Sometimes, a recipe (like one for melting chocolate) will say that you need a double boiler. Because you can’t melt chocolate with a direct source of heat; it has to be indirect.
So you shouldn’t use a microwave or regular oven. And this is necessary for melting chocolate because it is so sensitive to temperature and needs a gentle and indirect heat source to melt smoothly and get a silky texture.
One small problem, though: you do not have a double boiler. What’s a double boiler anyway? Well, it doesn’t mean that you have to boil it twice.
5 Double Boiler Substitutes
If you don’t have a double boiler in your kitchen, you can replace it with one of these!
Use two pots
Fill a pot with about an inch of water, bring it to a boil, and then turn the heat down to low. Next, put something you want to cook in another pot and put it on top of the first pot. Stir it often until it’s melted, hot, or done. Remember that when the pots are done, they will be very hot, so be careful and use heat-resistant oven gloves to take them off the stovetop.
The two pots you choose should be about the same size for this method to work. Put the bigger, heavier pot on the bottom and the smaller, lighter pot on top. Make sure the top pot fits tightly so steam doesn’t leak out and it doesn’t move around and could fall off.
Use a heatproof mixing bowl and a pot
You probably have a glass, pyrex, or stainless steel bowl in your kitchen. You just need to make sure it can handle heat. Put your mixing bowl on top of a regular pot in the kitchen.
It’s important to choose a wide pot because it has more surface area, which will help the melting go smoothly. So that the mixing bowl doesn’t fall into the pot, it needs to be bigger than the pot.
Also, make sure you choose a mixing bowl that fits snugly over the pot so that no steam can escape and accidentally burn you. It shouldn’t be too tight, or steam could get stuck and build up, which could cause an explosion and make a mess in the kitchen.
Put an inch of water in the pot, bring it to a boil, and then turn the heat down so it can simmer. Next, put the glass bowl that can handle heat right on top of the pot. Don’t worry if the glass sticks to the pot because the bowl will be heated by the steam from the water.
Now, get the thing you want to melt, like chocolate, and put it in the glass bowl. Chop the chocolate into smaller pieces if you want it to melt faster in the double boiler. Make sure you don’t accidentally get water in your glass bowl.
The mixing bowl can just barely touch the water in the pot below, but it’s better if it stays mostly above the water.
Use a sheet of aluminium foil, a pan lid, or even a large ceramic plate to cover the food in the mixing bowl if you need to.
If you don’t have a double boiler, this DIY double boiler method is one of the best things you can do.
Use a mason jar
Another substitute double boiler technique involves using a mason jar.
Just put water in a pot and bring it to a low boil. Take the lid off the glass mason jar and set it aside. Put the mason jar in the simmering water, and you have a double boiler made out of a mason jar.
Create a “Baking” Bain Marie
This method is a bit more complicated than the others, but it can be used instead of a double boiler, especially for custards.
- Start by preheating your oven.
- Choose a large and deep oven-safe baking dish with high sides. This dish will be holding your smaller oven-safe dish that will contain the food item you wish to heat.
- Next, place a kitchen towel or silicone baking pat inside your large baking dish. This step isn’t mandatory, however, it’s recommended to prevent your small container(s) from sliding and moving during the cooking process.
- Place your small container(s) into the large baking dish. Allow 1-2 inches of space between the smaller container(s) and the edges of the large baking dish.
- Boil water and pour it into the large baking dish. Make sure to fill it up to reach half the length of the smaller container(s).
- Heat until the water in the large baking dish starts to simmer. Keep checking on your dish. If the water starts to boil, reduce your oven temperature. If the water level gets too low, refill it with warm water mid-way.
- Once done, turn off the heat and carefully remove the small container(s) using heatproof oven mitts.
- Leave the large baking dish in the oven until it’s cool enough to take out!
Use a microwave
Some experts say to use a microwave instead of a double boiler, but you can only do that in certain situations. The microwave method works well if you only want to melt a small amount of chocolate for a few seconds.
Don’t forget to keep an eye on your mixture to make sure it doesn’t burn! Every few seconds, take it out of the microwave and stir it. Stop the microwave before your food is done because it will continue “cooking” even after you take it out.
But it’s important to remember that a microwave heats things up very quickly, while a double boiler heats things up slowly. Use other things instead to get more done.
How To Melt Chocolate Without A Double Boiler?
I’m glad you stayed to the end, my chocolate lover! I said I’d reveal a chocolate secret at the end of this article, so here it is!
Many people who own a double boiler use it mostly to melt chocolate. What if you don’t have a double boiler? Then what would you do to melt chocolate?
Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it seems. Even though many people do this with a double boiler, you don’t have to use one to melt chocolate. There is another way to melt chocolate that many people also use.
One way to replace a double boiler is to put a heat-safe bowl on top of water that is simmering. Make sure there is space between the bottom of the bowl and the water. Don’t let the bowl touch the water, as that could cause too much heat to be transferred.
You can also just use your microwave to melt chocolate instead of a double boiler. The microwave is a great way to melt soft and fragile foods. For example, you can melt chocolate by heating it for 30 seconds at a time and stirring it after each heat burst.
If you don’t like the idea of making a makeshift double boiler or using a microwave, there are two other ways to melt chocolate successfully.
The owner of Chicago’s Hot Chocolate, Mindy Segal, says to set your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176 degrees Celsius), but instead of putting the chocolate inside, put it on top! It melts slowly, but it also helps spread out the chocolate.
There is also Medrich’s hairdryer method, which sounds strange but can help you successfully melt your chocolate. Start far away, pointing the dryer into the bowl of chocolate, and move closer as the chocolate melts. Be careful, though, because this method can cause small pieces to fly out.
What NOT to use as a Double Boiler Substitute
As an alternative to a double boiler, a silicone double boiler is not the best choice. It might sound like a good idea because silicone is known for being flexible and resistant to heat.
But silicone is a very slow heat conductor, so the whole process will take a lot longer than it should. Keep the silicone for use as a mould, and use the alternatives above for better and more efficient cooking.
Double Boiling Tips when using substitutes
- Don’t fill the pot containing the water more than halfway (the water will end up boiling up and spilling over)
- Ensure that stovetop heat is adjusted to provide a constant simmer (do not keep the water boiling the entire time)
- Use heatproof oven mitts/gloves to remove your cooking from the stovetop because the kitchen equipment you’re using will be very hot
- If using the mixing bowl method, the bowl and pot should not be fitted too tightly or else their steam would get trapped and build up, potentially leading to an explosion and a huge mess