When it comes to buying new cookware, choosing from all the types available isn’t an easy task. The market is full of different colors, materials, and cooking surfaces.
If you’re thinking of buying ceramic cookware, you need to know if it’s right for you. So, it’s time to look at the pros and cons of these nonstick pans.
We’ll help you choose the best pots and pans for your kitchen, and get you cooking up a storm in no time.
What is Ceramic Coated Cookware?
The base of all ceramic coated cookware is a metal of some kind, normally aluminum, cast iron, or stainless steel. They are then specially glazed with a ceramic coating to create that classic smooth, non-stick surface(1).
This coating is actually made from Sol-gel, rather than pure ceramic. To make this glaze, tiny particles, such as sand, get mixed with water or alcohol to make a solution (the “sol” part). It then goes through a process of condensation to create a semi-solid gel (the “gel” part)(2).
It’s applied as a coating to the metal core and kiln baked. This dries into the tough and glossy finish you get with ceramic cookware.
Sol-gel items are non-organic, but they have the same properties as pure ceramic. The coating is versatile and offers handy features for cooking. This makes it a great choice for cookware.
The dishes can also be decorated in beautiful colors. So you can even accessorize your kitchen with your ceramic pots and pans!
Here’s an example of a GreenPan ceramic cookware set.
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Ceramic Cookware Pros
Let’s run through some of the pros of ceramic cooking products.
Pro: It’s Safe and Heat Resistant
Ceramic-coated pans are a safe choice for cookware. There aren’t any toxins that can come into contact with your food because of the sol-gel coating. It acts as a barrier between the ingredients and the metalcore. And there’s no lead or cadmium involved used in ceramic cookware.
Plus, ceramic coatings can withstand much higher temperatures than your traditional PTFE coatings. Sol-gel is oven safe and can handle heat of around 662F before it starts to lose its non-stick qualities. It can even survive up to 842°F (3). PTFE coatings can only get to around 500F before it starts to deteriorate.
Even if you somehow heated your ceramic pans above 662F they won’t give out any harmful fumes as Teflon coatings do. The coating won’t even break down at this heat. But if you did manage to get it super hot, it would probably just turn back into sand.
So, ceramic cookware is completely safe for humans and animals. With teflon, you can get ‘teflon flu’. This is because the toxic fumes are harmful to humans and birds.
But by buying ceramic cookware, you’re opting for a safe choice that’s also PFOA and PTFE-free.
Pro: It’s Non-Reactive
Ceramic cookware is non-reactive, so it won’t alter the taste of your food. Acidic foods like tomatoes and lemons can react with metal pots and change their flavor or color. But with sol-gel ceramic surfaces, you can cook whatever you want without this happening.
Aluminum, cast iron, and copper are all reactive metals. It’s best to avoid these for making recipes where food needs to stay in the pan for a while. If you want to make a slow-simmered tomato sauce, ceramic cookware is the way to go.
Pro: It Promotes Healthy Cooking
You won’t need to use cooking oil with ceramic-coated cookware because it’s already nonstick. People often add oil to their dishes to stop food from sticking to their pans, especially with stainless steel cookware.
Ceramic-coated pots have a naturally nonstick surface that will prevent food from getting stuck without having to add any extra fat.
And it’s PTFE and PFOA-free, so you can enjoy cooking your favorite meals in non-toxic cookware.
Pro: You Can Cook Delicate Food
The ceramic nonstick coating is perfect for cooking delicate foods like eggs, crepes, or fish. You can channel your inner chef and make whatever you like without food sticking. The smooth cooking surface will make sure even the stickiest of foods slide right out of the pan with ease.
Other types of cookware, like stainless steel pots, can be very sticky. So it’s hard to make these kinds of delicate foods without them getting ruined and flaking off in the pan. It’s not what you need when you’re trying to make a delicious meal for your family and friends!
Pro: It’s Easy to Clean
The nonstick coating on ceramic cookware makes it a breeze to clean. Because food doesn’t stick, you won’t need to spend ages scrubbing your dishes. Simple hand washing in warm water and dish soap will get everything off your ceramic pan.
Sometimes you will get burnt bits of food that are proving to be harder to remove. If this happens, you can soak your ceramic nonstick cookware in hot soapy water and then gently scrub with a sponge.
Pro: It Doesn’t Require any Particular Seasoning
Ceramic cookware doesn’t need to be seasoned as cast iron cookware does. This is when you apply a layer of oil and heat your pan up to help with the nonstick coating. Cast iron cookware requires regular seasoning, so it takes more upkeep than ceramic-coated pans.
If you want to season your ceramic cookware, you can still do this. It will help to expand the lifespan of ceramic cookware sets and keep the nonstick coating in top condition. But you’ll only want to do this every few months if you choose to do it at all.
Pro: It Has Attractive Designs
One of the best ceramic cookware pros is how it can be made into all sorts of amazing designs. The sol-gel coating can maintain colors at high temperatures, so you can match your cookware to your kitchen!
