Ceramic vs Non-Stick Cookware: Which Is The Superior Choice For Your Kitchen?
Non-stick cookware has quite simply transformed the way we cook in the kitchen. Gone are the days where we’d have to soak our cookware overnight simply to loosen stuck bits. We no longer need to cook with huge amounts of oil or butter just to prevent food from sticking on the pan.
Cooking is now more accessible and simple, which makes it less intimidating than it sometimes appears to be. In fact, cooking is now something the everyday home cook can enjoy!
Since you’re here, you probably know that non-stick cookware comes in various forms and types. Not all cookware are created equal. The same goes for non-stick cookware, with the two modern day picks being the traditional Teflon non-stick cookware, and ceramic non-stick cookware as the ceramic version of the former.
But if they’re both non-stick, does it really matter that they aren’t “equal”? Yes. Yes it does matter.
Before we jump the gun and start singing praises about how one or the other will be the superior choice for your kitchen, let’s check out what separates the cookware world’s most popular kinds of non-stick cookware.
The Two Main Types Of Non-Stick Cookware
Ceramic Non-Stick Cookware (Ceramic Cookware)
Contrary to its name, ceramic cookware is not made entirely from ceramic. 100% ceramic cookware is known as earthenware - think Moroccan tagines and clay casseroles, otherwise known as claypots.
Ceramic-coated cookware is made by applying a layer or layers of ceramic coatings over a metal base, which is usually either aluminium or stainless steel. The ceramic non-stick coating is typically made from organic and inorganic minerals like silica (sand) to create a sol-gel coating, which is free from PTFE and PFOA.
This particular type of non-stick coated cookware is widely regarded as a safer, more eco-friendly alternative to a traditional Teflon pan.
Non-Stick Cookware (Also known as Traditional Non-Stick Cookware or Teflon Non-Stick Cookware)
Traditional non-stick cookware is aluminium or stainless steel cookware that is coated with one or several layers of non-stick finish on its surface. This type of non-stick layer is commonly known as Teflon, which is the brand name for a substance called polytetrafluoroethylene, also known as PTFE.
PTFE is a man-made compound that was first invented in 1930, then used to create a non-stick cooking surface on your everyday metal cookware from the 1960’s. This synthetic coating was previously the gold standard for non-stick properties for decades, offering easy food release and effortless clean up until its controversial legislative ban in Europe during 2008, followed by a nationwide ban in the United States during 2014.
But as of 2013, all Teflon products have since been free from PFOA, a carcinogenic chemical compound used to create PTFE which was what caused the health controversy that surrounded Teflon.
Now that we’re familiar with both types of non-stick cookware, let’s check out their similarities and differences to help you find out whether ceramic or traditional nonstick is the better choice for your kitchen.
13 Similarities & Differences Between Ceramic vs Traditional Non-Stick Cookware
Part 1: Similarities Between Ceramic vs Traditional Non-Stick Cookware
1. Non-Stick Properties
This is definitely the top similarity between both ceramic coated cookware and traditional non-stick cookware! Both types feature a cooking surface that significantly reduces the likelihood of food sticking on its surface.
It’s particularly useful when you intend to cook delicate ingredients like eggs and fish, both of which tend to break apart easily on more abrasive surfaces like that of stainless steel and cast iron. Even dumplings like delicious pork and prawn dumplings are a joy to cook on non-stick cookware as you can easily lift and turn without getting the doughy skin stuck.
The non-stick quality also means you can use less fat like oil or butter to cook. This means healthier cooking and a totally easier time eating clean!
2. Even Heat Distribution
A common feature of both ceramic coated cookware and Teflon coated cookware are their metal base. They’re generally made with either an aluminium or stainless steel base, with aluminium being the more common choice.
Both metals offer excellent heat conductivity, ensuring even heat distribution across the cookware’s cooking surface. That way it’ll be less likely for you to encounter hotspots which will cause uneven cooking and the occasional burnt bits.
