This portable grill is a tiny kitchen game-changer
We made eggs, burgers, and more with the A4Box.
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Making delicious meals is a labor-intensive, rewarding process—but the clean-up? There's not much joy to be found there. I hate washing dishes and wiping down the stovetop so much that I try to avoid it as much as possible, and I'm always receptive to new ways of cooking that don't splatter everything with a layer of grease.
That's why the A4Box caught my eye. I was flipping through Instagram when the pastel-blue, minimalistic-looking hot plate popped up, complete with fitted pans and accessories. The appliance claims to "revolutionize home cooking" by offering an interactive solution to tabletop cooking with minimal clean-up. It all sounded very appealing—but does it really work? We put it to the test alongside the Bruno, a similar cooktop from Japan, to see if it's worth the investment.
What is the A4Box?
Marketed as a portable, multifunctional induction hot plate, the A4Box consists of a heating base and interchangeable pots and pans that are designed to fit on top of the induction surface. Induction cooking uses electromagnetic energy to heat pots and pans directly, which means it’s much faster and more efficient at heating cookware than gas or standard electric. Induction is able to deliver roughly 80% to 90% of its electromagnetic energy to the food in the pan. In comparison, gas converts a mere 38% of its energy.
The box comes with two nonstick grill plans included—one flat griddle and one standard grill. To get it running, you’ll first need to securely fit a pot or pan onto the base, and then turn on the heat switch to start cooking, similar to an indoor grill. There are four temperature settings: Low, Medium, High, and Keep Warm. If you need to switch pans while making multiple dishes, you can use the finger mitts included in the package to safely swap out the hot pans.
Unlike traditional hot plates that have a limited variety of compatible cookware, the A4Box has additional tools (some included, some for purchase) that can transform it into a slow cooker, deep fryer, indoor grill, and breakfast station. Owing to its sleek and compact design and stackable pots and pans, this A4Box is easy to store in small homes.
I cooked with the A4Box—here’s what happened
To see how the A4Box hot plate stacks up, we fried eggs, flipped pancakes, grilled bite-sized burgers, sautéed asparagus and more.
On the flat pan, we made six small pancakes within minutes. The flat pan can make two standard pancakes at a time. Thanks to the A4Box’s induction heating system, almost everything cooked faster on the A4Box than one the Bruno, another portable cooktop we tested. The nonstick coating and included silicone spatula made handling delicate foods like eggs a breeze.
We also made a few batches of takoyaki, a popular street food from Japan, in the pan with ball-shaped divets. The traditional recipe contains small chunks of octopus meat, but you can also use ham or eggs. Typically, this specialty pan is made of cast iron with half-spherical molds as big as meatballs. The A4Box contains 24 molds and is made of aluminum die-cast with nonstick coating.
Throughout testing, the A4Box was able to turn the takoyaki batter into mostly evenly-cooked balls within 20 minutes. There were two hot spots on the top and bottom left corners, but overall the A4Box delivered satisfying results.
Although A4Box's primary selling point might be its compact size, it's also branded as a new, interactive way to approach tabletop cooking so we tested its hotpot capability at a dinner party. Somewhat like fondue, Asian-style hotpot lets guests place fresh ingredients into a pot of broth until fully cooked. We found the A4Box can comfortably accommodate five to six people sitting around the pot.
As a result of its induction heating technology, the A4Box was able to bring three quarts of broth to boil in just three minutes. As the A4Box keeps the broth at a simmer when adjusted to medium heat, guests can enjoy their food without worrying about it getting cold. The highest temperature the A4Box can reach is 482°F.
How much does the A4Box cost?
At an upfront cost of $249 (save 10% with the coupon code REVIEWED), the A4Box portable cooktop comes with multiple tools that are designed to help new users to learn how to use it, including two nonstick pans, a pair of silicone finger mitts, two measuring spoons, and a spatula. Having those tools included guarantees you can bring the box anywhere and start cooking immediately.
Although the two complimentary pans are sufficient for daily use, you can purchase a set of three additional pans on the company’s website for $89 if you want to expand your A4Box cooking repertoire. This set includes the takoyaki pan, a ceramic-coated soup pot, and a grill pan with six discs that allows you to cook eggs and pancakes at the same time.
Is a portable cooktop right for you?
A portable cooktop like the A4Box can be useful in many ways. For people who live in tiny apartments that lack space for multiple pots and pans, an A4Box might be right for you. Or, if you’re like me and hate wiping down a greasy stovetop after cooking, the A4Box offers a cleaner, more hassle-free way of doing one of America’s most-hated chores. For those who are travel enthusiasts, this attractive and functional cooktop can help you cook on-the-go.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.