Ceramic and stainless steel cookware are solid choices when shopping for pots and pans.
When choosing between the two options, several questions should be asked:
What are you cooking in the pots and pans?
Are there safety issues?
What is the heat tolerance of the pots and pans?
Other factors to consider are how durable the cookware is, the expected lifespan, and how easy the maintenance and care are.
Both are great options, but it ultimately depends on your needs and expectations.
Let's dive in and talk about stainless steel vs. ceramic cookware!
What is Ceramic Cookware?
Ceramic cookware is cast iron metal finished with a ceramic, non-stick coating.
This coating is free from toxins and Teflon and makes the ceramic coating stand apart from stainless steel, aluminum, and cast iron counterparts.
There is no oil required when making eggs or other sticky foods. The non-stick simplifies the cooking process and makes the clean-up a breeze.
Another critical asset of ceramic cookware is its heat conduction. Ceramic cookware heats evenly and retains its heat well.
Even heating is critical to the success of many dishes, bread included.
What is Stainless Steel Cookware?
Stainless steel cookware is made from a steel alloy containing chromium, a corrosion-resistant element, aluminum, and other metals.
They have long handles that are heat-resistant and ideal for baking, boiling, and sautéing.
Stainless steel cookware is the safest cooking option as they are completely toxin-free.
They do not need to be seasoned, but fat is needed during cooking to provide that non-stick barrier.
These pots and pans are used in commercial kitchens primarily because they are scratch resistant, durable, easy to clean, and have amazing heating properties.
Benefits of Ceramic Cookware
There are many benefits to cooking with ceramic cookware, the most beneficial being that it’s a healthy alternative compared to other cookware.
The inherent non-stick properties are one of the highest selling points of ceramic cookware.
Other benefits are the pleasing aesthetics, lightweight material, heat transfer, excellent heat retention, and easy cleanup.
At the top of the list of benefits is the non-stick capabilities. Ceramic cookware provides a non-stick surface, so fats don't have to be used.
Eggs and other naturally sticky ingredients will not stick to ceramic cookware because of the surface material.
This feature, combined with the inertness of toxins, makes this cookware safe and healthy.
Ceramic cookware is heat and corrosion resistant which has many benefits in cooking.
The even heat distribution is perfect for cooking foods like uneven cuts of meat for long periods without burning.
Ceramic is also aesthetically pleasing and comes in a wide array of colors.
Benefits of Stainless Steel Cookware
The main benefit of stainless steel cookware is that it is practically indestructible, which is why it is the primary cookware of chefs and commercial kitchens.
Aesthetically, this cookware is polished and shiny and adds a classy and traditional look to any kitchen.
Stainless cookware is easy to clean, non-reactive, and requires little to no maintenance.
The cooking performance of multi-ply stainless steel is outstanding, with even heat distribution and heat retention on a non-reactive surface.
Cooking with stainless steel ensures a quality product that people are willing to pay for, which is why most commercial kitchens use stainless steel.
Stainless steel will not add any off-putting odors or tastes to the food either, ensuring that the food tastes pure.
Easy Clean Up
Stainless steel cookware is easy to clean and requires no maintenance to continue cooking well for years.
The porous material opens and contracts during heating and cooling and can be scrubbed hardily without damaging the multi-ply steel.
Stainless steel can also be soaked in water without ruining the finish.
Downsides to Ceramic Cookware
Although ceramic cookware is sturdy and can last many years, the enamel coating can chip away.
For this reason, ceramic should be hand washed, even though they are technically dishwasher safe.
When storing ceramic cookware, it's best to have a protective layer around them if they are being stacked.
Lack of Safety Studies
The lack of safety studies pertains to ceramics in general.
Individual manufacturers have performed studies on the individual enamel coatings they use, and have deemed ceramic safer and more non-toxic than teflon, which adds to the health benefits.
Downsides to Stainless Steel Cookware
Needs Fat For Sticky Foods
Stainless steel is a porous substance that opens and contracts during the cooking process.
When the pores open, they “grab” the food being cooked, which makes the food stick to the surface.
For this reason, fats like butter or oil is applied to make the stainless steel surface non-stick.
Possible Leaching of Harmful Metals Into Food
Cheaper made stainless steel could contain nickel and chromium and these metals could potentially leak into the food being cooked on its surface.
For people with nickel sensitivities, they should consider an alternative to these pans.
Nickel is what gives these pans their hardness and corrosion resistant properties.
Our Top Ceramic Picks
Caraway Cookware Set
Caraway Cookware Set is toxin free and is oven safe up to 550°F. This set comes in an array of colors and even includes a magnetic lid organizer. The cost for this set is $395.
Greenpan Chatham Ceramic Cookware
Greenpan offers an attractive, durable ceramic cookware set at a reasonable price under $200. The ceramic coating is reinforced with diamonds for added durability.
Le Creuset Ceramic Cookware Set
Le Creuset is the most expensive set on this list at a price of $1,800, but for good reason. These ceramics are handcrafted in France and are the world’s most recognized manufacturers. These dishes are designed to last generations and are incredibly durable. For information about why Le Creuset is so expensive, check out this article.
Henckels Real Clad Tri Ply 10- Piece Set
Henckels has a storied reputation in the culinary world for making top shelf products. This cookware set includes ergonomic, stay cool handles, flared rims for dripless pouring, and is clad in 3-ply construction for durability and even heating. The price is reasonable at only $150 for the set.
Legend Five Ply 14-Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set
Legend’s Five Ply reinforces the traditional 3 ply for more durability and better cooking performance. These pans are heat resistant and can be used inside or outside. They are also aesthetically pleasing. They are reasonably priced under $500.
Hexclad 13-Piece Hybrid Cookware Set
Hexclad is an amazing hybrid technology that integrates stainless steel with non-stick capabilities. This line is represented by renowned chefs like Gordon Ramsay and have incredible features like stay cool handles, oven safe, and metal utensil safe. These will soon become your go-to pans for everything.
Ideal Cooking Methods for Ceramic
The ideal cooking method for ceramic cookware is low and slow.
Because of their amazing heat conduction, ceramic cookware can be used with low to medium heat and produce quality results every time.
Some of the low and slow methods are roasting, braising, and preparing stocks and broths.
Because ceramic is non-reactive, acidic foods like tomatoes can readily be cooked in these pots and pans without the acid reacting to the material.
This is a great feature when cooking spaghetti or any other sauce that takes a long time to cook.
Ideal Cooking Methods for Stainless Steel
Stainless steel pans are ideal for making soups, sauces, and stews.
Due to their lighter weight and heating properties, these pans are excellent choices for sautéing.
Medium to moderate heat is the preferred temperature for stainless so that the food doesn’t stick and the pan doesn’t scorch.
Acidic foods cook well on stainless steel because they are non-reactive.
If tomato sauce is made in stainless steel, for instance, the tomatoes will taste like tomatoes, not metal. It's best to go with a quality stainless steel pan if cooking acidic foods.
Ceramic and stainless steel cookware are both ideal choices for any kitchen.
Although there are obvious differences between the two, there are also similarities. Both are great heat conductors and are non-reactive.
For the home chef, the choice boils down to personal preference, aesthetics, and the non-stick factor.
You can also check out our 10 Best Sauté Pans if that's more what you're looking for!