Ceramic and porcelain are both very similar materials that are created from clay and bonded with a metal cookware surface. Since they are so similar, is there a clear winner when it comes to porcelain vs. ceramic cookware? Porcelain is considered a higher quality type of ceramic with many additional benefits, but there are also some drawbacks and it costs more.
Ceramic is considered one of the best nonstick cookware materials around, and it’s more affordable than porcelain. We will answer your top questions regarding these cookwares so that you can make an informed decision about them.
Difference Between Porcelain and Ceramic
This might sound like elementary school when you heard that every rectangle is a square, but not every square is a rectangle. This is a similar concept. Every porcelain is a ceramic, but not every ceramic is porcelain. They are both hard materials created by baking clay and placing it under pressure, but the differences stop there.
Ceramic often uses large clay particles and less pressure. The process is less expensive and creates lighter, comparably porous material that is safe for cooking. It’s considered a top-tier material in its own right, but porcelain is considered the better of the two.
Porcelain is more like a glass because it uses finer clay particles and higher pressure and temperatures to bake the material. This makes it nonporous, extremely dense, and resistant to high temperatures.
There are both differences along with many similarities. Both of these materials are naturally nonstick, are usually oven safe, and are highly versatile.
Porcelain Cookware Pros and Cons
Like any other material, porcelain has advantages and disadvantages. Porcelain is naturally very nonstick and requires little to no oil. It’s also non-reactive to acids.
This ensures you can cook any ingredient without worrying about the coating cracking or pitting.
Porcelain is highly durable when used properly. It’s also quite versatile. You can easily cook a variety of meals from breakfast to dessert and everything in between. Cleaning is a breeze since nothing really sticks to it. This material holds onto heat very well, even after the burner is turned off. The disadvantages would mostly be cost and that porcelain is breakable.
This cookware is quite expensive when compared to budget-friendly non-stick alternatives. While it’s durable under proper usage, using metal utensils, knives, or trying to clean it when it’s hot can cause the porcelain to break. We cover this more when we answer questions about safety.
Overall, porcelain is an ideal choice for those who want precision cooking.
Ceramic Cookware Pros and Cons
Ceramic cookware has very similar advantages and disadvantages, but there are some differences. This is also naturally nonstick and needs almost no oil for most ingredients.
You can use acids or other ingredients without worrying about the ceramic reacting to it.
Ceramic is known to be durable, and one benefit it has over porcelain is its unique appearance. Ceramic cookware has a white surface that you don’t get with other materials. Cleaning is simple and it holds heat very well.
While it is durable, it often has a shorter lifespan than porcelain and can scratch somewhat easier. Both of these materials last a long time if treated with care. Ceramic also has a harder time withstanding very high temperatures.
Is Porcelain and Ceramic Cookware the Same?
We’re going to dive even further into the differences in this section. Please see the section above for an overall look at the difference between porcelain and ceramic. Usually ceramic cookware is baked and has a unique white surface that stands out against the more conventional blacks and silvers you see with pots and pans.
Porcelain tends to use a glass-like surface on the top that is bonded with a metal layer, which usually creates black cookware, but it depends on your exact pot or pan. In terms of cooking, they offer similar nonstick benefits, but the cooking performance is quite different.
Ceramic uses large particles in its construction and this results in a somewhat rough layer on top of the pan. While nonstick, this rough exterior sometimes leads to inconsistent cooking since the food may not be in direct contact with the pan.
Some parts might be properly cooked while others are a little underdone. Many home cooks won’t notice, but professionals and those who demand extreme precision may not like this disadvantage.
Porcelain’s extremely smooth surface is also nonstick, but it leads to more consistent cooking since the food should easily make direct contact with the pan. That’s because porcelain uses very fine particles and the glass-like surface shouldn’t be uneven in the slightest.
Despite being porous by comparison, ceramic cookware is non-reactive to acids. This includes lemons, tomatoes, vinegar, and other common acids that might eat away at other materials. Porcelain is the same. You can cook these ingredients without any fear of the material chipping off and hurting you.
Speaking of chipping, this is something that can happen to any coated cookware. While Teflon cookware can easily flake and peel into your recipes (which can make you very sick), this is a rare occurrence with porcelain and ceramic cookware. These are durable materials when used properly. We will cover safety more in a later section, but both are safe if used right.
Since it’s denser and made under higher pressure, porcelain cookware should last longer if properly cared for. It can be easily damaged if you don’t care for it correctly, so please make sure to follow our recommendations about proper care and safety.
Is Porcelain and Ceramic Safe for Cooking?
The short answer is yes. These are both very safe materials that will be useful for frying, roasting, baking, and much more. That being said, the long answer is: usually. It’s all about how you care for them.
Like any other coated cookware, allowing the cookware to get scratched or damaged doesn’t just reduce the natural nonstick benefits or their amazing ability to hold heat. It also gives the coating a chance to get into your food, and that can be toxic.
