Some of the most delicious things require a little bit more finesse than the average kitchen is prepared to give. Think melted chocolate, hollandaise sauce, or even reliably unburnt stovetop rice. For that, you need a double boiler, which is essentially a pot on top of a pot of boiling water that will give you lower, more even heat.
Picking out a double boiler can seem like a bit of a chore–there are a ton of options, and they all look more or less the same. In this guide, we’ll go over the things you should specifically look for when deciding which double boiler is best for your needs. At the end, we’ve also got a list of our ten favorites to help you get started on your search.
How to Choose a Double Boiler – Buying Guide
Deciding on a double boiler relies heavily on the way that you’ll be using it. So think about these factors when making your choice.
Double Boiler Set or Insert? Depends on Your Space and Use Frequency
There are two main types of double boilers: inserts and sets. Each come with their own set of pros and cons, so consider how you’ll be using it before you choose.
Sets are More Effective but Take Up More Space
Double boiler sets include a base pot that holds water and a top pot that holds whatever it is that you’re double boiling. These two pots fit together perfectly to ensure that you never have to worry about spilling water, letting too much steam into your food, or anything tipping over.
However, as they are a set of two, they take up quite a bit of space and would be best for those who would use a double boiler more often.
Inserts are Convenient for Those Who Would Only Use It Occasionally
A double boiler inserts is just a pot that sits on top of another pot that you already own to create a double boiler effect. As you only have to store one new item, they’re pretty space efficient.
However, because they don’t fit together, you do need to pay extra attention to it while you’re cooking to prevent anything from tipping over or ruining your food with too much steam.
For Most People, a 2 Quart Capacity is Enough
Bigger isn’t always better. Double boilers come in sizes ranging from 1 quart to 4 quarts. For most uses–think making a few servings of hollandaise, melting butter, etc.—2 quarts or less should be plenty.
However, if you tend to do bigger batches or make desserts that require a little more space like custards or hot cocoa, feel free to go larger.
Choose Stainless Steel for Safety and Quality
When it comes to a double boiler, there’s no point in getting anything other than stainless steel (for the top pot anyway!). Stainless steel is extremely durable and safe for use with any cooking utensil—feel free to stir with a metal spoon.
With stainless steel, you don’t have to worry about any unnecessary chemicals or flavors leeching into your foods. Plus, there’s no need to even consider nonstick since nothing will stick at such low temperatures.
Pick a Boiler with a Lid for Faster Cooking
Just because you’re working at low temperatures doesn’t always mean that cooking has to go slowly. If your double boiler has a lid, it helps to seal in whatever heat is there and speed up your melting or heating up process.
Of course, some things require you to stir constantly, but for those that don’t, a lid can really save you some time. Extra points if the lid is glass so that you can see through it!
Top 5 Best Double Boiler Sets to Buy Online
Now that you know what to look for, here are our five favorite double boiler sets for those who have the space for it.
5. Farberware Classic Stainless Double Boiler
Single Serving Double Boiler with Easy Pour Edges
At just 1 liter, this double boiler is the perfect size for single servings. It has Faberware’s classic rounded edges, which make for easy, drip-free pouring. The bottom pot can also be used on its own as a 2-liter saucepan.
However, some reviewers have noted inconsistencies in construction quality, so be sure to double check for any rough edges before the return window passes.
4. JKsmart Double Boiler and Classic Stainless Steel Saucepan
Small Double Boiler with Standing Lid
This little double boiler is well-constructed, quick-heating, and will work on any heating source including induction stoves. Its tempered glass lid stands up on its own, and all of the handles are heat-proof.
However, the amount of overlap between the two pots when stacked is relatively short, so you’ll need to be careful when using it to keep from accidentally knocking it over.
3. Granite Ware Double Boiler
Porcelain-Coated Multi-Use Pots
This little double boiler conducts heat extremely well, and the bottom pot boils water in no time. The nonstick porcelain coating is strong and won’t scratch easily, but even if it does, it’s chemical-free and still safe to use.
