Understanding Ceramic Cookware (Pros, Cons, & How to Cook With It)

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Understanding Ceramic Cookware
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There’s a lot of confusion about safe, natural cookware, in part because it can be hard to tell the difference between a safe piece of cookware and a “green-washed” one. When I wanted to switch out my non-stick cookware for something better I delved into the research to find the best cookware options. Ceramic cookware was one of the winners. And when I got a few pieces of Xtrema cookware one year for Christmas, I was hooked.

What Is Ceramic Cookware?

Ceramic cookware is entirely made of ceramic clay that is shaped, dried, fired, and glazed. Ceramic cookware is the safest option I’ve found for cookware.

And it makes sense that ceramic would be a good choice. For many centuries ceramics were the best, if not only, way to cook and store food. Over time other materials were used including metal like iron, copper, and aluminum. Later came chemical coating like Teflon that promised a non-stick surface.

Ceramics are still used after all this time because they are such a safe (and pretty) option. The quality of ceramics just keeps getting better, too. The ceramics of centuries (even millennia) ago were much more fragile than the ceramics we have today.

Why Ceramic?

Many people know the dangers of Teflon-coated non-stick pans. The coating is made from perfluorochemicals (PFCs), which have been shown to be carcinogenic, disrupt hormone balances, and affect fetal development. There’s also the concern of overheating the pan and accidentally killing your pet bird or giving yourself a flu-like illness.

So Teflon’s out. But what about other more natural cookware like cast iron? Cast iron is certainly a better choice than Teflon, and if that’s what you have and can afford it’s a fine choice. There are some downsides to cast iron, though. For one, it may leach iron into the food (but a form of iron that is not bioavailable). Avoiding cooking liquids (for long periods of time) or acidic foods helps avoid this problem.

Enameled cast iron can help reduce leaching but is very expensive. Other natural cookware like stainless steel may still leach some metal into food, so I prefer ceramic for the simple fact that it doesn’t leach anything at all. Period.

Understanding Ceramic Cookware: Real vs. Fake

As I mentioned, there’s a lot of confusion when it comes to ceramic cookware. Some companies coat their metal cookware with a ceramic glaze and call it ceramic cookware. This fake ceramic doesn’t cut it. As Rich Bergstrom of Ceramcor mentioned in this podcast, these types of lower quality ceramic-coated cookware use glazes that are chemically derived (read: full of toxic chemicals) and won’t last longer than a few years.

I was concerned at first that ceramic cookware (including Xtrema) is made in Asia and other places where the glaze may contain lead. From updated research, I do have concerns about this in many types of ceramic cookware but have found one brand that publishes independent test results to show that their pans do not leach any lead or other metals.

Pros of Ceramic Cookware

Obviously I love my ceramic cookware from Xtrema and here are some of the reasons:

  • Very easy to clean – Because you can use soap and abrasive cleaning supplies like steel wool and baking soda, cleaning these pans is a breeze (much easier than cast iron!).
  • Won’t scratch – Though some ceramic cookware may scratch, Xtrema cookware is so durable it’s scratch resistant. You can use metal utensils without worrying about ruining the pan.
  • Cooks on low heat – Because it holds onto heat well, there’s no need to cook on anything higher than medium/high.
  • Dishwasher safe – Some ceramic may not be able to go in the dishwasher but Xtrema is 100% dishwasher safe.
  • Oven safe – Great for going from the stove-top to the oven.
  • Stove safe – Can be used on electric, glass, or gas stove-top.
  • Fridge/freezer safe – Can also be put into the freezer, avoiding plastic.
  • Resists high heat – Some ceramic may not be able to withstand extremely high heat, but the Xtrema can withstand being heated to 2500 degrees F. No one is going to heat it that high, but it shows that it can be used in the highest heat situations without failing.
  • Better tasting food – Some say the taste of food cooked in ceramic cookware is better and the food doesn’t get as dried out.
  • Overall appearance – It may seem like a small thing but, ceramic cookware is just so beautiful!
  • Cooks food evenly – Food cooks on the inside as well as the outside (no more burnt on the outside/raw on the inside problems).

