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Stockpots -- I'm Confused

I am desperately in need of a new 12 quart stock pot, and I've heard all sorts of conflicting advice about whether full cladding has any advantage in a stock pot (some seem to think it's even a disadvantage). Any thoughts?

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  1. If all you are doing is boiling water, it does not matter.

    If you're making chili or something where the sides of the pot need to be about the same temperature as the bottom (to avoid scorching) then it might matter. But then you would probably use a dutch oven anyways, right?

    For most people the answer is no, it simply does not matter.

    1. Yes, for boiling water for pasta, corn, etc., cheaper aluminum will do fine. For acidic foods, you'll want something non-reactive.

      3 Replies
      1. re: mpalmer6c

        For most stews, braises, and sauces I use a dutch oven, and I know it doesn't matter for pasta. My main concern is chicken stock. My old cheap pot never seems to maintain a consistent simmer. I'll also occasionally use it for corned beef (love the cast iron for meats, but I'm not willing to struggle with a Staub large enough to fit cabbage and potatoes for a crowd).

        1. re: pothead

          My preference is a stainless-steel stockpot with a thick aluminum disc bottom. Equally useful for boiling pasta water or for making stews, and should maintain the simmer for your stock. Much less expensive than a fully-clad one, too.

          1. re: pothead

            Look at the All-Clad 12 qt. multi pot. You can use it's pasta insert for making chicken stock, as when you lift it out all the solids will remain in the insert. It also comes with a steamer insert. It's a nice shape, good quality, with a nice disk bottom. It sells for about $100.

        2. If you're making stock with it, then a tall narrow pot does make it easier to ladle out clear stock while the solids have settled.

          I'd recommend a pot with at least a thick clad bottom as well for even heat diffusion on a low flame, and so you can brown things on the bottom of the pot if you want, for dishes that call for that.

          5 Replies
          1. re: David A. Goldfarb

            personally, i would not invest big money in a stock pot. i've got a 16 quart stainless that I spent $50 for and that would be my upper limit, maybe even less. Just go to a restaurant supply store if you have one nearby and maybe even think about getting one that's bigger that 12 quart. To me, it makes no sense to spend a lot of money on a stock pot that you'll only use for making stock. What's the rationale behind all clad or even a disk bottom? you're only melting a chicken or what not. And using a stockpot for making stew? what's that about? A dutch oven works much better for that.

              1. re: chuckl

                If one is only making boiled stocks, I'd agree, but a stockpot is often the biggest pot in the kitchen (unless one also does canning), so it sometimes gets pressed into service for other things, like making a big batch of soup or tomato sauce. A pot with a heavy bottom gives one more options. Of course one can also saute in a separate pan and add things to the stockpot, but I like the flexibility of a heavy stockpot, and I see these things as long-term investments.

                1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                  That's a good point - I only use mine to boil water for pasta or to make stock, but I rarely am cooking for large groups, and just use my dutch oven for soups and pasta sauces.

                2. re: chuckl

                  Yes, a Dutch oven works fine for stew. But the standard 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven isn't large enough to prepare, say, chicken fricasee for 12 people. So when I was faced with that necessity, I used ... my stockpot! And I was really glad it had a disc bottom.