1. What is a Cooking Pot?
Growing up is the process of realizing the magic tricks your parents did – whether it be somehow making food appear on the table or being able to produce cash money from an ATM – aren’t really magic tricks at all. They’re a combination of preparation and tools, the kind of thing you can’t even conceive of when you’re a kid.
For myself, I grew up watching my mother cook and I’m ashamed to say that it wasn’t until I was already a fully grown adult that I ever felt like I really understood how she made those delicious meals happen. When I finally caught the kitchen bug and started my own culinary journey, it was a process of figuring out what she did and what tools she used to make it happen.
It seems like a no-brainer, but there’s really no overstating the effect of a good cooking pot. And what is a cooking pot, exactly?
Most of us instinctively know how to recognize a cooking pot, but we may not be able to articulate in words what it is or what sets it apart from a frying pan. Spelling it out in simple terms: a cooking pot is a wider, taller, straight-sided cookware. It is mostly used for larger quantities of items, and in the case of stock pots (one of the types of cooking pots), it can be used to prepare food with high liquid content (such as stew soups).
But what exactly makes for a good cooking pot (or even a good pan)? How do we find them? And what exactly should we be looking for? This is what we’ll be exploring below.
2. What to Look for When Shopping for a Cooking Pot
The first thing you absolutely need to do is identify what exactly you need. My process was pretty haphazard; I kind of figured out that the “flat things” were pans and meant for sauteing and frying meat (or at least mostly meat, I thought), while the “big bowl-looking things” were pots and were meant mainly for soups and such. But everyone has different needs, and feeding an entire battalion definitely requires different equipment than feeding one slovenly bachelor.
So what makes for a good cooking pot? (Keep in mind many of these things also apply to pans)
You should be looking for heavy-gauge material. Those with thinner-gauge material tend to hold heat unevenly and are much more likely to dent and warp. You want a cooking pot with some heft to it and with materials that feel substantial. Try lifting the cooking pot or pan and looking at the thickness of the walls and the base. Give it a tap with your knuckles – you want a sound that’s more like a “thud” than a “ping.”
Another keyword you should be on the lookout for is “heat conductivity.” Heat conductivity refers to how the material of the pot or pan is able to distribute the heat from your stovetop all through the pot to cook the food. That’s called heat flow; a material with good heat flow will equalize the temperature throughout the cooking surface.
A good conductor, such as copper and aluminum nonstick pans, will be responsive to temperature changes, allowing you more control of the food that you’re cooking. Remember: mass holds heat, so the more pot or pan there is to heat, the more heat the pot or pan will be able to hold.
Just as with a kitchen knife or any kind of kitchen tool, you’ll probably going to be using it for a substantial amount of time. For this reason, your pots and pans set should feel comfortable to hold. Take the handle and try it out, move it around with you, see if you can imagine it as an extension of your arm rather than just a tool you’re holding.
Handles can be welded, riveted, or screwed. Welded handles can break off, so you might hear people complaining about that. Truthfully, if a handle is welded in several spots, that should be good enough to keep it from breaking off.
Handles should also be able to stay relatively cool when the pan is being used. Plastic and wooden handles tend to stay cool since they’re not good heat conductors, but the trade-off is they’re not ovenproof.
A good cooking pot should have a tempered glass lid, and that lid should fit tightly in order to keep in the moisture. A pot with tempered lid should also have a high heat proof handle. Keep an eye out for glass lids, which are usually only oven safe up to 350 degrees F.
This is an important point that often gets overlooked: if you’re going to be cooking acidic foods in your cooking pot or pan, such as tomato sauces, wine sauces, etc, then your pan’s lining should be nonreactive. For instance, stainless steel is a nonreactive surface, it won’t react to the material that they touch. But plain aluminum will discolor acidic foods.
If you’re looking for nonstick lining, some pots definitely have that option. Keep an eye out for the type of material, too, as some nonstick cookware set coatings are more harmful than others.
