Simple as it may seem, the stock pot is one of the most essential tools of the kitchen. Whether you’re cooking a pot of soup or stew, steaming lobsters, canning or just simmering a batch of, well, stock, you want a pot that’s up to the task.
Unlike smaller pots and saucepans, a stock pot should have a wide base, giving you ample room to saute larger quantities of vegetables or meat. And the pan itself should be thick, able to conduct heat well and fitted with sturdy handles so you can move it easily. A good stock pot should also come with a tight-fitting lid. Finally, look for a pot that will hold at least 8 to 12 quarts, large enough to handle the big jobs in the kitchen, so you don’t have to split your work among two or three smaller containers.
Stock pots vary in price, depending on their size and material. Although aluminum is often cheaper than other materials and conducts heat well, look for a pot that is made of, or at least layered with, stainless steel or another nonreactive material that will prevent acidic foods and ingredients (read: tomatoes) from picking up metallic flavors from the pot.
Stock pots can be found at specialty cooking and department stores, as well as online. Prices range from $15 to $400 and more.