Should You Invest in Ceramic Cookware?
Here's what you need to know about this useful type of nonstick pan.
There are a few kitchen essentials that every keen home cook and baker should have—a sharp chef's knife, a sturdy Dutch oven, and a stand mixer. A trusty skillet—whether it be cast iron, stainless steel, or nonstick—is also important. Ceramic pans, which are a type of nonstick pan, are also popular for their versatility. "[They] are lightweight and easy to clean," says Kate McCue, director of recreational cooking at the Institute of Culinary Education.
What Are Ceramic Pans?
Despite their name, ceramic pans are not made of clay and fired in a kiln. Rather, they are made with a stainless steel or aluminum body and exterior, and the interior cooking surface is coated with a natural sand derivative that is formulated into a spray solution, says Jordan Nathan, CEO of Caraway Home. "This solution is then applied as layers onto the core body of the pans. Finally, each pan is then cured in an oven to create the nonstick outer surface," he explains.
If used on a regular basis, ceramic cookware is not as durable as other cookware, says McCue, who recommends buying a high-quality pan from a reputable brand, such as the GreenPan Prestige cookware collection ($99.95 for a set of two, williams-sonoma.com). While McCue thinks ceramic pans are beneficial for cooking eggs, pancakes, and delicate types of fish, she generally prefers using stainless steel and cast-iron pans, which can withstand higher heat.
Use and Care
According to Nathan, cooks should always use low to medium heat when cooking with nonstick ceramic pans, as they heat up very quickly. Like other types of nonstick pans, you should also use wooden or silicone utensils instead of metal to avoid scratching the ceramic surface. While most ceramic pans are dishwasher safe, they'll last longer if you hand wash them with regular dish soap and warm water. To prevent ceramic pans from warping, don't submerge a very hot pan in cold water.
When storing ceramic nonstick pans, McCue recommends placing a paper towel in between each pan to prevent scratching.
Are They Safe to Cook With?
Generally, nonstick pans—including ceramic—are coated with a product called Teflon, which creates their easy-release coating. Teflon used to be manufactured with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which was considered to be a human carcinogen. This led to the belief that the coating in nonstick pans was unsafe to cook with, particularly if it started to chip. Today most manufacturers, such as GreenPan and Caraway Home, are 100 percent toxin-free.
Are Ceramic Pans "Healthier?"
Due to the nonstick coating, some home cooks may find that they need to use less oil or fat to prevent food from sticking, compared to when they cook with stainless steel or cast iron. This has led companies to call ceramic pans "healthier" than other types of cookware. "I believe that every individual controls how healthy their food is, not the cookware. While I do see the appeal of using less oil or fat with ceramic cookware, using oils lower in saturated fat can help to achieve healthier cooking," says McCue.