The most common electric kettle is a stainless steel kitchen appliance with an enamel coating. Like traditional kettles, an electric kettle is made out of a body used to hold water with a connected handle and spout. However, an electric kettle is designed with a heating element either at the bottom of the water reservoir or in a chamber right below the reservoir. While primarily used to heat water, an electric kettle can also be used to:
- Clean shoes
- Make hot chocolate
- Blanch vegetables
- Cook pasta
When an electric kettle is plugged in and turned on, electricity flows through the connected heating element which brings water inside the reservoir to a boiling point of 212°F (100°C.) Certain electric kettles have a built-in thermostat used to turn off the appliance when it reaches a certain temperature. Compared to stovetops, which are 70% energy-efficient, electric kettles are 80% energy-efficient. A typical electric kettle will consume 1500 watts of energy per hour which costs $0.18 per hour.
Electric kettles are either made of plastic, stainless steel, glass, copper, or a combination of two or more of these materials. Electric kettles will vary in size with small or compact models with a 0.5-liter capacity and larger models with a 2-liter capacity. The average electric kettle has a 1.5-liter to 1.7-liter capacity and can boil 6 cups to 7 cups of water at a time which is much more suitable for bigger households. For small families, a compact version is best as it has a 2-cup capacity.
Depending on the features and model of the electric kettle, its speed will differ. An average electric kettle will boil water in 7 minutes, but high-powered electric kettles are able to heat up water to boiling point in 2 minutes to 4 minutes. An average electric kettle with basic features can cost around $15 to $30. On the other hand, high-powered models with larger capacities and are of higher quality can cost $100 to $200. Models with features like choosing precise temperatures for black coffee (212°F or 100°C) or green tea (175°F to 185°F or 79°C to 85°C) will also be on the more expensive side.
An electric kettle will last 4 years to 5 years depending on its make, model, use, and maintenance. While this appliance is typically used to simply boil water for beverages, it can also be used to make instant meals. Another way to use the electric kettle is to use it as a rice cooker or a soup maker. Other use cases of an electric kettle include:
1. Heat Up Milk
An electric kettle can be used to heat up the milk. For the first method, pour the desired amount of milk into the electric kettle. Plug in the appliance and leave the lid of the electric kettle open to prevent the milk from boiling over. Turn on the appliance and let it heat up the milk for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Pour warm milk into a mug and consume.
You can also pour a small amount of water into the electric kettle first. Use about ¼ cup of water. Pour milk into a steel cup and place it into the appliance and into the water. Plug in and turn on your electric kettle. When your electric kettle shuts off automatically, carefully take out the steel cup and pour milk out into a mug.
2. Wash Cutlery
Also, an electric kettle can be used to sanitize cutlery. Place silverware or metal utensils into the electric kettle. Fill up the reservoir with enough water to cover the cutlery and place the electric kettle onto its heating element. Plug in and turn on the appliance then let it boil the water. When the water has reached 212°F (100°C) or your appliance automatically turns off, let the utensils sit in the boiling water for 10 minutes. When the time is up, pour out the water and carefully remove the cutlery from the electric kettle. Use oven mitts or a kitchen towel to handle the hot cutlery if needed.
Another way to wash cutlery using an electric kettle is to first boil water to the maximum capacity of your appliance. In a pot or large pan, place silverware or metal utensils that you would like to clean. After the water has reached a boiling point of 212°F (100°C), pour the hot water into the pot or large pan with the cutlery inside of it. Cover all utensils with water and let them sit in boiling water for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the cutlery and wipe them down with a paper towel before use.
3. Boil Eggs
Alternatively, an electric kettle can be used to boil eggs. Depending on the capacity of your electric kettle, gently place 1 egg to 4 eggs into the water reservoir. Add water into the appliance making sure that there is about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water covering the tops of the egg or eggs. Plug in your appliance and turn it on. Let the water reach 212°F (100°C) before turning it off manually or wait for the electric kettle to shut off automatically. Fill up a bowl with cold water and ice then use a spoon or plastic tongs to remove the eggs from the electric kettle. Let the eggs rest in the cold water for 1 minute to 2 minutes before removing the shell and consuming.
