We Tested 16 Stockpots—Here Are Our Favorites

Our top pick is the Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel Stockpot.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
a stainless steel stockpot with a lid.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Straight to the Point

The Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel Stockpot is the best stockpot. Its solid construction, even heating, and wide handles make it a standout. If you're seeking a budget-friendly model, our pick is the Cook N Home Stainless Steel Stockpot, which is less than $50.

While a pot as big as a stockpot isn’t called upon often in home kitchens, when you need to make a big batch of stock from a mess of saved bones and aromatic vegetables, there’s just no way around needing something that can handle a lot of volume. Turning to your six-quart Dutch oven, or the eight-quart pasta pot that comes with most cookware sets, can be too limiting for large batches of stock. Stockpots are also our go-to for crowd-feeding dishes like lobster boils.

You can spend close to $400 on a stockpot, but does spending more get you a better pot? To find out, we rounded up 16 models, ranging from around $30 to nearly $383 (at the time of testing), and put them through handling and cooking tests to find the designs that work best.

Editor's Note

We recently tested 12-quart stockpots from Made In and T-Fal (models that weren't available at the time of the original testing or didn't make our initial lineup), comparing them to our current favorite 12-quart stockpot from Cuisinart. Both of these new models had their pros and cons, but we didn't feel either was better than the Cuisinart. We included our findings on these models towards the bottom of this page.

The Winners, at a Glance

The Best 12-Quart Stockpot: Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel Stockpot

Cuisinart 12-Quart MultiClad Pro Stainless Stock Pot With Cover

The Cuisinart MultiClad Pro’s build is rock-solid, with riveted handles, a snug-fitting lid, and triple-ply stainless steel cladding (a core of aluminum sandwiched between layers of stainless steel) from the base to the top of the pot’s wall. The wide, flat handles are very comfortable and leave plenty of space for oven mitt-covered hands. The thick base layer manages heat well, which means you’re less likely to burn your food.

The Best Budget 12-Quart Stockpot: Cook N Home Stainless Steel Stockpot

Cook N Home 12-Quart Stock Pot

If you’re the type of cook who forgets to use oven mitts when reaching for hot pots, the rubbery grips on the Cook N Home stockpot might just save you from a painful burn. This stockpot has a disc of stainless steel and aluminum cladding on the bottom only, which shouldn’t present a problem in most cooking scenarios. Still, you’ll need to pay closer attention because food has a tendency to scorch more quickly in this pot than in our top pick. Note: The 12-quart version of this stockpot is currently sold out. However, the 12-quart version of our favorite 16-quart stockpot below is available and well under $100.

The Best 16-Quart Stockpot: Tramontina Gourmet Stainless Steel Stockpot

Tramontina 16-Quart Gourmet Stainless Steel Covered Stock Pot

We think most home cooks will be well served with a 12-quart stockpot, but if you know you need a bigger size—to make larger batches of stock, huge pots of soups, or lobster boils for a very large crowd—then you may want to consider owning a 16-quart pot as well. The Tramontina is our top pick for this larger size. It shares the same build quality as the 12-quart version, which we also tested. Its shortcoming are minor, and, for the price, it’s the best we found.

Two hands with oven mitts on gripping the handles of a stockpot
How easily and securely you can grab a stockpot matters, especially when it’s filled with quarts of hot stock, soup, or sauce.

Serious Eats / Vick Wasik

The Criteria: What We Look For in a Great Stockpot

Buying a stockpot can be a tricky purchase. Because of the pot’s size, it can be very pricey, but you really don't need the same level of performance that you require from a skillet or sauté pan. A stockpot’s primary purpose is to simmer or boil liquids, so the cladding and even heat conduction of the more expensive options are less necessary than they would be in a pan tasked with searing and sautéing. The goal is to buy a stockpot that will last, but without spending for a build quality that you’ll rarely rely on.

