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The centuries-old cooking method known as Chinese hot pot (sometimes called “steamboat”) is the ultimate communal dining experience. Similar to Japanese-style shabu shabu and Swiss fondue, Chinese hot pot is another popular option for casual family dinners and social events.
A simmering pot of liquid is placed in the center of a table and everyone cooks their serving of meat, seafood, and vegetables in the broth. The pot evolves into an aromatic soup as it takes on the flavors of the spices and foods being cooked in it.
Depending on where you live, restaurants specializing in these collaborative meals might be hard to find, but you can easily replicate this fun and healthy dining experience in the comfort of your home with the right cooking vessel.
Most hot pot models are ideal for feeding two to six people. All you need to do is set the table with your hot pot plus a few cooking utensils, like chopsticks, strainers, and spoons and then prep your ingredients.
Here are the best electric hot pots to get your fix at home.
Best Overall: Aroma Housewares Grillet 3-Quart 3-in-1 Electric Indoor Grill
Includes a grill plate
Dishwasher safe parts for easy cleaning
Not available in other color choices
Hot pot is just one of the many uses for the Aroma Housewares 3-in-1 Super Pot. It has a large, deep capacity that holds up to 3 quarts of liquid, and the 10-inch diameter provides a wide enough opening for multiple diners to navigate with chopsticks.
When you’re not making a hot pot, you can also use the different heat settings to simmer, slow-cook, stir-fry, steam, or even keep fondue warm. This model also comes with a 10-inch grill plate, so you can sear meats and vegetables for fajitas.
The adjustable temperature control goes up to 450 degrees, heating the cast aluminum pot quickly and evenly and also has an automatic shut-off feature for safety.
Once you’re done cooking, cleanup is simple: Remove the temperature probe and put the nonstick pot, grill plate, and tempered glass lid into the dishwasher.
Meat, poultry, and fish should be cut and placed in marinade, if using, ahead of time. Cutting proteins into thin slices, no more than 1/4-inch in thickness, will help them cook faster and more evenly in the hot pot broth.
Best Budget: Topwit Electric Hot Pot Mini
Stay cool exterior
Convenient carrying handle
Not the most aesthetic design
For a very wallet-friendly option, try the Topwit Mini Electric Hot Pot. It has a maximum capacity of 1.2 liters, just enough to enjoy the hot pot restaurant experience scaled down to your needs.
This model is ideal for feeding a small family (or a single, hearty appetite with room for leftovers) and compact enough to stow away without monopolizing your cabinet space.
This multi-functioning appliance can also be used for steaming, boiling pasta and noodles, or serving as a tea kettle—particularly useful in smaller, kitchenless spaces like studio apartments, offices, and dorm rooms.
The interior is made of easy-to-clean, food-grade stainless steel and comes with a glass lid. Its rotating base allows for easy maneuvering and also serves as storage for the power cord, and the handle stays cool for easy transport to the table.
Best High-End: Zojirushi Gourmet d'Expert Electric Skillet EP-PBC10
Stay cool pot handles
Wide diameter and large capacity
Can't be used with metal utensils
Zojirushi is known best for its high-quality rice cookers and vacuum flasks, and the brand brings that same standard of excellence to the Gourmet d’Expert.
This is another multi-functional appliance that comes with a deep dish inner pan big enough for a large quantity of hot pot and shabu shabu, a tempered glass lid to help steam dumplings and vegetables, and a titanium-ceramic nonstick plate for grilling.
The pot has an adjustable temperature from 176 to 430 degrees, so you can use it to keep food warm or bring it all the way to a high boil in just a matter of minutes.
In terms of safety, the magnetic cord will detach easily, and the handles stay cool so you can easily move the pot from the base to the table and back without worry.
The entire unit disassembles for easy hand-washing, and the nonstick surface prevents food from sticking (just be sure to avoid using metal tools to prevent scratching the pan). If you need even more capacity, try the slightly more powerful, 12-inch diameter version.
Best for Grilling: City ST The Original Shabu Shabu Hot Pot
Stainless steel construction
Grill plate included
Stainless steel attracts water drops and fingerprints
This hot pot by City ST has a classic shape for shabu shabu but also gives you the option to grill meat or seafood as an alternative to cooking them in simmering broth. With a generous 4.2-liter capacity, you can easily feed a larger crowd as long as you keep the ingredients coming!
