What is a kitchen without a stock pot? This versatile vessel is essential cookware in every home. Not only can you use it to make stock, but you can also use it to make soup, stews, chili, and even pasta.
Making stock entails long hours of cooking over low heat. This means that you need a pot large enough to accommodate more substantial batches of stock and at the same time sturdy enough to keep up with the long cooking.
Here’s my detailed guide to ensuring you choose the best stainless steel stock pot.
Is Stainless Steel Cookware Safe?
For the most part, yes. It is said to be inert; hence doesn’t leach harmful chemicals to the food. However, you should be aware that different brands of stainless steel cookware are constructed differently depending on the metal composition used and quality.
Stainless steel is an alloy of iron. Several other metals such as chromium, nickel, molybdenum, and carbon are used to enhance its strength, resistance to corrosion, and improve the quality.
Inevitably, a small amount of these metal can leach into food.
Chromium is essential in the breakdown of fats and carbohydrates in the body, so that works as an advantage.
Nickel, on the other hand, has raised many health concerns. As much as it is also needed in the body, it’s only required in minimal amounts.
For most people, nickel is safe in moderate quantities, but some people have a nickel sensitivity. Fortunately, there are nickel-free stainless steel pots if that applies to you.
Corrosion and Rusting
Stainless steel isn’t supposed to rust, but nothing is 100%. Many of the stockpots reviewed here see some users complaining about corrosion, pitting, and rusting.
How do you avoid this? There are several precautions you can take:
- Keep it dry. This means washing and drying it as soon as you are finished. No leaving it to soak!
- Avoid scratching it. If there is any protective coating, scratches will damage it. (Chromium oxide naturally forms a self-healing protective coating, but it takes time to form)
- Don’t leave food, especially acidic food, in the pan.
I have to say, I’ve never seen any of my stainless steel cookware corrode, rust, or pit.
Factors to Consider When Looking For the Best Stainless Steel Stockpot
The size will depend purely on your intentions for the stockpot. As a rough guide, usually, 1 to 1.5 quarts (0.9 – 1.4 liters) will serve one adult a whole meal.
It can be a good idea to batch cook stock, soup or stews, in which case you might want more.
Usually, a stockpot in a cookware set will be 4 to 6 quarts (3.8-5.7 liters). So larger than 6 quarts is huge.
If your are cooking for small to medium sized family (say up to 5 people), 6 – 8 quarts will be more than enough for most uses.
On the other hand, if cooking for guests, or a large family, or batch cooking, you might want to consider a larger stockpot.
You are probably wondering why the shape matters when choosing a stockpot. Stockpots come in different forms, tall and narrow, short and wide. What’s the difference?
Well, the tall pots have a small diameter resulting in lesser evaporation during cooking; hence more liquid is retained. This makes them ideal for stock.
A shallow but wide pot makes manipulating food easier when braising and stirring. So, shorter pots are more versatile.
With a shallow pot, the higher rate of evaporation can be more efficient when reducing broths to get concentrated flavors. Plus, the shorter the pot, the less awkward it is to handle when pouring.
When using a wider pot, use good fitting lids. These reduce evaporation and preserve the flavors in your food.
A pot with a thick, heavy bottom is the ideal one, especially for stock. Making stock involves long hours of cooking, and you wouldn’t want your ingredients to scorch and stick at the bottom. This can happen if the pot is made of cheap material or is too thin. Thick bottomed pots prevent burning even if they sit on the stovetop for long hours.
Material is by far the most crucial aspect to consider when choosing your pots. The material used will significantly impact the durability, cleaning, heat distribution, and flavors.
Stainless steel is a great choice when going for stockpots. This is because the surface is less likely to react with your broth ingredients. You don’t really need a non-stick coating for broth.
Stockpots vary in weight depending on the dimensions of the pot, size, and the material used. Choose a pot that you can handle comfortably, with the right balance and a slightly heavier bottom for stability.
Conductivity simply means the pot’s ability to distribute heat both evenly and efficiently. Quality stockpots are considered highly conductive if they can spread heat evenly, bottom, and up to the sides for the food to cook as it is supposed to.
