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Vent holes in pot/pan lids - net positive?

Okay, so I have an esoteric question. Is it a net positive to have vent holes in one's cooking pan/pot lids, and what are all the pros and cons? I've noticed that the higher end cookware (e.g., All Clad) don't seem to have them.. but what do they know? :-)

As I see it:

PROS: allows steam to escape, which helps address boiling over/lid rattling issues, and also provides more visibility in the event of glass lids; allows the pan/pot to breathe even when stored with lid intact

CONS: doesn't allow one to completely seal the pot/pan in situations where it's needed (w/o taping over, etc.), whereas with the vent-less lids, you can always create a vent by sliding the lid open a tad, so it's a more flexible setup; allows dust/debris in when storing

Of course, you can also get lids that do both - - i.e., have a vent hole that you can slide a cover over - but I'm mostly interested in whether holes in general are net positive or negative as I shop for lids.

Many thanks as always!

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  1. I agree with your analysis of the various pros and cons. That's why I like to get three lids for all my pots and pans (including my Le Creuset stuff). Since pots, pans, and lids tend to come in standard sizes, you can easily swap them around as needed.

    9 Replies
    1. re: tanuki soup

      awesome - what's that third contraption?

      also, came up with another pro -- allows you to insert a thermometer w/o opening the lid.

      1. re: iyc_nyc

        The third contraption is a traditional Japanese wooden lid. (The part with the writing on it is just a paper label that you take off after you buy it.)

        I really love these wooden lids because they stay cool, don't rattle like the metal ones, and are perfectly flat on the bottom (making it easy to slide them over a bit to let steam escape). They are made of two pieces of wood. The handle is attached to the lid with a dovetail joint, so no glue or nails are needed. They are available in a huge range of sizes are also quite cheap.

        1. re: tanuki soup

          Don't the Japanese float the wood lid directly on top of the cooking liquid? I think the usual name translates as 'drop lid'

          1. re: paulj

            I believe you are correct (otoshi buta for Japanese cooking -- the modern ones are made of silicone), but I use them as regular lids for cooking western-style food. The one in the picture is labeled as a 16-cm size. It will perfectly cover a 16-cm saucepan, with the edges of the lid extending a couple of millimeters beyond the rim all around. It won't fit inside a 16-cm saucepan.

            1. re: paulj

              The wooden lid press down on the ingredients in the soup to make sure they are fully submerged and evenly cooked.

              1. re: pabboy

                You can invert one of those cheap foldable metal steamer basket inserts too.

                I prefer no vent holes with heavy, well fit lids. I use the rattling on the pan as an indicator of the internal status of the pot.

                1. re: amokscience

                  great points, both -- many thanks.

            2. re: tanuki soup

              very cool. you just gave me an idea - will try my bamboo steamer lid on a regular pot - might do that instead of the metal/glass lid with venting hole.

              1. re: tanuki soup

                Where can you buy these traditional japanese wooden lids cheap?

          2. I too loved my old T-Fal pans with the adjustable vented lids!! I have searched far and wide and am realizing that that style just isn't out there on the market any longer. My T-Fal pans need to be discarded as the interiors are starting to chip off. And THAT can't be good!! I bought an Analon anodized bronze 3 1/2 qt non stick pan a few years ago that has pour spouts on both sides and the glass lid has two sets of vented holes on two sides, of 2 different sizes for draining liquids after cooking--you can turn the lid so that those holes don't let steam out, or move them so they can. It's my favorite pot and has held up well. I wish I could get a whole set with this same type lid, but can't find them.

            1. I have Swiss Diamond and Chantal cookware, both are superior to All Clad. The Swiss Diamond has a valve in the glass lid knob that can be opened and closed. I especially like it when cooking rice, I can see when it is done. Chantal does not have the vent but still has a glass lid. Chantal is probably my fery favorite. It is amazingly fast on induction and is faster or gas and electric cooktops than other cookware.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Candy

                How are Swiss Diamond and Chantal superior to All Clad?

              2. Often pots will have lids that allow steam to escape around the perimeter of the lid as the liquid boils. Some pots are designed to do this better than others.

                I don't especially want vents in the lid. To me that isn't a positive--or negative. In other words, I don't care.

                1. I prefer not to have vent holes.

                  1. I have a universal lid with vent holes for the skillets that have no lids of their own; otherwise all the lids here are solid. Can't say that I've ever noticed a significant difference in the finished product or the cooking time.

                    1. I hate the vent hole, especially in the glass lidded pots I have. There just isn't any point to it but laziness. Leave the lid askew or off if you want steam to escape. More often than not, I need a tight fitting lid if I need the lid at all. However, a square of tin foil will do the trick if you need a good seal on one of these, say, for steaming rice on the stove top - something I do pretty frequently.

                      For the most part you see these on non-stick cookware, which makes sense since non-stick cookware is for those who primarily don't know how to care for, use, or just don't care to maintain their equipment. I do have a non-stick sauce pot for making scrambled eggs, for which there is nothing better ...

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: bywatertim

                        I started reading this due to my rice problems. I've always been a perfect rice cooker, but got new pots with holes in the lids. My altitude changed from Idaho to Florida, but that was nothing significant. I think with a different stove that made a difference since I probably had my simmer too low, but today I looked at that lid and I think that is the steam culprit. I thought I was losing my mind. So I am simmering my rice a bit higher and if it doesn't come out right I will know for sure it is the lid hole.

                        1. re: gecko140

                          If you continue to have problems, use the pasta method. Boil rice uncovered in copious amounts of water for 10 minutes less than the package directions. Dump it through a sieve, then right back into the hot pan and clap on the lid. Let it sit for 10 minutes off-heat. Perfect fluffy, separate grains guaranteed.

                      2. I have one pan with a vented glass lid, a 5-quart nonstick sauté pot that I use for stovetop braising and stewing. I like the vent for those operations - the steam plume shows at a glance how hard or gently the stuff is simmering, and the tip of my dial thermometer fits exactly into the vent hole without going through, making it easy to gauge the temperature in the upper part of the pot. BB&B had these on special for years, just under $20, and my pa-in-law was so taken with it he got one for all the other cooks in the family as Christmas presents. And then they abruptly disappeared. I wish more than I can say that I'd bought several of these, since Teflon is hardly immortal and I don't know what I'll do when this goes. Whatever it is I'll bet it won't be any $19.95!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Will Owen

                          Just to answer my own question, I started using a Calphalon stainless tri-ply to cook rice, and it works perfectly with the vented lid -- allows just a little steam to escape (opening the lid even just a tiny bit would allow too much steam to come out) and improves the visibility. Now prefer this cooking method for rice over my ricecooker (and over using my demeyere atlantis).

                          1. re: iyc_nyc

                            You're using your bamboo steamer lid with the Calphalon pan?

                        2. I don't want them, or use them.

                          Decades ago I had a few pots with such lids. Just a mess, constantly. A few being glass broke.

                          Today I use pots and pans with very heavy lids, specifically the Rösle Teknika line . Meals cook faster, better, and there is no mess. If steam needs to be controlled, I dial down the temperature, or raise the lid slightly.

                          Heavy, well fitted lids do the job. Nothing more is needed.

                          1. I only have one pot left with a vent, and it's ridiculous. It's a two-handled SS saute pan with a knob handle (no idea what brand; hand-me-down). Guess where they decided they should put the vent hole?

                            I've gotten many a steam burn when taking the lid off.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Kontxesi

                              Knob handles! That's a whole other thread. I hate knob handles.