For hard-boiled eggs, after the water has reached boiling point and the appliance is turned off, leave the egg or eggs in the electric kettle for 15 minutes. While waiting, proceed to fill up a bowl with cold water and ice. After 15 minutes is up, transfer the eggs into the cold water and peel off their shells.
4. Boil Water
Of course, an electric kettle is used to boil water. First, fill up the reservoir with water making sure that you are staying within the recommended fill line. Place the appliance on its base and plug it ib. Make sure that the lid is secure before turning on the appliance. Let the electric kettle run for 2 minutes to 7 minutes depending on your model. If the electric kettle does not turn off automatically, turn it off when there is intense bubbling or when the water reaches a temperature of 212°F (100°C.) Pour the hot water out into mugs or a pot.
5. Cook Rice
An electric kettle doubles as a rice cooker. First, take 1 cup of rice and thoroughly wash it. Then, let the rice soak in water for 20 minutes to 30 minutes. When the time is up, drain the rice and place it into the electric kettle using a spoon. Add ½ liter or 2 cups of water into the reservoir, plug in your electric kettle, and let the rice cook. Stir occasionally. When the electric kettle is finished and turns off automatically, leave the rice in the appliance for 15 minutes to 20 minutes. Drain any extra water, fluff the rice with a fork, and scoop it onto a plate or into a bowl. Consume immediately.
6. Make Oatmeal
Also, an electric kettle can be used to make oatmeal. First, add ⅓ cup of water and ⅓ cup of milk of your choice into the electric kettle. Plug in the appliance and turn on the electric kettle. Let the milk and water boil for 2 minutes to 7 minutes or wait until the appliance shuts off automatically. Afterward, add ½ of the oatmeal into the reservoir and stir continuously. Stir until the oatmeal has softened. Transfer oatmeal into a bowl and top with cinnamon, sugar, or fruit.
To make instant oatmeal, add ½ cup of oats into a bowl and set it aside. Add 1 cup of water into the electric kettle and let it boil for 2 minutes to 4 minutes or simply wait for the appliance to turn off after the water has reached boiling point. Pour ¾ cup of hot water into the bowl with instant oatmeal and stir. Let the instant oats sit in the hot water for 2 minutes before giving it another stir and adding your favorite toppings.
7. Clean Shoes
Alternatively, an electric kettle can be used to deodorize shoes. First, fill up the electric kettle’s water reservoir with water up to the maximum capacity. Place the electric kettle on its base, plug it in, and turn on the appliance. Let the water boil for 2 minutes to 7 minutes. While the water is boiling, place your shoes onto a clean surface outdoors or in the sink. When the water has reached boiling point, pour the hot water into each shoe. Add about a teaspoon of bleach into each shoe afterward. Let the water and bleach solution sit for 5 minutes to 10 minutes. When the hot water is cool, pour out the water and place your shoes into a pillowcase or cloth bag. Place your shoes into the washing machine and let it run through a Normal cycle. Let the shoes air dry before use.
8. Sanitize Bottles
Another way to use an electric kettle is as a bottle sanitizer. If you have a 1.5-liter to a 2-liter capacity electric kettle, place all bottle parts into the water reservoir. Add water into the appliance filling it all the way to the maximum capacity or until the entire bottle is submerged in water. Plug in your appliance and turn it on. Let the water boil. When the water has stopped bubbling, use tongs to remove the bottle, its cap, teats, and rubber from the electric kettle. Wipe down before use.
An electric kettle can also be used to boil water to sanitize bottles. Place all bottle parts into a large pot or saucepan and set aside. Add water into the electric kettle up to the maximum capacity and plug in the appliance. Turn on the electric kettle and let the water boil for 2 minutes to 7 minutes. When the appliance shuts off or the water is at boiling point, pour out the hot water into the saucepan or pot. Cover all bottle parts with hot water and let them soak for 2 minutes to 5 minutes. Use tongs to remove the bottle parts and transfer them onto a clean kitchen towel. Dry the bottle and its parts before use.
An alternative way to use an electric kettle is to face steam with it. Depending on the capacity of your electric kettle, fill the reservoir with 4 cups to 6 cups of water. Plug in the appliance and turn it on to bring the water to a boil. When the water has reached (212°F or 100°C), pour the water out into a bowl. Add 2 to 3 drops of your favorite essential oil into the hot water.
