Whether you are making a delicious spicy pot of chili, your very own homemade stock or broth, a hearty soup, or simply boil some pasta and potatoes, a stock pot should be your go-to cooking vessel.
However, choosing a stock pot (or any new piece of kitchen equipment) can be very intimidating and it’s difficult to know where to start when choosing.
And what’s worse is that choosing an incorrect size could affect the outcome of your recipe – and not in a good way!
So, what are the different stock pot sizes and how do they work? Stock pots come in a wide range of sizes from 6 quarts all the way to 40 quarts. The smaller pots are mostly used to sear and prepare smaller amounts of food. The larger pots are used to make stocks, broths, or any larger batch of food.
Today we will dive deep into everything related to stock pots!
We will look at their physical characteristics, their intended functions, how you should go about choosing the correct size for your use, and finally, we will look at all the different sizes available and what each does.
What Are Stock Pots?
In short, stock pots are a very common type of cooking vessel that is well-known around the world and even used in virtually every cuisine.
These cooking vessels are generally on the larger side of pots and have a wide flat bottom with straight high sides.
The top of the pot has an opening the same width as the diameter of the sides, and attached are two handles to help make transporting this large vessel much easier.
Stock pots are also always fitted with a lid that has a handle on top. Good quality stock pots are also usually made from stainless steel that is an extremely durable material.
It doesn’t affect the flavor or the color of the food, it doesn’t rust or react with other elements, and it is extremely durable and affordable.
Other materials that are often used to make stock pots include aluminum, copper, carbon steel, and even cast iron.
The carbon steel and cast iron stock pots usually have an enamel coating to give them a more modern and stylish appearance.
All of these materials have various pros and cons which we will go into more depth later, but we would always recommend getting a stainless steel stockpot above any other type of material.
Stock Pot Uses
A stock pot is actually an extremely versatile cooking vessel. A proper stock pot has a very unique design that allows liquids to evaporate more slowly compared to a shallow wide pot.
This is because there is a significantly smaller surface area and thus less moisture will be lost.
Stock pots are ideal for liquids and were originally designed and used to make stocks and broths, hence the name.
These are extremely flavorful liquid cooking bases that are used in thousands of other recipes. Stocks and broths help add texture, moisture, and most importantly, flavor to your dishes.
Soups are also perfect for stock pots and you can even boil ingredients inside them. Large batches of pasta or potatoes work very well in stock pots.
How To Choose A Stock Pot
There are so many factors to take into consideration when choosing a stock pot. Arguably the most important of these is the size.
This will be determined by what you mainly want to do with it – do you want to make small batches of soup or do you want to feed a hundred people?
Then you can start taking other things into consideration like your budget, the durability, and the material it is made from, and much more.
Choosing the correct size cooking vessel is extremely important and will either make your dish a cakewalk or a nightmare!
As an example, using a massive stock pot for one cup of soup will cause it to scorch at the bottom and even burn. However, choosing a pot that is too small for a large batch of stock will cause the stock to take hours longer than it should.
Stock pots come in a wide variety of sizes ranging from 6 quarts all the way to 20 quarts (that’s roughly 5.5 liters – 19 liters).
Naturally the smaller the stock pot, the less you will be able to make. The bigger the stock pot the more you can make.
For an all-purpose pot, choose one between 8 to 12 quarts (7.5 – 11 liter) stock pots. This way you will be able to make small batches of food, but also relatively big batches for more people or larger families
We have already briefly touched on different materials that are usually used to make stock pots, but let’s dive a bit deeper.
Food-grade stainless steel is honestly the best material for stock pots. This is because it is non-reactive and will not alter the flavor of your food, cause it to discolor, or even cause it to physically change texture like curdle.
Stainless steel is also very durable and lightweight. For stock pots, this is incredibly important, especially when using larger pots.
These large pots can be especially difficult to carry when filled, so imagine carrying around a 20 quart cast iron stock pot!
Stainless steel is also very conductive and will evenly distribute the heat throughout the base, which in turn evenly heats the food inside your pot.
Aluminum stock pots are probably the second most popular material to use because it is even more affordable compared to stainless steel.
Aluminum is a soft and lightweight material which also makes it easier to transport larger vessels.
The biggest problem with aluminum is that it can be a very reactive material (with certain foods, especially very acidic ones) and can give your food a greyish hue, a metallic taste, and even cause some acidic foods to curdle.
Another problem is that because it is a softer metal, it does scratch and even dents quite easily.
However, this is still one of the better material choices as it is an excellent heat conductor which is a necessity with larger cooking vessels that need to evenly heat large quantities of food.
Like we have mentioned in the materials section, stainless steel is extremely durable and will not easily dent or scratch.
Aluminum on the other hand has the tendency to dent very easily which will also affect how heat is conducted.
Then we have materials like cast iron and ceramics. Cast iron is one of the most durable materials you will find and will likely break something else before it breaks itself.
