Ceramic cookware refers to clay pots and pans that are kiln-baked and specially glazed. It also denotes pots and pans made of aluminum or some other metal that are coated with ceramic enamel. It’s often the choice of home cooks as it is resistant to scratches and chips. Both kiln-baked/glazed and ceramic-enameled cookware has pros and cons. A basic understanding of each can help determine the best form of cookware to use for a variety of culinary purposes.
Ceramic is a newer material in the world of nonstick cookware. It’s widely considered to be the safest and most environmentally friendly option. Ceramic is free of PTFE and PFOA (more on PTFE and PFOA below). Ceramic coatings come in a wide variety of styles and colors.
When it comes to the best ceramic cookware, there are a variety of options on the market. Ceramic cookware can be clay pots and pans that have been glazed and baked in a kiln, but it can also refer to metal pots and pans that include a ceramic enamel coating.
The ceramic cooking surface typically looks glossy and is eco-friendly. Due to the non-stick properties, it is easy to cook with and easy to maintain.
Cookware with a ceramic coating is a very popular household item because of its non-stick properties. Many people enjoy using this type of cookware because it is a healthier way to cook since a minimal amount of oil or fats is needed in the cooking process.
Ceramic versus Teflon
Some argue that ceramic has a shorter life span than Teflon cookware. We have not found this to be the case. However we don’t cook with oil or cooking spray, which can dramatically affect the life span of both ceramic and Teflon cookware.
If you cook with oil, it’s critical to completely clean off all of the cooked oil after each use. Otherwise layers of oil will build up, quickly diminishing the nonstick properties of the cookware. But unfortunately if you vigorously scrub off the layers of oil, you inevitably take the nonstick surface with it. This can cause both ceramic and Teflon cookware to age prematurely.
The easy way out of this conundrum is to not use oil. For this reason, and more importantly for health reasons, we recommend cooking without any oil at all. Even if you cook without oil, some foods contain small amounts of oil. We find that cleaning with white vinegar can help make clean up a breeze.
Because ceramic cookware is a relatively new technology, there have been many advances in quality in recent years. Manufacturers are applying more layers of ceramic, so the coatings are getting thicker. Thicker coatings mean longer lifespans. Look for big improvements in ceramic cookware in the coming years.
If you are in the market for ceramic cookware, it’s best to remember to “buy American.” Ceramic glazes contain lead, but larger American companies manufacture ceramic cookware according to FDA specifications, meaning the cookware is safe for food preparation. Alternatively, foreign-made, craft-produced or old ceramic cookware carries the risk of high lead levels. As a result, that type of ceramic cookware should be reserved for decorative purposes only. To reduce the risk of any lead transference, don’t expose your ceramic cookware to acidic foods (acid increases leaching) and replace dishes periodically. Ceramic cookware generally works best for baking or serving. Choose from casserole dishes, mini ramekins and soup tureens to name a few.
Ceramic cookware that has been kiln-baked is ideal for baking and serving food. It is a good idea to purchase this type of cookware that has been made in America as it ensures that lead is not a component in the ceramic material.
Touted as “green” cookware, ceramic cookware is a recent innovation in the nonstick cookware trend that began in the early 1960s. It refers primarily to pots and pans with ceramic-coated cooking surfaces. Traditional nonstick pans have toxic coatings that aren’t environmentally friendly or healthy; thus, the “green” connotation with less toxic ceramic cookware. Just like traditional nonstick cookware, ceramic cookware reduces the need for oils and other fats when cooking. However, ceramic coating is fragile and prone to chipping. Manufacturers recommend hand-washing, using plastic or wooden utensils and allowing coated pans to cool before introducing them to hot water. If you use your ceramic cookware daily and care for it properly, each enameled piece has an approximate shelf life of three years.