A food thermos is such a versatile workhorse, you'll never regret buying one. Whether you’re packing a hot lunch on a cold day, taking a pot of chili along for camping, or just need to keep a sauce warm while you finish cooking the rest of your meal, having a reliable way to keep food at a consistent temperature makes this one essential item you won’t mind storing long-term. The best food thermos will feature a stainless steel body with double-walled vacuum insulation and a leak-proof silicone gasket lid — all in the size that’s right for your group.
Thermos was the first brand to develop commercial products with double-walled vacuum insulation; as the now-iconic brand explains it, that sliver of airless space in between the two walls prevents your food or liquid from changing temperature based on the air outside. The result? Hot foods stay hot, and cold stuff keeps its chill. While Thermos remains a name you can trust, it's certainly not the only game in town. You'll find several options below that also come equipped with that all-important dual-layer of vacuum insulation.
In terms of lids, you'll want a gasket to ensure a truly airtight seal, and look for a silicone gasket in particular for one that can withstand temperatures up to 446 degrees Fahrenheit.
The next thing to consider is the size of the vessel you'll need, since there is actually a wide range of thermos sizes on the market. They start about the size of a Starbucks' tall (12 ounces) and go all the way up to a 96-ounce thermos that looks like a miniature Crock-Pot. If you mainly use a thermos for quick food on the run, something small (possibly with included cutlery) might be the way to go. Larger thermoses and those with multiple compartments are better suited to main meals, while extra-large crocks are great for camping, tailgates, and Friendsgiving at any time of year.
No matter how many appetites you’re feeding, these five thermoses have the carrying capacity to keep your food at the perfect temperature until you’re ready to eat.
1. A Foodie Favorite
Test kitchens from Epicurious to the New York Times Wirecutter, as well as the folks at Clean Eating and more than 2,000 Amazon reviewers, love the high-quality Zojirushi double-walled vacuum insulated food jar for its ability to keep food piping hot (without needing a reheat) for at least six hours. "This keeps that ravioli, spaghetti, soup and glorious leftovers earth's magma hot," one Amazon shopper promised, and the reviews are rife with testimonials that speak to its ability to hold serious heat for hours on end, so hot than many even described it as "almost too hot!". The stainless steel body won top marks for its durability, and its indented screw-top lid proved comfortable to open, with a gasket seal that has a separate pressure release valve in case steam builds up inside (note: the gasket material itself isn't listed). The lid comes apart intuitively for a thorough hand washing and is easy to reassemble. At $40 for the medium jar, it's an investment piece to be sure, but Zojirushi provides a 5-year warranty on its thermal insulation.
- Available colors: 6
- Available sizes: four sizes, from 11.8 up to 25 ounces
2. The Heavy-Duty Thermos With A Folding Spoon & A Serving Bowl Lid
With over 14,000 five-star ratings, this Thermos is a classic for a reason. The original in double-walled vacuum insulation, it's made from stainless steel with two lids — one that's leak-proof and twists off with a silicone gasket, plus a secondary insulated lid that doubles as a serving bowl (or cup). A full-sized folding stainless steel spoon packs down neatly into its designated compartment, which has fingertip cutouts so it’s easy to grab. "Put hot soup into this thermos at 8:45 AM today, and I ate it at 4:50 PM and it was still so hot I had to blow on it," one shopper testified. "Not only does it work extremely well it is beautifully designed...Just looks nice and feels nice." The steel body comes finished in several nice shades, from hunter green to glossy red and matte finishes that won't show fingerprints, for an all-around great-looking, reliable food jar.
- Available colors: 9
- Available sizes: One size, 16 ounce
3. This Multi-Tiered Thermos With A Handy Carrying Case
This insulated lunch box is perfect for meals with more than one component that might otherwise be difficult to stash in a jar-shaped container, like chicken and veggies. The bottom container will hold up to 22 ounces, with a second 10-ounce chamber above it. Silicone gaskets between each level ensure a leak-proof seal bottom to top, while an air valve on the lid works to release steam. Multi-layer insulation (although it's not noted by the brand if it's specifically double-walled) keeps everything plenty hot or cold for up to 3 hours, with a stainless steel body and colorful attached handle made from food-grade plastic. Pop this into the matching aluminum-foil-lined insulated carrying bag, complete with a handy shoulder strap, and you have an additional layer of temperature protection. "The two compartments of this lunch box serves the purpose perfectly. The quality looks great and it keeps the food at its temperature for a long time," reported one shopper who bought theirs for daily use. You might also consider this budget-friendly set of food thermoses if you prefer the flexibility of multiple containers.
- Available colors: 3
- Available sizes: One size, 32 ounce
4. This Pretty Food Thermos That Comes In So Many Colors & Sizes
In shades of cotton candy ombre, marble, and iridescent rose gold, this pretty food thermos is a crowd-pleaser for its gorgeous finish with high-quality construction. The double-walled vacuum insulated stainless steel has a hidden layer of copper inside for extra thermal protection, and the jar's wide mouth is easy to pour from and clean. You have options for lids with and without handles — the lid with a handle, shown here, comes with its own double-walled insulation, while the classic screwtop lid is simply designed to minimize heat transfer but takes up less room. Both include a silicone gasket to ensure a tight, leakproof seal and the plastic components are all BPA-free. When it's time for a new lid, you can buy those separately as well. "Not only does it work for soup but I’ve even taken casseroles, rice bowls, and enchiladas to work. It’s way better than I thought possible," one fan was thrilled to remark. "Everything is the right temperature when it’s time to eat 4-5 hours later.It cleans up well and it’s even pretty. I love it so much I bought a second one."
- Available colors: 42
- Available sizes: four, 12 up to 64 ounces
5. A 3-Quart Thermos That Can Feed A Crowd
For meal prep and chili contests alike, this extra-large food thermos clocks in at the size of a miniature Instant Pot to hold three quarts of your secret recipe. With double-walled vacuum insulation on the stainless steel body, it will keep everything hot for up to 12 hours. Putting things on ice? You're good for up to 16 hours of chill. The top-handle lid is easy to tote and seriously leak-proof, with a sturdy silicone gasket to ensure a tight seal that snaps down to literally lock the lid in place. The lid itself is made from BPA-free plastic with a convenient hook built in underneath so it can hang off to one side. "This is a spectacular thermos," one fan praised. "Keeps everything steaming hot and so easy to carry. I will never take a crock pot again. It holds so much."
- Available colors: 1
- Available sizes: One size, 96 ounces