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 a 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.
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. Many hot pots also allow you to steam dumplings, grill meats or veggies, or even slow cook. To help you find one for your kitchen, we rounded up the best options below.
Aroma Housewares Grillet 3-Quart 3-in-1 Electric Indoor Grill
Includes a grill plate
Dishwasher-safe parts for easy cleaning
On the smaller side
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Hot pot is just one of the many uses for the Aroma Housewares 3-in-1 Super Pot. It 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 hot pot, you can use the different heat settings to simmer, slow-cook, stir-fry, steam, or even keep fondue warm. Just note that if you're cooking for a large crowd, you may have to refill your broth frequently, as it's not as big as some of the other options listed. 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 Fahrenheit, 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.
Price at time of publish: $45
Material: Nonstick aluminum | Capacity: 3 quarts | Temperature Range: 212 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit | Dimensions: 13.39 x 12.8 x 7.09 | Weight: 4 pounds
Meat, poultry, and fish should be cut and placed in a marinade, if using, ahead of time. Cutting proteins into thin slices—no more than 0.25-inch in thickness—will help them cook faster and more evenly in the hot pot broth.
Topwit Electric Hot Pot Mini
Exterior stays cool
Convenient carrying handle
Not the most aesthetic design
For a very wallet-friendly option, the Topwit Mini Electric Hot Pot has a maximum capacity of 1.3 quarts, which is just enough to get the hot pot restaurant experience scaled down to your needs. This model is ideal for small spaces and compact enough to stow away without monopolizing your cabinet space.
This multi-functioning appliance can also be used for steaming just about anything, 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. The handle stays cool for easy transport to the table.
Price at time of publish: $26
Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 1.3 quarts | Temperature Range: Low, high | Dimensions: 5.8 x 5.2 x 8.8 inches | Weight: 2.46 pounds
Zojirushi EP-RAC50 Gourmet d'Expert 1350-Watt Electric Skillet
Stay-cool pot handles
Wide diameter and large capacity
Can't be used with metal utensils
This is another multi-functional appliance that comes with a deep inner pan, 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 480 degrees Fahrenheit, 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.
Price at time of publish: $105
Material: Nonstick titanium and ceramic | Capacity: 3 quarts | Temperature Range: 176 to 480 degrees Fahrenheit | Dimensions: 17.625 x 15 x 8.125 inches | Weight: 9 pounds
Aroma Housewares Stainless Steel Hot Pot ASP-600
Stainless steel construction
Can cook multiple dishes simultaneously
Compartments sometimes heat at different rates
Compartments can't be separated
If your family prefers varying spice levels, this traditional hot pot with a dual-pot bowl allows you to cook two types of soup at the same time. For spice lovers, simmer a Sichuan or Mongolian base in one compartment; for kids and those with lower heat tolerance, make a milder Beijing-style in the other compartment.
This powerful 1,500-watt model has five settings that allow for quick and even heating without using too much energy—the temperature dial on the front lets you choose from low, medium, and high heat settings so that your broth doesn’t bubble over.
With a 5-quart total capacity, this pot offers enough room for four or more people. 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.
Price at time of publish: $66
Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 5 quarts | Temperature Range: Low, medium, high, warm | Dimensions: 16.25 x 13 x 8.5 inches | Weight: 5.9 pounds
Sunpentown Multi Cooker Shabu Shabu and Grill
Excellent for grilling
Adjustable temperature control dial
Can grill, boil, steam, and more
Smaller capacity than some other options
This multi-use pot can be used for simmering, steaming, making Mongolian hot pot or shabu-shabu, and grilling. It has a 3-quart stainless steel pot, a 1.5-quart grill pan, and a see-through tempered glass lid. It also includes a steam rack and mesh strainer for even more versatility.
This has a dial for controlling temperature and an indicator light to show that the pot is working. The handles are designed to stay cool during cooking. The downside of this pot is that instructions are minimal, so it might take some experimenting to figure out how to use the pot.
While other hot pots allow pouring from the container, the design of this one means you’d need to scoop or ladle the food out of the pot.
Price at time of publish: $63
Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 3 quarts | Temperature Range: Adjustable dial | Dimensions: 12 x 12 x 9 inches | Weight: 6.5 pounds
Best for Grilling
City ST The Original Shabu Shabu Hot Pot
Stainless steel construction
Grill plate included
Stainless steel attracts water drops, 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 4.4-quart 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.
Price at time of publish: $70
Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 4.4 quarts | Temperature Range: Low, high | Dimensions: 13 x 13 x 8.5 inches | Weight: 9 pounds
The Aroma Housewares Grillet 3-Quart 3-in-1 Electric Indoor Grill is affordable, versatile, and easy to clean thanks to its dishwasher-safe 3-quart nonstick pot and included grill plate. The Topwit Electric Hot Pot Mini is an affordable and space-saving option that makes soups like hot pot, boils noodles or tea, and even steams various foods.
What to Look for in an Electric Hot Pot
The interior of most electric hot pots is either nonstick-coated or stainless steel. The nonstick varieties can be easier to cook in and clean, but they're not for everyone. If you prefer to avoid chemicals found in nonstick 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 range in how much food they can hold. The ones on this list range from 1.3 quarts up to 5 quarts. Consider how many people you plan to feed with a hot pot meal. If you plan to use it for entertaining, you'll want to choose one with a larger capacity. If you're dining solo or with another person, 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 cook two separate broths to accommodate different tastes or dietary needs, and others enable you to grill and simmer 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 also have stay-cool handles and/or bases to keep diners' fingers and hands safe from burns. Some have non-slip feet to give the pot extra sturdiness on the table.
How do you make hot pot?
Ingredients are prepped ahead of time, which may involve slicing meat and fish, cleaning and trimming vegetables, and slicing tofu. The ingredients that will be cooked in the hot pot should be arranged on serving platters, taking care to keep raw meat and seafood separate from other ingredients.
You'll also need to gather or prepare dipping sauces and side dishes ahead of time.
A large pot of broth can be prepared on the stovetop and then transferred to the hot pot as needed, so you don't run out of broth during the meal. The broth can be homemade or store-bought.
How do you eat hot pot?
Diners share the communal hot pot of broth to cook their food directly at the table. Chopsticks and baskets are used to place meats, seafood, vegetables, and noodles into the boiling broth to cook. Different elements of the meal have different cooking times, so the dining party is continually retrieving items from the pot and placing new ones in to cook.
Each diner places only a few items in the pot at a time. Placing too many ingredients in the pot at once overcrowds the pot, lowers the temperature of the broth, and increases cook time. It's customary to serve a variety of dipping sauces to pair with the cooked ingredients.
Can you make rice in an electric hot pot?
No, the hot pots aren't designed to cook rice. Rice needs to be cooked in an enclosed cooker or lidded pot, and not all hot pots come with lids. If you want to serve rice with your hot pot spread, it's best to prepare it in a rice cooker or on the stovetop.
How do you clean an electric hot pot?
The cooking pot, lid, and any accessories can be washed by hand or placed in the dishwasher. Check the manual for exact cleaning recommendations.
Make sure the hot pot is unplugged and allowed to cool before cleaning. The electrical components can not be submerged in water. The exterior of the pot can be wiped with a damp cloth.
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 Katya Weiss-Andersson, a writer and editor with almost a decade of experience as a professional chef, and Sharon Lehman, RDN, a home cook who happens to be a registered dietitian nutritionist.