The 7 Best Electric Heated Lunch Boxes

Updated October 20, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

7 Best Electric Heated Lunch Boxes
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Perfect for school, work, camping, or a long road trip, these heated electric lunch boxes will ensure you never go without a decent meal. The only rule is, once you get one of these, you're not allowed to make fun of the poor unfortunates with their brown paper bags. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best electric heated lunch box on Amazon.

7. Koolatron LBS-01

The Koolatron LBS-01 plugs into your car's cigarette lighter, giving you access to hot meals when you're away from home. It is a fine choice for keeping foods nice and steamy, but not for cooking foods, despite the brand's claim.
  • weighs under three pounds
  • secure front clasp
  • not durable enough for daily use
Brand Koolatron
Model LBS-01
Weight 3 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

6. Tayama EBH-01 Electric

The energy efficient Tayama EBH-01 Electric uses very little power, but can still easily heat your favorite dish to the perfect temperature. You can also use it to keep an already cooked or heated meal warm without turning it on, thanks to its internal insulation.
  • safely concealed heating element
  • convenient fold-flat handle
  • casing is cheaply-made
Model EHB-01
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

5. Koolatron P9 Traveler

The electric Koolatron P9 Traveler not only holds food, but handles sensitive medicines and photographic materials that require precise temperature control. Its reliable, steady heating and cooling properties set it apart, though its overall range is limited.
  • domed lid adds volume
  • holds just under 10 quarts
  • no indicator when hot
Brand Koolatron
Model P9
Weight 6.5 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

4. Crock-Pot PLC200

The Crock-Pot PLC200 is designed with the worker in mind. If your job takes you to an office, for example, you can leave the primary container and warming element there and simply take home the tray to fill up with grub. By the time 12 o'clock hits, your food'll be ready.
  • several vibrant colors available
  • large easy-grip handle
  • only holds 20 ounces
Brand Crock-Pot
Model SCCPLC200-PK
Weight 1.9 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

3. HotLogic Mini Personal Portable Oven

Get on the road with the HotLogic Mini Personal Portable Oven. Its tiny size makes it perfect for the everyday traveler. Inside, the unit features a reflective aluminum lining that greatly enhances its efficiency, while its exterior offers four attractive color options.
  • made in the united states
  • holds fairly large containers
  • doesn't have a power switch
Brand Hot Logic
Model 16801060001
Weight 1.8 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

2. RoadPro 12-Volt Portable

Able to warm food to 300 degrees, the RoadPro 12-Volt Portable is like having a personal stove with you at all times. Whether you're a trucker who wants hot food on the road or a camper without much skill building a fire, this is a fine choice.
  • sturdy carrying handle
  • nonstick lining
  • doesn't consume much power
Brand RoadPro
Model RPSC197
Weight 3.3 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Zojirushi SL-JAE14SA Mr. Bento

Enjoy fresh meals on the go with the Zojirushi SL-JAE14SA Mr. Bento. The unique rounded design holds four ready-to-use, Japanese-style bowls, and its technologically advanced thermal construction will keep foods hot or cold for hours.
  • airtight vacuum insulation
  • easy-to-clean components
  • includes carrying bag
Brand Zojirushi
Model SL-JAE14SA
Weight 5.4 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

Not Your Average Lunch Box

The electric heated lunch box goes beyond the original school lunch box designed with a simple handle and clasp for children to carry their food with them throughout the day. Many average lunch boxes are insulated, but the heated lunch boxes take things one step further and heat your food as well as store it.

An electric heated lunch box is a lot like a portable slow cooker, only most of them work much faster. They are great for trucker drivers, campers, or people who are frequently on the road. They are even perfect for people who want to take a hot lunch to the office but hate waiting to use the microwave.

It works well to simply reheat leftovers or it can completely cook your food from raw as you work or drive. When you are ready for your lunch, it is hot and waiting for you to devour it. Many heated lunch boxes serve multiple purposes. Not only are they great for cooking or reheating your food, they are perfect for storing it and keeping it hot for long periods of time.

They contain a concealed heating element that is protected by heat resistant materials. Some models are even insulated to keep food cold if your heart so desires. Others are specially designed to keep medicines and other sensitive items at the proper temperatures.

Depending on the lunch box that you purchase, you can plug it into a wall outlet, a car cigarette lighter, or both depending on your preference and specific needs. Some come complete with on/off and temperature switches while others are simply plug and go.

Time To Hit The Road

An electric lunch box might be just the thing you need to sync your meals with your busy schedule so you can maintain a healthy diet. If you are in the market for an electric heated lunch box, consider your needs and desired features before making your final purchase.

First, if you intend to use your lunch box to cook full meals, make sure that the one you choose cooks thoroughly and doesn't simply reheat or insulate. There are some heated lunch boxes that claim to cook food from a raw state, but they don't reach the level of heat and power that is needed to achieve this.

Second, if you are a frequent traveler, consider a lunch box that comes with a car adapter that can plug into the cigarette lighter. Some heated lunch boxes come with only an AC adapter. These are great for people who spend a lot of time at work and want to save money. But they are inconvenient for campers and truck drivers.

Third, look for one in the proper size. Electric lunch boxes come in a variety of sizes. Some will cook only single person meals while others are large enough for storing and cooking for two or more people. If you frequently travel with your entire family, you will need to purchase one of the larger-sized lunch boxes.

Fourth, check the casing and heating capabilities. Make sure that the casing will hold up to continuous, frequent use and that it is compatible with the contained heating element. Ensure that your lunch box heats properly and works well with the foods that you plan to prepare.

Finally, and most importantly, check the safety certification and features. Ensure that it has been properly inspected and tested so that you can rest easy while you wait for your meal. Always make sure to follow the recommended safety instructions included with the product.

A Brief History Of Electric Heated Lunch Boxes

The creation and use of the lunch box began in the mid nineteenth century when working class citizens began carrying their lunches in metal pails. They eventually became a negative status symbol. If someone carried a metal pail to work, it meant that he couldn't afford to buy a hot lunch.

It wasn't long before children decided they wanted to copy their fathers, and they began putting their food in used tobacco or cookie tins. In 1902, the first metal lunch boxes were released by the Aladdin company and marketed to children.

Soon, the Aladdin company began putting favorite popular characters on lunch boxes to increase interest and sales. In 1935, Mickey Mouse was the first cartoon character depicted on a lunch box. These character lunch boxes quickly became a hot commodity among children who often traded with their classmates for new models or their favorite characters.

Less expensive, vinyl lunch boxes hit the market in the 1960s, but it wasn't until the 1980s that molded plastic lunch boxes literally gave the metal ones a run for their money. The Aladdin company stopped production in 1998. As of 2012, Thermos was still producing popular metal designs. Vintage lunch boxes are considered classic collector's items today.

Today, the lunch box is less of a novelty and is produced for practical purposes. Many of today's lunch boxes are made with insulation to keep food hot or cold and are again appealing to the adult working class, as they have lost their negative stigma.

The electric heated lunch box has revolutionized the modern lunch box industry by bringing an extra element of convenience to meal times. Not only do they help busy people maintain a healthy diet, but they are economical and easy to use.

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Last updated on October 20, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.

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