What the best soup pots have

  • Even cooking performance. Experts say a pot with a thick, heavy bottom is best at keeping soups and stews from burning.
  • A nonreactive material. Anodized aluminum (which may have a nonstick coating) is super-hard and won't react with acids, while clad stainless steel (plain or enameled) will work with induction cooktops.
  • A suitable size. Experts say a pot that holds at least 6 quarts, but no more than 12, can handle a wide range of cooking tasks.
  • Comfortable weight. Your pot should be heavy enough to hold heat well, but not so heavy that you can't easily lift it when it's full.
  • Big, sturdy handles. Test these in person to make sure that you can grasp them easily even with potholders on.
  • Easy cleanup. In user reviews, the ease or difficulty of cleanup is one of the biggest factors in how satisfied owners are with their soup pots.
  • Nice looks. The best pots look good while new but also stay that way through years of use.
  • Durable construction. A good pot should be solidly built, with firmly attached handles and a durable finish.
  • A long warranty. All the soup pots in this report are backed by a warranty of at least five years.

Know before you go

What are you cooking? If you need a pot that can handle the widest possible variety of kitchen tasks, experts recommend a 12-quart stockpot. This size is roomy enough for big jobs like making stock or boiling lobsters. But, if you'll only be cooking soups and stews, a smaller 6-to-8-quart pot may be easier to handle. A nonstick finish may also be helpful for a pot that will be used mainly for soups, since it helps residue come off during cleanup.

Many users also say that an oval-shaped pot is remarkably convenient for cooking corn on the cob and long pastas like spaghetti. Finally, some soup pots (often called "multi-pots") are sold with handy inserts for steaming vegetables or draining pasta.

What kind of cooktop do you have? For a smoothtop electric range, you'll want to avoid heavy, rough pots (such as cast iron) that may scratch the surface. You'll also need to make sure your soup pot has a flat bottom to make contact with the heating elements. If you have an induction cooktop, you'll need a skillet made of a magnetic material, such as stainless steel. Users do say that some stainless-steel pans don't work as well as others; test it out at the store by sticking a magnet to the bottom.

Do you clean everything in the dishwasher? Pots with a nonstick finish usually aren't dishwasher-safe, although they usually clean up fairly easily by hand. Many stainless-steel pots, by contrast, can go in the dishwasher (although experts say hand-washing will keep your cookware in better shape). You'll also need to check the size of the pot to make sure it will fit in your dishwasher.

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