The handles have to be comfortable, sturdy, and easy to grip—the last thing you want to feel is uncertainty as you move a large pot of scalding water off the cooktop or while draining through a strainer. For home use, stockpots come in a range of sizes, usually from 8 to 20 quarts (some commercial kitchens use massive 74-quart versions). For most home kitchen tasks, we think a 12-quart stockpot is an ideal size and large enough for making big batches of stock or sauce. Going with a smaller stockpot, like one that’s eight quarts, means the pot is very similar in volume to a six- or eight-quart Dutch oven. It pays to get a stockpot that’s bigger than your other pots, yet still fits inside a base cabinet, to cover the biggest cooking tasks while avoiding pot-size overlap. For more capacity, a 16-quart stockpot is just about as big a pot as most home kitchen burners can handle.

While researching which models to test, we focused on stainless steel pots that are compatible with an induction burner, which provides more flexibility. We excluded stockpots made from aluminum, which reacts with acidic ingredients and can warp when used with high heat. We also ruled out pots made with enameled steel, which is used for sautéing and browning, or those with non-stick coatings that excel at cooking eggs, fish, and battered foods like pancakes. Both of these finishes can wear out over time.

A big driver of a pot’s cost is the cladding, that is, the multi-layer sandwich made up of (usually) a layer of conductive aluminum between two slabs of stainless steel, and how much of it there is in the pot— you’ll see this often marketed as tri-ply or multi-clad. Typically, the more expensive stockpots (and cookware in general) have full cladding that covers the bottom and sides of the pot, while less expensive models have cladding only on the bottom. For stockpots, in which you're usually cooking liquids, the full cladding is less important because you don't have much risk of food scorching on the sides when the pot is full of water (full cladding is more important for drier cooking methods like searing and sautéing). That said, a fully clad pot is always preferable, but not if the cost is unreasonable and the need isn't as pressing.

Our test field included both fully clad pots, like the All-Clad and our winning Cuisinart, as well as pots that have cladding only on the bottom. Full cladding adds weight and cost, but helps manage heat better and reduces the risk of scorching, especially in the corners where the pot wall meets the base. Lids are either tempered glass or stainless steel, and while we didn’t find the material of the lids to affect performance, we generally prefer metal lids since glass can break.

Handle design was one of the first features we considered when deciding which pots to eliminate from the test field. Metal handles are typically either narrow and round, or wide and flat. We considered handle size and shape in terms of comfort and ease of holding the pot, both with bare hands and when using both oven mitts and kitchen towels. The space between the handle and the pot is also important: You want enough room to wrap your fingers around the handle while wearing oven mitts or holding a kitchen towel. Handle width plays a part too: We like to get all four fingers across the handle, though the space within the handle felt crowded on some models when we used just three fingers. For durability, we prefer handles that are riveted to the pot over those welded in place.

To select specific models to test, we cross-referenced reviews from Amazon and America's Test Kitchen (subscription required).

The Testing

Test 1: Handling

Comfortable, sure handles on a stockpot are important, especially when a full 12-quart pot can weigh about 23 pounds—losing your grip on one when it’s full of boiling liquid is a potentially catastrophic kitchen accident. A good stockpot should have handles that are easy to grab both barehanded and while wearing chunky oven mitts (or with kitchen towels), and you should feel in control of the pot when walking around and while pouring out the contents. We lined up four testers with varying hand sizes and strengths and asked them to pick up each empty pot, with and without mitts and towels, and provide feedback on the handles.

Two different styles of stockpot handles side-by-side
Stockpot handles come in two basic shapes, flat and wide or round and skinny. We found versions we liked, and didn’t like, of both.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

It didn’t take long before a pattern emerged: If a pot is uncomfortable to hold while it’s empty, things will only get worse once it’s full. We disqualified several pots for uncomfortable handles, or other basic problems with their build, such as lids that didn’t fit well. We found that handles that are spaced 3/4 to 1 inch away from the pot wall were best, providing enough room to grip the handles without feeling cramped. Some handles were disqualified because their width only left enough space for three fingers to fit, too few to lift a heavy load. We also ruled out a pair of Farberware pots because their handles are welded on, which is a cheaper build than ones attached with rivets (though, it should be noted, we experienced no issues with those welded handles).

