The 5 Best Hot Food Thermoses of 2022

Our top pick is the Thermos Stainless King Food Jar

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hot food thermos

The Spruce Eats / Suzie Dundas

Tested & Approved

The Thermos Stainless King Food Jar was the clear-cut winner after extensive testing. This thermos kept foods hot for a spectacular nine hours and cold for an astounding 14 hours. For a cheaper option, consider the Simple Modern Vacuum Insulated Thermos, which comes in multiple colors and is easy to clean.

When you're always on the go, it's easy to get into the habit of stopping for a quick-service meal, but relying on fast food can also add up—both calorie- and money-wise. With the right storage containers, taking homemade food along to the office, school, or on a road trip is a cinch.

To help find one that suits your needs, we researched top products suitable for packing up leftovers or make-ahead meals, as well as dishes to add to the kids' lunchboxes. We tested to see how long our best models would keep hot food warm and cold drinks chilled.

Here are the best hot (and cold) food thermoses for the whole family.

Best Overall: Thermos Stainless King 16-Ounce Food Jar with Spoon

Thermos Stainless King Food Jar


What We Like
  • Retains heat well

  • Firm seal prevents leaks

  • Affordable

  • Includes full-size spoon

What We Don't Like
  • Plastic laminate gradually peels off

  • Not microwave-safe

Who else recommends it? Epicurious and Bob Vila both picked the Thermos Stainless King Food Jar with Spoon.

What do buyers say? 93% of 31,400+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

Thanks to an uber-tight seal, the Thermos King is touted as having maximum temperature retention for hot and cold food. That's thanks to the insulation from two walls of stainless steel. Another significant benefit is that the lid is designed to be used as a bowl in tandem with the included standard-sized stainless steel folding spoon.

Thermos King states this can keep liquids hot for nine hours and cold for up to 14 hours, so we put that claim to the test in a home kitchen. Our reviewer filled all 16 ounces with freshly made mac and cheese and opened the thermos every hour to see if the temperature remained consistent. It wasn't until the ninth hour that the temperature dipped. Additionally, it excelled at keeping water ice-cold, with our tester still observing ice cubes after 14 hours in the thermos.

Our home tester intentionally dropped the thermos and noted that it wasn't damaged in any way. Also, its wide mouth is useful for eating straight from the container, and when you need to quickly hand-wash it. Each component of this model can safely be washed in the top rack of your dishwasher, allowing easy upkeep for busy professionals on the go.

Price at time of publish: $25

Thermos Stainless King Food Jar

The Spruce Eats / Suzie Dundas

Capacity: 16 ounces | Heat Retention: Up to 9 hours | Cold Retention: Up to 14 hours

What Our Testers Say

"After our test, we were confident that the container would work well for soups and other foods that are even hotter to begin with."Suzie Dundas, Product Tester

Best for Kids: Thermos Foogo Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Food Jar

Thermos Foogo Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Food Jar


What We Like
  • Dishwasher safe

  • Easy-to-grip rubber lid

  • Wide mouth is easy to eat from

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Lid seal needs occasional deep cleaning

Ergonomically designed with kids in mind, the BPA-free Foogo is a favorite with parents, as its cool-to-the-touch 10-ounce body is the perfect size for a kid's lunch. The base and lid are made of rubber to make the jar easier to grip for smaller hands, too. Other perks include cost efficiency and a tough body resistant to scratches.

Our home tester liked the double-wall insulation and its compact size since adults can also use this for hot sides and drinks. But our reviewer focused on one of the most important aspects of a thermos: how long will it keep your food hot? Thermos claims that this keeps food warm for up to 5 hours, and it fell short in our tests. Mac-and-cheese only stayed hot for 2 hours, was still warm enough to eat at 4 hours, and needed to be microwaved (in a separate container) by hour 5. When it came to cold liquids, it did live up to its 9-hour claim, with ice cubes still present after a full workday.

When it came time to clean up, our tester noted that though this is dishwasher safe, you might be better washing it by hand. There was food caught in the lid, gasket, and the container necessitating a scrub down with a sponge.

Price at time of publish: $25

Thermos Foogo Stainless Steel Food Jar

The Spruce Eats / Suzie Dundas

Capacity: 10 ounces | Heat Retention: Up to 5 hours | Cold Retention: Up to 7 hours

Prep Tip

On hot days, Kate Bast, nature and forest therapy guide and founder of Shinrin-Yoku Madison, recommends hikers bring at least twice as much water as they think they need, even if that means bringing two or more thermoses. She also suggests adding hydration packets to water or filling a thermos with fruits that have high water content, such as watermelon, which can be frozen the night before to maximize coolness. On chilly days, Bast carries one thermos with room temperature water and another containing a hot or warm beverage.

