Ceramic non stick cookware is considered a ‘healthy’ alternative to the traditional non stick type. It makes for easy clean up, which we all love. But, like most products, while there are benefits, and then there are the concerns. Here I look at the pros and cons of cooking with ceramic cookware so you can make a more informed choice about your next cookware buy.
What are the pros and cons of cooking with ceramic cookware?
The ceramic cookware advantages include easy to clean, reduced fat cooking, toxin free, nonreactive, eco-friendly, and lightweight cookware. The downsides include wearing of the surface, limited heat range in cooking, care in storing and washing, and limits in browning of meat.
Ceramic nonstick pros and cons
Ceramic cookware advantages:
- Nonstick surface: easy to clean and reduced fat cooking
- PFOA and PFTE free
- Nonreactive to acids
- Eco friendly
Downsides or concerns:
- Scratches and wearing of surface
- Not for high heat cooking styles
- Care needed in storing
- Best if washed separately
- Limits in browning meat
Advantages of ceramic cookware
Ceramic cookware is one of the most popular choices for pots and pans.
There are many benefits to using ceramic cookware. Here are five.
1. Nonstick surface = Healthy cooking option + easy to clean
The less fat or oil used in cooking means fewer calories and a lower cholesterol intake. Manufacturers promote their ceramic cooking products as needing little or no oil for cooking. This is certainly a plus if you are looking to lose weight or wanting a low-fat eating regime.
A ceramic non stick frying pan is a popular choice for many people because of it’s convenience in cleaning.
They are fuss-free. What I’ve found is that all you need is a quick wipe. This equates to less time cleaning up and more time enjoying the things you love.
You can put them in the dishwasher, but for the best care for longevity of nonstick cookware, I recommend hand washing. Ceramics are so easy to clean, that it’s a non-issue.
2. Ceramic nonstick pans are lightweight
The benefit is ease of use and less strain in taking the pan from the cooktop to the bench. And, when cooking on ceramic cooktops, a lightweight pan is less likely to mark the surface.
3. The ceramic nonstick coating is PFOA and PTFE free
Like all food containing vessels sold in the US, ceramic pots must meet the strict limits imposed for residues of lead and other potential contaminants.
Ceramic non stick pots and pans are free of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
Here’s the concern with these guys: PFOA was used to make the traditional PTFE (Teflon) coating. This is a nasty chemical that can pollute our waterways. It is persistent in the environment and can end up in our drinking water with serious health concerns implicated, as well as harm to birdlife.
It’s good to know that the Teflon products since 2012 no longer use this problem compound. Still fumes emitted when PTFE is heated on high temperatures are a concern, as I outlined in comparing Teflon with ceramic.
4. A ceramic cooking surface is nonreactive to acids
Ceramic is nonreactive. So the acid from foods like tomatoes will not react with the cookware to release metals and other contaminants into your food.
In contrast, foods cooked in reactive cookware often emit a metallic taste and at times change the color of the food. This is important if you do a lot of cooking with tomato paste or any other form of tomatoes or other very acidic foods.
5. The ceramic coating is an eco friendly alternative
It’s a greener alternative than to other nonstick cookware. One reason it’s considered more eco friendly for your kitchen is it has no PFOA.
The Cookware Company market their brands GreenLife, GreenPan, and GreenChef, with ‘green’ in the brand name to reflect their approach of using a coating that is derived from sand, a natural material, in their ceramic nonstick products. They claim they don’t use any toxic chemicals.
I wrote how “instead of using toxic chemicals and solvents to prevent food from sticking, the ceramic nonstick pans feature a glass-like ceramic finish” and about the process in How Ceramic Cookware is Made.
nonstick ceramic cookware concerns answered
The following addresses people’s concerns with ceramic non stick cookware that are the most cited in product reviews.
1. Scratching and wearing of surface from use
People query the durability of ceramic non stick cookware. Like other types of non stick coatings, it will wear off over time depending on how much you use it and how well you treat it.
This being said, ceramic, comprising a sol-gel coating, which is a hybrid of organic and inorganic chemistry with the cured coating on the pan being made from silica (sand), is considered to be more durable than the PTFE types.
As explained by the ceramic coating producer, Whitford, on their website “Compared to PTFE, sol-gel coatings are harder and can function at higher temperatures (up to 450°C/840°F).”
As far as the durability of the exterior finish of the cookware goes, this will vary with the type of coating. An economical finish consisting of a painted exterior may scratch or mark easily. Anodized exterior finishes are tough and chemically inert and last longer.
Porcelain enamel is a glass-based exterior coating that is sprayed and fused to the cookware substrate through high heat (1500°F). Supposedly, it won’t peel, flake, or rust.
It is always best to follow the care instructions.
This is something that can affect any non stick surface. Metal utensils leave marks on ceramic coated pots and pans. Although, the newer ceramic nonstick designs are said to be ‘metal utensil safe’.
I recommend using silicone, bamboo, or wooden utensils when cooking even with the metal-utensil-safe designs. And, always avoid using sharp knives to cut or slice foods on the surface of the cookware — See my three options for fixing scratched nonstick cookware.
2. Best to wash separately for longer life of the coating
Most manufacturers will tell you their ceramic pots and pans are dishwasher safe. This is true and you can definitely put them in the dishwasher.
But, I recommend you wash them by hand. And in doing this, avoid abrasive scrubbers and piling them in the sink with a heap of other soiled utensils and wares. The reason is to get the most from your ceramic pans for longer.
3. Not for high heat cooking styles
In most cases, it’s best to avoid high heat with ceramic non stick, unlike the 100% ceramic cookware, which is fine up to extremely high temperatures.
This applies to most non stick cookware although ceramic nonstick is safer to use than the Teflon coated pans on high heat. Make sure to check the individual heat ratings given by the manufacturer.
High heat can ruin the nonstick properties of the surface and in some worse cases, can lift and separate the coating from the pan.
4. Care when storing them
Surface chipping: This is something that does arise with ceramic, as well as enamel, and porcelain finishes, but can be avoided if treated right. Unlike a draw full of metal pots and pans, if you have the space, separate each ceramic pot and pan when you store them. Otherwise use pan protectors placed between each piece.
I have a full guide on how to use, care, and store nonstick pans where you’ll find valuable information for keeping your pans looking and performing better for longer.
5. Not the best type for browning meat
Ceramic nonstick is not the best cookware for browning meats although some will do the job okay.
If you want that charred style, look to use a seasoned cast iron griddle or frying pan.
Ceramic cookware dangers – concerns about safety
People raise concerns about the safety of nonstick ceramic. It’s worth knowing that ceramic nonstick sold in the US must be free of PFOA. It is also regulated in regard to the likes of cadmium and lead.
The US FDA sets standards for lead and cadmium levels in cookware, and regulations restrict the inclusion of these non-essential heavy metals in any product for food use. And, FDA randomly tests imports and lists the products that fail.
With ceramic nonstick passing these regulations, you won’t have to worry about toxic chemicals leaching into your food.
As I referenced in writing about how safe ceramic nonstick cookware is, having no PFOA or PFTE in the coating means factory workers avoid exposure to the harmful toxins, as do wildlife, and our soil, water, and air aren’t polluted by toxic waste disposal.
Final thoughts on ceramic coated cookware pros and cons
Regardless of which side you’re on, there are always pros and cons to any product that you buy.
In the end, it’s up to you whether or not this type of cookware is worth investing in.
Whether your goal is healthier eating habits or just saving time in the kitchen – ceramic cookware has something for everyone!