Our editors searched Japanese e-commerce sites (such as Amazon, Rakuten, and kakaku.com) for the best soup and food jars. We picked out the 10 most popular products and tested them for the following:
1. Heat Retention
2. Cold Retention
3. Washability (Is it easy to clean?)
5. Tightness (Is it spill-proof?)
This is how we hand-picked the most exceptional Japanese soup and food jars.
Top 10 Best Japanese Soup and Food Jars to Buy Online
We filled them with hot water and let them sit out. We shook them and checked for leaks. We disassembled and washed them. Then, based on their performance, we ranked the top 10 best Japanese soup jars available online.
※ Japanese prices for the products are given; they’ve merely been converted into USD for easy viewing.
1. Thermos Vacuum Insulation Soup Jar (JBM-501)
The Best in Heat Retention. Has Everything You Could Ever Want in a Food Jar
With a capacity of 500 ml, this will fit any entree, be it curry, stew, or chicken noodle soup. It also scored first for both heat and cold retention.
You could separate the lid, both inner and outer, into a total four parts. We thought it struck the perfect balance between convenience and hygiene; the jar didn’t take much time to assemble or disassemble, and there weren’t any hard-to-reach crevices.
If you do manage to lose any of the parts, it’s easy to find replacements online. Seriously, what else could you possibly ask from a jar of soup?
|Japanese||サーモス真空断熱スープジャー (JBM-501)||Heat Retention||1st (70.1℃)|
|Cold Retention||1st (11.9℃)||# of Parts||4|
|Weight||341.54 g||Capacity||500 ml|
2. Thermos Vacuum Insulation Soup Jar (JBQ-400)
Easy-Open Cap. A Food Jar Anyone Can Appreciate
It’s physics. Put warm food in a sealed jar and the air inside will heat up and start to expand. Over time, when the contents of the jar start cooling down again, the air contracts and steam reverts to water, causing pressure inside the container to drop. The air outside starts pushing at your jar in an attempt to get in and equalize pressure, shoving the lid shut in the process.
In order to counteract this, Thermos added an “Open Assist” feature to the lid, which balanced out pressure and unsealed the jar for us. In total, there were five parts to this cap. It was easy to take apart and wash with a kitchen sponge, and it was easy to put together again.
This jar finished second for heat retention and fourth for cold, so it did its job well. Weight was also average for the size. There are no real downsides to getting this jar, other than the price–but we think the benefits far outweigh the cost.
|Japanese||サーモス真空断熱スープジャー (JBQ-400)||Heat Retention||2nd (64.3℃)|
|Cold Retention||4th (13.4℃)||# of Parts||5|
|Weight||292.2 g||Capacity||400 ml|
3. FORTEC Lunch Pot (FLR-6861)
Built to Be Slim and Lightweight. Bit Difficult to Wash, but Amazing Quality for the Price
For how much it held, this food jar was both light and slim. It slipped easily enough into tighter bags. And yet it ranked fourth for heat retention and second for cold.
The inside was covered with a ceramic coating. Food and stains slid off of it, so the body of the jar was easy to clean. There were also no odd bumps or swells, so even though the container was a bit narrow, it was easy to navigate with a spoon.
On the flip side, there were crannies in the lid we couldn’t reach with a normal kitchen sponge, and it was a struggle getting the gasket off and back on. Still, you’ll be hard pressed to find another jar that performs as well at this price point–small inconveniences may have to be overlooked.
|Japanese||和平フレイズフォルテック ハンディランチポット (FLR-6861)||Heat Retention||4th (62.8℃)|
|Cold Retention||2nd (12.1℃)||# of Parts||4|
|Weight||248.17 g||Capacity||400 ml|
4. Asbel Luntus Soup Bottle (HLB-SR500)
Affordable and Has All the Basic Functions of a Good Food Jar. Lid Could be Better Designed Though
It wasn’t expensive by any means, but this food jar still had amazing heat and cold retention. It also had a lip 8.8 cm wide, which made it easier to scoop with a spoon.
The lid could be separated into four parts. The crevices on the bottom of the lid were quite deep, and we weren’t able to reach into them with a kitchen sponge. At least replacement parts will be easy to get; if you live in Japan, you can just send the brand stamps worth however much the parts are, and you’ll get the parts in return–free shipping.
There was also a vent so air can easily pass in and out of the container, ensuring the lid will never get stuck. It’s a good product to consider if you’re looking for a bigger food jar.
|Japanese||アスベルランタス スープボトル (HLB-SR500)||Heat Retention||4th (62.8℃)|
|Cold Retention||3rd (12.7℃)||# of Parts||4|
|Weight||323.61 g||Capacity||500 ml|
5. Skater Thermal Insulated Delicapot (LJFC3)
If You’re Looking for Fun Designs. Works Well, Though the Gasket is Difficult to Install
There was actually a handle for the lid, not something you see often in soup jars. We doubt you’ll go around swinging the jar as is, but it makes opening the lid and picking the container up out of a crowded lunch pail much easier.