You can use both pots separately from each other as nonstick pots. However, the bottoms of both pots are slightly recessed, so they may not work on glass stovetops.
2. Calphalon Nonstick 4.5qt Sauce Pan with Double Boiler
Large Capacity, Heavy-Duty Double Boiler
If you need to cook bigger batches, this 4.5-quart double boiler might just do the trick. It is sturdy, solidly built, and dishwasher safe for easy cleanup. Its glass lid is also completely flat for low-profile storing.
However, it is quite large and very heavy. If you need that kind of construction, there’s nothing better, but if you don’t, it might be overkill.
|Materials||Stainless steel (top), nonstick (bottom)|
1. T-fal Specialty Stainless Steel Double Boiler
High-Quality, Snug Fit Double Boiler
This double boiler is large enough for most purposes and unlike most double boilers, both pots have the same capacity. It’s well-made, fits snugly together, and dishwasher safe.
The bottom pot has a nonstick coating and can be used separately. If you ever have any problems, this double boiler also comes with a lifetime warranty.
|Materials||Stainless steel (top), nonstick (bottom)|
Top 5 Best Double Boiler Inserts to Buy Online
For those with a little less storage space, here are our favorite double boiler inserts.
5. Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Baking Bowl Double Boiler
Silicone Insert Ideal for Melting
This insert is made from food-grade silicone, which is perfect for melting chocolate or butter. It collapses for easy storage, and if you have a pot of the right size, you don’t have to worry about steam escaping.
However, because it’s silicone, it doesn’t conduct heat very well. This makes it good to melt and mix the most gentle foods, but it might not be hot enough to actually cook anything.
4. Neeshow Stainless Steel Double Boiler Universal Insert
Tiny Insert for Single Servings
This little double boiler insert is the perfect size for small batches. It has two spouts for easy pouring and a flat bottom, which allows you to mix or rest it on the counter.
Its hooked handle allows you to use it with pots of (almost) all sizes, but because it’s so small, if the pot is too large, there will be quite a bit of steam that comes up around it.
|Capacity||2 cups (.5 quarts)|
3. Norpro Stainless Universal Double Boiler
Large, Hefty Insert for a Deep Pot
This insert is made from some extremely thick stainless steel. It features two dripless pour spouts and a riveted handle that stays cool.
It is a fairly deep insert, though, so to use the full 3-quart capacity, you’ll want to use a pot that’s at least 7″ deep with it for the boiling water to not touch the bottom. To just use the bottom section, a narrower diameter pot with a 4″ depth would work too.
2. Nordic Ware Universal Double Boiler
Insert that Fits Like It’s Custom Made
This uniquely shaped insert features several concentric grooves, which allows it to fit snugly on almost any pan with a 6″-9″ diameter. Despite all the crevices, the nonstick coating helps food to release easily.
However, it does not have a separate handle, and you’ll probably have to use a towel or oven mitt with it to hold it in place and pour, as the sides do get very hot.
1. Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Stainless Universal Double Boiler
Insert that Fits in with Any Kitchen
This solidly-built double boiler insert has a graduated bottom meant to fit on any 2-, 3-, or 4-quart pot (particularly other Cuisinart pots, but most others as well).
This insert has a lip on the rim for easy pouring, its riveted handle stays cool, and its cover fits snugly. Plus, it’s dishwasher-safe and easy to clean.
How to Best Use Your Double Boiler
The point of using a double boiler is to cook foods more delicately, but just having a double boiler isn’t enough! Here are some tips to not mess up.
Make sure the water in the bottom pot is well below the bottom of the top pot. The boiling water doesn’t heat the top pot—the steam does. Heat water in the bottom pot until it’s simmering; fill the top pot with ingredients while it’s still cool and lower it onto the bottom pot. If you put the ingredients into an already hot top pot, you run the risk of burning the ingredients.
So there you have it–a quick guide to picking out the right double boiler for you! Hopefully, you’ve found the right one and are already on your way to making the most delicious food.
By Jacqueline Oshiro
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