Tips & Techniques

Make a Huge Batch of Stock, Giant Pot Not Required

October 24, 2017

An 8-quart pot is a beautiful thing. It’s a vessel for simmering stocks, the beginnings of beer, or heating up frying oil. But—and this hardly needs to be said—it is also a very, very big beautiful thing. Finding space for such a massive pot can be a challenge in professional kitchens, much less a home cook's cabinets.

If you haven’t made the 8-quart splurge (or don’t have room to), Smitten Kitchen’s Deb Perelman offers a happy compromise in her latest book, Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites. When making her chicken noodle soup, rather than filling two pots with equal parts of the recipe, Perelman uses evaporation to cut down on dirty dishes.

“I put in all the ingredients and as much water as I could in my pot, often having a quart that didn’t fit,” she writes. “Because liquid will evaporate as you simmer the base, I’d keep adding the water throughout, keeping the pot as full as possible until all the extra water was used.”

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Yes, this trick takes a keen eye. But what’s harder: watching a pot or figuring out space to store one?

Looking for pot-filling inspiration?

Have you made the 8-quart splurge? Do you think it's necessary? Let us know below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • arielcooks
  • June
  • FrugalCat
Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.


arielcooks October 29, 2017
Yes, I made the splurge about 30 years ago on a Calphalon 8.5-qt pot with a flat metal lid, sometimes referred to as a chef's pan, a saucepan, and/or a Dutch oven. It's about 14" wide and about 7" or 8" tall. I use it for all sorts of cooking, not just stock. I especially like it for paella and for pilafs, for curries and stews, and for braises, done in the oven or on the stovetop. Probably the pot I use the most, besides my 5.5 qt Lodge Dutch oven with the glass lid.
June October 25, 2017
One of my favorite pans is my six-quart, except that it is never *quite* big enough: consistently filled to the brim, which can be quite messy. I went overboard and bought an eighteen-quart, which I've only used a few times over many years, save the summer I tried canning tomatoes. Last year, I finally got an eight-quart, and I love it. Fortunately, I do have the storage space for the six and eight. The eighteen lives in the garage, next to the roasting pan. The idea of simmering down is a good one, though. When I make stock to freeze into large ice cubes, I simmer down to concentrate the flavor...and take less room in the freezer.
arielcooks October 29, 2017
Yes! Reducing the stock to a concentrate is a great way to go!
FrugalCat October 24, 2017
When I was first on my own (age 21) my boyfriend told me to get the biggest, best pot I could afford. Since he worked in a kitchen, I assumed he knew what he was talking about. I spent almost $100 (that was a FORTUNE to me back in 1992) on a 12 quart stockpot. It's too big to put away in any cabinet, so it lives on top of my fridge. I have used this over the years and am really glad I listened to his advice. I think I would regret a smaller pot.
arielcooks October 29, 2017
One of my first pots was a 12-qt, and it lives in the kitchen, but I don't use it as much as I do the 8.5-qt pot. The latter is more versatile. The 12-qt is good for deriving stock from a whole turkey carcass, so that's about all the use it gets nowadays ... once a year.