5 Best Substitutes for Double Boiler

Double Boiler Substitute

A double boiler is the unsung hero of the kitchen, essential for recipes that demand delicate heating. Known for its two-pot design—a large pot filled with boiling water and a smaller one that sits above it—this kitchen staple facilitates slow, even, and indirect heating. Ideal for melting chocolate, whisking together perfect custards, or concocting delicate sauces, the double boiler offers unparalleled temperature control.

But what if you’re in the midst of a culinary creation and realize you don’t have this specialized piece of equipment? Should you abort your mission? Absolutely not. The beauty of cooking is its inherent flexibility, and there are several ingenious substitutes that can easily replace a double boiler in a pinch. Our article outlines these alternatives, offering detailed, practical, and actionable advice for each, ensuring you never have to compromise on recipe quality. Armed with this information, you’ll never see a double boiler—or its absence—the same way again.

What is Double Boiler?

A double boiler consists of two pots: a large one that holds boiling or simmering water, and a smaller one that sits above, containing the ingredients you wish to melt, cook, or keep warm. The purpose of this cookware is to facilitate gentle, indirect heat. It’s a vital tool for recipes that require meticulous temperature control, such as melting chocolate, preparing delicate sauces, or even making certain types of soap.

Quick List of Substitutes For Double Boiler

  • Glass Bowl over Pot
  • Crock Pot
  • Mason Jar in Pot
  • Microwave and Microwave-Safe Bowl
  • Steamer
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Best Substitutes For Double Boiler

Here’s a more detailed rundown of the best stand-ins for a double boiler. Each alternative has its own unique features that might make it your new go-to method for low and slow cooking.

Glass Bowl over Pot

Who knew that a simple glass bowl could be such a savior? For many, this is the first go-to substitute when a double boiler is out of reach.

First, it’s vital to select a bowl that nestles snugly over a pot without touching the simmering water below. Usually, a heatproof glass bowl such as Pyrex works best. The heat transfers from the steam, gradually warming the contents of the bowl and mimicking the gentle heat of a double boiler.

Secondly, this alternative is wildly practical. Chances are, you already have these items in your kitchen. It saves you both time and money, and you’ll find yourself using it for a multitude of recipes: from melting chocolate to warming milk, to making that perfect hollandaise sauce.

Lastly, a glass bowl offers great visibility. You can easily monitor your food’s texture and consistency without any obstruction. This clear line of sight is especially useful when you’re working with ingredients that can quickly go from heavenly to disastrous.

Crock Pot

When it comes to slow, consistent heat, a crock pot can be a brilliant alternative to a double boiler.

Initially, using a crock pot may seem unconventional. However, it excels in slow-cooking dishes that require consistent, low temperatures. Whether you’re melting chocolate or preparing a delicate custard, a crock pot allows you to “set it and forget it,” freeing you to focus on other aspects of your meal.

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Moreover, many modern crock pots come with temperature settings that provide a greater degree of control, rivaling that of a double boiler. Imagine perfectly melting chocolate or preparing a delectable cheese sauce without the constant need for stirring and checking.

Lastly, the crock pot’s design makes it inherently safe for this type of cooking. Its ceramic inner pot provides even heat distribution, while the lid keeps in moisture, making it ideal for long-term cooking.

Mason Jar in Pot

Ah, the humble mason jar, a versatile tool found in almost every household.

This method involves filling a pot with a few inches of water and then placing a mason jar containing your ingredients into the pot. The advantage? The thick glass walls of the mason jar provide slow, consistent heat, much like a double boiler.

However, there are caveats. You must ensure the mason jar doesn’t float or tip over, spilling its contents. Placing a small, heat-proof ramekin or even a canning rack at the bottom of the pot can provide a sturdy base.

Furthermore, a mason jar is perfect for small quantities. So if you’re melting a small amount of chocolate for a single cake layer or making a tiny batch of delicate sauce, this method is tailor-made for you.

Microwave and Microwave-Safe Bowl

Before you cringe at the thought, hear this out. A microwave can indeed be a suitable replacement for a double boiler, but it requires vigilance.

It’s simple: Place your ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in short bursts, stirring frequently. The advantage here is speed. Melting chocolate or butter can take mere minutes.

However, there are downsides. Microwaves are notorious for uneven heat distribution, often leaving some parts overcooked while others remain underdone. Therefore, use this method only when you’re in a pinch and be prepared to babysit your dish.

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Moreover, make sure you use a microwave-safe bowl, or you risk your container melting or breaking, causing a big, unsafe mess.


This may sound like a stretch, but a vegetable steamer can also function as a double boiler substitute.

The principle is similar to the traditional double boiler setup. A pot of boiling or simmering water provides the heat, and a steamer basket above holds the ingredient you want to melt or cook. The perforated nature of the steamer allows for even steam distribution, providing a gentle, even heat.

The key to using a steamer as a double boiler substitute is to ensure that your ingredients are in a heat-proof container that fits into the steamer. It’s ideal for melting chocolate or for dishes that require a bit more airflow during the cooking process.

As for practicality, if you’re a health-conscious individual who often steams vegetables, you already have the equipment, making it a convenient and cost-effective solution.


And there we have it! Whether you’re in a tight spot or looking to simplify your kitchen inventory, these alternatives can do the job of a double boiler, and they do it well. So the next time you’re halfway through a recipe and realize you’re missing this critical piece of equipment, don’t break a sweat. With these substitutes, you can proceed with confidence. Happy cooking!

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