After disqualifying roughly half the field, we filled the remaining pots with an equal amount of cold tap water and did laps around the test kitchen holding them with bare hands, with oven mitts, and with kitchen towels. Then we dumped the water out to gauge how comfortable they were when being tipped.

Test 2: Boiling Water

A stockpot is almost always used to heat liquids—searing and other dry-heat methods of cooking are much less common. The faster a pot can bring water to a boil, the better. We used the exact same amount of room-temperature water (9 quarts) and heat setting (high, on an induction burner) to see how long it took for the contents to reach a rolling boil with the lid on.

Mirepoix browned in two different stockpots
To see how well each pot handled cooking, we sweat and browned mirepoix, stirring every 90 seconds. Our winning Cuisinart (top) did a better job at resisting burning than other models, like one from Berghoff (bottom).

Serious Eats / Sal Vaglica

Test 3: Sweating and Browning Mirepoix

Most of the pots achieved a boil in 49 to 50 minutes, indicating that whatever small differences there are in terms of a pot’s dimensions and build specs make little difference to its boiling performance. The only exception was All-Clad’s stockpot, which took just over one hour for the water to boil, so we disqualified it.

While simmering and boiling is what a stockpot does most often, there are times you want to build flavor in the pot by sweating or even browning aromatics. To test how well the pots performed with this type of cooking, we set each on an induction burner set to medium-high heat for 3 minutes, then added olive oil and a measured amount of diced mirepoix (carrots, onions, and celery). Stirring every 90 seconds, we photographed the vegetables in three, five, nine, and 12-minute marks to confirm even cooking, fond development, and to note any burning.

The Cuisinart set itself apart here, gently and evenly browning the vegetables and creating a good, even fond, without any worrying signs of burning on the bottom or corners of the pot. Other pots were more prone to scorching and charring, both on the vegetables themselves and the fond on the pots’ bottoms. Our budget pick, Cook N Home, didn’t manage the heat as evenly as the Cuisinart, but with some careful attention, you can still easily avoid burning the fond.

How we chose our winners

We picked our winners based on handle comfort, boiling, and cooking performance.

The Best 12-Quart Stockpot: Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel Stockpot

Cuisinart 12-Quart MultiClad Pro Stainless Stock Pot With Cover

What we liked: The fully clad Cuisinart MultiClad Pro has comfortable, sturdy handles with a spacious 1-inch-wide gap from the handle to the pot, which is enough room to fit four fingers while wearing a chunky oven mitt. The lid sits snugly and has an easy-to-grab handle. The pot bottom, at 10 1/4-inches wide, was one of the larger ones we tested, and it did the best job cooking the mirepoix without burning. Water in the Cuisinart came to a boil just as quickly as in most of the other pots.

What we didn’t like: We’re being picky here, but all that cladding comes with added weight (and cost)—at just under eight pounds, the Cuisinart is more than a pound heavier than the average 12-quart stockpot we tested, which might be an issue for some cooks.

Cuisinart stockpot on a white background

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

The Best Budget 12-Quart Stockpot: Cook N Home Stainless Steel Stockpot

Cook N Home 12-Quart Stock Pot

What we liked: If you want a stockpot for boiling water or simmering stock, the Cook N Home is a solid choice. When filled to three-quarter capacity, it boiled water as quickly as most of the other pots, and the vented glass lid fits decently well. While the handles are round bar stock, they come coated in a grippy rubber that is comfortable and protects your hand from the hot metal—should you absentmindedly reach for it without an oven mitt or kitchen towel. There is plenty of space between the pot and the handle to grip, but testers with larger hands complained about only getting three fingers to fit instead of four.

