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What size stock pots should home cook have?

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I'm in the process of getting some new cookware and wanted some opinions on what size stock pots everyone has. Currently I have a 6 and 8 quart. I was thinking about adding either a 12, 16, or 20. I think I'm going to rule out the 12 because I already have the 2 smaller ones and thought if I added one it should be bigger. I'm leaning toward the 16 but just wanted some input. I usually try to make a good bit of stock at one time, and I might also use it for boiling shrimp every now and then if I don't feel like setting up outside. Any advice? Thanks in advance

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  1. If you have the money and space for the 20, I'd say get the 20 but the 16 is probably ok, too.

    1. Looking at the Le Creuset enamel on steel, i think the difference is only $20 so pretty negligble. Thanks for the input, I always worry when buying a pot if I'm going to regret not getting one size up Just didn't know if the 16 would be limiting.

      2 Replies
      1. re: spmc

        I would not invest money on a LC stockpot unless you desire it on looks alone. The job of a stock pot is very simple, so commercial aluminum or stainless steel will do it better than heavy steel or iron.
        I have a 12 and 16 qt from Wearever and I rarely use the 16.

        1. re: Kelli2006

          SPMC is most likely looking at the enamel on steel stock pots which aren't too much money -- an 8qt can be had for $40 or so, I that would put a 12 or 16 around $80 or $90, about what you'll pay for a good SS one.

      2. Size will depend on a number of factors:
        Are you strong? Lifting a full 16 qt stock pot is plenty for me, the full 20 qt is simply too heavy.
        Do you have storage room? Short of keeping them by the front door filled with umbrellas, you need permanent space of considerable size.
        Other than making stock and the shrimp boils you mention, do you have other plans for this? Your use should determine the size.

        Please give some consideration to buying NSF restaurant stock pot. I know a couple of people who've bought the pretty LC pots only to be disappointed by the (lack of) quality later. My NSF stock pot is at least 35 years old, going strong. Granted it is not a thing of beauty but I keep it in a closet.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Sherri

          Just expanding on what Sherri said, keep in mind that it will be a lot heavier full of water than empty. I have a 16 and I think I only use it for making stock. They do take up a lot of room. Also, you don't need to spend big money on a stockpot. A no name brand in this case is usually as efficient as a name brand like LC.

          1. re: Sherri

            I would like to add to my previous post:
            A large stock pot requires a large colander and a large bowl.
            I really think two large bowls are best, but that is personal (I have three and use them all when in the midst of production).

            Do you have fridge space to quickly cool and store a large amount of stock? Freezer space? In the fridge, the largest bowl will hold the ice bath and a smaller one will hold the strained stock.

            Another poster mentioned sink size and that completely escaped my first post because I have a very large sink that I chose specifically for washing large pots. After too many years of contorting to fit a residential sink, it got to be my turn! A high faucet is also a must.

          2. I agree with the other posters - your use should determine the sizes you need. I have a 12 qt Cuisinart and though I also like to make larger quantities of stock I find it is often too big, unless I happen to have enough freezer space to accomodate all of that stock at once. I end up using a smaller pot and have no real issues having enough stock on hand at all times but then my household is small. Otherwise the big one comes out for lobster, corn, etc occasionally. It does take up some space in a small kitchen so you'd have to consider whether you have the space to comfortably accomodate a huge pot.

            1 Reply
            1. re: knet

              I have a 16 qt that I also mostly only use for lobster, crabs, corn. But it does get a lot of use, especially in the summer. So if you have the space and you have the need I'd say go for it. I think I'm eventually going to buy a 20qt as well - just so I have more room for more lobsters. :)

              I should mention that I have an unfinished basement with lots and lots of storage space, so this is a non-issue for me.

            2. Really big stock pots are trouble three ways:
              -Where to store (hope you have space)
              -How to lift (a 20-quart pot 3/4 full will weigh nearly 40 pounds)
              -How to heat (it will take a lot of BTU's to get all that water hot)
              Consider getting a turkey fryer kit -- in addition to a huge (32 qt) pot that will be nice for seafood boils, you will get a high-output burner and other stuff. Shop around -- they list for over $100 but are often sold at a pretty steep discount.

              Heat distribution is not really an issue -- for most uses plain aluminum or enameled steel (speckled stuff commonly used for canning) works really well and is reasonably priced. I would not blow the budget on high-end enamel steel (save your LC dollars for their cast iron stuff), stainless or anodized aluminum.