Ready At A Moment’s Notice: Double Boiler In A Pinch

Are you trying a new recipe, got halfway through it and realize that it requires the use of a double boiler…but don’t have one tucked away in your cupboards?

Pot & BowlHere’s a simple substitute that you can whip together at a moment’s notice. The items required are likely at your fingertips already (and it’s on the job in a jiffy)…so no need to run off to the store (yay!). Here’s how you do it…

Items Needed:

Small to medium-sized pot
Ovenproof (Pyrex) glass bowl that will fit inside the pot without resting at the bottom

*You could also use a stainless steel bowl instead of a heavy glass one or another pot, see notes below


  • Fill pot about 1/4 full with water and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to a simmer and fit the bowl into the pot. The bottom of the bowl should not reach the water (at least 2″ to 3″ space between the bowl and water is optimal). The intention is to heat the bowl with steam and not the water.
  • Add the ingredients required and proceed as recipe instructs.

Another option is to use two pots with the one on top resting securely inside without falling to the bottom. Ideally the one on top will have two handles (one on either side) that will rest over the sides of the bottom pot.

Important: Keep in mind that the bowl will be hot, use potholders when handling.

If you don’t have a lot of room in your cupboards to hold a variety of kitchen gadgets or the budget to buy them all, this setup comes in handy and gets the job done.

Is it necessary to use one and what is it? It’s frequently requested when melting chocolate, making candy, custards and even some cream soups. The purpose is to prevent scorching or burning an ingredient that is too delicate or sensitive to cook over direct heat, this gadget will heat it more gently yet just as evenly. It’s also used in a variety of crafts such as candles (melting beeswax, paraffin) and soap making. Yes, you really should use one when instructed to do so or the results can be less then desired.

Update: Here’s a note sent in by Charlotte…

Just a safety reminder: Please make sure that your two pots/containers fit correctly and don’t overfill the water. I actually witnessed my mother’s own version blow up and she ended up with hot 7-minute icing all over her face and body. You can imagine the pain she felt from this.

Thank you for sharing that info Charlotte, it’s helpful to know!

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    • Bud Welbofm

    Bravo bravo! Such a great life hack, thanks so much for showing me and my wife

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