Buying Guide: The Best Soup and Stockpots For You

Make the Best Soups, Stews and Stocks with the Right Stockpot

How to buy a stock pot

From spicy three-bean chili to savory roast corn soup, your stock pot helps you to make delicious meals your whole family will enjoy. The secret to making these dishes the best they can be is buying the right stock pot. Once you know how to buy a stock pot, you can choose the right cookware for your kitchen, so you can get started making scrumptious soups, hearty stews and lots of other great one-pot meals for your family and friends.

Stock pots are ideal for making soups, stews and vegetable stocks because of their deep design and straight sides. Sturdy, weighted bases make these cookware pieces more versatile while preventing them from tipping as you cook or serve. As you shop, you'll see that much of your decision about how to choose a stock pot will rely on materials, size and your personal preference.

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Stock Pot Materials

As you learn how to buy a stock pot, you'll find that this type of cookware can be made from several different types of materials. Each stock pot construction has its benefits, so be sure to compare the different materials before you settle on the one you will buy.

Enamel-Coated Steel

Enamel on Steel Stockpot

Enamel-coated steel stock pots are heavier than other types of stockpots, but their unique design delivers even heat distribution. The handles on these pots are built to be sturdy, so you can easily transfer the cookware from the stove to the oven or to your serving table. Some home cooks prefer the look of these stock pots, as they typically come in a wide range of colors that make them ideal for serving as well as cooking.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel stock pots give your kitchen a professional look, but you'll want to look for pieces that feature an aluminum or copper base for better heat distribution. Tri-ply stainless steel stock pots offer the best value because the aluminum layer is incorporated into the sides of the pot as well as the base, so you get even heat distribution and conduction throughout the pot, not just at the bottom. Stainless steel pieces can be prone to staining over time, so be sure to look for any special stain-resistant features that might be available before making a purchase.

Anodized Aluminum

Nonstick anodized aluminum stock pots provide durability and excellent heat distribution without the cost of tri-ply copper-core cookware. The nonstick surface lets you release foods easily, and the anodized aluminum stands up to regular use while still keeping your cookware in peak condition. You can also find excellent anodized aluminum saute pans, skillets and fry pans, making it easy to build your own cookware set. Knowing how to choose a stock pot can make it easier to know how to choose other cookware pieces for your kitchen.

Stock Pot Sizes

 Hard Anodized Aluminum Stockpot

Once you have decided on a material, you'll need to know how to buy a stock pot based on size. Smaller 6-quart pots are ideal if you are only cooking for yourself and one or two other people, while a 20-quart stock pot is best for cooking large batches of foods for the holidays or a large party. Typically, an 8-quart, 10-quart or 12-quart stock pot is a smart choice for the average family. If you find that 6 quarts is a little too large for your cooking needs, consider a smaller saucepan as a space-saving alternative. You may find that some cookware sets come with a stock pot in addition to everyday pans and pots.

Stock Pot Design

The best stock pots will come with tight-fitting lids that ensure effortless simmering of soups and sauces. Tempered glass lids let you watch your foods as they cook without removing the lid, so you can retain more heat. The lid should have a handle that makes it easy to remove. Some manufacturers make lids with stay-cool handles that let you lift them without the need for a potholder.

Look closely at the handles of each stock pot as you shop. The handles should be large enough to grip easily while using potholders. Weight should also be a consideration. When you make a 10-quart batch of soup, it's going to be heavy. The weight of a heavy saucepan can make it that much more difficult to transfer your meals. Remember that the weight of your cookware will depend on the material you choose as well as the size of the piece.

Stock Pot Uses

Stainless Steel Stockpot with Lid

Stock pots can be used for making classic soups and stews, but they are great for many other types of dishes. The tall sides make stock pots ideal for making large batches of pasta and boiling potatoes. Some stock pots come with steamer baskets, so you can steam fresh vegetables for healthy, low-calorie side dishes. Use a large stock pot to make a traditional crab or crawfish boil. Soup and stock pots are also great for making chowder on cold days. There are many creative stock pot uses, which is what makes this tool such a valuable addition to your kitchen. Experienced home cooks may even want to invest in several stock pot sizes for making a wider variety of dishes.

When looking for specialty cookware, such as stock pots, dutch ovens or woks and stir-fry pans, it's important to know which features to look for so you can get the best possible cookware for your kitchen. Once you know how to buy a stock pot, you'll be able to create delicious dishes for family meals and elegant dinner parties.

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