Sit down and take a bath towel to cover your head. Place your face around 6 inches above the bowl of hot water and cover your head with the towel. Steam your face for 5 minutes to 10 minutes taking breaks in between when it gets too hot.
10. Make Tea
Also, an electric kettle can be used to make tea. First, add water into the electric kettle, plug it in, and bring the water to a boil. Place your tea bag or loose leaf tea into cups. When the water has reached (212°F or 100°C), place a thermostat into the electric kettle and wait for the temperature to lower. The water should be 175°F (79°C) to 185°F (85°C) before you pour it into a cup of white or green tea. Oolong tea is best with water heated to 180°F (82°C) to 190°F (88°.) On the other hand, herbal and black teas can be steeped with water that is 208°F (98°C) to 212°F (100°C.)
11. Blanch Vegetables
Alternatively, an electric kettle is an appliance that can be used to blanch vegetables. Fill up the reservoir with water up to the maximum capacity line and plug in the electric kettle. Turn the appliance on and bring the water to a boil. While the water is boiling, wash and trim vegetables to prepare them. Place them into a heat-safe bowl or a pot and cover them with boiling water when the appliance automatically shuts off. Let the vegetables cook for 1 minute to 5 minutes in the hot water.
In the meantime, fill up a large bowl or saucepan with water and ice. When the time is up, transfer the vegetables from the hot water to the ice water. Let the vegetables chill for 1 minute to 5 minutes. Drain the vegetables and consume immediately or prepare for cooking.
12. Make Coffee
An electric kettle can be used to make coffee. To brew 2 cups of coffee, add 3 cups of water into the electric kettle, plug in the appliance, and let the water boil. Then, grind whole coffee beans using a Fine grind size. Scoop 2 tablespoons of ground coffee into the French press. When the water has reached boiling point, place a thermostat into the electric kettle. Wait for around 2 minutes for the water to come down to a temperature of 195°F (90°C.) When the water has reached the optimum temperature, pour 2 cups of water into the French press and make sure to cover the coffee grounds. Use a spoon to stir the coffee grounds and water and let the coffee brew for at least 4 minutes. Afterward, press the plunger down to strain the coffee. Pour coffee into mugs and consume.
13. Make Instant Meals
Another way to use an electric kettle is to make instant meals with it. For instant ramen, open up the package and place the ramen noodles into a heat-safe bowl. Add 3 cups of water into the reservoir of the electric kettle, plug in the appliance, and turn it on to bring the water to a boil. When the water has reached boiling point, pour 2 cups of water into the bowl and cover the ramen with a plate. Let the instant ramen cook for 3 minutes before you mix in the seasoning and consume.
To make couscous, pour out 1 cup of couscous into a heat-safe bowl. Add water into the reservoir, plug in the appliance, and turn it on. Bring the water to a boil. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the bowl and pour 1 cup of hot water into the bowl afterward. Cover the couscous with a towel or plate and let it cook for 10 minutes to 15 minutes. When the couscous is cooked, use a fork to fluff it. Season the couscous with lemon juice, salt, and pepper then serve.
14. Make Hot Chocolate
Also, an electric kettle can be used to make hot chocolate. First, add water to your electric kettle. If you are making just 1 cup, fill up the reservoir with water slightly over. Plug in the appliance and turn it on to bring the water to a boil. In a mug, add 2 tablespoons of chocolate powder along with your sweetener of choice. When the appliance shuts off or when the water is at a temperature of (212°F or 100°C), pour the hot water into the mug. Mix your chocolate powder, sweetener, and water until incorporated well. Add milk of choice and consume.
15. Warm Up Jars
Alternatively, an electric kettle can sterilize canning jars. First, take out the canning jars and their lids from their box and rinse them with warm, soapy water. Fill up your electric kettle with water up to its maximum capacity line, plug in the appliance, and turn it on. While the water is being brought to a boil, place a large pot onto your stovetop. Place the jars into the large pot and when the water is done boiling in the electric kettle, pour the water into the pot making sure that you are covering the tops of the jars with hot water. Let the water simmer and use a thermostat to keep water at 180°F (82°C.) Sterilize the jars for 10 minutes before taking them out and letting them dry on a rack or kitchen towel.
