Updated October 26, 2019 by Melissa Harr

The 7 Best Electric Heated Lunch Boxes

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This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in April of 2015. Perfect for work, camping, or a long road trip, these electric heated lunch boxes will ensure you never go without a decent meal. We’ve included those suitable for car, home, and office use, in plenty of sizes, for everyone from the very hungry to the casual snacker. 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 recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best electric heated lunch box on Amazon.

7. Uuto Dual Use

6. Janolia Portable Steamer

5. Tayama EBH-01

4. Koolatron 12-Volt

3. Knox 27-Quart

2. Crock-Pot 20-Ounce

1. HotLogic Mini Portable Oven

Special Honors

Zojirushi Vacuum Insulated Tiffin Box To be perfectly clear, the Zojirushi Vacuum Insulated Tiffin Box is not, in fact, electric; however, it boasts excellent heat retention even after six hours and so is a popular alternative when no electrical outlets are available. With each set, you'll get four bowls, but note that these are not microwaveable. zojirushi.com

Editor's Notes

October 23, 2019:

At this time, concerns have been raised about the safety of the RoadPro 12-Volt, with occasional reports of electrical issues that could create a fire hazard. Although the chance is slim, we've opted to remove it, but we have kept the similarly shaped Koolatron 12-Volt. This model is for car use only, making it helpful for those true road warriors. For office use, the HotLogic Mini Portable Oven and the Crock-Pot 20-Ounce both remain hard to beat. We especially like the former for its fun range of offered colors and uncomplicated functionality, although it's important not to leave very thin, flimsy plastics inside it for long periods (they can melt). And because it resembles many other lunch boxes for adults, it won't draw any odd looks or attention. Finally, we removed both the Smart Planet with Spork and Smart Planet Collapsible, which have now become difficult to find, opting instead for the Knox 27-Quart. Yes, it's quite a bit larger than most, but if you have the room for it, it can be useful in many situations — not just at lunch time.

Not Your Average Lunch Box

When you are ready for your lunch, it is hot and waiting for you to devour it.

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.

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.

The electric heated lunch box has revolutionized the modern lunch box industry by bringing an extra element of convenience to meal times.

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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Melissa Harr
Last updated on October 26, 2019 by Melissa Harr

Melissa Harr is a language-obsessed writer from Chicagoland who holds both a bachelor of arts and master of arts in English. Although she began as a TEFL teacher, earning several teaching certificates and working in both Russia and Vietnam, she moved into freelance writing to satisfy her passion for the written word. She has published full-length courses and books in the realm of arts & crafts and DIY; in fact, most of her non-working time is spent knitting, cleaning, or committing acts of home improvement. Along with an extensive knowledge of tools, home goods, and crafts and organizational supplies, she has ample experience (okay, an obsession) with travel gear, luggage, and the electronics that make modern life more convenient.

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