Looking at two of the most distinctive cookware types and comparing them, this review is the ultimate Ceramic vs Stainless Steel cookware comparison. There is no doubt about how different these two types of cookware are, but you’d be surprised by their similarities. That and more is what we’ll uncover throughout the article.
Ultimately, we hope our readers can gain much-needed insight into the best decision between ceramic and stainless steel cookware.
What is Ceramic cookware?
Ceramic cookware is a generic term that refers to pots and pans made with a clay-like coating and a metal core often made of aluminum. This type of cookware appeals to customers looking for a toxic-free solution to their cooking needs.
Ceramic-coated cookware often comes with a non-stick coating made using PFOA/PTFE-free materials (1). This offers a healthier alternative to cooking foods and consuming them without any metallic taste that compromises your dish’s flavor.
Keep in mind that there is such a thing called pure ceramic cookware, which offers an even more pure ceramic experience. This means there is no metal core built into the ceramic pan or pot. So, the entire piece is made of ceramic rather than just a layer of ceramic coating on the exterior.
On the plus side, you get greater heat retention through the thick ceramic walls. On the downside, the pure ceramic pans and pots can become quite fragile and less resistant to high heat.
What is Stainless Steel cookware?
By definition, stainless steel cookware are sets of pots and pans constructed out of steel alloys. Options include chromium and carbon, which enforce corrosion and rust resistance. This type of cookware is extremely durable and often features a series of stainless steel sheets layered around a highly conductive aluminum core.
Stainless steel cookware typically features tri-ply or 5-ply construction. The former excels in fast heat conduction, and the latter excels in durability and heat retention.
Stainless steel cookware is typically a non-reactive material, making it suitable for cooking acidic or alkaline foods such as meats, eggs, and vegetables. Its high durability and strength of material also contribute to its high oven-safe features that often reach 500 degrees Fahrenheit and beyond.
Furthermore, you can freely use metal utensils with stainless steel cookware set as there is no fragile coating on the cooking surface to concern yourself with.
How are they different?
At first glance, the differences between ceramic and stainless steel cookware are clear as day. Ceramic comes with a softer, textured outer appearance. In contrast, stainless steel comes in a silver finish that gives off a bright shine.
The differences in ceramic and stainless steel materials are the core foundation of what separates them as cookware types.
For starters, stainless steel cookware has faster heat-up times because of its more conductive materials that transfer and retain heat effectively. On the other hand, ceramic is the ideal choice for non-stick cookware.
It comes with a Teflon-free coating on the cooking surface that still provides quick food release and easy clean-up for your pots and pans. Another important difference is that stainless steel cookware is far more durable than ceramic and significantly more tolerant of high temperatures.
What’s better about Ceramic cookware?
Pure ceramic cookware is unmatched in craftsmanship that encourages safer cooking and eco-friendly manufacturing. In addition, ceramic coated pans are highly non-stick with a slick design that provides fast food release and makes clean-up duty a cinch!
You can also enjoy low-fat cooking with fewer calories as ceramic cookware does not require seasoning like stainless steel pans and pots.
Another advantage of ceramic cookware is the large variety of colors and patterned designs available. Unlike stainless steel, ceramic pans and pots are artistic by nature. They are crafted using similar methods as traditional pottery-making (2).
Lastly, ceramic cookware is typically more affordable than stainless steel. In addition, you never have to worry about nasty metallic tastes in your food, thanks to the chemical-free materials and non-stick cooking surface.
What’s better about Stainless Steel cookware?
Stainless steel pots and pans are highly durable, coming in tri-ply or 5-ply options and semi-clad and full clad. The latter emphasizes strength and sturdiness. Built for longevity, these pots and pans are made to be highly scratch-resistant and averse to cracking.
This high durability is complemented by a substantial degree of oven-safe features. For example, it can resist hotter temperatures that would typically damage a ceramic pan or pot.
Unlike ceramic cookware, stainless steel cookware comes with stay-cool handles that won’t heat up or burn your hands while cooking. This eliminates the need for oven mitts. Additionally, stainless steel cookware can heat up faster and generally has better heat distribution due to its conductive materials that efficiently transfer heat.
Lastly, stainless steel cookware allows you to use any metal utensil of your choice. So, you won’t have to worry about scratching the cooking area as there is no coating to begin with.
How are they similar?
Despite their differences, you will find many similar product offerings between ceramic and stainless steel cookware. These usually include frying pans, saucepans, saute pans, skillets, dutch ovens, stockpots, and more!
Occasionally, you may even find hybrid products such as stainless steel sets that offer a layer of ceramic non-stick coating. Likewise, you can find non-stick ceramic pans with a stainless steel core or steel handles to give you the best of both worlds.
Other similarities include that both types of cookware are non-reactive. As a result, you can typically cook anything from meats to eggs and vegetables without the food being compromised.
In addition, ceramic and stainless steel cookware both have relatively good heat distribution and can heat evenly and efficiently to avoid hot spots.
Finally, both types of cookware typically come with ergonomic handles made of a stay-cool material such as stainless steel. The only exception is pure ceramic, which is likely to heat up as you cook.
Who should get Ceramic Cookware?
Ceramic cookware is best-suited for those who are passionate about eco-friendly products and sustainability. It’s also helpful for those who constantly find their food sticks to their pans and pots.
Other great candidates for ceramic cookware include those who like their pans and pots to have an artistic look. It can nicely match the aesthetic of your kitchen and stovetops. You’ll find many color choices and design patterns with ceramic, particularly with pure ceramic cookware.