Runner-Up, Best for Kids: Thermos 10-Ounce Funtainer Food Jar

Thermos 10-Ounce Funtainer Food Jar


What We Like
  • Affordable price

  • Available in a variety of colors and themes

  • Wide mouth is easy to eat from

  • Durable

What We Don't Like
  • Hand wash only

  • Too small for older kids and adults

Kids will adore the array of colors and character themes the Funtainer comes in. More importantly, a wide brim makes eating less challenging for little ones getting the hang of using utensils, and the stay-cool exterior won't harm their hands. Best of all, it's lightweight and compact enough for little hands to open and carry in their backpacks.

It's imperative to strictly adhere to the instructions for use, such as warming the interior with hot water for five to ten minutes before adding any food that will be eaten later. Our home tester found that when you did, this kept hot food warm for 5 hours, even if it was opened every hour to test the temperature. It also kept cold beverages cool for 7 hours, with ice cubes still visible at the end of the test.

Cleaning this in a home kitchen was a little tricky for our tester. It can be put in a dishwasher, though the hot water and detergent might damage the exterior. Washing the interior of the lid does require a sponge and some detailing by hand.

Price at time of publish: $30

Thermos FUNtainer Stainless Steel Food Jar

The Spruce Eats / Suzie Dundas 

Capacity: 10 ounces | Heat Retention: Up to 5 hours | Cold Retention: Up to 7 hours

Prep Tip

"Think about the sustenance you'll need to match your exertion levels and what will be most digestible," Bast says. Her go-to hot beverages include apple or pear slices steeped in cider with maple syrup, white pine tea, and spruce needle tea. For hot food, Bast suggests bone broth, veggie broth, or other soup which you can add proteins to. For something heartier, she suggests a casserole or stew.

Best Budget: Simple Modern Vacuum Insulated Food Jar Thermos for Hot Food

Simple Modern Vacuum Insulated Food Jar Thermos for Hot Food


What We Like
  • Stylish

  • Rust-resistant stainless steel

  • Easy to clean

What We Don't Like
  • May be prone to scratches on exterior

Look to Simple Modern's Vacuum Insulated Food Jar Thermos for a leakproof and sweatproof vessel on the cheap. It’s easy to clean by hand due to the wide opening at the top and the rubber ring inside of the lid can be removed for more adequate scrubbing to prevent any mold accumulation. And the accompanying handle makes it easy to carry around with convenience.

The exterior color selection includes an array of hues, from a pastel blush and sage to bright and fun patterns that will stand out from the generic. Plus, the premium food-grade stainless steel is resistant to rust. It has an average heat retention of approximately four hours and cold retention of up to 10 hours.

Price at time of publish: $18

Capacity: 16 ounces | Heat Retention: Up to 4 hours | Cold Retention: Up to 10 hours

What Our Experts Say

"If you happen to be in a snowy situation after you've consumed your hot thermos items, fill it with clean snow. The residual warmth will help melt it ensuring you have more water at the ready."Kate Bast, Nature and Forest Therapy Guide and Founder of Shinrin-Yoku Madison

Best for Travel: Fewoo 27 oz Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Lunch Thermos

Fewoo 27 oz Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Lunch Thermos


What We Like
  • Large capacity

  • Includes insulated bag

  • Attractive design

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't come with fork

For taking your food on outdoor adventures with peace of mind, consider this highly-rated thermos. The 18/8 stainless steel interior ensures no flavor transfer or lingering odors and the 27-ounce capacity is plenty for your soups or on-the-go meals. Our favorite part of this is the handy insulated bag it comes with. It not only protects your container during transport, but extends the heat retention of your thermos and its contents. A small foldable spoon is also included.

The silicone sealing ring ensures no liquids or smells will leak out of the container, which is key for long travels as it gets bumped around in your backpack. Along with the standard grey stainless steel, it comes in a selection of many nice-to-look colors, including rose gold, bright yellow, and jewel-toned blue.

Price at time of publish: $41

Capacity: 27 ounces | Heat Retention: Up to 12 hours | Cold Retention: Up to 12 hours

What Our Experts Say

"Always have another thermos or two [in the car] of what you brought into nature with you. You'll be glad to have it and be more likely to consume what you need on the trail knowing there's more waiting at the trail's end."Kate Bast, Nature and Forest Therapy Guide and Founder of Shinrin-Yoku Madison

Final Verdict

For a decently sized thermos that will keep foods, such as soup, stew, and pasta, warm for up to an impressive nine hours, look no further than the Thermos Stainless Steel King Food Jar. Kids, on the other hand, will love the fun colors and cool touch of the wide-mouthed Thermos Foogo Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Food Jar.