3. Suitable for Low to Medium Heat Cooking
It’s very important to remember that both ceramic coated pans or Teflon coated pans are best suited for low to medium heat cooking. Exposing these cookware to high temperatures will cause the non-stick coating to be damaged over time.
That said, this isn’t even really a con because cooking at low to medium heat ensures that your food is cooked gently and evenly, with little to no chances for it to be overcooked or worse, burnt. Talk about perfect for delicate sauces and tender meats!
4. Quicker Cooking Time
This probably sounds counterintuitive to the earlier point on them being suitable for low to medium heat cooking only. But hear me out.
Because both ceramic nonstick cookware and traditional nonstick cookware conduct heat efficiently and evenly, you won’t need to stand by the stove for extra minutes just to wait for the non-stick pan to heat up to your desired temperature. And their nonstick properties allow you to easily flip and stir your ingredients without having to do overly slow and gentle manoeuvres, which also saves you that extra bit of time.
It’s truly an advantage for busy home cooks who need to prepare meals quickly without missing out on quality!
5. Quicker and Easier Clean Up
Its non-stick surface means that food remnants can easily be wiped off with one swift swipe of a soft sponge and mild dish soap. It not only saves heaps of time, but also makes these non-stick pans more durable since you need elbow grease to clean them.
6. Base Material
We roughly mentioned it earlier, but it’s worth highlighting that both ceramic cookware and traditional non-stick cookware are both made from either aluminium or stainless steel.
The choice of base material plays a crucial role in how the cookware fares when you put it through trial by fire. Both aluminium and stainless steel provide excellent heat distribution for even cooking, making it the perfect complement to the easy release of non-stick cookware.
Part 2: Differences Between Ceramic vs Traditional Non-Stick Cookware
7. The Non-Stick Coating’s Material
The most significant difference between the two lies in what its non-stick coating is made of. Ceramic cookware typically uses natural mineral compounds to create a sol-gel coating that is free from PTFE and PFOA, chemical compounds found in traditional non-stick coatings that are known to be hazardous with long-term exposure.
This makes ceramic nonstick cookware like a ceramic nonstick pan highly appealing to health-conscious home cooks or those seeking eco-friendly options when it comes to kitchen and home essentials.
8. Heat Resistance
While not usually recommended, ceramic cookware can typically withstand higher temperatures compared to Teflon coated cookware. This means you can sear meat at higher temperatures without worrying about whether the coating will degrade quickly.
It also means greater versatility in the cooking methods you can utilise. Having said that, I’d still highly recommend that you avoid exposing your non-stick cookware to high heat regularly, be it ceramic or traditional non-stick.
Exposing ceramic pans to high heat frequently will cause the non-stick surface to degrade over time, while exposing Teflon pans to high heat regularly will cause it to release toxic fumes AND degrade the non-stick. And trust me when I say that both are situations you’ll want to avoid.
9. Cookware Durability
When it comes to lifespan, traditional non-stick has been known to outlast ceramic cookware because of its more hardy nature.
The ceramic coating is typically more robust, but it is also somewhat delicate because of its natural state. It is prone to chips and cracks when treated roughly and dropped or when it is exposed to abrasive materials like metal utensils and steel wool sponges.
Once ceramic cookware chips, it’s recommended to stop using it because the inner layer of metal may react to your ingredients and put a damper on your cooking results.
10. Health and Safety
Health and safety is a key differentiator when it comes to both nonstick coatings. Ceramic cookware is often marketed as a healthier alternative to traditional non-stick due to the absence of toxic chemical compounds which were previously present in traditional non-stick, such as PTFE and PFOA.
Even though all Teflon non-stick cookware has been confirmed to be PFOA-free as of 2013, the fear of unintentionally consuming chemically-laden food is still very much real since PTFE is still present.
This makes ceramic cookware a highly attractive option for home cooks who are concerned about the potential health impacts of their cookware.