Ceramic cookware is perfect for customers prioritizing health above anything else. The toxic-free materials and crafting process eliminates all harmful PFOAs from the equation. It optimizes sustainability for both you and the environment.
This type of cookware is also quite appealing to those on a budget, as they tend to be more affordable than stainless steel pans and pots. But, of course, as an owner of ceramic coated cookware, you should also be prepared to periodically upgrade or change to a new set, as these baked clay-like pots and pans won’t last as long as stainless steel pots.
Who should get Stainless Steel cookware?
Stainless steel cookware pros are quite vast, from their ability to more effectively conduct heat and the immense durability that allows them to last the distance. This type of cookware suits those looking for strength and sturdiness over eco-friendly sustainability. It also suits anyone looking for a metal utensil-safe set of cookware.
Most stainless steel cookware comes with an aluminum or copper core. These are highly efficient at conducting heat, distributing it evenly and effectively across the cookware.
With a range of styles to choose from, stainless steel offers greater variety in its products. For example, some products like 5-ply sets focus more on durability and heat retention. While other products, such as tri-ply or single clad offer faster heat transfer.
As such, stainless steel pans and pots often appeal to a wider audience than ceramic cookware. You are more likely to find what you’re after with the abundance of steel cookware brands out there today.
In addition, stainless steel is the optimal choice for both beginners and those with expert cookware knowledge. They can cater to the needs of both parties and satisfy customers consistently.
The materials used to make ceramic cookware are typically a hybrid of metal cores and ceramic coating. In contrast, stainless steel tends to be completely built from metal in the form of steel and aluminum.
Essentially, durability and optimal heat transfer tend to come from metallic materials. Softer, more fragile elements such as ceramic clay cannot reach the same strength and sturdiness as stainless steel.
As such, ceramic cookware tends to be less durable than stainless steel, though it does excel in being free of harmful chemicals. Ceramic also features better non-stick properties. Although stainless steel is naturally quite non-stick, it requires less seasoning than the average pan.
However, this feature alone is not enough to compete with the superior durability and rust-resistance of stainless steel cookware.
Winner: Stainless steel
Speaking of performance, a stainless steel pan is more likely to heat up quicker than a ceramic pan. This is because steel is a better conductor of heat and can reach temperatures even faster than cast iron cookware.
In addition, stainless steel pans and pots retain their structure under immense heat, typically featuring oven-safe levels of over 500 degrees Fahrenheit. This type of cookware also tends to be highly corrosion resistant and immune to chips and cracks compared to the more fragile ceramic cookware.
As far as durability and heat transfer go, stainless steel wins every time. Still, it certainly falls short in the maintenance category compared to ceramic. You also may not have the same eco-friendly cooking offered by ceramic.
Nevertheless, ceramic does well in retaining heat once the desired temperature is reached. Only, it does not compete with full-clad, oven-proof stainless steel pots or pans, making it the inferior choice as far as performance goes.
Winner: Stainless steel
One could argue that non-stick coating on ceramic cookware gives it an edge in performance. The truth is that stainless steel is also relatively non-stick by nature. You can also often purchase them with non-stick coating, so it winds up not being a significant advantage.
Nevertheless, ceramic cookware’s non-stick surface and smooth exterior make cleaning easier with a non-abrasive sponge. You also will have an easier time handling delicate foods with ceramic.
Unlike other cookware, ceramic is also much better at retaining heat for long periods after the heating source is switched off. This means you could be cooking with a hot pan while saving on power costs.
As such, you may find ceramic offers a more pleasant cooking experience and an easier clean-up despite not being dishwasher safe like stainless steel.
In truth, many steel cookware brands that state they are dishwasher safe still recommends handwashing. So, this advantage of stainless steel is quite minuscule in the grand scheme of things. Thus, when it comes to cleaning and maintenance, ceramic cookware is the clear winner in delivering a more seamless user experience all around.
Are ceramic pots better than stainless steel?
Ceramic pots are made with chemical-free non-stick coating. It is free of nasty and toxic chemicals such as PFOA/PTFE Teflon cookware. This makes them a better choice than stainless steel when it comes to sustainability and healthier cooking.
On the other hand, ceramic pots cannot compete with stainless steel in the realms of performance and durability. Though they are still quite popular due to their large variety of colors and patterns as well as their affordability on the market.
What is the safest cookware for your health?
The safest cookware for your health is by far ceramic cookware. It comes with chemical-free materials and a coating that is non-reactive with acidic or alkaline foods. This means you won’t get any nasty metallic tastes along with your food.
In particular, you’ll find these benefits maximized if you go with 100% pure ceramic cookware. This kind is completely free of metal in its construction, though it does come at the cost of reduced durability. You’ll need to cook with low to medium heat to avoid structural damage to the cookware.
What type of cookware is best to use?
When customers are undecided on what type of cookware to purchase, buying stainless steel cookware is typically the safest way to go. It offers plenty of durability, heat distribution, and even a temporary non-stick surface when seasoned appropriately.
What’s the difference between stainless steel and ceramic?
The biggest difference between stainless steel and ceramic is the materials used, with stainless steel comprising metal alloys such as chromium, carbon, and nickel. Ceramic uses a clay-like material either in part or entirely.
Ceramic is built with non-toxic nonstick materials, whereas stainless steel is built for durability and performance using an aluminum core for maximum heat conductivity and distribution.
(1) – https://www.centurylife.org/is-teflon-safe/
(2) – https://home.howstuffworks.com/green-living/pottery1.htm