Why you need it: Also called a stockpot, a pasta pot has tall, straight sides that provide plenty of room for cooking spaghetti without having to break the noodles in half. And its round base conducts heat up the sides while insulating the bottom to ensure that pasta, chili, soup, or stock doesn’t burn.
What to look for: Don’t skimp by buying a pot with a thin bottom, says Samuelsson: “Thickness equals a longer life and a good transfer of heat.” Shop around for a bottom that is thicker than the sides; this will prevent scorching. A 6- to 12-quart size is ideal; it’s large enough to hold rice and beans for four but small enough to be carried easily from stovetop to sink even when full. Stainless steel is your best bet; in addition to being durable, it tends to be lighter than other materials―something to appreciate when the pot is full of scalding water.
RS pick: KitchenAid Cookware’s stainless-steel eight-quart stockpot ($196, marketwarehouse.com) is sturdy yet easy to lift.