11. Cooking Performance
Cooking performance is perhaps the most heated battle out of all similarities and differences between both nonstick pans. However, most chefs and home cooks have noted that traditional non-stick cookware offers a slightly more effective non-stick surface over that of ceramic cookware.
Reason being that the synthetic, shiny surface of regular nonstick cookware like Teflon pans is extremely smooth at a microscopic level. While ceramic cookware is also incredibly smooth, it does not achieve the same level of slickness that the PTFE coating has. The mineral base of ceramic non-stick coating gives it an almost minute texture to it, which is different from the almost frictionless surface of PTFE.
Ceramic cookware definitely takes the trophy when it comes to appearance! The aesthetic beauty of ceramic non-stick cookware is essentially unmatched, coming just after the stunning aesthetics of luxurious enamelled cast iron cookware.
Ceramic cookware often comes in a more modern design with a variety of colour options and a sleek finish, making them functional yet stylish additions to any kitchen.
Whereas traditional non-stick typically comes with the common dark finish throughout its build, and a plastic or nylon handle attached to it.
Price points may vary, but ceramic cookware is often regarded as a premium, eco-friendly product. This makes it pricier than traditional non-stick, but you’re almost always guaranteed toxic-free cooking with effortless food release from the non-stick cooking surface. Not to mention a beautiful design that will complement or serve as a lovely accent to your kitchen and dinner table.
High quality traditional non-stick will come with a higher price tag, but it will typically be more affordable than most ceramic cookware because of its synthetic-based construct and simple design.
Is Ceramic Better for Cooking?
Ceramic cookware is definitely the better choice over Teflon cookware if your priority is to ensure health and safety when it comes to cooking, enjoy versatility in terms of cooking techniques in the kitchen, and cooking performance when it comes to frying eggs, searing fish, and flipping pancakes.
With ceramic cookware, you get to avoid potential chemical exposure because ceramic coatings are typically free from chemicals like PTFE and PFOA, which people generally avoid for health reasons.
Is Ceramic Nonstick Cookware Safe?
The nature of how ceramic nonstick cookware is constructed makes it generally safe, as long as the ceramic coating is intact. Since it generally does not contain PTFE and PFOA, you won’t have to worry about it releasing harmful fumes or any potential health concerns.
But you do have to keep an eye out for cracks and chips because your ingredients may react with the metal found in the inner layers of the cookware if the ceramic coatings of the surface is damaged.
Why do Ceramic Pans Lose Their Nonstick?
Ceramic coatings will naturally wear out from repeated use. It’s just a natural part of wear and tear. Even more so if you regularly put it through high heat cooking and rough cleaning with abrasive cleaning tools.
A combination of these will cause ceramic pans to lose their nonstick performance over time, which you will notice when food sticks. So do take care to handle them gently to keep your ceramic pan pristine for the years to come.
So Is Traditional Nonstick Coating or Ceramic Coating Better For Me?
Ceramic coated non-stick cookware offers a healthier option because the ceramic coating is free of PTFE and PFOA, and can withstand slightly higher temperatures than traditional non-stick coatings. Its variety of beautiful designs also makes it a seamless choice for kitchen design enthusiasts.
However traditional non-stick offers a slightly better non-stick experience with higher durability against scratches and drops. It is also less eco-friendly due to the chemicals used to construct it.
Having said that, I’d recommend ceramic cookware as the superior choice for you if you generally treat your cookware gently, are more inclined to make healthy and environmentally-friendly choices, and love to wow your guests with a delicious dish served in a beautiful cookware piece.
But if you find yourself being more towards the rougher side when it comes to handling cookware, have a strong degree of familiarity in cooking techniques and heat control, and you’re not too concerned about your cookware’s aesthetics, then traditional non-stick cookware may be your ideal choice.
It all really boils down to your lifestyle and your daily cooking needs in the kitchen. If you’d love to equip your home kitchen with a beautiful set of ceramic cookware, do check out Cosmic Cookware’s range of stunning Swiss-certified, non-toxic ceramic-coated pans, pots, woks, saucepans, sauté pans and more.