Do you have a smooth cooktop and still want to can at home?

smooth stove top drawing  

If you have a smooth cook-top and the manufacturer says not to can on it, don’t give up on canning at home quite yet. Consider these alternatives instead: either purchase and install a permanent set of electric coil or gas burners as a range top (without an oven) or purchase a portable electric coil or gas burner.

Cost is one notable difference between the two options. An installed range top can be quite expensive as a second range top, especially as it requires proper utility connections to support it.

As for portable burners, they are not all alike and not all portable burners are appropriate for canning.  Before buying or using a any burner for canning, check the manufacturer's product information or contact their customer service to find out if that particular burner is appropriate to use for canning.

We cannot endorse a particular brand, but here are a few basic guidelines for you to keep in mind when selecting a portable burner for canning purposes:

- The burner must be level, sturdy, and secure. Look for enough height to allow air to flow under the burner, but not such that it will become unsteady with a full, heavy canner resting on it. One we have tested was about 4 inches high off the counter top, on short legs that allowed air circulation underneath but was plenty stable.

- Look for a burner diameter that is no more than 4 inches smaller than the diameter of your canner. In other words, the canner should not extend more than 2 inches from the burner on any side. This is a common recommendation, but also make sure this is the recommendation for your canner and burner brand.

- For electric burners, you want the wattage to be about equal to that of a typical household range large burner.  We have been successful bringing a boiling water canner to boiling with one that is 1500W/120V, but household range burners are more typically 1750W or higher and this kind of wattage may actually be a better choice if you can find it. We have not yet tried using a pressure canner on a portable electric burner.

- You want the burner to have housing that will hold up to the high heat under the canner for long heating periods, and not damage counter tops with reflected heat. We contacted a food-service supply store to help us identify one like this; it cost us about $155. We used it successfully a few times to bring water to a boil, but have not used one repeatedly for canning.

- At least one pressure canner manufacturer advises not to can on an outdoor low pressure gas burner/gas range burner over 12,000 BTU’s. Your pressure canner can be damaged if the burner puts out too much heat. Higher BTU burners could also produce so much heat that the recommended come-up time for canning could be altered, potentially producing an unsafe final product.

- Again, check manufacturer’s directions and/or contact their customer service for more information about appropriate burners. When you are asking manufacturers about canning, specify whether you are asking about pressure canning (much more heat concentration) or boiling water canning. If the manufacturer's directions have been followed, and canning problems occur, then you must take it up with the manufacturer.


The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension has now published a 6th edition of its popular book, So Easy To Preserve. The book was reviewed and updated in 2020. Chapters in the 388-page book include Preserving Food, Canning, Pickled Products, Sweet Spreads and Syrups, Freezing and Drying.