Here in the test kitchen, we have 15 stockpots of varying sizes, and we use them often. Most home kitchens, however, have room for a single stockpot, so it must handle a variety of big jobs—from steaming lobsters and cooking bushels of corn to canning and making huge batches of chili or homemade stock.
So what size is best? After substantial pretesting, we determined that a 12-quart stockpot is the most useful size—it's the "smallest" big pot, meaning it can handle most big jobs yet is small enough to store with your other pots and pans. So how much do you have to spend to get a good 12-quart stockpot? We bought nine basic stockpots (no fancy steaming or boiling inserts), ranging in price from $25 to $389.95, and headed into the test kitchen to find out.
We boiled water, cooked mounds of pasta (two pounds of pasta and eight quarts of water at a time), prepared two dozen ears of corn, and made double batches of beef chili in each pot. To evaluate the pots, our testers used digital scales, thermometers, stopwatches, gas and electric burners, and plenty of elbow grease. They handled each stockpot extensively to get a sense of its overall feel (both empty and full) and handle design. We washed the pots repeatedly and practiced stowing them away. We found three factors earned a recommended rating.
- Our testers preferred wide stockpots to tall and narrow ones, as greater width allows you to see and manipulate food better and makes for easier cleaning and storage.
- The lighter pots did a fine job cooking corn and pasta—in fact, they heat up faster than than heavier pots. But for cooking applications where sticking and scorching are risks (such as chili), a heavier pot, especially one with a thick bottom, is a must.
- Handles matter—a lot. We found that the best handles extend from the pot at least 1 3/4 inches and are either flat or thick and round, for easy gripping.
Overall, if you use a stockpot primarily to boil corn or pasta, it makes sense to buy a good, but inexpensive model and use the savings to upgrade something else in your kitchen. But if you use your pots for more intensive cooking operations, like chili, opt for the heavier, more expensive models. Whatever your price range, opt for a pot that feels heavy for its size. And when shopping, give the handles a test-run by picking up pots with potholders.
The nonslip grip and narrow, straight blade let testers remove the smallest bones with precision and complete comfort. Perfectly balanced with enough flexibility to maneuver around tight joints. The low price was a bonus.
Hefty in weight, this knife was a solid performer when removing poultry bones, and the handle was easy to grip, even when covered in chicken fat. Piercing silver skin was a challenge since the tip wasn’t sharp enough and the long narrow blade produced slightly jagged cuts.
|Recommended with Reservations|
The sharp tip performed well when removing silver skin, but it was too flexible when maneuvering around poultry joints, leaving testers feeling a lack of control. The heavy handle was slightly unbalanced and became slippery once covered in poultry fat.
Designed to replicate a samurai blade, this expensive knife was a disappointment. It struggled to pierce the silver skin, although long cuts were smooth and even. Minimal flexibility and extreme curve got in the way when maneuvering around joints. The smooth handle was hard to grip and slippery.
The large, cumbersome handle reminded testers of an outdoors knife for fishing and hunting. The blade was too wide to maneuver around joints and it struggled to pierce silver skin. Unlike other knives, this boning knife could only slice in one direction, making intricate cuts around joints difficult.
The blade was so flexible it led to erratic cuttings; testers said the knife was hard to control. The blade was not sturdy enough to maneuver around joints and the lightweight handle felt flimsy and unbalanced.
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