Heat up your stock quickly and evenly with the flip of a switch—just choose between the “high” or “low” setting. The barbecue plate sits on top of a raised heating element in the center and is controlled by a separate power switch on the front panel so it can be left off if you aren’t using it.
The bowl is made of stainless steel and can be separated from the base for easy cleaning. It’s a timeless choice for traditionalists!
Best Dual Hot Pot: Aroma Housewares Stainless Steel Hot Pot ASP-600
Stainless steel construction
Dual compartments allow multiple dishes to cook at the same time
Cool touch handles
Some owners note the two cooking compartments heat at different rates
Cooking compartments can't be separated
If your family prefers varying levels of spice, this traditional hot pot with a dual-pot bowl allows you to cook two types of soup at the same time. For the spice seekers, simmer a Sichuan or Mongolian base in one chamber; for kids and those with lower heat tolerance, a milder Beijing-style in the other chamber.
This powerful 1500-watt model has five settings that allow for quick and even heating without using too much energy—the temperature dial on the front gives you great control so your broth doesn’t bubble over.
With a 5-quart total capacity, this pot offers enough room to satisfy the appetites of a family of four or more. The lid has a steam vent so you can also use the pot to steam dumplings.
The stainless steel pot comes with a tempered-glass lid, and both are dishwasher safe for hassle-free cleanup.
The Aroma Housewares Grillet 3-Quart 3-in-1 Electric Indoor Grill (view at Amazon) is our top choice because it's affordable and versatile thanks to its 3-quart capacity and the inclusion of a grill plate. It's also easy to clean, since the nonstick pot, grill plate, and glass lid are all dishwasher safe. The Topwit Electric Hot Pot Mini (view at Amazon) is our favorite if you plan to only use a hot pot occasionally. Its compact design is easy to store and just the right size to feed an individual or small family.
What to Look for When Buying an Electric Hot Pot
The interior of most electric hot pots are either non-stick coated or stainless steel.
The non-stick varieties can be easier to cook and clean, but they're not for everyone. If you prefer to avoid chemicals found in non-stick coatings or don't want to worry about scratching the coating with metal utensils, choose a stainless steel model.
Stainless steel models will take a little extra work to keep clean, but the material tends to be more durable and long-lasting and you don't have to worry about which utensils are safe to use with it.
Electric hot pots come in all sizes that vary in how much broth and food they can hold. The ones on this list range from 1.2 liters up to 5 quarts.
Consider how many people you plan to typically feed with a hot pot meal. If you plan to use a hot pot for entertaining, you'll want to choose one with a larger capacity.If you're dining solo, a smaller model will work.
Some electric hot pots are divided into compartments so it becomes a multi-cooking vessel. Some dividers are designed to allow you to make two separate cooking broths to accommodate different tastes or dietary needs and others enable you to grill and boil at the same time.
If you'd like the option to sear meats and vegetables table-side instead of simmering them in broth, look for an electric hot pot that includes a removable grill or barbecue plate.
Some hot pots also include steaming racks and vented lids for added versatility.
There are a few safety features to look for to keep your space and diners protected.
Check the cord length to make sure it can reach from your table to a nearby electrical outlet. The cords on some electric hot pots attach with magnets, so if it's accidentally pulled, it will detach from the pot without spilling the hot pot contents.
Many models have stay cool handles and/or bases to keep diners fingers and hands safe from burns. Some also have non-slip feet to give the pot extra sturdiness on the table.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
The author of this piece, Bernadette Machard de Gramont, specializes in global food and wine content. As the granddaughter of immigrant restaurant owners, she grew up cooking her family’s Chinese and Filipino recipes. She still enjoys exercising her love of pan-Asian cookery at home by testing out cookware and appliances in a quest to achieve near-restaurant-quality results in a home kitchen.
This roundup was updated by Sharon Lehman, a home cook who happens to be a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She happily makes space for any gadget that make cooking faster and easier and specializes in small kitchen appliance testing and reviews for The Spruce Eats.