You can read my full review of Xtrema here. If you choose to purchase a brand of ceramic cookware other than Xtrema, I recommend making sure it is similarly tested.


I love ceramic but there are a couple of disadvantages to ceramic cookware. For one, it takes longer to heat up (but retains heat very well). Also, it is breakable but can be very durable when cared for properly.

Also, it’s important to address concerns about lead and heavy metal concerns with this type of cookware. I have done my own research on this and found that in leach testing, these pans test safe. They also pass third party and Prop 65 testing in California, which means they should not leach metals into foods. For this reason, I personally consider them safe but encourage you to do your own research on safety if this is a concern for you.

How to Cook With Ceramic Cookware

Ceramic is a natural and safe choice for cookware but it comes with a small learning curve. For the most part ceramic can be used the same way as other cookware. Some folks have found that ceramic is much easier to use for things like scrambled eggs than cast iron or stainless steel. But there is one big difference between ceramic and other cookware.

As I mentioned, ceramic cookware takes a few minutes to get up to temperature, unlike metal pans that heat up quickly. On the flip side, it also holds onto heat better than most other cookware, which means you can turn off the heat a few minutes early in the cook time and the food will continue to cook. This means it takes less energy to cook your food! (But be sure to adjust cooking times to avoid over-cooking).

Other tips for using ceramic cookware:

  • Don’t put an empty pan on high heat. Add some water first or stick with medium heat.
  • Don’t use a non-stick spray. It can cause build-up on the pan (and isn’t healthy anyway). Choose a high-heat tolerant fat like coconut oil or avocado oil.
  • Though Xtrema is non-scratch, some other brand may not be. Using wooden spoons over metal can help avoid scratching.
  • When storing, don’t stack or nest pans (unless you’re using a buffer between pans).
  • Use low to medium heat for most things. Because ceramic doesn’t require a lot of oil, foods will sear at low temperatures.

Bottom Line

Though cooking with ceramic cookware may require some adjustment, it is easy to clean and scratch proof. Ceramic is durable when cared for, and can replace almost all of other cookware.

As an affiliate partner of Xtrema, they’ve agreed to offer my readers a discount. If you decide to try this type of cookware, you can save 10% with the code WELLNESS at this link.

What is your favorite kind of cookware? Would you try ceramic?

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


30 responses to “Understanding Ceramic Cookware (Pros, Cons, & How to Cook With It)”

  1. Carisa Avatar

    Avid reader here… I’ve always wondered why you don’t ever mention Le Creuset or Staub as an option? I replaced everything years ago and use only Le Creuset and am very happy with them. My son, who. just turned 17, asked for a Le Creuset pot for Christmas so that he’d have one when he moved out. They can be handed down over generations, they are so tough. Love them.

  2. Robin Avatar

    I bought a stock pot and a skillet around Christmas time for myself! I do like it, but it does take forever to cook certain things. Definitely a learning curve. I was hoping to use these for everything but now we just use them for certain things. Eggs and pancakes we use our cast iron skillet for, because eggs are impossible with these pans, and pancakes take forever and there’s not enough room to cook more than one at a time.

    I’m happy with that compromise.

    It does make fantastic rice, soups, and is great for quesadillas, grilled cheese, and saucy meals (Alfredo, chicken tikka masala, etc.)

    Overall not a complete waste of money, but I do not think they are worth they hype they’re receiving from internet influencers. In fact, I may write a blog post about my experiences.

  3. Peggy Avatar

    About 15 years ago, I purchased a set of Xtrema cookware through Dr Mercola’s website. I checked with the company and it is the same product. I had sent an email and received a prompt reply. Didn’t seem like poor customer service to me! Their website has information on how to cook on their pans. Please check that out before saying the cookware doesn’t work. There is definitely a learning curve. You need to PREHEAT the fry pans for up to 5 minutes before adding oil or food. And turn off the heat before food is done. That works well on my gas stove. Electric might take longer. I’m happy with it. And I also love their coffee/tea mugs. Even stuck on food comes off easily with a little soaking and minimal scrubbing. And I agree with Katie that it is beautiful, in spite of a few chips. And so much lighter than cast iron for someone with arthritic wrists. Thanks for your insightful information, Katie!