You can find it in almost any color, from reds and oranges to blues, purples, and whites.
- This GreenLife set has a vibrant turquoise color.
- Or you can opt for a larger GreenLife set with a beautiful lavender color scheme and white cooking surface.
- You could even go for this neutral-themed VONIKI cookware set. It comes complete with quirky wooden handles.
Whatever you prefer, there’s bound to be ceramic cookware set to suit you and your kitchen.
Ceramic Cookware Cons
Now let’s look at the drawbacks of choosing ceramic coated cookware.
Con: It’s Not 100% Ceramic
The sol-gel coating used on ceramic cookware is not actually ceramic. It uses different kinds of organic and non-organic compounds and chemistry to make this coating(4). It’s a hard silica-based substance that has the same characteristics as ceramic.
True ceramic is made from clay or other natural minerals. But with all the chemistry and processes needed for sol-gel coatings, it’s not natural in the same way true ceramic is.
Almost all ceramic cookware you can buy uses the sol-gel method (except the Xtrema Brand). So even though it’s called ceramic, it’s most likely to be made with sol-gel instead.
Con: It’s Less Performant Than Teflon
Ceramic cookware will lose its release characteristics over time. In fact, a study has shown that you’d need seven different ceramic pans to get the same lifespan as one pan with a Teflon platinum coating(5). But it’s worth keeping in mind that Tefal ran this test themselves, and will want to make their products look good.
Another test from 2018 concludes that sol-gel coatings are suitable for cooking, but the long-term properties were limited(6).
So although ceramic is a sturdy coating, it may not have the same lifespan as Teflon-coated pans. Even after a couple of uses, ceramic dishes aren’t as water repellant as other types of nonstick cookware.
- Ceramic vs Teflon Cookware: What are the differences?
- The 8 Best Nonstick pans without Teflon in 2023
Con: It’s Not Necessarily Sustainable
One of the ceramic cookware advantages you often hear is that it’s environmentally friendly. But to work out if a product is truly sustainable its whole lifespan must be considered. This includes extracting raw materials, making it, and delivering it.
Unlike Teflon pans, ceramic cookware will lose its nonstick qualities fairly quickly. This means it has a shorter shelf life. To keep replacing your ceramic pot would generate more waste, CO2 emissions, packaging, and fuel for transport.
So even though it’s PTFE and PFOA free, there are factors that mean ceramic cookware isn’t as sustainable as you might think.
Con: It Has a Short Lifespan
Ceramic-coated cookware won’t last as long as other types of pots and pans. The ceramic coating doesn’t have the longevity you get from using metal on its own, like a stainless steel pan.
How you care for your ceramic pan will affect the lifespan, but you’re looking at up to a couple of years before you’ll need to think about replacing it.
You can get affordable ceramic cookware, but it might not be the right choice for you if you want dishes that will last a lifetime.
Con: It’s Not Scratch-Resistant
The coating on ceramic cookware is tough, so on paper, it’s scratch resistant. But because the sol-gel is so rigid when it dries it makes it easier for the coating to crack and peel.
The process of applying the ceramic coating is delicate and time-sensitive. There’s a small window of time between mixing the sol-gel and applying it to get it right. Some manufacturers don’t always pay as much attention to this process as others.
If it isn’t done exactly right then your ceramic pans won’t be as sturdy as they should be. You may find this with some of the cheaper ceramic pots.
Using wooden or nylon utensils will help to keep the nonstick coating in good condition. But be cautious of using metal utensils because they are more likely to cause damage. You should keep this in mind even if the care instructions say your ceramic cookware is metal utensil safe.
Con: It Requires Certain Care
There are certain things you should do to help look after your ceramic pots.
Firstly, when you cook food it’s best to stick to low to medium heat. Even though ceramic coated cookware can handle high heat, it could still damage the pan itself, or burn your food. This will then make it harder to scrub clean, which is annoying and could lead to scratches.
For all normal cleaning, you should allow ceramic dishes to cool down first. Any sudden temperature changes can damage the nonstick ceramic coating. So leave it on the side for a while before you pop it in the sink.
Even if the care instructions say it’s dishwasher safe, it’s best to stick to hand washing. It’s easy for something to get loose in the dishwasher and damage the coating. A wet cloth and warm soapy water will get your ceramic frying pans looking new in no time.
When you’re ready to put your ceramic cookware back in the cupboard, make sure you put a protective layer between each pan. If you don’t have proper pan protectors then don’t worry, a cloth or some paper napkins will still help to stop any scratching.
Will Ceramic Stick Around?
Ceramic pans have their pros, but they also have their disadvantages. Before you buy any cookware, make sure you choose the right set for you. Consider what you want from your new dishes and if ceramic is the right way to go.
Ceramic cookware is great for being nonstick so it’s a good choice for healthy cooking. It will also look stylish in your kitchen, and it’s one of the easier types of pots to clean and look after.
But ceramic won’t last as long as stainless steel pans. So make sure you choose a reliable brand so you get a longer lifespan from your ceramic cookware.
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