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A quality stock pot is versatile for many meals, but choosing the right one can be difficult. If you’re interested in one, you have to start with your practical needs. Sara Dahmen, coppersmith and author of "Copper Iron and Clay: A Smith’s Journey" says anyone interested in buying a stock pot should consider home storage first. "This is a practical specification more than anything—but know what your kitchen can accommodate in terms of height (lid and lid handle included) for storing the stock pot," she says.
From there, you should think about the material, capacity, and weight. Also, not all stainless-steel pots with a layer of inner aluminum can work on every stove. It also helps to understand functionality and design. "A lid made of metal vs glass will last longer," Dahmen says since that glass can crack under extreme heat. Also, you’ll want to avoid aluminum rivets in stock pots to keep your pot from corroding in dishwashers.
Then there are add ons. The most commonly found add-on for a stock pot is a strainer for those Sunday night pasta dinners. Strainers are very beneficial to any home cook utilizing their stock pot. “[It] aids in the protection of the home chef from any hot components or water" says Lori Bogedin, a chef and culinary expert of Twigs Cafe. "The filter makes it easy to handle the food without spilling it throughout the cooking process."
If you're in the market for one, the Cooks Standard 8-Quart Classic Stainless Steel Stock Pot with Lid is our top choice.
Best Overall: Cooks Standard 8-Quart Classic Stainless Steel Stock Pot with Lid
What We Love: Induction compatible, affordable, oven-safe, large lid handle
What We Don’t Love: Lids can be finicky
The Cooks Standard 8-Quart Classic Stainless Steel stock pot is the way to go for people looking for an all-around pot that can deliver results for any cook. The gold standard for stock pots is stainless steel since it's durable, lightweight, and nonreactive so you can cook your Sunday sauce without worry. But stainless steel isn't great at conducting heat, so many manufacturers design stock pots with a layer of aluminum. Here, Cooks Standard works in an aluminum disc to the bottom that provides even heat distribution and prevents hot spots.
Made of 18/10 stainless steel, this induction-compatible stock pot has a 9-inch diameter and an 8-inch height so it can handle whatever you need it to do from water-bath canning to a week's worth of stew. What makes this stock pot great beyond its versatility is that it comes with a well-fitting lid with a large enough handle to accommodate an oven-mitted hand. It's also oven safe to 500 degrees
Material: Aluminum, stainless steel | Capacity: 8 quarts | Diameter: 9 inches | Height: 8 inches
Best with Strainer: All-Clad Stainless Steel 12-Quart Multi-Cooker Cookware Set
What We Love: Has strainer and steamer insert, durable, stay-cool handles
What We Don’t Love: Expensive
A stainless-steel stock pot is a kitchen essential for so many people who do large batch cooking, but, if you're boiling potatoes for mashing or cooking a lobster, you get stuck having to drain a massive pot. Working around this is why this set from All-Clad is a must-have since it comes with a perfectly fitted steamer insert for easy draining.
This 4-piece set features a large 12-quart stock pot that can be fitted with either a full-sized steamer insert or a smaller strainer insert, both also made from 18/10 stainless steel. The warp-resistant metal encapsulates a layer of aluminum for excellent heat conductivity and is magnetic enough for induction stovetops. The riveted handles are designed to stay cool during cooking. Of course, being from All-Clad, this is a luxury stock pot that will stay with you for decades, especially if you forgo the dishwasher and hand wash it gently.
Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 12 quarts | Diameter: 10.8 inches | Height: 12.3 inches
Best Enameled: Cuisinart Chef's Classic Enamel on Steel Stockpot with Cover, 12-Quart
What We Love: Enameled exterior makes it a showpiece, includes a strainer
What We Don’t Love: Can chip and stain
Want something with a bit more color, style, and functionality? Cuisinart's Chef's Classic Enamel on Steel Stock Pot is a great option to take a look at. The 6.75-pound stock pot features a steel core that can heat quickly and distributes it easily. There are also wide-set side handles for an easy grip despite the weight.
Other great features include a tight-fitting lid to keep steam inside the pot and a stainless steel strainer for any additional cooking needs. Just be sure to only use it on your cooktops since it's only oven-safe to 350 degrees. And since it has a white enamel interior, you will have to put some elbow grease into cleaning the enamel.
Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 12 quarts | Diameter: 9.6 inches | Height: 11.4 inches
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Best Nonstick: T-fal Specialty Total Nonstick Stockpot
What We Love: Nonstick interior, affordable, silicone-coated handles
What We Don’t Love: Doesn’t work with all cooktops
Looking for a nonstick stock pot that can provide hassle-free cooking and cleaning? Then the T-fal Specialty Total Nonstick Stockpot should be in your basket.
Made with aluminum, and finished with a nonstick interior, this stock pot offers even heating throughout the sides. Meanwhile, the silicone-coated handles provide an easy and safe grip and a vented glass lid lets a small amount of steam to escape. Like many other T-fal cookware items, this one has the thermo-spot indicator for simpler cooking. A big issue though with this pot is that the ridges on the bottom can scratch certain glass cooktops and it's not compatible with induction.
Material: Aluminum | Capacity: 12 quarts | Diameter: 9.5 inches | Height: 12.5 inches
Related: The Best Nonstick Cookware Sets
Best Large Capacity: Tramontina Stainless Steel 20- Quart Covered Stock Pot
What We Love: Has a large capacity, built in strainer
What We Don’t Love: Doesn’t work on all stovetops effectively
Maybe you like to make your own shellfish stock after a crab boil, or maybe you like to stock your freezer with Jamaican beef stew. Whatever your need, this all-stainless-steel stock pot is perfect for people who cook large portions of food at once.
Tramontina’s 20-Quart Covered Stock Pot, one of Bogedin’s favorites, clocks in at 8.5 pounds, but it can heat evenly due to the layers of bonded 18/10 stainless steel, aluminum, and magnetic steel. These materials not only mean it's oven-safe but also that it will work on all cooktops. Another great thing is the riveted stainless-steel handles and beautiful 18/10 stainless steel lid.
Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 20 quarts | Diameter: 12.3 inches | Height: 12.8 inches
The Cooks Standard 8-Quart Classic Stainless Steel Stock Pot with Lid (view at Amazon) is a high-quality all-around stock pot at an affordable price. If your goal is to have a set that will last you a lifetime (or close to it), look no further than the All-Clad Stainless Steel 12-Quart Multi-Cooker Cookware Set (view at Amazon).
What to Look for in a Stock Pot
Most stock pots are made of stainless steel enclosing an aluminum layer. The stainless steel allows for a durable nonreactive surface that's simple to clean, even when something gets burnt on. The aluminum helps to conduct the heat to your pot's surface. The aluminum needs to be surrounded since it will react with acidic foods, making them taste metallic, plus the surface can pit. You might also come across enameled or ceramic stock pots, sometimes encasing cast iron, or stainless or carbon steel. The enamel allows for a more nonstick surface than metal, but the final pot will be heavy and prone to staining.
What you need to look for when it comes to capacity largely depends on why you need to use your stock pot. For a small household, you probably won't need more than a 10-quart pot, with a 6-quart or 8-quart pot being the sweet spot. If you're cooking for a big family though or otherwise like to make large batches at once, look for at least a 12-quart pot as your best option.
Weight matters a lot when using stock pots since you'll often have to move it full or empty. You’ll want to look for something that isn’t too heavy from the beginning as it will certainly weigh more full of soup or water to be boiled. It should be something you’re comfortable with holding safely especially when it's hot, and always looks for handles that work with you.
What’s the difference between a stock pot and a Dutch oven?
The difference between a stock pot and Dutch oven comes down to material and size. While Dutch ovens are typically cast iron or enameled, stock pots are made from copper or aluminum and stainless steel. "[A stock pot is] a cylindrical/straight-sided shape, and is taller (sometimes quite taller!) than wider in diameter," Dahmen says. "A Dutch oven is always made of cast iron and is squat compared to a typical stock pot. It is also wider than taller."
Can a stock pot go in the oven?
They can go in the oven but putting them in there can warp certain brands. Bogedin suggests keeping a lookout for stock pots that have parts that can melt because they indicate that the pot isn't oven-safe. "A stockpot made entirely of chrome aluminum on the other hand, should be safe to use in the oven," she says. She also suggests that to avoid burns, home cooks should always wear heat-resistant gloves.
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