What Do You Use for an Icebath?

I’m a convert to blanching colorful vegetables in brine to fix the color, and then chilling them before further cooking. But I’m totally haphazard as to what I use to make the bath. Sometimes it’s a large pot, sometimes a plastic dishtub, sometimes even a stoppered sink. My choice is usually determined by the size of the strainer/pentola in which the veggies are being blanched, and I try to err on the side of a bigger bath and more ice.

What do you use and why? Obviously, cleaning/sanitizing and flavor carryover is important, but do you have a favorite way to do icebaths?

Pyrex mixing bowl.


Big old Mason Cash in the sink, filled with ice and a bit of water.

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I have two large “Dutch oven” sized pots of different materials. One gets used for the blanching and the other for icing. Which gets grabbed for which task depends on which one is most convenient for me to grab to get the water boiling. Occasionally when I am blanching just a small amount I blanch in a small pan. In that case I grab the SS Dutch oven sized pan for chilling. Probably because it is lighter that the ceramic one.

Do you and small_h dump morsels or dunk en mass?

Usually a medium or large stainless steel mixing bowl. I’m generally only cooking for two around here. They are both of a good size to have next to the pot on the stove as I am removing the vegetables from their blanching water.

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In my case, since I usually cook for one, it’s probably the same amount. 1/4 lb of string beans or 6 shrimp, etc.

I don’t usually have ice in the freezer, so I’ll fill a stainless steel mixing bowl up to about a third with water and freeze the whole thing, and pour water into it afterwards.

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I have 5 and 7 quart stainless bowls, and use whichever is the most suitable size for what I’m making.
As well as I clean my sink, I never feel it’s clean enough to use as an icebath.

Kay and I have a full-sized freezer {~19 cu feet, ge from the 60s, the handle and lock are both long gone but it just keeps on chugging. It spent most of its life outdoors too!} a side-by-side Fridaigare and a decent-sized Haier with a bottom freezer. So somewhere between 33 cu feet and 42 cu feet. And while the Sichuan Takeout Twins look longingly in the freezers when the doors are open, there is not enough space to stuff a cat in.

What a concept! Having space to freeze additional stuff. We menu plan what to eat from the freezer, so we can cook more stuff to freeze.

I have graduated Stainless steel bowl from 3/4 quart to 23 qt. So I use ice and water. And, my choice of straining devices is similar: 3 or 4 oz used for cocktails to 17 quarts for draining stockpots.

You can take the chef out of the kitchen {or he ran yelling and screaming} but he still can’t cook for 2!


Somewhere in the last year I read a recipe that instructed you to pop blanched drained greens in the freezer for a few minutes, spread out on a sheet pan / cookie sheet. I’ve done it several times now with several vegetables, and it seems to me to work just as well to set color and stop cooking. I always absolutely hated the icing after blanching – so much hassle, so much wasted water between the icing and the dish washing – so I have been very happy with this alternative.
That said, the idea finally went sideways on me three days ago. I had blanched some asparagus and popped it in the freezer when I was suddenly hit with a perimenospausal nap attack. Sure enough I forgot about the asparagus until the next day and then had a fully frozen vegetable.