hot plates, they work pretty fine to keep y9oru served food warm for about 1-2 hours.

Are hot plates electric?

Yes, in 2021, most commercial and residential hot plates are electric. They use electric energy to run it through a metal coil, that heats up the cooking surface.

Are hot plates energy efficient?

Hot plates of up to 150oW are pretty energy efficient and consume about $5-10 of energy per month. For higher watts, the energy consumption might go higher.

How much do hot plates cost?

Corded hot plates usually cost from $30 to $150, based on size, technology, and design. Corded hot plates are a bit expensive and can go up to $200.

How hot do hot plates get?

Residential hot plates can go up to 465F, which is about 1800W of power. For lower watts as in 200W, the temperature would stay around 200F.

Are there battery-powered hot plates?

No, there are no battery-powered hot plates available. If you want to use a hot plate for remote use, you can heat them up by plugging them in a wall outlet and keep them hot for about 2 hours.

Do hot plates need to be plugged in?

Yes, hot plates do need to be plugged in if you want to cook/boil/fry on them. If you want to keep the food just warm, you can do that without plugging the hot plates in.

Final words:

Hot plates are really a convenient way of cookery even in a place where a full kitchen facility isn’t possible. But you have to be careful while using a hot plate otherwise it can cause severe injury. And take good care of your hot plate to maintain longevity.

Kristy Warren

Hello, I’m Kristy and the person behind I regularly post daily life kitchen-oriented things like kitchen hacks, kitchen tools, utensils, and related articles. The purpose of this blog is to make an archive and share my ideas and knowledge with my followers.