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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 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.
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 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.
Material: Nonstick aluminum | Capacity: 3 quarts | Temperature Range: 212-450 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 1/4-inch in thickness will help them cook faster and more evenly in the hot pot broth.
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 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.
Material: Nonstick titanium and ceramic | Capacity: 3 quarts | Temperature Range: 176-480 degrees Fahrenheit | Dimensions: 17.625 x 15 x 8.125 inches | Weight: 9 pounds
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 lets you choose from low, medium, and high heat settings, 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.
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
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!
Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 4.2 liters | Temperature Range: Low, high | Dimensions: 13 x 13 x 8.5 inches | Weight: 9 pounds
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.
Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 1.2 liters | Temperature Range: Low, high | Dimensions: 5.8 x 5.2 x 8.8 inches | Weight: 2.46 pounds
The Aroma Housewares Grillet 3-Quart 3-in-1 Electric Indoor Grill (view at Amazon) is affordable, versatile, and easy to clean thanks to its dishwasher-safe 3-quart nonstick pot and included grill plate. The Zojirushi Gourmet d'Expert Electric Skillet (view at Amazon) is another favorite. The wide diameter and large capacity make it a good choice to feed bigger families.
What to Look for When Buying an Electric Hot Pot
The interior of most electric hot pots is 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.
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 vegetables, noodles, dumplings, and 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 cooking broth during the meal. The broth can be homemade or store-bought—you can find premade hot pot broth in the Asian supermarket aisle or at local Asian grocery stores.
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 couple of 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 Sharon Lehman, a home cook who happens to be a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She happily makes space for any gadget that makes cooking faster and easier and specializes in small kitchen appliance testing and reviews for The Spruce Eats.