There’s nothing more comforting on a cold winter night than sitting around a table with your friends and family eating food that you all cooked together. And there’s no better way to do that than hot pot! From broths filled with mouth-numbing Sczechuan peppers to mild Japanese shabu shabu, hot pot is fun and easy to do at home–if you have the right materials.
As the popularity of this traditionally Asian cooking style continues to rise in the West, so does the availability of tabletop heat sources and appropriately shaped pots. The only problem now is choosing! That’s why we’ve put together this quick guide to picking out the right hot pot cooker. If you still find yourself stuck after that, we’ve also included a list of our ten favorite hot pots to start your search.
How to Choose a Hot Pot Cooker – Buying Guide
Having the right materials to make your hot pot can make or break your dinner experience. Here’s how to make sure you’ve chosen the best one for your needs.
Electric or Not: Depends on How Much You Hot Pot
There are two main ways that people cook hot pot: with a regular pot on a portable heat source or with an electric hot pot.
Electric Pots if You Eat a Lot of Hot Pot
Essentially, an electric pot is your pot and your heat source rolled into one machine. It sits on your table, doesn’t require any gas canisters, and often has several different heat settings. Electric pots are great for those who eat a lot of hot pot and would make use of one often.
If you decide to get an electric pot, make sure the pot portion is removable for easy washing.
Non-Electric Pots for Versatility
For those who only eat hot pot occasionally or already have a tabletop stove, it might be a good idea to instead go with just a plain ol’ pot that you can use for other things too. That being said, some pots come as a set with a small induction heater that you could also use with other pots.
Non-electric pots are also better for storing since a single pot will take up less space than an electric option.
Choose Your Pot Material Based on Your Heat Source
There are a couple different standard materials that hot pot cookers can be made from. Each has their benefits, so make sure to consider your needs and cooking styles before buying one.
Ceramic Pots for Direct Heat
Ceramic pots have long been used in traditional cooking for the deep, rich flavor they impart on foods as well as their versatility. They heat slowly, retain heat well, and provide a nice, even cook. Ceramic pots can be used on stove top or even in the oven when you’re not cooking hot pot. However, they cannot be used on induction stovetops.
If you decide to buy a ceramic pot, remember to check to see if you need to season it before you use it!
Stainless Steel Pots for Induction Heat–Just Make Sure It’s Compatible!
While stainless steel doesn’t give off any flavor and can also be used in a variety of situations, they’re one of the only kinds of pots that can be used on induction stovetops. Induction heaters are becoming more popular due to the fact that they don’t actually get hot to the touch. This makes them much safer for use on dining tables, which is how hot pot is normally done.
If you’re getting a stainless steel pot for use with an induction stovetop, make sure it has a compatible magnetic bottom!
Pick a Pot Shape Based on Your Needs
Depending on how you normally eat your hot pot and who you eat with, a particular shape might be better for you.
Go with a 5-Liter Wide, Shallow Pot for Sharing
The typical hot pot pan is wide and shallow, which is perfect for sharing with a group of people. The wide shape allows everyone around the table to reach the food, and the shallow depth ensures that food is relatively easy to see and won’t get lost. It also means that everything will heat up more quickly.
If you have a family of four or expect a small house party, we’d also say you should reach for a pot that can hold at least five liters.
Split Pots are for Families with Different Tastes
Split pots are the same size as a normal hot pot dish but usually have two sections that are completely sealed off from one another. This allows you to cater to different tastes by having two different types of broths in one pot. These are also good if there are vegetarians in your group and you don’t want any meat contamination.
With these, always test to make sure the divider is properly sealed before you use it. Doing so is as simple as pouring water into one half and checking to see if any seeps over to the other side.
Use a Small, Deep Pot for Various Dishes for One
Smaller volume, deeper pots are best used by college students or single people in small living quarters. These types of pots are usually multi-functional and can be used to make almost anything you’d make in a normal pot. Basically, they’re good for those without a stove, or they can be used as an addition if you have only one burner.
Top 5 Best Electric Hot Pot Cookers to Buy Online
For all you hot pot fiends and shabu shabu addicts, start your search here.
5. Sonya Electric Shabu Shabu Hot Pot with Divider
Large Split Pot with a Compact Base
This little hot pot machine is perfect for those who eat hot pot on the regular. The 5-liter pot is divided in half, which makes it great for large groups with differing tastes. The base, which has a controllable heat dial, is compact and takes up very little table space, leaving lots of room for your veggie and meat plates.
However, this pot is a bit of a one trick pony. While the pot does come off the base for easy washing, both parts are shaped so that they can basically only fit each other. Additionally, the divider doesn’t come out of the pot (which is a good thing for liquid sealing!), so this pot can really only work for hot pot.
4. Aroma Housewares Stainless Steel Hot Pot
Two Easy-to-Reach Sections for Indecisive Hot Pot Lovers
This uniquely shaped pot features two separate, concentric sections. Instead of a divider that splits the pot down the middle, the two circular sections are equally reachable by everyone at the table. The top portion is removable for easy washing and holds up to 5 liters.
The base has a dial to control heat at five different levels, and at 1500 watts, it heats up very quickly. That being said, some reviewers have noted inconsistent quality control, so be sure to test out both the base and pot before inviting your friends over for a hot pot party.