What to Look for When Buying a Hot Food Thermos

By Marshall Bright


Food thermoses tend to be shorter and wider than drink thermoses. This is so you're able to pour contents, such as soup, into the flask—and eat out of it as well. Most have a twist-on lid, which helps prevent spills. Some thermoses will have additional seals or interior lids for further spill protection. 

Thermos Stainless King Food Jar
The Spruce Eats / Suzie Dundas


Stainless steel is the preferred material for thermoses. It won’t absorb color or scent from hot food that is stored in it for a long time and cleans easily. An inner flask is surrounded by a partial vacuum that won't conduct heat away from the flask, keeping the contents warm. An outer case, usually also steel, allows you to hold the container without condensation or burning your hand. The outer case may also be treated with a coating or surrounded by plastic. 

Even inexpensive models tend to be vacuum-seal stainless steel. However, the vacuum-seal method can be used with other materials like glass and plastic. Because they are not as durable as stainless steel, they are not recommended. 


The size of a thermos largely depends on what you want to use it for. Most thermoses for adults tend to be around 16 ounces, and ones for children are a little smaller. The food will cool down faster if there is excess air in the thermos, so if you want your food to stay hot for several hours, you'll want to use the best size thermos for the amount of food you're putting in it. If you just want the option for a small soup bowl at lunch, you can go with 10 ounces or smaller. If you want to carry a hearty meal in your flask, 16 ounces is likely the better fit. 


Thermoses tend to be fairly affordable, and you can typically expect to get a long-lasting one for somewhere between $15 and $30. The more expensive models may boast more fun colors, an extra-strong seal in the lid, or certain accessories, but they all will use the same stainless steel vacuum-sealed design. 

Thermos Foogo Stainless Steel Food Jar
The Spruce Eats / Suzie Dundas



Thermos is synonymous with the product it produces—thermoses. But unlike Kleenex and Tupperware, Thermos has not been able to maintain the trademark on the term "thermos." The Thermos company, first started in Germany, was the first to figure out how to take industrial vacuum-sealing techniques and apply them for home use. Today, Thermos makes a wide range of insulated containers, from flasks and mugs to coolers and lunchboxes. 

Hydro Flask 

Designed for the outdoors, Hydro Flask’s powder-coated flasks and containers are designed to stand up to heavy wear and tear. Available in a wide array of colors, they also come with a lifetime warranty. 


A stainless steel thermos is relatively easy to clean up. Because it won’t absorb scent or color from your food, you can treat it like you would any other dirty dish and wash it with soap and water. Many thermoses are dishwasher safe but not all. This isn’t because of the material but the construction: Dishwashers may mess up the vacuum seal. Interior lids and other accessories, like collapsible forks, may also require additional hand-washing to get rid of built-up grime. 

Thermos Foogo Stainless Steel Food Jar
The Spruce Eats / Suzie Dundas


How do I choose what type of thermos to get?

Before purchasing a thermos, narrow down a preferred size and what it will most frequently be used for. This could range from beverages, like coffee and tea, to meals that need to survive a long day and transport to after-school clubs and sports practices. Perhaps durability is the top concern for long outdoor treks. Check customer reviews to read common raves and complaints about each manufacturer’s products.

How does a thermos work?

Using a stainless steel vacuum-sealed design, an inner flask maintains contents at a consistent temperature, since warm or cold air cannot easily penetrate or escape from the flask. The outer material, usually made of hard plastic or steel, allows the thermos to be comfortably held and transported without liquid leaking out.

How long do thermoses keep contents hot or cold?

High-quality thermal flasks can keep food and beverages warm for as long as a full 24 hours. More economical brands will typically retain the original temperature of contents for four to six hours.

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

Rachel Werner teaches culinary writing through Hugo House and has been selecting food-based businesses for editorial coverage for over six years. Her product and restaurant reviews, food styling, and photography have appeared in a variety of regional and national publications including Fabulous Wisconsin, BRAVA, and Hobby Farms Magazine. For this roundup, she interviewed Kate Bast, nature and forest therapy guide and founder of Shinrin-Yoku Madison.

Article Sources
The Spruce Eats uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Tested and Approved: The Best Food Thermos. Epicurious.

  3. Food and Drug Administration. Bisphenol A (BPA): Use in food contact application.

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