Ceramics on the other hand, despite being very hard, heavy, and durable, will most likely break or at least chip when it is bumped against something or dropped.
Another last tip regarding durability, we wouldn’t recommend getting something that has been coated.
Because you need to cook long hours at possibly high heats, and because they are generally heavy and hard to move, getting coated stock pots will only lead to chips and cracks.
We strongly believe that you should invest in quality equipment, even if they are on the pricier side.
The biggest reason for this is that when choosing cheaply made cookware, you will probably have to replace them a few times which will eventually cost you more than an expensive quality one would have.
Aluminum is the cheapest material you will probably find, but as we have discussed, it does have a few downfalls.
Stainless steel is in our opinion is the best material and is slightly more expensive compared to aluminum.
Cast iron and ceramic stock pots are the most expensive of all the materials we have discussed today. And even the smallest stock pot would still be as expensive if not more expensive than a stainless steel one.
Also, consider the brand you are buying. Obviously, there are very pricey brands and more affordable brands. Most of the time the biggest thing affecting the price is the stock pots design.
Stock Pot Size Chart
Below we have made a very helpful chart that will more easily give you an indication of the size of different stock pots.
|Size in Quart||Size in Liter||Best For|
|4 quart||3.78 liter||Soups, chili, pasta, boiled or steamed vegetables, curries, stews|
|6 quart||5.67 liter||Making poultry and vegetable stocks and broths, soups, chili, pasta, boiled or steamed vegetables, curries, stews|
|8 quart||7.57 liter||Making virtually any type of stock and broth including poultry, vegetable, beef, lamb, fish, and pork stock, soups, chili, pasta, boiled or steamed vegetables, curries, stews|
|10 quart||9.46 liter||Making beef, pork, lamb, fish, and game stocks and broths, soups, chili, pasta, boiled or steamed vegetables, curries, stews|
|12-14 quart||11.35 – 13.24 liter||Steamed or boiled pieces of meat like fish, gammon, or lobster and crab, boiling larger whole vegetables, making preserves and canned products|
|16-20 quart||15.14 – 18.92 liter||Making preserves and used for canning|
|32-40 quart||30.28 – 37.85 liter||To brew beers|
Stock Pot Size Comparison
A 6-quart stock pot is able to make about 4 hearty-sized portions of soup. For every 2 quarts the pot increases in size, we would say it gives about 2 additional portions per batch.
Larger pots will enable you to make bigger batches of food or simply use them for larger pieces of meat and vegetables.
Giving dimensions in inches and centimeters will be nearly impossible as stock pots do have different designs. All of them have relatively tall sides, however, their base diameter does differ from one brand and design to the next.
On average, a stock pot ranges between 10-14 inches (26-34 centimeters) in diameter at the base and top. The height of the sides is what usually determines the exact volume each stock pot takes.
If we are looking at comparing a stock pot to other cooking vessels, they are by far the biggest piece of cookware you can find. Even if you have a big saucepan or normal pot, they are still smaller than a stock pot.
Saucepans and pots usually have wider bases and shorter straight sides. This also means that they will function in different ways.
How To Measure Cooking Pot Size
If you have a stock pot (or really any other cooking vessel) and you are unsure of its volume capacity, this method is by far the best to measure the exact volume.
Place the pot on a scale and tare the weight to zero. Then, start filling the pot with water until it reaches the very top.
Water has the same weight as it does volume. Basically what this means is that 1 liter of water weighs 1 kilogram.
Measuring weight is much more accurate than measuring in cups, so this is a very accurate method to use.
Alternatively, you can use cups to measure the volume of the pot and then simply convert it to quarts.
Now that we’ve gone over all the different sizes for stock pots, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!
How do I take care of a stock pot?
Make sure to always wash your stock pot with warm soapy water. This will remove any residual fat or oils and ensure your pot is completely clean.
Any fats or remaining food on the pot can potentially stain it, cause mold to grow, or be the cause of cross-contamination and food poisoning.
Can you deep fry food in a stock pot?
You can definitely deep fry various foods in a stock pot, especially bigger pieces. Stock pots are made to conduct heat well (especially stainless steel versions) and retain it too.
This means your oil will be perfectly and very evenly heated.
What is the difference between a stock pot and a soup pot?
These two cooking vessels are virtually the same when it comes to volumes, uses, and designs. Soup pots usually have much thicker bases compared to stock pots.
This is mainly because to make stocks and broths, you have a lot more liquid to heat compared to the soup. The thicker base helps prevent the soup from catching at the bottom of the pot from burning.
What is the difference between a stock pot and a Dutch oven?
Like we have just discussed, stock pots are used to make soups, stocks, and broths. It has a pot-like design and is made from metals like stainless steel and aluminum.
Dutch ovens on the other hand are made from cast iron and coated in enamel or ceramic. They are equally versatile and can be used on the stovetop and in the oven.
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