3. Different Uses for Cooking Pots
A cooking pot can be used for any situation where you have to simmer or boil liquids that completely cover the ingredients in order to cook it from all sides. For instance, you could use a saucepot to slow cook a tomato sauce, or use a stock pot with lid to boil lasagna noodles.
They can also be used for simmering and boiling liquids in order to cook rice, pasta, or vegetables.
Some pots have high walls, a large diameter base, and two loop handles. These are usually called sauce pots and they’re perfect for slow cooking sauces and stew soups.
Stock pots, meanwhile, tend to be the largest pots in the kitchen. They have the highest walls and a base that tends to be small in comparison to the height of the pot. This makes it perfect for simmering and boiling liquids for soups and, yes, as the name implies, stocks!
4. Benefits of Stainless Steel Cooking Pots
Stainless steel has long been one of the go-to materials for pots and frying pans. This is because of the specific properties of the material. However, it also comes with some considerable disadvantages in cookware that can be worked around.
Advantages of stainless steel cooking pots and pans:
It is non reactive. Other cookware materials tend to react to acidic foods, causing discoloration. Stainless steel does not have this problem. You’ll be able to cook acidic recipes such as tomato sauces or lime fish without making your pasta an unappetizing-looking gray (or, worse yet, leaching harmful chemicals or foul tastes).
It’s extremely durable. As close to indestructible as you could reasonably get in cookware. You won’t have that issue of chipping, staining, or rusting like you have with cast-iron or enamelled pots or pans. The better quality stainless steel, the harder the cooking surface.
Really good cooking ability. Quick heat absorption and evenness. Holds high temperatures well. Especially in the case of multi-ply stainless steel. Compared with carbon steel or cast-iron cookware, multi-ply stainless steel cookware does amazingly well.
Low maintenance. Extremely easy to look after. No need to go through that long, arduous, confusing process of seasoning (I’ve seasoned several cast iron pans in my life and I’m still not totally sure I did it right). This is as straightforward as it gets when it comes to cookware care.
Easy to clean. It has a smooth, non-porous cooking surface, which makes it easy to clean. You can simply scrub, soak and clean with no problems, and it is dishwasher safe if you’d rather do that than handwash.
Good weight. Very comfortable cookware to maneuver. Especially when compared to cast-iron, a 3-ply stainless steel pot or frying pan is much lighter and easy to handle.
Attractive appearance. It is shiny and can be mirror-polished. It looks great and can fit just about any decor. Not only does it look fantastic, it also feels great.
- Not expensive. Which is not the same as cheap! There’s a range of prices that stainless steel cookware usually goes for, but they’re almost never as expensive as other materials.
As mentioned, it does come with a few drawbacks. Namely:
It’s not great with heat distribution. That said, if used in combination with another material with better conduction (for instance, copper or aluminum), this problem goes away completely.
- Food tends to stick. Stainless steel cookware is not naturally nonstick, so nonstick coating sometimes has to be applied.
5. Cooking Pot Recommendations
We’ve established what a cooking pot is, what you can use it for, and what you should be looking for when you’re out shopping for cookware. Now here’s our list of the top 5 cooking pots in the market for you to buy.
This here’s one of the big ones. A 12 quart stock pot with lid is perfect for you to use for large amounts of stews, soups, pasta, stocks, and just about anything you need. As part of Dalstrong’s Oberon series, this is a high-performing, medium-weight piece of cookware. Not only that, but it’s a gorgeous kitchen tool with an eye-catching and sophisticated visual design.
- Made of 3-ply aluminum core steel, with cladding technology to fuse additional thick gauge layers of nonreactive 18/10 stainless steel. It’ll last for generations.
- Compatible with all stovetops and optimized for induction.
- Broiler and oven safe up to 600 degrees F.
- Non-toxic, non-hypoallergenic, PFOA and PTFE free materials.
- Fantastic heat distribution, but might be a little slower to heat up in a gas stove than you’re used to. No matter; it’s worth it.
