Ceramic vs Non Stick Cookware Differences Explained

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Cookware comes in all shapes, sizes, and materials, and we all have our preferences.  I own a large range of cookware, and I use different cookware for different tasks.  Today I want to talk about something that often confuses people, and that is ceramic vs non stick cookware.

Ceramic vs Non Stick Cookware – What’s the Deal?

When it comes to comparing ceramic and nonstick cookware, things get confusing.

This is because ceramic cookware is a type of nonstick cookware.  Did I just blow your mind?  Quite possibly.

Generally speaking, when someone talks about non stick cookware, they are not talking about ceramic cookware.  They are talking about Teflon.

That’s why there is so much confusion.  Let’s take a look at these two different types of cookware, and the similarities and differences between them.

Non Stick Cookware – Understanding Teflon

Teflon is a brand name of a material crated by DuPont to provide a non stick surface on pans.  The material itself is called Polytetrafluoroethylene or PFTE since it is such a mouthful to say.

The issue with this material is it begins to emit fumes when it is heated to over 350F, which isn’t hard to do when you are cooking.  If you heat it over 500F, it will loose its non stick properties.

These fumes are not the best for humans, and lethal to birds.  Be sure to check out the Wikipedia entry linked to above for a longer explanation.

Because of this, I actually do not own any Teflon non stick cookware.

Ceramic Non Stick Cookware

Ceramic non stick cookware uses a ceramic coating on the pan, versus the chemicals of Teflon.

Ceramic is a fancy word for fusing together elements by heat.  Because it is forged by heat, it can withstand ridiculous temperatures well above what you would use cooking.

Think of the tiles in your house, they are probably a type of ceramic.  The strength of the ceramic depends on how it is forged.

Ceramic also does not release any fumes or toxins when heated.

I do have some ceramic cookware that I use pretty regularly for a number of things that we will soon talk about.

Ceramic vs Non Stick Cookware Similarities

Besides both being non stick, there are some additional similarities to ceramic and nonstick cookware.

First of all, both surfaces are somewhat delicate.  While non stick Teflon will be scraped by metal utensils, ceramic can be chipped by metal utensils.  I feel like Teflon scrapes easier than ceramic chips however.

It is important to use either wood, plastic, or silicon coated utensils when cooking with ceramic or nonstick cookware.

Because ceramic is prone to chipping, you could actually chip it by placing another pot or pan on top of it in your cabinet.  It is a good idea to use something like this pot and pan protector, or simply put dishtowels between the pots and pans when stacking.

The Myth of Non Stick Cookware

I don’t know about you, but I do a ton of research when I am looking at new products to buy.  One comment I often come across in reviews when looking at ceramic vs non stick cookware is people complain the coating becomes sticky over time.

Perhaps it is just the way I cook, but I have never just expected something to not stick to a pan, even if it is non stick.

For example when I make pancakes, I always wipe the pan with a paper towel that has a bit of canola oil on it first.  I have noticed it enhances the golden brown color of the pancakes.

Like pancakes?  Be sure to check out my favorite electric griddles here!

I never just dump batter in a pan and expect it not to stick, that just isn’t the way I cook, but I hear people do it.

What to Cook in Ceramic or Non Stick Cookware

So what are some examples of things I make in ceramic or non stick cookware?

Basically things that would have a tendency to stick in a plain stainless steel pan unless I used a ton of oil.  These are things like:

  • Pancakes
  • Vegetables
  • Browning Ground Meat
  • Chicken
  • Stir Frys
  • Reheating food (reheat your pasta in a non stick pan next time, you will thank me, I swear).

All in all, stainless steel is my go to pan usually, but I don’t always want to use the oil I would need to to make sure things don’t get stuck up, which brings us to my new point.

Why do I like stainless steel?  And why am I focused on that?

The Truth About Ceramic and Non Stick Cookware

The truth about ceramic vs nonstick cookware is the coating is not nearly the important part.  Sure, I shy away from Teflon and favor ceramic, but there is so much more to it than that.

The thing you should really be worried about when you are picking ceramic cookware or non stick cookware is what is underneath the coating!

When it comes to cookware, it is all about the heat distribution, which is determined by the material the cookware is primarily made of.

This same principle also applies to grill grates, the cookware of your grill!  Be sure to check out our grill grate material guide here.

My two favorite materials are stainless steel and cast iron.  Most other people who love to cook will agree with me.

However, they can both be annoying to clean, especially cast iron.  While some may argue a properly seasoned cast iron pan will essential become non stick, not everyone cares for their cookware properly.

Stainless steel cooks like a dream, but a certain amount of fat is required so food does not stick to its surface.  This is fine for pan frying foods, and some vegetables, but not so good for things like pancakes.

Both cast iron and stainless steel can also be put into the oven – so you can make a great steak by seating it inside on a pan then cooking it the rest of the way in a hot oven (you should not do this with a Teflon pan by the way).

Both stainless steel, which can tarnish over time, and cast iron can be a pain to keep clean and maintain, which is where our favorite ceramic and non stick coatings come in.

These coatings make these pans easier to clean and maintain and get awesome heat distribution.

So when you are picking cookware, make sure it has something like stainless steel or cast iron under that coating!

Deciding on Ceramic vs Non Stick Cookware

Remember, ceramic is a type of non stick cookware.  All non stick cookware is not sticky, because it has a coating, which can become damaged.  Non stick cookware requires special care to keep it in tip top shape.

If you are not going to be cooking at high temperatures (below 350F), it does not matter which type of non stick cookware you pick.

I prefer ceramic cookware because I do not have to worry about going over a certain temperature, and can sear and brown things nicely in it.

When you decide on what coating material is best for you and your needs, be sure to pay special attention to what is underneath!  The core material of the pan is the most important part of your decision.

I hope this helped you understand the difference between ceramic and non stick cookware.  Be sure to tell me about your preferences in the comments.

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