One way this can be handled is with a layer of another metal in the bottom of the stockpot. This layer helps distribute the heat evenly and efficiently.
When it comes to handles, look for pots that have their handles securely fastened with rivets or tac-welded.
Some new cookware in the market has invested in heat resistant handles, and this is also a great choice to make. You might also want to consider the size and shape of your pot handle. A pot with a handle with ample room for grip even with potholders and a comfortable shape for picking up is the ultimate choice.
A tight-fitting lid is a must when it comes to stockpots. The long hours of cooking come with plenty of evaporation, and without a good quality lid, you cannot avoid this. Some manufacturers make their lids with the same material as the pots while some go for tempered glass lids.
With the tempered glass ones, there is a chance of breakage if you overheat them. But with this also comes the advantage of having a peek of your stock without releasing steam and heat.
Best Stainless Steel Stock Pot
Cuisinart 77-412 Chef’s Classic Stainless 12 Quart Stockpot (Best Stockpot for Pasta and Steaming)
This chef’s classic four-piece comprises a 12-quart stockpot, a pasta insert, a steamer basket, and a stainless steel lid.
The only issue I have with this set is the lid. I would prefer they invest in a see-through cover, so I can easily peek at my food without having to open the pot.
On the other hand, the stainless steel lid makes this stockpot more robust. Steel doesn’t shatter if it gets too hot (at least not at normal cooking temperatures).
Apart from the cover, I like Cuisinart’s combination of the pot, insert, and steamer basket. The inserts and steamer basket come in handy, especially when preparing pasta as they assist in straining excess water.
The tapered rims also make it easier to pour your stock or stew without messy dripping down the sides.
If you want a stainless steel lid, or if you are looking for a stockpot with inserts, I’d recommend this one.
- Tight-fitting lids
- Steamer and inserts work perfectly
- Tapered rims for drip-free pouring
- Easy to clean
- Good grip handles
- Nests perfectly
- Quite big
- Folding handles uncomfortable
- Doesn’t work on induction stoves
- Take care of the inserts – some reports that they are prone to rust
Cooks Standard 8 Quart Classic Stainless Steel Stockpot (Best 8-quart stockpot)
This Standard classic stainless steel includes an 8-quart stockpot with a lid. It is made with polished stainless steel with an aluminum disc layered at the bottom.
The aluminum disc is what caught my attention first about this particular stockpot. This layer ensures even distribution of heat and also prevents hot spots. This way, you never have to worry about burning your food.
Stainless steel isn’t the most efficient cooking material, so having aluminum to “spread” the heat really helps.
Its handles are securely fastened with rivets, ensuring steadiness when picking the pot from the stove.
My biggest gripe with this cookware is the attention it needs when cleaning. It’s also very sensitive hence can scratch easily if not taken care of well.
I’m a dishwasher person, and the fact that the dishwasher won’t properly clean this stockpot throws me off.
Still, it’s great value and, for me, the best 8-quart stockpot I could find.
- Sturdy and heavy to withstand prolonged heating
- Heat spread efficiently through aluminum layer on the bottom
- Food sticks easily
- Requires a lot of attention when cleaning
- Reports of discoloration at the bottom
Cook N Home 5 Quart Stainless Steel Saucepot (Best Stock Pot for Soup)
At 5 quarts (5.7 liters) this Cook N Home saucepot is on the small end of the range of stockpots. It’s still bigger than most of the cookware in your kitchen though!
Still if you are looking for something bigger (or smaller), Cook N Home offer some options. This cookware is available in many sizes, ranging from 3-quart saucepan to a 20-quart stainless steel pot. There’s something for (almost) every family size.
The high quality handle is riveted for durability and silicone wrapped to stay cool.
The pot also has an aluminum disc layered at the bottom for even distribution of heat and to prevent hot spots.
The tempered glass lid is a plus for me. With this see-through lid, I can easily monitor how my food is cooking without disturbing it. The cover also comes with in-built vents to let excess steam out.