We didn’t have trouble disassembling the lid, but it did take some effort to get the gasket back on. The opening only spanned 6.7 cm, so it may be too narrow to eat comfortably with a spoon. There was a plastic cover for the lip, however, which made the jar more comfortable to drink from.
The lid was well-designed and could be washed with a kitchen sponge. We didn’t have any complaints about heat or cold retention, either–this is the one of times you can judge a book by its cover (or a jar by its design). The body was also light and child-friendly.
|Japanese||スケーター保温・保冷デリカポット スヌーピー (LJFC3)||Heat Retention||6th (62.6℃)|
|Cold Retention||5th (14.0℃)||# of Parts||4|
|Weight||236.12 g||Capacity||300 ml|
6. mosh! Vacuum Insulation Food Pot (DMFP300)
Finished Third for Heat Retention. Cute Design Makes the Pot Slightly Annoying to Eat From, Though
It had a squat shape that reminded us of a milk bottle or jar of jam. It’s available in six pastel shades, which can make for a very Instagram-friendly lunch.
When it came to insulation, it was inferior only to Thermos–soup needed no reheating at lunchtime. However, the narrow mouth and stout body that made the pot so attractive also made it inconvenient; when we tried to scrape out the insides, our spoon kept bumping against the lip. It felt like, well, trying to get the last bit of jam out of a jar.
The lid was designed so food wouldn’t get caught, but there were nooks that we couldn’t reach with a kitchen sponge. It had only three parts, so we doubt you’ll lose anything, but if you do need replacements, they’re readily available on mosh!’s site.
|Japanese||ドウシシャmosh! 真空断熱フードポット (DMFP300)||Heat Retention||3rd (63.0℃)|
|Cold Retention||7th (14.3℃)||# of Parts||4|
|Weight||237.43 g||Capacity||300 ml|
7. keeps Food Mug (HB-272)
Average Insulation, Average Design. Amazing if You’re Looking for Something Affordable, Though
This food jar offered decent heat and cold retention. It was a bit big for having a capacity of only 400 ml, and it flared dramatically at the lip, which had some of us grumbling that it took up more space than it was worth.
There was a plastic cover for the lip so we could drink comfortably from the jar. There wasn’t a vent, but the lid was big and grippy; you shouldn’t have an issue with it sealing itself shut and being difficult to open.
The lid separated into three parts; the plastic cover for the lip separated into two. We were able to wash the lid with a normal kitchen sponge (a plus), but we had trouble getting the gasket off the plastic cover (a minus). Replacement parts are available, but there isn’t much information online; you’ll have to call in and inquire.
|Japanese||パール金属キープス スープジャー (HB-272)||Heat Retention||7th (61.6℃)|
|Cold Retention||6th (14.2℃)||# of Parts||5|
|Weight||331.7 g||Capacity||400 ml|
8. Tiger Thermal Insulated Soup Jar (MCL-B030)
Taking Apart and Putting the Lid Back Together is More Complicated than Needs Be. Insulation is Passable
This had a big mouth, all the better for pouring soup in, and a round bottom, all the better for spooning food out of. Inside, the jar was treated with what Tiger calls a “SUPER CLEAN” coating, which makes it difficult for food or smell to stick. (When we tried washing the container, it did feel like stains and oils slid right off.)
However, the lid had six parts, just on its own. It was the most complicated lid we tested. Plus, there were a lot of crevices, and it wasn’t the easiest to wash. The gasket was quite stiff and was difficult to remove and install.
The jar only finished eighth for both heat and cold retention–quite a lukewarm performance. However, Tiger’s a big brand and, at the very least, it’s easy to get replacement parts online.
|Japanese||タイガー真空断熱スープジャー (MCL-B030)||Heat Retention||8th (58.3℃)|
|Cold Retention||8th (14.5℃)||# of Parts||6th|
|Weight||257.48 g||Capacity||300 ml|
9. Zojirushi Stainless Steel Food Jar (SW-GD26)
Insulation isn’t Quite up to Par. Can be Disassembled into Various Parts, but May be More Complex than It’s Worth
With a capacity of only 260 ml, this was by far the smallest food jar we tested. And while we realized that smaller quantities of food do heat up and cool down faster, that didn’t change the fact that Zojirushi’s food jar finished ninth for both heat and cold retention. This model is also available in 360 ml, and you may get better results there (though we can’t say for sure).
The lid separated into five parts and the plastic lip into two–the gasket and the main body. It was easy to assemble and disassemble everything, but we wished we didn’t have so many odd bits and ends to wash.
Replacement parts are available online, and ordering is painless. The jar also seemed to be sturdy. That’s the good thing about ordering from a famous brand–you can expect a certain level of quality and other conveniences.
|Japanese||象印ステンレスフードジャー (SW-GD26)||Heat Retention||9th (54.3℃)|
|Cold Retention||9th (15.1℃)||# of Parts||7|
|Weight||290 g||Capacity||260 ml|
10. CB Japan midi Food Jar
Can’t Test What You Can’t Open
The lid got stuck when we were testing for heat retention, and we had to stop mid-way. We didn’t order any duplicate products, so we didn’t have a jar to test nor results to publish.