When it comes to porcelain vs. ceramic cookware, there are several safety tips you should keep in mind. Don’t place the temperature too high. While both are good at higher temperatures, prolonged exposure can weaken the coating and might cause it to easily chip. It won’t off gas toxic fumes like with Teflon, but it’s still not a great idea.
You’ll also want to avoid sharp or metal utensils. Both of these can pierce through the coating and create digs or scratches that are unsafe. This is especially true if you’re cooking at the same time because there’s only one place for the scratched material to go: into your food. Use plastic or otherwise soft utensils and never use a knife on the pot or pan, even if it’s a butter knife.
Make absolutely sure your cookware is oven or dishwasher safe before using either of these on your cookware. Most modern porcelain and ceramic cookware is fine in either, but earlier versions of the material struggled with this.
The coating might weaken in the oven or disappear and break in the dishwasher. However, you’ll be happy to know that both are very easy to clean by hand since nothing sticks to them. Be sure to only use mild soap and a soft sponge when cleaning by hand.
Despite lasting longer and being better constructed, porcelain cookware has a few extra warnings you should know about. You must be very careful how you store it. The coating can come off quite easily if you accidentally slide a metal utensil, cooking sheet, or any other harsh material against it. Ceramic doesn’t fare well under this either, but it does somewhat better.
Porcelain is also more susceptible to cracking from extreme temperature fluctuations. The most common culprit is taking a hot pan and bringing it over to the sink. This isn’t good for any type of cookware as it can lead to warping or the coating coming off. In terms of porcelain, the glass surface might crack. Never, ever do this. Let the cookware fully cool down before bringing it over to the sink.
Are Scratched Porcelain or Ceramic Pans Safe?
If it wasn’t clear enough in the above section, then let’s be absolutely clear: no. Any coated cookware that is scratched isn’t safe because this means the material can get into your food. Even if you clean the pan thoroughly and get rid of any particles, the material is liable to continue breaking down and releasing into your food.
No one wants to spend money replacing cookware, especially more expensive cookware like ceramic or porcelain. However, it’s much better than ingesting toxic materials and heading to the hospital, which will be significantly more expensive than pots and pans.
Not only that, but from a purely functional standpoint, scratched cookware isn’t as effective. One of the best things about these materials is that they are nonstick. Guess what happens when the coating is scratched or chipped? That part will start sticking. The gist is: scratched cookware isn’t good whatsoever.
If your pans are scratched, then just bite the bullet and replace them. Under normal usage and by abiding by our safety tips, your cookware shouldn’t scratch for a very long time. A tiny surface scratch might be fine, but anything deep and piercing should warrant replacement.
Does Porcelain or Ceramic Leach into Food?
Both ceramic and porcelain usually contain lead in their construction, so many people are worried that this or other toxic materials might leach into their food.
The concern is compounded with materials like Teflon that have the possibility of leaching at very high temperatures.
If you’re safe and don’t use scratched and chipped cookware, then there should be no worries about this. No studies have shown that these materials leach into food as they are properly sealed.
However, there might be some cause for concern if the material is cracked, but as we covered before, this is a bad idea for many reasons. As long as you follow the rules, then you shouldn’t have to worry about leaching.
How Can You Tell if Porcelain or Ceramic Cookware is Oven Safe?
Honestly, the most reliable way to check is to read the product description or packaging. This is a major selling point and most manufacturers will gladly tell you if their cookware is oven safe.
Since both porcelain and ceramic are good at resisting heat, most cookware will be oven safe. However, you don’t want to assume this and use a pot or pan that isn’t oven safe.
If you can’t find the product description or packaging, then you can always check on the bottom of the cookware.
Many manufacturers will place a marking on the bottom about whether the pot or pan is oven safe. If it doesn’t say anything, then it’s safer to assume that the cookware can’t go in the oven.
Is Ceramic or Porcelain Cookware More Nonstick?
This one is difficult to answer as both are naturally very nonstick. When it comes to Teflon, these are both more nonstick as Teflon requires more oil (though significantly less than stainless steel or cast iron).
Both of these materials are able to cook commonly sticky ingredients, like eggs and proteins, with little or no oil. Ever cook an egg with no oil? It’s a sight to behold with this cookware. It will slide around with ease.
While they are both more nonstick than most other materials, it’s hard to compare them to each other. They are nearly identical in this arena.
Porcelain is a tiny bit more nonstick than ceramic, but only by the smallest amount. They are fairly equal in this category.
So, who wins when it comes to porcelain vs. ceramic cookware? This is tough because they are very similar. Both are nonstick, durable, versatile, and have similar pros and cons.
Porcelain is better if you want cookware that lasts longer, is better constructed, and is even more durable. Ceramic is nearly the same, but has a lower price point that you might prefer.