  4. Risa Avatar

    Hi this is Risa from Ontario. Thanks for sharing great information with us. I really like liked reading it. Sorry to say but i am confused because i read something different on a website. The information you have provided and what i have read before about ceramic cookware is contradicting on few points. What should i do now? any suggestion ? Thanks

  5. Jann Avatar

    Can anyone recommend ceramic cookware available in the UK? Is GreenPan a safe option? I’d prefer non-stick, but if there’s an equivalent to Xtrema in the Europe I’d be interested in suggestions. Many Thanks!

  6. Holly Avatar

    I received a few Le Creuset pieces for a wedding gift and adore them. Most of our cooking is done is them. The price point is high, but one or two good pieces is all you need and will last a lifetime.

    On he topic of enameled cast iron, would enameled cast iron bath tubs make the best choice for a bathroom remodel as they may have similar non-leaching effects?

  7. gudrun Avatar

    totally agree. I have my almost every day stainless pan with a heavy copper bottom; if some thing sticks it gets soaked over night just with a little water and easily cleans the next morning. Love my cast iron pans, but the larger ones are so darn heavy. The small ones are fine and egg will not stick, though for eggs I tend to use a stoneware coated one. Eggs need butter anyway for better vitamin absorption 🙂

  8. Nanci Avatar

    I use an Ozeri pan made in Germany. It is a type of stonewear. It is great. Nothing sticks – easy clean up.
    It is oven proof to over 400 degrees. It says you can wash it in the dishwasher, but I hand wash it.

  9. Yvonne Avatar

    After reading feedback I’ll pass on the Extrema….horrible customer service is enough to make me not buy something. Wellness Mama, what say you about the complaints considering you’re promoting them? You mentioned you’d contact them about one commenters complaints…did you and if so results?

    I’ve purchased from Miriam’s and love them…learning curve of course but worth it.

  10. Christopher Condon Avatar
    Christopher Condon

    I do a lot of steaming. It simplifies matters and there is almost no cleanup. For steaming, I use stainless steel. For cooking things like oatmeal, I use Visions glassware. Absolutely no environmental problems and easy to clean up. I recently purchased something called a Greenpan. I have yet to make a final decision on this one.

  11. Chipay Avatar

    I have an induction cooktop. Is there a gadget one can use to be able to use Ceramcor too?

  12. Elizabeth t Crowe Avatar
    Elizabeth t Crowe

    I use cast iron and ceramic and like them both. Cast iron, when seasoned correctly, will not stick.

  13. Victoria Avatar

    I’ve been using Dr. Mercola’s ceramic cookware for more than two years. I’m down to one large pan and a small pot, my other egg pan and a soup pot I accidentally broke. Looks like Extrema cookware is of similar quality as Dr. Mercola’s (please correct me if I’m wrong), both companies manufacture their pots and pans in China. I learned to like my ceramic pans and pots and used to make omelets exclusively in ceramic cookware. I’d like to buy a large soup pot (10 quarts) from Xtrema. Though, they’ve been out of stock for a while! Another handy pot is my organic clay from VitaClay. I use it every day!

  14. Sue Vail Avatar
    Sue Vail

    You write, “Be aware that some ceramic cookware made in China and some other places may contain lead in the glaze. To avoid lead or other heavy metals leaching from ceramic glaze, stick with quality ceramics made in the US or Europe. Xtrema is made in China. I bought it after reading your article I invested quite a lot of money and bought complete sets. Never again. Most difficult to cook with. I didn’t even donate them as I found out they are also made in China. I would recommend you check your sources before going to print. Please let me hear from you if I am wrong. Thank you Sue

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      I’ve explained this in another article about safe cookware but Xtrema tests their cookware and there is no lead or heavy metals in their cookware. I don’t normally buy from China either, but they actually do lead the world in ceramics and as long as they are tested for lead and heavy metals, I feel comfortable buying ceramic from there. Editing the article to be more clear.