We can say that the grooves running up and down the jar not only added an element of design, but also made it easy to hold. The inside of the container was treated with fluorine. It repels stains and odors, which is helpful if you’re packing curry for lunch.
There were just three parts in total. You could remove the gasket from the lid, and that was it. It left a few bumps and crevices that were difficult to get to and wash.
|Japanese||シービージャパンmidi フードジャー||Heat Retention||–|
|Cold Retention||–||# of Parts||3|
How We Tested Our Products
We determined that the best soup jar had to be able to keep food both hot and cold. It also had to be easy to clean, light-weight, and spill-proof. This is how we tested for those factors.
Test ①: Heat Retention
We poured boiling water into the jars and capped each when the water cooled down to 95℃ (203℉). We then left the jars in a room, which we kept at 25℃ (77℉). At the end of six hours, we uncapped the jars and measured the temperature of their contents.
Test ②: Cold Retention
We poured cold water into the jars and capped each when the water warmed to 8℃ (46.4℉). We then left the jars in a room, which we kept at 25℃ (77℉). At the end of six hours, we uncapped the jars and measured the temperature of their contents.
We’d like to note that even the products that finished last kept temperatures well below 20℃ (68℉), which is when most bacteria start to proliferate. In that sense, you could say that all the products we tested offered adequate cold retention.
Test ③: Washability (Is it easy to clean?)
We disassembled all the jars and looked at whether we could wash each part thoroughly with a regular kitchen sponge. We also made sure all products were easy to reassemble.
Test ④: Weight
We weighed each jar–dry and empty–on a scale. Lighter products received higher scores.
Test ⑤: Tightness (Is it spill-proof?)
We filled each jar with a fixed amount of water. We capped them, flipped them on their sides, and shook each 100 times by hand.
A note: none of the products we tested spilled even a drop of water. The brands do recommend replacing the gasket every year, though. As long as you keep your food jar well-maintained, there shouldn’t be an issue.
Tips on How to Choose a Japanese Soup/Food Jar – Buying Guide
Here are three big things to look out for.
① Your Soup Should be Around 60℃ (140℉) after Six Hours
It’s said that soups are most delicious when they’re had about 25℃ above body temperature. So let’s say that you make yourself soup at 6 in the morning and your lunch is at around 12 noon. That means that you want a food jar that will keep your soup at around 60℃ (140℉) over the course of six hours.
Another thing to consider–bacteria thrive at temperatures between 20℃ and 50℃ (68℉ – 122℉). So, for simple food safety reasons, aim to get a soup jar that keeps warm foods at temperatures above 50℃ and cold foods at temperatures below 20℃.
② You Should be Able to Wash Every Nook and Cranny of the Jar
Food and soup jars will have extra parts, like gaskets, that make the containers spill-proof. Of course, different products will have a different number and different types of parts, but you want a jar with a shape that 1) makes it hard for food and bacteria to get stuck and 2) is easy to wash.
To figure out how convenient a food jar is, the best thing you can do is take it in your hand and inspect it for nooks and crannies; if you can’t, however, then you’ll have to read reviews. Generally speaking, the more parts you can break a container into, the easier it’ll be to keep it clean. But more parts also means more to disassemble, wash, and then reassemble.
Most jars will have stainless steel interiors; some also feature ceramic coating, which helps food and grease slide off and prevents discoloration. These might offer less insulation than simple stainless steel, but they’re helpful if you eat foods that stain easily, like curry.
③ You Should be Able to Fit Everything You Want into the Jar
Finally, think about how much you want the jar to hold. Needs differ from person to person, but here are some rough guidelines if you want them.
- Less than 300 ml: For kids or a small soup on the side
- 310 – 400 ml: For adults with smaller appetites or a larger side dish
- Greater than 410 ml: For adults who like to eat. Can hold main dishes like stew or porridge
Most soup jars on the market fall somewhere in between 250 and 500 ml. Unless you eat the same type of thing every day, you may want to get several sizes and mix and match.
A couple other things that often get overlooked: 1) whether the soup jar will fit your bag or lunchbox and 2) whether it’ll feel heavy when carried (especially on a shoulder).
Preheat and Precool your Food Jar for Even Better Results
If you “preheat” a jar, it’ll help keep the contents warm for longer. Before packing your lunch, pour just a bit of boiling water into the soup jar and wait for a minute. It’s a short extra step with noticeable results. And when you pack cold food, desserts, or drinks, be sure to “precool” the container with some ice cubes.
We also recommend pairing your soup jar with an insulated pouch. Finally, make sure whatever you put into the jar is either fresh off the burner and piping hot or fresh out of the fridge and freezing cold.
We rounded up members from our editing department, purchased the 10 most popular Japanese food and soup jars, and tested them all.
There actually wasn’t too much of a difference between soup jars around the same price and size. We did see that big, expensive names like Thermos performed better, and small jars were less insulating. Finding the right soup/food jar is all about sorting out your priorities and figuring out how much steaming hot soup is worth to you.
Original by Eisuke Kurashima; Translation by Jasmine Li
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