Several years ago, I bought a water pitcher. I host a lot so it was surprising I had never owned one until then — but as with platters and serving bowls, they fall under “2.0 grown-up tableware,” which is how I like to categorize lower-priority items that aren’t everyday plates and utensils. Now, however, I can’t imagine throwing a formal sit-down dinner or casual backyard hang without one.
To help you find a pitcher of your own, we asked a group of expert hosts, cooks, prop stylists, and food photographers about their favorites. The result is a wide-ranging list that includes affordable and durable options, others with corks for keeping in the fridge and making sun tea, handmade ceramic vessels that double as vases, and more.
What we’re looking for
The picks on the list are made from glass, ceramic, or enamelware. I note each up top and go into more detail — whether they’re sturdy or delicate, lighter or heavier — in the captions.
Here, I’ve written out the capacity of each vessel in ounces. Most on this list comfortably serve four to six people, according to the experts I spoke to, but take note if you want one that’s much smaller or bigger.
Some of the pitchers on this list have stoppers, many have handles, and a few are fully open and smooth-sided. I’ve listed the particular features where applicable.
Best overall water pitcher
Material: Glass | Capacity: 64 ounces | Features: Plastic stopper
Anchor Hocking has been making glassware since the turn of the 20th century (poke around the Strategist archives and you’ll see that we’ve mentioned it many times before, often calling out the affordable price and durable nature of its pieces). This pitcher comes recommended by photographer Mackenzie Smith Kelley, who has owned it for 15 years. While it doesn’t have a handle, Smith Kelley says the grip is still solid. The rectangular shape makes it easy to store in the fridge, too, she says, as it fits in a more modular way than a round pitcher. There’s a stopper so the contents don’t absorb smells, and Smith Kelley also likes that feature for making sun tea outside (an open top would leave the water susceptible to dust and debris floating around in the air). But it’s also not just about practicality: “When the light shines through, it makes a pretty refraction with the way the glass is fluted,” she says. “And you don’t see fingerprints on it as much as you would with a smooth pitcher.”
Best less-expensive water pitcher
Material: Glass | Capacity: 51 ounces | Features: Cork stopper
The cost of this pitcher and the even less-expensive one below aren’t dramatically different from that of the Anchor Hocking (though they do technically decrease by a few dollars.) While they’re all made from thick glass, the main differences between the three — that could account for the variation in price — are design details. Recipe developer and cookbook author Colu Henry has owned this one for nearly a decade and says it has never chipped or broken. “It looks quite sleek and elegant, too,” she says. “The curve of the handle is nice and easy to pour from.” While she doesn’t keep hers in the fridge, she says she also appreciates the cork for sun tea.
Best even less-expensive water pitcher
Material: Glass | Capacity: 57 ounces | Features: Handle
This is the pitcher I’ve had for the last four years. It’s incredibly sturdy; I throw it in the dishwasher after every use and am not precious about taking it to my backyard. It looks much more expensive than it is, too (I’ve had several friends ask me where I got it and react in surprise when I tell them Ikea). The rounded bottom tapers up gracefully and the handle, only connected at the top, gives it a modern feel. Still, it’s very comfortable to grip and pour from.
Best small glass water pitcher
Material: Glass | Capacity: 8 to 15 ounces | Features: Handle
Because of its smaller size and lighter weight, Stotz keeps this Hay pitcher by her bedside. “The handle is wide, with a good grip, and it’s stout enough that I’m not worried about pouring from it at night,” she says. Recipe developer and food stylist Chloe Walsh has the same one, though she uses it at the dinner table. “It’s smaller, which means it’s nice to use if you’re eating by yourself or with your partner,” she says. “Or sometimes I’ll use it to make other drinks, like a shrub, where I don’t need a ton.” Walsh says she finds it sturdy, too; it’s lasted for two years with no chips, and she even cleans it in the dishwasher.
Best decorative glass water pitcher
Material: Glass | Capacity: 44 ounces | Features: Handle
Food photographer Julia Stotz is a fan of this pitcher from designer Sophie Lou Jacobsen. “The colored glass and wavy handle are playful, but it still reads as sophisticated,” she says. Most of the time she keeps it out as a decorative object on a shelf or filled with flowers as a vase — but she still pulls it out to serve water at dinner parties. “It’s on the thinner side, definitely delicate,” she says. “I only hand wash, but beyond that, I’m not nervous to use it.” In fact, despite what it looks like, she says you can get a secure hold on the handle by gripping the second squiggle.
Best ceramic water pitcher
Material: Ceramic | Capacity: 67 ounces | Features: Handle
This “timeless and classic-looking pitcher” as recipe developer and private chef Jane Morgan describes it, is the largest on this list. “I like that it has some heft to it,” she says. “The weight feels good.” Still, she says the design of the holes make it easy to pour from. While you fill it from a larger opening at the top, the separate spout allows for a steady and controlled stream of water when you tip it. “It’s really easy to clean because of the glossy finish, too,” she says. Walsh has the bright-orange poppy, but there are 14 colors to choose from.
Best decorative ceramic water pitcher
Material: Ceramic | Capacity: 23 to 58 ounces | Features: Handle
Kalen Kaminski, founder of the glassware and textiles company Upstate, has the smallest Pomelo Casa pitcher, which she says is “not too precious or heavy to pass around the table, even though it’s ceramic.” Each one is handmade and hand-painted and “looks just as good on a casual breakfast table as it does on a more formal dinner table,” she says. Kaminski says she finds the 23-ounce size especially useful for juice or tea (which people tend to drink less of), though the company offers three sizes and a handful of color options.
Best enamelware water pitcher
Material: Enamelware | Capacity: 48 ounces | Features: Handle
Walsh uses this pitcher when she eats outside because enamelware is particularly durable (a characteristic we’ve pointed out before). “If it drops, it won’t shatter,” she says, and it can go in the dishwasher without a problem. Walsh points out that it’s lightweight compared to ceramic and glass, so carrying it in and out and lifting it up is easy. She calls the look “French countryside,” so it feels fitting to use in her garden.
Best handleless water pitcher
Material: Glass | Capacity: 16 to 50 ounces | Features: None
While a Chemex is designed specifically for coffee, Henry likes the design so much that she says she kept it around for water even after she “stopped doing the pour-over thing.” “It’s such a nice-looking and classic object, we still use it all the time,” she says. Even though there’s no handle, the grip of the wood in the neck of the pitcher “fits well in my hand and pours easily and neatly,” she says.
Best bedside water pitcher
Material: Glass | Capacity: 34 ounces | Features: None
Walsh keeps this pitcher by her bedside. There’s no handle, but the indent where the neck meets the body is very pronounced, allowing for a comfortable grip and controlled pour even “when tipping it from a lying-down position,” she says. It comes with a glass that sits upside down over the top when not in use for a neat, compact effect. Walsh says she also loves the “sophisticated” sage-green color.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
Every editorial product is independently selected. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.