  15. Jessica Avatar

    When researching each piece, it says the country of origin is CHINA on the xtrema website!

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      Yes it is, and while you need to be careful with many items made in Chine, ceramics are one product they they have been making for centuries and do an excellent job of…

      1. Edward Lake Avatar
        Edward Lake

        I am very disappointed in the pan. It cooks very unevenly- eggs, pancakes, and even stirfry are all a disaster. I regret purchasing this pan. I have been following Wellness Mama for many years and have always been happy with all the products that you recommend, but I am disappointed at your endorsement of such a terrible product. Reading my comment and the comments of your other here, would you be willing to reach to the company on our behalf for a refund.

        1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

          Thanks for the feedback, I’ll see what I can do. Trying to find a truly healthy set up pans that also cook well is tough… I might just have to design some myself! 😉

  16. chris czajkowski Avatar
    chris czajkowski

    Romatopf cookware is unglazed ceramic. Used for baking and as a casserole. New they are also expensive, but I have found a number in thrift stores for as little as #3.00 – #10.00. Excellent flavour to food – a bit more fragile than the ones you recommend, but for $3 – $10 you can’t go wrong!

  17. Hélène Avatar

    My cookware:
    Heavy stainless steel, preferably with copper bottoms or at least triple core bottoms.
    Cast iron thats sealed with flax oil.

  18. john s marquez Avatar
    john s marquez

    I tried the Xtrema brand per your recommendations. It was a nightmare. I am a very experienced and former professional chef. When I had issues with eggs sticking to to the pan after following product instuctions and recommendations, I tried calls and emails. The customer service was horrendous. (You can only reach Bob on certain days, Thursdays I believe). At one point the main founder, (Richard) was very harsh critics implying I just didn’t know how to use a skillet, and went so far as to ask me why was it his problem that I don’t know how to cook an egg???. In the end I accidentally banged the almost $100 skillet against the sink while washing and it broke into pieces. Total loss. Never again!

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      I am so sorry you had a poor experience and I will reach out to them on your behalf. I definitely do think there is a learning curve and they don’t cook like many other pots and pans. I’m actually working on developing a healthy non-stick skillet and hope to be able to share it within the next year or so.

      1. Rachel Avatar

        Let us know when you come up with it. I like making eggs and cooking things on the stove, but the downside of all of it is I have to wash all my dishes by hand, and my bane is having to scrub the egg pan with my fingernails (after letting it soak for at least a day) in order to get the residue off, even if I’ve used plenty of butter (I can’t do steel wool for various reasons, and the scrubber I do have doesn’t cut it on the eggs). I’ve also been on the hunt for a safe non-stick pan that won’t break no matter what and isn’t super heavy (because I will be taking it on backpacking trips), and the best I’ve found so far is an anodized stainless steel pot (that I didn’t buy because it’s out of my budget).

      2. Sue Vail Avatar
        Sue Vail

        Yes. That would be wonderful. The only problem is I found out there are not too many companies in the USA that make these pots. However, I believe there are two companies in the USA that make the cast iron pots. They do make a nonstick however they coat them with soy bean oil (a big no no). Keep me updated on the pots. My whole family is lined up.

    2. Hélène Avatar

      I once bought a pricey nonstick skillet. That eggs stuck to. I went to the store and said, what am I doing wrong? She demo’d it there for me how to fry an egg. Used 2-3T of butter to fry it. Um, its a NONstick pan, I dont need ANY butter to fry it. (I was using a good T or more when I cooked them anyway). So—waste of money. It was one of the anondized pans…
      We have a cheap walmart one for omellettes, I replace when it flakes. Nothing else works for omellettes lol

    3. Roxy Avatar

      I had a horrible customer service experience as well. They don’t send any order acknowledgement emails like every other company in the world so I didn’t know how to contact them. No one answers the phone number on the website and my browser won’t let me click on the email address on the website since the website is not secure!

      I left a comment on Instagram which was immediately deleted instead of trying to help me.
      When I finally had to file a paypal dispute, I immediately received an email scolding me for filing a dispute!

      Horrible experience!

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