To sterilize the lids, place them into a saucepan and cover them with hot water. Let the water simmer for 10 minutes and keep the water at a temperature of 180°F (82°C.) Take out the lids and dry them. Add jam into your canning jars and leave ½ inch of space from the jar’s rim. Cover and secure the lid onto the jar. Store immediately.
16. Unclog Drains
Another way to use an electric kettle is to unclog kitchen or bathroom drains with it. If your sinks or showers are drained, fill up the electric kettle with water up to its maximum capacity line. Plug in the appliance and turn it on. Bring water to a boil or to a temperature of 212°F (100°C.) When the water is boiling, pour out the water directly into the sink or bathtub’s drain opening. Empty the entire electric kettle. Turn on your sink or shower to check if the blockage has been cleared up. Repeat if necessary.
17. Make Soup
An electric kettle can be used to make soup. Prepare your vegetables by washing, trimming, and drying them. Cut up the vegetables into small, bite-size pieces and set them aside. Add water into the electric kettle before placing your chopped vegetables into the reservoir. Add a tablespoon of garlic paste or chopped garlic and ginger into the electric kettle as well. Turn on the appliance and let the water boil the vegetables. When the appliance automatically shuts off, pour out the soup and place it into a bowl or into a blender. Use a hand blender to blend out the vegetable chunks if you are using a bowl. If you are using a blender, pulse the soup 2 times to 3 times until it is your desired texture. Add salt, pepper, and chili flakes before you pour the soup into bowls. Garnish with basil leaves and serve immediately.
18. Cook Pasta
Also, an electric kettle can be used to cook pasta. To make spaghetti, first, add water to your appliance. Plug in the electric kettle, turn it on and let it bring the water to a boil. Place your dry spaghetti into a heat-safe bowl or a pot while the water boils. This will take 2 minutes to 7 minutes. When the water has reached boiling point, pour the water into the bowl or pot making sure to cover the dry spaghetti noodles. Let the spaghetti cook for 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and toss in your favorite sauce. Garnish with herbs or cheese and serve.
Common Mistakes for Electric Kettle Usage
When learning how to use an electric kettle for the use cases above, avoid the following common mistakes to maintain your appliance:
- Not properly closing the lid. Some electric kettles are designed not to function until the lid is securely closed. This protects users from harm.
- Forgetting to clean the electric kettle. If you are using the appliance for the use cases above, it is important to thoroughly clean the inside of the reservoir to remove any debris. Failure to do so can cause the internal sensor or the thermostat to malfunction and turn off the electric kettle even though the water inside has not reached boiling point.
- Adding too much water into the reservoir. When there is water in the reservoir that is filled over the recommended maximum capacity, the water can boil over and outside of the appliance. Not only is this dangerous for homeowners, but the appliance as well. Splashed water may damage the cord or the electric socket that the electric kettle is plugged into.
- Turning on the appliance when it is empty. Running an electric kettle when it has no contents can decrease the appliance’s lifespan. This is also a fire hazard and can damage the electric kettle’s heating element.
- Storing water in the electric kettle. If you are leaving water in the reservoir, limescale will build up. This can affect the taste of your water and other food or beverage. Limescale build-up, if left uncleaned, can damage the electric kettle as well.
- Not checking on its power cord or wire. Over time, the power cable may be damaged without you knowing. It is a good practice to check in on the condition of this wire to protect yourself, prevent fire hazards, and maintain the appliance.
- Not placing the electric kettle on its base securely. If an electric kettle is not properly set on its base, it will not have the necessary electricity for the use cases above. Most electric kettles will “click” into their base.
By avoiding these errors when using the electric kettle for the use cases above, you can maintain the appliance’s quality and take advantage of its various functions.
History of Usage of Electric Kettles
So, where did the appliance come from and what is an electric kettle? The first kettle was traced back to 3000 B.C. This bronze kettle, discovered in Mesopotamia, Western Asia, is the earliest example of a vessel used to heat water. The practice of boiling water for beverages can be traced back to the Shang Dynasty which existed from 1600 B.C. to 1100 B.C. During this time in China, green tea leaves were mixed into hot water to add flavor.
