Stock pots are popular among cooks because they are ideal for cooking large meals that contain a lot of sauces or soup. The Dutch oven is also popular, although it is reserved for cooks who have years of experience in the kitchen. The two utensils are similar in many ways and could leave one confused. In fact, most cooks do not know whether to buy just one of the two or both when picking utensils for their kitchens.
In the sections below, we discuss about the stock pot and Dutch oven in detail and compare their similarities and differences. We also discuss how each of the two utensils performs in different culinary processes and share some tips for the best use of each. Read on if you have any trouble deciding whether to buy a stock pot or a Dutch oven.
What Is a Stock Pot?
A stock pot is a round shaped utensil with tall straight walls that is designed to hold large amounts of food, sauces, and soup. The body of a stock pot is thin enough to boost heating and enhance heat transfer. (1) They also come with covering lids that fit loosely over the top edge to allow just enough moisture escape when cooking food.
Some stock pots even come with covering lids that feature a steam release hole at the top. Manufacturers use this as a method of balancing moisture and pressure to prevent overflow of boiling food sauces or soup.
The top edge on a stock pot can be flared outwards to avoid messes when pouring out liquids from the pot. Some pots even have an additional pouring spout etched on one point on the top edge that enables accurate pouring.
Stockpots are designed to cook large amounts of food and come with two small handles attached to opposite sides of the body for easy handling and transportation. They are an essential piece in any high-quality cookware set.
The bodies are thin, which has two advantages when cooking with a stock pot. Firstly, the thin body is lightweight. This reduces the effort needed to handle the stock pot when transporting the food. Secondly, the thin body heats up fast, which reduces the amount of time you spend cooking.
What Is a Dutch Oven?
A Dutch oven is primarily made for braising and features thick walls. The design allows food to heat up gradually and cook on the interior and exterior at the same time. Cast iron is the main material used to make Dutch ovens.
Dutch ovens from some manufacturers come lined with non-stick coating to ease the cleaning process by releasing food items from the surface. Ceramic coating is quite popular in many cookware sets while a few use porcelain.
One feature that helps Dutch ovens perform well when cooking foods that require slow cooking is its superior heat retention. A Dutch oven with good heat retention allows you to move the pot from the heat source to continue cooking the food in the oven without losing heat.
The thick walls of the Dutch oven require the utensil to be preheated before food contents are placed in the pot for cooking.
Dutch ovens weigh a lot more as compared to Stockpots because of their thick walls. They also come with covering lids that sit tight over the top edge locking in the moisture content of the food.
A Dutch oven has two short handles attached on opposite sides of the body. With its weight combined with food content, a Dutch oven requires a lot of effort to handle. The location of the handles on opposite sides, however, allows the weight to be distributed evenly and makes it easier to handle the pot.
Stock Pot vs Dutch Oven: Materials
Stock pots are constructed using lightweight materials. Aluminum and stainless steel feature in many stock pots because of their ability to optimize heat transfer. Aluminum stock pots are coated with non-stick ceramic or made using anodized aluminum. The coating eases the process of cooking and prevents food leftovers from sticking to the cooking surface.
Covering lids on stockpots are made of tempered transparent glass, which allows monitoring of the contents without lifting the lid. Tempered glass has high heat tolerance and supports cooking in the oven up to high temperatures.
Dutch ovens, on the other hand, are mainly made using cast iron. As a result, they heat up slowly and retain heat for more hours even after being removed from the heat source. The covering lids on stock pots can either be clear or opaque depending on the manufacturer. Cast iron Dutch ovens require special care and maintenance that involves frequent seasoning.
Stock Pot vs Dutch Oven: Cooking Methods
Stock pots are ideal for cooking meals that have large amounts of liquids, soup, or sauce. A homemade stock is a good example of a meal that would be perfect when prepared in a stockpot. If the stockpot comes with a clear lid, it goes a long way to help you monitor how the food preparation is progressing.
The thin body of a stock pot is also great for boiling because it transfers the heat to the cooking surface instantly. Stockpots work great for foods that require softening by boiling, straining the liquid, and then proceeding with other cooking procedures.
A Dutch oven is great for foods that you want to cook slowly. (2) The thick body heats up gradually and preheating takes only a short while. When cooking a meal that requires you to begin on the stove and transfer the contents to the oven at some point, a Dutch oven is the ideal tool.
Stock Pot vs Dutch Oven: Weight
A stock pot is made using aluminum or stainless steel, which are lightweight materials. For the coated aluminum stockpots, the coating materials only add an insignificant amount of weight. The body of a stock pot is also thin, which works to reduce the effort needed when lifting the pot with its contents to drain away the liquid.
A Dutch oven has a thicker body and the cast iron material used in construction is heavy. With its twin handle design, however, users find it easy to move the Dutch oven together with food contents from the stove to the oven or to serve food on the dining table.
Stock Pot vs Dutch Oven: Cost
Stock pots cost less in general because the are widely used and are manufactured in bulk by many companies. As a result, you can get low budget as well as high end stock pots depending on the brand you choose.
A useful tip when buying stockpots from online stores is to read through user reviews. Here, you will find valuable information shared by users who have bought a particular stockpot.
Dutch ovens are more expensive as compared to Stockpots but also come with different varieties that suit both low and high budget users. The cast iron material used to make Dutch ovens is durable and resistant to wear if you follow all the care and maintenance guidelines.
Can I use a stock pot instead of a Dutch oven?
A stock pot is a good substitute for cooking with a Dutch oven due to its large capacity and high walls. You will need to moderate the heat, however, because the thin walls on the stockpot heat up quicker as compared to the walls on a Dutch oven. The handles on the two utensils are also similar, although you get to use less effort when moving the stock pot from one point to the other.
Can you braise in a stock pot?
To achieve a proper braise, you need a pot with a thin base so that the food can heat up and reach boiling point quickly. A stock pot works well in the first part. To continue the braise, you need to regulate the heat and cover the pot with a covering lid to prevent moisture from escaping. A useful tip when braising with a stock pot is to heat up the contents in moderate or high heat until it boils then lowering the heat towards the end.
What are Dutch ovens best for?
Dutch ovens are best for foods that need to cook slowly and gradually. They also work great for foods that need to be transferred from the stove to finish cooking in the oven.
Can I put a stock pot in the oven?
The safety of utensils in an oven depends the material used in construction. Stainless steel stockpots are oven safe because stainless steel withstands high heat. The aluminum stockpots coated with nonstick coating have a maximum temperature limit for the oven, which is determined by the coating and material used on the handles.