Updated May 25, 2020 – One of the most forgotten about pieces of kitchen equipment these days seems to be the large stock pot. It’s perfect for all kinds of large meals like chili, spaghetti, large batches or greens, and stews that you prepare for the family or parties. But somehow it is always overlooked when people are getting their kitchen sets and cookware together.
Stockpots are so important because they are incredibly versatile tools. They prepare great soups and stews. Instead of having to make several small batches of soup in your smaller pots, you can make one giant batch that can feed an entire household and still have leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.
What to look for when purchasing a stock pot
Cooking 101 tells us that the first thing we should be looking at when purchasing any cooking tool is what kind of material it is made out of. And in the case of a stockpot, you should be looking for a stainless steel version. A high-quality stainless steel is very important here – the last thing you want is for your pot to warp or begin to discolor because it isn’t capable of withstanding prolonged exposure to heat.
The next thing you should look at is the size of the pot itself. I’m a proponent of the 12-quart versions because it offers all the room you’ll ever need, and if you don’t need that much space, then you don’t have to use it. But having the option available is always nice.
Now that we have the 2 most important things to look for in stockpots, let’s go over some of my favorite products.
Best Budget Stockpot: Cuisinart 766-26 Chef’s Classic
Sometimes the word “budget” carries with it a negative connotation. I want you to get that out of your head for this particular product. The Cuisinart stockpot is made from a high gauge stainless steel allowing it to withstand medium to high heat for several hours at a time (which is exactly what you need it to do). And it comes at a very generous price.
Pros of the Cuisinart stockpot:
- Stainless steel exterior surrounded by an aluminum core for optimal heat distribution
- It has to stay cool stainless steel handles
- Oven-safe up to 550 degrees F (this is the pot NOT the lid)
- Tapered edge helps to make pouring easier
- Lifetime warranty
Cons of the Cuisinart stockpot:
- The rivets that hold the handles to the pot are cheaply made
- The lid is not oven safe (do not put the lid in the oven)
- It will not work on induction surfaces
If you need a stockpot that can withstand an acceptable amount of heat without warping or discoloration, then this is a viable option for you. The glass lid helps keep in the heat, which certainly is nice, but because it is a low quality of glass, it cannot withstand much heat.
If you have an induction stovetop, then this product will not work for you (although if you have induction cooking surfaces you likely don’t mind spending more money on your cookware and won’t be looking at this product in the first place).
Best Enamel Stockpot: Le Creuset Enamel on steel
Enamel is an excellent choice in this situation because they are so easy to clean, can withstand very high temperatures, and they heat up quickly. Le Creuset is an excellent choice because, well, it’s Le Creuset.
This enamel stockpot isn’t the of the 12-variety we said is best but at 10 quarts, it certainly can hold quite a bit of food, and they do have a 12-quart option available (it’ll cost you several pretty pennies though).
Pros of the Le Creuset:
- Supreme heat distribution
- Stainless steel rim on the edge preventing it from scratches and chipping
- Heavy-gauge carbon steel with durable enamel coating
- Several different color options
- Can be used on induction surfaces
- Lifetime warranty
Cons of the Le Creuset:
- High priced product
- Heavier than a stainless steel stockpot
- Not oven safe
Le Creuset has long been touted as a top-level company in the cookware industry. Enamel pots can sometimes be hit or miss because of how loosely it is sometimes bonded to the steel, and that makes this pot somewhat of a gamble. Thankfully, Le Creuset has excellent customer service and handles these issues quickly.
If you are looking for an Enamel pot, this is a great option.
Best Overall stockpot: All-Clad 4512 Stainless Steel Tri-ply
If you have a wealth of cooking experience, or if you have even the slightest amount of knowledge of cookware then this name probably jumps out at you as a premium cookware company in the business (certainly one of them).
This All-Clad stockpot gives you the best heat distribution and heat resistance with the high-gauge tri-ply stainless steel material it is made from. It is polished beautifully, has a mirror finish and gives excellent stick resistance.
Pros of the All-Clad:
- 3-ply bonded stainless steel
- Mirror finish looks beautiful
- Food will not stick to it
- Oven safe up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit (includes the lid)
- Easy maintenance
- Lifetime warranty
Cons of the All-Clad:
- Being an All-Clad product, it is pretty expensive
If you want the best possible pot you can get then you should look no further than this huge 16-quart stockpot. It retains heat exceptionally well and will not warp or discolor in high-temperature environments. Yes, it does cost quite a bit, but typically the best quality cookware will cost you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use my stock pot in the oven?
Not always, it depends on the brand and how high of a temperature you will be baking the dish at. See the pros and cons above for specifics on the pots reviewed here.
Always make sure your pot is oven safe before deciding to place it in the oven, the results could be dangerous to both you and your precious stock pot. This goes for any new pot or pan you have really, always make sure never assume.
Is it dishwasher safe?
No, well yes, but not really. Some pots may say they are dishwasher safe but hand washing is always recommended to ensure the life of your pot.
The soap used in dishwashers is typically harsher than hand soap, and so are the high temperatures. The hot water and the soap and cause damage to your pots.
For best results, clean the pot as soon as you can after every use and dry on a rack. Wipe any remaining moisture off with a cloth or paper towel before putting it away.
How is a stock pot different from other pots?
Stock pots, soup pots, and Dutch ovens are often mixed up with one another. They are near the same size and shape, but serve different purposes and come with different thicknesses and durability.
A stock pot is designed to heat water and make stock, so it doesn’t have to be super thick. They also aren’t really meant to go in the oven, like a dutch oven is.
Soup pots have to have a heavy base so they can evenly heat thick soups, while a stock pot heat liquids with higher water content.
What size stock pot should I get?
This completely depends on your family size and what you want to make in it.
As stated in the review, the 12-quart pot will work for most situations. But honestly some people don’t need that much stock and some people need a lot more.
Stockpots typically come in any size from 6 to 20 quarts. If you are cooking for one, the 6-quart pot is probably fine, if you are the one who cooks for Thanksgiving, you might want to get the 20-quart pot to make sure you have enough room.
Is it scratch and burn resistant?
All pots are susceptible to wear and tear over time. The utensils you use will play a role in how long your pots stay brand new.
Using harsh soaps and a dishwasher will shorten the life of your pot and can cause damage to any coating or coloring. For best results, handwash any pots you would like to keep in mint condition.
These pots may blacken on the bottom over time. Sometimes you might find soot on the bottom of your pot, but that could be an issue with your stove. If you turn the gas up too high or don’t clean it as well as you should it can damage the bottom of your pots.
Wrap – Up
Stockpots, though often overlooked, are certainly an important tool to keep around in the kitchen (especially if you have a big family). Like any other utensil, they come in a variety of different surfaces, sizes, and durability, and which is best for you is totally dependent on what you want out of your stockpot.
Image credit via Flickr Creative Commons: Mark B. and Jason C.