3. Zojirushi Gourmet d’Expert Electric Skillet (EP-PBC10)
High-End Pot for Hot Pot, Sauteeing, and Grilling
This one machine can cook almost anything. The non-stick pot measures 10.5″ in diameter and 2.75″ deep, which makes it the perfect size for not only hot pot but also grilling or frying. The base has a precise temperature control dial that ranges from 175ºF (great for keeping your hot pot warm) all the way up to 430ºF (for frying).
The top portion is also not only removable for easy cleaning but can also be put directly on the stove top. The only major downside to this electric hot pot is the fact that it costs nearly $100. While it is amazingly versatile, the cost might be prohibitive for some.
2. Dezin Electric Hot Pot
Safety Forward Hot Pot for One
This cute 1.5-liter electric hot pot is perfect for one person. It’s surprisingly powerful for its size–its 600 watts can boil water within just a couple of minutes. This pot has three different heat settings and includes several safety features including protection from overheating and continuing to boil when the pot is dry.
Though it’s a little expensive for its size, this little pot can easily work as a multi-functional stove replacement for students in dorms without kitchens or those living in small apartments. Aside from hot pot, it’s great for noodles, oatmeal, and eggs (it even comes with a special rack to make boiled eggs!).
1. Aroma Housewares 3-in-1 Super Pot with Grill Plate (ASP-137)
Versatile and Completely Dishwasher Safe
Need something that does more than just hot pot but can still fit easily on your dining room table? You might want to check this one out. This electric hot pot has a ridged grill plate bottom, so you might not want to try to fry an egg on it, but other than that, this electric hot pot is perfect for almost anything you can do on the stove.
It can heat up to 450ºF, has an auto-shutoff feature, and comes with a tempered glass lid. One really unique thing about this electric hot pot is that everything–the lid, the removable pot, and the outer base–is dishwasher-safe, making for truly easy cleaning.
Top 5 Best Non-Electric Hot Pot Cookers to Buy Online
Already have a tabletop hot plate? Great! Start your search here.
5. MyLifeUNIT Shabu Shabu Hot Pot
Standard Hot Pot with a Well Welded Divider
This very well might be the exact pot you’ll find at your local hot pot restaurant. This stainless steel pot is 12″ in diameter and is split neatly in half for twice the soupy goodness. The divider is welded in to ensure that it doesn’t leak (which might sometimes leave a small imperfection on the outside of the pot).
The bottom is induction stove-friendly, but it can also be used on a gas stove. It’s thin and therefore heats up quickly, but that also means that the sides get hot very quickly as well. However, the handles have a rubberized grip, so no matter how hot the pot gets, you’ll still be able to grip it.
4. Rosewill Induction Cooker Cooktop and Pot
For the Novice Home Hot Pot-er
If you’ve been meaning to get an induction hot plate, this might be the perfect opportunity. This induction stove and stainless steel pot make for a great hot pot starter kit. The pot itself is 10″ in diameter and holds up to 3 liters, making it the perfect size for a small party.
The induction hot plate has eight temperature settings ranging from 150º to 450º, which works for everything from keeping your food warm to deep frying. The plate can accommodate any induction stove-friendly pot from 5″-10.2″ in diameter, has a built-in exhaust fan, and non-slip feet.
3. Crazy Korean Cooking Korean Stone Bowl
Small Pots to Use (Almost) Anywhere
This ceramic pot will help you make delicious hot pot for many years. It has been double glazed and fired so even though the porous clay allows it to maintain heat for a long time, you don’t have to worry about water seeping in. This pot also comes with a plastic trivet to protect your table (and your hands!).
This bowl is dishwasher safe and can be used on basically anywhere besides induction stovetops–gas stoves, coil stoves, ovens, and even in the microwave. Although this pot comes in five different sizes, the largest still only holds 6 cups, so these are best for use by just one or two people at a time.
2. Cooks Standard Classic Stainless Steel Stir Fry Pan
Versatile Pot that Works on Any Heat Surface
If you’re looking for a classic pan that can be used for hot pot and much more, this is your guy. It is 12″ in diameter and holds up to 5 liters, making it perfect for a large group. The bottom of the pan features an aluminum plate that allows the heat to spread evenly while the riveted handles remain cool.
This pan can be used on induction stove tops, gas burners, coil stoves, glass top stoves, and is oven safe to 500ºF (350ºF for the lid). Both the pan and the lid are dishwasher-safe, making them easy to clean. However, some reviewers have noted that this pan might have some discoloration from heat over time.
1. Cooklover Ceramic Coated Hot Pot with Divider
High-Capacity Hot Pot
If you find yourself constantly hosting hot pot parties, this is the pot for you. It’s 12″ in diameter, which is about standard, but it’s also much deeper than your average hot pot, so it can hold much more. This pot is made from a ceramic-coated aluminum cast, and has an induction stove-friendly bottom (though it can also be used on gas stoves or other direct heat sources).
Both the knob on the lid and the handles are silicone for easy handling. This beautiful pot comes in three different scratch-proof colors–green, orange, and purple. To ensure the longevity of the coating, make sure to use softer utensils made of materials like silicon, nylon, or wood.
So there you have it! Whether you’re looking for a hot pot-specific pot or want something a little more versatile, hopefully this guide has helped you make the hot pot of your dreams.
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