A few months ago, I added a ceramic frying pan to my kitchen’s cookware arsenal. At the time, my husband and son were working and taking classes out of the house, and both were on protein-rich workout diets. Translation: they were whipping up a lot of eggs and chicken throughout the day. And when they did head to the stove, they reached for my shiny new frying pan, boasting how easy it was to clean.
But after a few weeks, I noticed some scratches on the surface and brown markings on the bottom. Looking to curtail any further damage, I interviewed a few experts to find out why my pan was aging so quickly.
Ceramic Cookware Basics
First, a little 101 on ceramic-based cookware: whether it be made of cast iron, aluminum, copper, or stainless steel—ceramic pots and pans have a coating bonded to the cooking surface to make them non-stick and easy to clean.
“Ours is made from a natural inorganic sand derivative that does not require the use of toxic chemicals like PFOA, PFAS, PTFE, lead, or cadmium during the production process and it’s non-reactive, meaning it won’t leach chemicals into your food,” Jordan Nathan, the founder and CEO of Caraway, a direct-to-consumer ceramic cookware company, says.
Yet to maintain the protective coating, you need to follow some simple instructions, which are now posted to my refrigerator door. Here, experts share their dos and don’ts when using ceramic cookware.
Don't Cook at High Temperatures
“Ceramic cookware is best used on low to medium heat, or you’ll risk affecting the longevity of the non-stick coating and discoloring the outside of the pan,” Nathan says.
Don't Wash a Hot Pan
The coating may not respond well to a drastic change in temperature, resulting in cracks in the protective sheathing and potentially warping the pan’s bottom.
“Ceramic cookware can withstand extreme temperatures on both ends of the spectrum, but like all products that contain aluminum or stainless steel, sudden and significant temperature changes can reduce their lifespan,” Nathan says. “The pans should cool completely before running cold water over their surface to avoid thermal shock.”
Do Use Plastic or Wood Utensils
Use plastic, silicone, wood, or nylon utensils when cooking with ceramic nonstick cookware. “Anything metal could cause scratching,” Miguel Hall, the manager of research and development for Calphalon, a cookware, bakeware, cutlery, and appliances company, says.
Don't Put in the Dishwasher
Putting ceramic cookware in the dishwasher can affect the longevity of any type of metal cookware, not just ceramic-based.
“Ceramic's naturally non-stick composition allows for food to release easy without tough scrubbing,” Nathan says.
To safely wash ceramic cookware, Nathan suggests using some warm, soapy water and a non-abrasive sponge or dishcloth,
Do Soak Your Pans
Soak pans with burnt food in warm water once the cookware has cooled. “Then, use a nonabrasive pad such as a nylon scrubber to remove stubborn messes,” Hall notes.
Don't Cut Food in the Pan
If you cut into foods while they’re in the pan with knives or kitchen shears, you’ll risk scratching the ceramic coating.
Do Store Cookware Properly
Store cookware properly as any metal-on-metal contact can damage the cookware. A hanging pot rack is ideal, or place a dish towel between each item if they’re stored in cabinets. The Caraway set comes with hooks for the lids and magnetically connecting holding racks for the pots and pans.
Don't Use Oil Sprays or Aerosols
Using oil sprays or aerosols can leave a build-up of hard-to-remove residue on ceramic cookware.
“Instead, use a minimal amount of butter or liquid-based oils to preserve the slick coating,” Nathan says. “The good news is ceramic non-stick surfaces allow you to use less of both, making cleanup is a breeze.”
Do Use in the Oven
Feel free to use your ceramic cookware in the oven. “But, it’s best to stick to temperatures of less than 450° degrees to extend the life of your nonstick ceramic,” Hall advises.
Don't Use Abrasive Cleaning Products
If you use steel wool, metal pads, or abrasive cleaning agents, you'll risk scrapes and scuffs, which will reduce the non-stick quality of the finish. As for the exterior, “Browning is natural and bound to occur on any type of cookware with regular cooking and the use of a flame above 400° degrees.” Nathan says.
While a little patina on a pan builds character, baking soda and vinegar can help remove discoloration, according to Nathan.
Don't Season Your New Cookware
“Most ceramic cookware comes naturally non-stick, so there’s no need to season your pan,” Hall says. “Our cookware is actually oil-infused.”
Do Replace When Necessary
Remember all ceramic pots and pans will lose their nonstick benefits over time. “Once you start seeing signs of cracks or flaking, throw them out,” Hall says. “There’s no fixing these issues.”
Be sure to check your area's recycling rules before disposing.