The best stock pot
Whether you like making creamy soups, slow cooking hearty stews, or whipping up pasta for Sunday family dinner, your kitchen can use a generously-sized stock pot. That's because a stock pot is an extremely versatile piece of cookware. You can use it for boiling liquid-based recipes, but it also works well for steaming, frying, braising, and roasting. It can handle so many different cooking tasks, because it's large enough to hold plenty of food, heats quickly, and can be used to simmer your ingredients evenly for long periods of time. Your cookware collection just isn't complete without a stock pot to round it out.
With our buying guide, you'll have all the tips you need to choose the best stock pot for your kitchen. We even offer some specific product recommendations, too, including our top choice from All-Clad, which is made from dishwasher-safe stainless steel and features comfortable oversized handles for easy maneuvering even when the pot is full.
Considerations when choosing stock pots
Stock pots are available in a few different materials, which all have their pros and cons. Following are the most common options:
Stainless steel, which is frequently used for cookware because it doesn't react with foods and alter their flavor. It isn't the best conductor of heat, though, so stainless steel pots often have aluminum or copper pieces inside to improve their heat conduction.
Enameled steel or aluminum, which means a steel or aluminum base that's covered with enamel to strengthen it and increase its heat tolerance. Enameled stock pots are available in a wide range of colors, so they're usually the most decorative option.
Anodized aluminum, which is an option that not only conducts heat effectively but features a nonstick surface. However, there aren't as many anodized aluminum stock pots to choose from as there are other materials.
Hybrid, which is a combination of stainless steel and aluminum. An aluminum base is enclosed within two or three layers of stainless steel, so you have a pot that conducts heat well but is also extremely durable.
You want to be sure that your stock pot is the right size for any recipe that you prepare. Stock pots can range from four quarts all the way up to 100 quarts in capacity. For most home cooks, though, a 12-quart stock pot is a good size. You have plenty of room for large batch soups, sauces, and stews, but the pot is still small enough to fit on your stovetop.
The shape of a stock pot determines how easy it is to use for certain recipes. Some stock pots are tall and narrow, while others are shorter and wider. Tall, narrow stock pots limit evaporation, so they work well for soups, stocks, reductions, and other liquid-heavy recipes. Short, wide stock pots, on the other hand, are best suited for braising and roasting.
You want to make sure that whatever food you're preparing in a stock pot doesn't burn, so you should choose a model with a thick, heavy bottom. A thicker bottom comes in especially handy when you're preparing recipes that require extended periods on the stove top -- such as soups or stews -- because ingredients at the bottom won't get so hot that they scorch and stick to the pot.
Stock pots can get pretty heavy when they're filled with food, so you want a model with strong, durable handles. Opt for a pot with handles that are riveted in place to ensure that they're secure. Wide handles are also good because you'll have a large enough area to grab comfortably.
You definitely want the option of covering your stock pot, so always choose a model that includes a lid. The lid should fit snugly on the pot to keep the heat inside. Some lids are made from the same material as the pot itself, while others feature tempered glass to allow you to see inside. Both work well, though glass lids can break easily.
Choosing a stock pot with a flared lip can help limit messes, because you'll have an easier time pouring from it. That often helps reduce cleanup time since you won't have as much overflow to scrub off the pot and your stovetop.
Stock pots usually range from $13 to $280. Small pots that are five quarts and under in capacity typically cost between $13 and $100, but larger pots that hold as much as 14 quarts generally run from $30 to $280.
Q. Should I own multiple stock pots?
A. It depends on the kind of cooking you usually do and your budget. If you buy a 12-quart pot, it should work for nearly any recipe. If you typically only cook for one or two people or like to prepare larger batches of soups and stews for freezing, you might also want to add a five-quart pot and a 16-quart pot to your cabinet.
Q. What else can I use a stock pot for besides making stocks, soups, stews, and other foods?
A. Some people use their stock pots for crafting projects like soap and candle-making. You can also dye fabric in a stock pot or make small batches of home-brewed beer, wine, or spirits.
Stock pots we recommend
Best of the best: All-Clad's Brushed Stainless Steel Stock Pot with Lid
Our take: A brushed stainless steel stock pot that boasts sturdy, durable construction and offers significant versatility, all from a trusted name in the cookware game.
What we like: Features a wide bottom that's perfect for making sauces and sauteing. Handles are securely riveted in place and comfortable to hold. Has a wide, rolled rim for easy pouring. Compatible with induction burners and dishwasher-safe.
What we dislike: One of the pricier options on the market. Handles can get hot during use. Some buyers find the stainless steel quality to be subpar.
Best bang for your buck: Cuisinart's Chef's Classic Stainless Pasta/Steamer Set
Our take: As versatile and durable as high-end options, this pot is an outstanding value for the price, even though it isn't compatible with induction burners.
What we like: Allows for even heating thanks to the aluminum base. Comes with a steamer basket, pasta insert, and lid. Stainless steel doesn't react with foods, so the flavor isn't altered. Freezer-safe and oven-safe.
What we dislike: Can't be used on induction burners. Stainless steel layer is thin enough to wear down with repeated use.
Our take: An outstanding stock pot that combines form and function and earns the same high marks from users as more expensive models.
What we like: Holds up well to regular use. Offers quick, even heating, as well as effective heat retention. Ideal for boiling, searing, and canning. Generous capacity is perfect for large batch cooking. Oven-safe up to 350ºF. Dishwasher-safe.
What we dislike: Requires some maintenance to keep the stainless steel in proper condition.
Jennifer Blair is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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