A double boiler, also known as a bain-marie or French au-bain-marie, is one of those essential pieces of equipment that pops up frequently in holiday recipes, especially for making candy. It’s also a must-have for making custards, chocolates and delicious sauces!

The delicacy of mixing, melting and simmering in a double boiler imparts a true essence to any dessert or sauce. For those who are just expanding their culinary skills, a double boiler is a set of two pots – a pot for heating water and another slightly smaller pot for your ingredients that sits inside the bottom pot without actually touching the simmering water.

how to make double boiler

This set up creates indirect heat (trapped steam) over which to cook delicate ingredients that have a tendency to separate or burn over direct heat like tempering chocolates, melting oils and butters, keeping a sauce or gravy warm or even crafting candles.

Contrary to the name, double boilers are used over very low heat for gentle melting purposes. Instead of cooking directly over the burner and scorching the food item, a double boiler cooks it gently.

If you do a lot of cooking, owning an actual double boiler is handy. On the other hand, why spend the cash when you can assemble a double boiler yourself in no time with just two of your kitchen pots? It is incredibly easy to make DIY double boiler.

Here are three simple and quick ways to arrange a double boiler at home.

Method 1: For the Stovetop

If you require a stovetop double boiler, there are two ways to go about it. When dealing with delicate sauces or chocolate, it’s better to go with the steam cooking method. While if you’re melting oils and butters or crafting lip balms, water bath method will do.

#Steam Cooking Method

For this method, you need a pot and a larger heat-safe bowl that can sit on top of the pot.

Things you’ll need:

things you'll need to make stovetop steam doible boiler

  • Saucepan
  • Large heat-safe bowl
  • Water

Step 1. Fill a saucepan halfway with water and place on medium heat

fill a saucepan halfway with water and place on medium heat to make double boiler

  • Select a small saucepan and place it over the cooktop or stove.
  • Fill the saucepan halfway with water.
  • Turn on the heat to medium.

Step 2. Position the heat-safe bowl over the top

position the heat safe bowl over the top to make double boiler

  • Position a large heat-safe bowl over the top of the saucepan, such that the bottom snugly fits just inside the saucepan.

The bowl must be large enough to completely cover the top of the pot so that no steam escapes through the edges. Also, the space between the base of the bowl and the bottom of the saucepan should be at least 4 inches or more in order to trap the steam.

Step 3. Put the ingredients you want to melt into the bowl

put the ingredients you need to melt into the bowl to make double boiler

  • Throw the ingredient that requires melting, mixing or simmering into the bowl.
  • Keep an eye on it until it melts completely.

The steam trapped between the bases of the two containers will insulate the food item and melt it down easily.

#Water Bath Method

For this method, you need to grab one pot and one smaller heat-safe bowl, such that the bowl is able to sit inside the pot without touching the bottom.

Things you’ll need:

things you'll need to make stovetop waterbath double boiler

  • Saucepan
  • Small heat-safe bowl
  • Water
  • Stones or pebbles

Step 1. Throw some stones into a pan and place on the stove

put stones into a pan placed on stove to make double boiler

  • Put some stones into a large pan.
  • This will create a raised platform for the arrangement of a double boiler.

Step 2. Pour water into the pan and turn on the heat

fill pan with water and turn on the heat to make double boiler

  • Fill the large pan (saucepan) with about 2 to 3 inches of water.
  • Turn on the heat to medium.

Despite the name, a double boiler should always be arranged over medium to low heat. If the water starts to boil, reduce the heat or add a little extra water.

Step 3. Place the small container into the larger one

place smaller container into the larger one to make double boiler

  • Set the smaller bowl inside the larger pan.
  • Position the smaller bowl so that the boiling water reaches partway up the sides of the small container, but not enough to spill over the top.

Make sure there is plenty of space between the small and the large container, allowing steam to escape through the gap between them. Therefore, it is necessary to use containers that do not fit perfectly together. If the two pans fit tightly into each other leaving no space in between, the buildup of steam could cause an explosion.

Step 4. Add the ingredient you want to heat or melt

add the ingredient you wish to melt in the double boiler

  • Put the ingredient that you wish to heat or melt in the smaller container.
  • Place a glass lid over the small container.

Certain ingredients like chocolates call for moisture-free heating and any trace of moisture may damage the ingredients. In such cases, seal the small container with a glass lid to prevent any steam from the boiling water to enter the container.

Method 2: For the Oven

This method works great for baked desserts containing eggs like flans, custards and cheesecakes.

Things you’ll need:

things you'll need to make double boiler in oven

  • Baking tray
  • Paper towels
  • Water

Step 1. Line a baking tray with a paper towel

line a baking tray with paper towel to make double boiler

  • Place paper towels over the baking dish.

Step 2. Pour water over the paper towels

pour water over paper towels to make double boiler

  • Drench the paper towels in water so that it generates steam when heated.

Step 3. Place your container on the baking tray

place the container on baking tray to make double boiler

  • Position your container with the ingredients to melt on the baking tray.

Step 4. Heat as per the recipe’s cooking time

heat as per recipe-cooking-time to make double boiler

  • Preheat the oven according to your recipe.
  • Place the baking tray in the oven and cook according to the recipe.


  • Metals like aluminum, steel and copper are good heat conductors. They will provide the shortest cooking time, while also preventing formation of hot spots.
  • For acidic ingredients, non-reactive containers made of stainless steel, ceramic and heat-proof glass are the best.
  • For the second double-boiler method, if your recipe calls for a longer cooking time, you’ll likely need to add more water to the base pan partway through the cooking time.
  • Do not fill the bottom pot more than halfway with water to avoid the risk of water spilling over into the top bowl.
  • While arranging a double boiler, turn down the heat to low and keep the water at a constant simmer rather than an all-out boil.
  • Remember, the pot sitting inside will always be extremely hot, so make use of pot holders or oven mitts to hold the pot.
  • Do not lift the bowl right after heat has been turned off. This will allow the steam to escape, causing burns. Give it a couple of minutes after turning off heat before removing it.