What we didn’t like: With cladding only on its bottom, the Cook N Home eventually burned some of the fond during our sweating and browning test. This pot is also currently sold out (the 8- and 20-quart versions are still available). For a slightly more expensive, but still under $100, 12-quart pot, the smaller version of our favorite 16-quart stockpot from Tramontina is available.

Cook N Home 12 quart stockpot on white background

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

The Best 16-Quart Stockpot: Tramontina Gourmet Stainless Steel Stockpot

Tramontina 16-Quart Gourmet Stainless Steel Covered Stock Pot

What we liked: Tramontina's 16-quart model is our pick for a larger capacity pot. It shares the same design as the company’s smaller 12-quart model, which performed well in our tests, except for scorching a little on the bottom during our sweating and browning test; that was enough to keep it out of our top-pick position for the 12-quart pots. (Our top pick 12-quarts, though, do not offer 16-quart options, so Tramontina is the best choice at a relatively affordable price in this case.)

What we didn’t like: Just like the 12-quart model, this pot is a little more prone to scorching than our top pick, so you’ll need to pay more attention if sautéing or browning foods in it.

Tramontina stockpot on white background

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

The Competition

A few quick notes on the other stockpots we tested:

FAQs

What’s the difference between a stockpot and a saucepan?

A stockpot and saucepan are not interchangeable for most tasks. Stockpots are larger (more on that in a minute), and used primarily for simmering stocks, making large batches of stew, or handling specialty tasks, like boiling lobsters. On the other hand, a saucepan is small enough for everyday cooking tasks, and is meant for tasks like cooking grains and beans, making soup, and—of course—sauce. 

Is a stockpot the same thing as a Dutch oven?

They’re similar in size, but not easily swapped. Dutch ovens are made from cast iron, either enameled or bare, whereas stockpots are constructed with steel or aluminum. Dutch ovens have excellent, even heat retention, which makes them ideal for searing meat, sautéeing, and baking bread. Dutch ovens are also generally oven-safe, whereas not all stockpots are (owing sometimes to the material used for the handles).

How big should a stockpot be?

Stockpots generally come in a few sizes, measured by the quart. For most home cooks, a 12-quart stockpot will be sufficient; they are also easier to stow away in cabinets. Bulkier, larger 16-quart stockpots are incredibly useful for large-format cooking, but if you only use it once a year or so, you’ll have to decide if it’s worth the extra storage space. If you only buy one stockpot, we recommend it be a 12-quart. If space is at a premium in your kitchen, and you rarely cook in large batches, an 8-quart may even suffice.

What are stockpots made of?

Most quality stockpots are made from stainless steel. We don’t recommend aluminum stockpots, as the metal can react with acidic foods. They also warp easily over time. Avoid enameled steel—the coating may help with browning, but it will eventually crack or chip.

What is cladding in a stockpot?

Cladding is the layering of metal in a stockpot. Typically, it’s aluminum surrounded by stainless steel. A pot that has full cladding on the bottom and sides will cook more efficiently and protect against scorching. It also carries a larger price tag.

What can I cook in a stockpot?

Stockpots aren’t the best choice for sautéeing, searing, and quick-cooking grains and beans. However, they really shine when put to work making stock and broth. Their large, generous size allows for big chunks of vegetables and bones or even multiple chicken carcasses. A quality stockpot will boil water quickly and keep it rolling for as long as you need, so it’s also helpful for blanching large amounts of vegetables or sealing jars (Think: canning and preserving season).

Do I need a stockpot?

That depends on how much space you have in your kitchen, and how often you plan on performing tasks that require a large-format pot. If you have the room to store it, we suggest investing in a 12-quart stockpot. You may not use it every day, but when you need its large capacity, you'll be glad to have it on hand.

Additional research by
Rochelle Bilow
Rochelle's headshot
Rochelle Bilow is a freelance food writer, as well as a novelist. Based in Vermont, Rochelle specializes in stories about home cooking, techniques, tools, and equipment. She has been writing about food professionally for over a decade.
Learn about Serious Eats' Editorial Process