The only downside I see with this pot is that it’s not that oven safe. Yes, it can be used up to 175°C (350°F), but that might not be enough for some meals.
It’s an excellent stockpot for preparing soup on the stovetop.
- See-through lid with in-built vent
- Heat resistant handles
- Aluminum disc in bottom for efficient heating
- Only oven safe up to 175°C (350°F)
- Take care of it – some reports of discoloration, staining, and rust
Update International 24 Qt Stainless Steel Stock Pot w/Cover (Best Large Stockpot)
This 24-quart (23-liter) stainless steel stockpot with cover is one of the best large stockpots.
The manufacturer’s idea of using tac-welded handles instead of riveted ones is a bonus for me. Rivets can be a pain to clean around, and this pot avoids that. The finish on the stainless steel also makes it easier to clean. I’m not sure how the manufacturer has managed this – but well done!
Update International sizes ranges from 8-quart up to 100-quart.
Now, 100 quarts is 25 gallons or 94 liters. That is a lot!
It’s probably too much! I wouldn’t recommend the larger sizes for home use as they can be uncomfortable to use, store, and clean. Thinking about it – they probably won’t even fit on your stove.
Stick to 24 quarts or less, unless you own a restaurant or know what you are doing!
- Tac-welded handles
- Easy to clean
- Be careful with it – some reports of corrosion and rusting
Homichef 12-quart (11-liter) stainless steel stockpot is nickel-free, has a tempered glass lid with an in-built vent and riveted handles.
Some people are nickel sensitive and have allergies; hence regular stainless steel cookware is a no go for them. This is because ordinary stainless steel can leach small amounts of nickel to food.
Homichef has ensured nickel sensitive people are well accommodated with this stockpot.
I like the see-through lid with an in-built vent to let out steam during cooking. The riveted handles also work for me. In general, I love this brand.
- Nickel-free hence not harmful
- See-through lid with an in-built vent
- Riveted handles
- Take care – some complaints of corrosion, pitting and rusting
Farberware 50005 Classic Stainless Steel 6-Quart Stockpot (Best 6-quart stockpot)
Farberware classic stainless steel 6-quart (5.7-liter) stockpot with lid has an excellent mirror polish.
There are no non-stick stainless steel stockpots that I’m aware of. Yet this pot comes close with the excellent finish the manufacturer has achieved.
I like that the handles provide quite a comfortable grasp when moving the pot, and the lid has an in-built vent to let out steam.
It is oven safe to 175°C (350°F) and is induction stovetop compatible.
Although Faberware doesn’t make a fuss about it, this is also a nickel free (or very low nickel) stockpot since it is made of “18/0” steel. The 0 in “18/0” means 0% nickel.
This is a nice, healthy, 6 quart stockpot. I’d be happy to have it in my kitchen.
- Sleek and stylish
- Easy to clean
- Lid with in-built vent
- Nickel free
- Induction compatible
- Reports of corrosion, staining, rusting and pitting
Best Stainless Steel Stock Pot
The best stainless steel stock pot for me is the Homichef. This stainless steel is a win for me because it’s nickel-free, has a see-through lid with an in-built vent and riveted handles.
You also get an easy time cleaning it.
The nickel-free advantage mostly works for nickel sensitive people. None of my family are sensitive to nickel – so why should I care? Well, to develop sensitivities you need to be exposed to something in the first place. Prevention is better than cure.
With the see-through lid, you can have an easier time monitoring your food because you don’t have to open the pot to do so. The in-built vent blows off any excess steam during heating, preventing rattling lids and splatter.
I like the riveted handles, as I’m confident they will securely hold the pot when I’m moving it full of stock.
It’s a standard size-12-quart, which is probably big enough for most families. You should be able to prepare a meal for 8-12 people with it!
If you’re still not convinced, then perhaps you are looking for something other than stainless steel? Check out my guides to Dutch ovens. (I tend to recommend Le Creuset as a high quality product, but if you are looking for something more affordable, Tramontina is great.)
On the other hand, if you are looking for a pasta pot specifically then you need something with a strainer lid or a colander insert. Check out my best pasta pot guide for more information.