- At 12 quarts, this is a pretty big stock pot with lid. Might be bigger than many home cooks need. If you’re going to be feeding a large amount of people, this type of cookware comes in tremendously handy; if not, check out some of the other options in this list.
Let’s scale things back a bit with this smaller, and yet still formidable, the nonstick 3 quart stock pot from the Oberon series. Just like the last pot, this one features a stunning 3-ply aluminum core for excellent heat conductivity. It features the nonstick Eterna® coating, which is a revolutionary nonstick technology that will last much longer than traditional nonstick coatings.
- Awesome responsiveness to changes in temperature.
- Broiler and oven safe up to 500 degrees F, as well as freezer, dishwasher, and refrigerator safe.
- PFOA and APEO free nonstick coating cookware, tested to last 26 times longer in the Dry-Egg test than the leading brand.
- Elegant, sophisticated design.
- The cookware handle’s square profile might take a little bit of getting used to at first.
- This 3 quart stock pot with lid is on the smaller side for a stock pot; think about whether you need a tool this size or would benefit from larger cookware.
Let’s take a look at another 3 quart stock pot, this time from Dalstrong’s acclaimed Avalon series. Just one look at this cookware product and you already know why people sing the praises of this cookware series, with its gorgeous hammered finish and beautiful black color.
- 3 ply aluminum core, uses cladding technology to fuse additional thick gauge layers of nonreactive 18/10 stainless steel. Heats 5 times better than iron and 20 times better than stainless steel.
- Features USA made, PFOA and APEO free Eterna® nonstick coating.
- Extremely durable and low-maintenance, sure to last for generations.
- Ultra strong 2.5mm thick cookware, resistant to denting and warping.
- This is another stock pot that’s on the small side, so keep that in mind when purchasing.
- The gorgeous hammered finish might be a little much for some who prefer to stick to more traditional cookware pot designs.
Check out this beautiful 4 quart stock pot in a handsome silver color and a timeless, understated design. With its 3-ply aluminum cladding, you’ll have amazing conductivity allowing you to quickly heat up and cook everything from thick proteins to thin, delicate omelets.
- Features layers of satin & nylon polish, enhancing smoothness and scratch resistance.
- Ultra strong 2.5mm thickness, with an extra strong 4mm tempered glass lid (which will provide you a clear window into the cooking process).
- Perfectly angled handle for a comfortable and secure grip.
- Very affordable; an amazing product for a fantastic price.
- If you’d prefer a piece of cookware with a bit more character to its design, check out the ones from our Avalon series.
- The side handle does get somewhat warm during cooking, so be careful when handling it.
A perfect example of function meeting form, with a copper core foundation – the best premium steel for heat conductivity and responsiveness. Not only that but this is an absolutely stunning cooking pot to look at, with a classy hammered finish and pitch black color.
- Awesome pot for transitioning from the stovetop to the oven.
- An engraved side-handle evenly distributes the weight of the pot so you can move it around with ease and confidence.
- Handle securely fastened to the body of the pot with aluminum, non-stick covered rivets.
- Lid knob made from thick cast steel, featuring the Dalstrong lion insignia.
- Unlike some of the other items in this list, this pot does not feature nonstick coating. If you’re looking nonstick cookware that is similar, check out the Oberon series.
- This premium piece of cookware is towards the upper end of the price range represented in this list.
6. Frequently Asked Questions
What is a cooking pot called?
There are various types of kitchen pots, known by several names. The word “pot” is usually used for high, straight-sided cookware mostly used for larger quantities of items. Stock pots are a great example of that.
What is a cooking pot used for?
Cooking pots can be used to cook various types of foods, such as soups or pasta. Pots in particular are often used to prepare food with high liquid content, such as stew soups, sauces, or stocks.
What is a boiling pot called?
A boiling pot is also known as a kettle. This is different from a pressure cooker, which is a different piece of cookware that’s more of a sealed chamber that traps the steam generated from its contents being heated, increasing the pressure.
What are giant pots called?
The largest of the pots are usually stock pots (or stockpots).