The Best Double Boilers for Melting, Cooking, and Reheating
There’s no need to burn your melted cheese and chocolate—use these multifunctional pans with specialty inserts instead.
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- Best OverallFarberware 50057 Classic Double BoilerSEE IT
- Runner-upT-fal B1399663 Specialty Double BoilerSEE IT
- Most VersatileCook N Home Double Boiler SteamerSEE IT
Double boilers are not an absolutely necessary kitchen tool, but they can make certain dishes easier to prepare, and turn out better. Melting cheese, melting chocolate, cooking delicate sauces, and reheating fragile leftovers all require the gentle, indirect heat that a double boiler provides. A well-practiced alternative is the technique of balancing a glass or metal bowl on top of a regular saucepan—but this approach can end disastrously if the bowl slips and boiling contents drop into the water or onto the cook.
The proper tool can make all the difference. Double boilers consist of three parts: a regular saucepan, a fitted insert that sits on the edge of the pan, and a lid. Cooks add water to the saucepan, fit the insert on top, heat the water to a simmer or boil, then add the delicate ingredients to the insert. In this way, the heat from the simmering water will gently warm and melt the ingredients.
Most double boilers are stainless steel with an aluminum core for even heat transfer. Many varieties include a regular saucepan as part of the package, so choose a boiler with a base pan that you’ll get the most use out of. Boiler handles and lids come in a range of materials, so keep in mind which types you prefer. Lastly, choose a boiler size that is most appropriate for the quantities you’ll be cooking with.
The Best Double Boiler
With those key shopping considerations in mind, we identified some of the best double boiler options available on the market—choose one of these excellent options and get to melting cheese for fondue, chocolate for sundaes, and more.
BEST OVERALL: Farberware 50057 Classic Double Boiler
The Farberware Classic Double Boiler builds on a reliable Farberware 2-quart saucepan with a thick aluminum disc in the base for fast heating, completely encased in mirror-finish stainless steel. The boiler insert has the same mirror finish and its own extended handle to parallel the saucepan handle, allowing the cook to maneuver the pans together without getting close to the heat source. The lid is an innovative self-basting design, featuring a double lip to seal the lid on, trap escaping moisture, and drain it back into the pot—protecting delicate ingredients from drying out or overcooking. These three pieces work together to build a thick-walled, even-heating double boiler. When not in use as a double boiler, the 2-quart saucepan is a highly-recommended pot on its own. The flat base means the pan can be used on all stovetops, including induction. All three pieces are oven-safe to 350 degrees and dishwasher safe easy cleanup.
RUNNER-UP: T-fal B1399663 Specialty Double Boiler
T-fal’s Double Boiler is built on a solid aluminum 3-quart saucepan for fast and even heat transfer, coated inside and outside with T-fal’s classic nonstick coating. The boiler insert is solid stainless steel for better control over heating. A glass cover that fits both the boiler insert and the saucepan allows the cook to check on the contents without losing moisture or heat. The handles on the T-fal pan and the insert are soft, easy grip phenolic material that won’t transfer heat to your hands for safety and comfort. All three pieces are conveniently dishwasher safe for no-stress cleanup.
MOST VERSATILE: Cook N Home Double Boiler Steamer
Cook N Home’s 4-quart Double Boiler/Steamer combo is a multi-piece set that covers several cooking functions. First, the base saucepan is a mirror-polished stainless steel with an aluminum disc in the base, for fast and even heat transfer. The double boiler insert is also stainless steel and features three “steps” on its underside, allowing it to work with this 4-quart base pan, but also with other 2-, 3-, or 4-quart saucepans for extraordinary flexibility. This set also includes a steamer insert–similar to the double boiler insert, it fits into the pan, but the bottom is perforated to allow steam to fill the upper chamber and cook vegetables or meats with steam. The steamer insert also features “steps” on the bottom, so it can be used on this base pan or on others you may already own.
The Cook N Home set includes a tempered-glass lid with a steam vent for easy monitoring, and the stainless steel handles are riveted for durability. Every piece can be tossed in the dishwasher, making clean up simple. The Cook N Home Double Boiler/Steamer is offered at an extremely low cost, especially for a set that can perform the functions of three different pans—it’s ideal for cooks setting up a kitchen, or who don’t have the space to store many different tools, or those who simply value efficiency.
BEST SMALL SIZE: Cook N Home 02655 2 Quarts Double Boiler
Cook N Home’s 2-quart double boiler is stainless steel with an aluminum core for excellent and even heat transfer. A tempered glass lid with a steam vent allows cooks to see the contents and monitor their progress. Both the pan and the insert feature riveted silicone-wrapped handles, preventing heat transfer to the cook’s hands and making for a soft grip. The pan is compatible with all cooktops, including gas, electric, and induction, but is not safe to use in the oven. The pieces are dishwasher safe, although Cook N Home recommends handwashing to preserve the finish. The 2-quart size is just enough to melt ingredients for a single recipe, and is a great size to have on hand for most cooks.
BEST LARGE SIZE: Winware Stainless 8 Quart Double Boiler
Winware’s Stainless Steel 8-quart Double Boiler is a heavy-weight, large, deep double boiler ideal for making large batches of yogurt, canning, or even keeping foods such as mashed potatoes hot without burning. The stainless steel is heavy enough to support the boiler even when it becomes top-heavy, but the insert is much deeper than most double boilers, so even with its large size it is very stable. The 8-quart stock pot is a useful size to have for large batches of pasta, potatoes, or a seafood boil, and while it is not nonstick, it’s polished stainless steel is easy to clean. Riveted handles provide a secure grip on the double boiler insert, even when full. The heavy-gauge stainless steel cover fits both the boiler and the base stock pot, and all parts are dishwasher safe. If you’re in the market for an even larger boiler, Winware also offers this commercial-grade pan in 12-, 16-, ad 20-quart sizes, all quite well-priced given the quality of construction and size.
BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: ExcelSteel 3-Piece Boiler
ExcelSteel’s 3-Piece Boiler is a highly polished stainless steel set at an outstanding bargain. The base pan is 2.5 quarts and compatible with all types of cooktops, including induction. The handles on both the base pan and the boiler insert are riveted, solid, and cool touch. The tempered-glass lid is vented and allows cooks to observe the contents as they cook. ExcelSteel offers solid construction with thoughtful features for less than half the cost of many comparable products, so this set is a deal.