It was only in the 18th century that tea was imported from Asia to England and the wealthy used silver tea kettles. After the British East India Company established a direct trading route with China, tea became more accessible and tea kettles were more than just ornaments which is why they were manufactured in copper variants.
The popular “whistling” kettle is often attributed to Harry Bramson, a Londoner who sold his patent rights away in 1923. Charles Coats invented a kettle in February 1888 that provided a signal when the water level of the kettle was at a certain low point. His invention was granted a patent in April 1989.
As for the electric kettle, the first attempt in inventing a commercial-friendly variant was by the Carpenter Electric Company in the U.S. which launched its first electric-powered kettle in 1891. In the UK, Crompton & Co released their own take on the electric kettle 2 years later but both appliances boiled water in 10 minutes and used a separate heating element. In 1909, Allgemeine Elektricitäts Gesellschaft (AEG), a German company, released a copper and zinc alloy electric kettle that had a rattan handle. Then in 1992, Bulpitt & Sons, a UK company, produced the Swan kettle. This kettle was designed with a submersible heating element that would heat up with electricity and quickly became the standard for electric kettles.
Does the Use Cases of an Electric Kettle Change Based on Type
Yes, the use cases of an electric kettle change based on the type of electric kettle it is. There are typically 4 types of electric kettles: plastic, stainless steel, glass, and copper. Plastic electric kettles are the most affordable variant on the market. The plastic base of this appliance is composed of polypropylene materials and the electric kettle itself is light and will not break easily if it is dropped. A plastic electric kettle is known to keep boiled water hot longer than its stainless steel counterpart. However, plastic electric kettles may change in shape due to the hot water and steam.
A stainless steel electric kettle is not easily dented and is a great heat conductor. They are more expensive than plastic models but can be bought with a scale filter for limescale build-up prevention and double walls so that the exterior is cool to the touch. On the other hand, glass electric kettles are heavy models but are considered the most stylish. This type of electric kettle allows you to peer inside the appliance to check on the water but will require more care when handled so that they are not dropped and damaged. Also, there are copper electric kettles on the market today. Compared to the other electric kettles, one made out of copper will heat up faster which makes them more energy efficient. A copper electric kettle is more durable and does not rust but can warp and scratch. This is the most expensive type of electric kettle.
What Electric Kettle is Best for Making Green Tea
The best electric kettle for making green tea is a glass electric kettle. With a glass electric kettle, you can monitor the green tea leaves and adjust the ratio of tea leaves to water as necessary. With a glass electric kettle, if your model does not have an adjustable temperature, you can place a thermostat into the reservoir and manually turn off the appliance when the water reaches a temperature of 175°F (79°C) to 185°F(85°C). This is the optimal water temperature for brewing green tea.
What Has More Use Cases a Coffee Maker or an Electric Kettle
Comparing the appliances, electric kettle vs. coffee maker, a coffee maker has more use cases. Unlike a coffee maker, the heating element of an electric kettle is only designed to send electricity to the appliance’s body. The reservoir is used to heat up food and beverages food the use cases above. On the other hand, a coffee maker’s base or heating element can be used to make cupcakes, paninis, and pancakes. While both appliances can be used to make coffee, soup, tea, hot chocolate, and instant meals, a coffee maker has more use cases.
Other Kitchen Tools with Various Use Cases Similar to Electric Kettle
Other kitchen tools with various use cases similar to an electric kettle include:
- Coffee Maker: A coffee maker is an appliance that has a heating element and carafe used to heat up water and brew coffee.
- Saucepan or Pot: A ceramic or metal saucepan or pot is used to hold food and beverages and heat them up.
- Stovetop: This surface is made up of burners that are heated up with gas or electricity in order to cook food or warm beverages.
- Microwave Oven: A microwave oven is an appliance that uses microwaves to raise the temperature of solid food and liquids.
These kitchen tools have similar use cases to an electric kettle but have use cases specific to themselves. Learn more about the 5 other uses of these 5 kitchen appliances here.