Are you shopping for cookware but need help deciding between ceramic and enameled?
Despite their similar appearances, these two cookware types are quite different.
In this comparison of ceramic vs. enameled cookware, you’ll learn how these cookware types differ in construction, performance, maintenance, durability, and more.
I also provide a comparison chart, so you can quickly review the differences.
Use the links below to navigate the comparison:
- What Is Enameled Cookware?
- What Is Ceramic Cookware?
- Ceramic vs. Enameled Cookware: Comparison Chart
- Difference 1: Common Cookware Types
- Difference 2: Primary Uses
- Difference 3: Lifespan
- Difference 4: Heat Tolerance
- Difference 5: Performance
- Difference 6: Cleaning and Care
- Difference 7: Price
- Difference 8: Downsides
- Bottom Line: Should You Buy Ceramic or Enameled Cookware?
Enameled cookware is any cookware with an enamel-based coating. In most cases, the base beneath the enamel is cast iron or steel.
The most common kinds of enameled cookware are Dutch ovens and skillets, but you can also find enameled baking dishes, casserole dishes, and pie pans.
The enamel coating is made of fused glass particles that are melted down and sprayed onto the cookware’s cast iron or steel surface. It gives the cookware a smooth, glazed appearance.
Enameled cookware has many benefits, but its non-reactive, low-maintenance surface is the main draw. Unlike bare cast iron, you don’t need to season enameled pans.
Two kinds of ceramic cookware are available: true ceramic and ceramic non-stick.
True ceramic (or 100% ceramic) cookware is made entirely of clay. It has a silica-based glaze that gives it a shiny, smooth surface after baking in a kiln.
It usually comes in the form of baking dishes, but some brands, such as Xtrema, produce ceramic frying pans, sauté pans, and pots. That said, 100% ceramic stovetop cookware is rare.
The term “ceramic cookware” is most often used to refer to ceramic non-stick cookware. Ceramic-coated cookware has a metal base (usually aluminum) coated in natural sand-derived silicon using a process called sol-gel.
This coating is referred to as ceramic because of its smooth, ceramic-like texture rather than the actual composition of the material. Most brands have a proprietary formula for this non-stick coating. Some include materials like diamond particles (ex. GreenPan Diamond Advanced) to reinforce the coating and improve its non-stick properties.
The main advantage of ceramic non-stick cookware is that food doesn’t stick. Eggs will slide around like a hockey puck, you can easily flip pancakes, and cleaning only takes a few wipes.
Ceramic non-stick cookware is often touted as a safer alternative to PTFE (Teflon) non-stick options. This reputation was established when PTFE coatings were made with a harmful chemical, PFOA.
But PFOA was banned and completely phased out of cookware manufacturing by 2013. So more research is needed to validate the claim that today’s ceramic non-stick cookware is truly healthier than Teflon-coated pans. Learn more in this in-depth comparison of ceramic vs. Teflon cookware.
If you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick comparison of enameled vs. ceramic cookware.
|Ceramic Non-Stick Cookware
|Cast iron or steel
|100% ceramic (clay, water, natural minerals, oxides)
|Searing, browning, braising
|Preparing delicate foods (fish, eggs, etc.)
|Baking pies and cakes, casseroles
|Common Cookware Types
|Dutch ovens, skillets, grill pans
|Frying pans, sauté pans, saucepans
|Roasting pans, baking dishes, pie dishes
|1 to 3 years
|~ 7 years
|Top Reasons to Buy
|Superior heat retention
|Food doesn’t stick to the pan
|Holds up under high heat
|Top Reasons to NOT Buy
|Expensive; heavy; heats slowly
|Short lifetime; inferior heat retention
|Limited options; hot handles; fragile
True ceramic cookware (100% clay) is commonly used for baking, so the standard pieces are baking dishes, casseroles, and pie dishes.
Ceramic non-stick cookware, with its more versatile aluminum base, comes in several shapes and sizes. Popular options include sauté pans, frying pans, saucepans, stock pots, grill pans, and more.
Enameled cookware usually has a cast iron or steel base. The most common pieces are Dutch ovens, stock pots, large skillets, and sauté pans. Brands like Le Creuset offer more options, including enameled saucepans, sauciers, rice pots, grill pans, and more.
The primary advantage of ceramic non-stick cookware is that it releases food. It’s ideal for delicate foods that easily stick — like pancakes, fish, or eggs. Food doesn’t stick to the surface and is easier to clean.
100% ceramic cookware is mainly used for baking pies, cakes, and casseroles, but you can also roast turkey, chicken, beef, and other large meats.
Although exceptions exist — such as the stovetop ceramics offered by Xtrema — true ceramic cookware is designed to be used in the oven.
Enameled cookware tends to have thicker walls because the base is usually cast iron. Those thick walls absorb and retain heat better than ceramic cookware. Because of that, enameled cookware is perfect for searing or browning steak, pork, or other thick cuts of meat. It’s also an excellent material for cooking soups and stews.
Also worth mentioning, enameled cookware usually comes with a heavy, moisture-locking lid that makes it ideal for slow-cooked meals like braised ribs or chili.
Since enameled cookware isn’t inherently non-stick, eggs or other delicate ingredients will stick to the enamel surface.
Ceramic non-stick cookware has a short lifespan. Most pans will only last 1 to 3 years because the non-stick coating degrades with each use and eventually wears out completely.
No matter how sturdy the base material is, you’ll have to replace the cookware as soon as the non-stick coating wears out.
True ceramic cookware lasts approximately 5-10 years on average but can last much longer if you’re extremely careful.
Avoid exposing ceramic cookware to intense, direct heat, which can cause thermal shock. Thermal shock occurs when a breakable material like glass or pottery is rapidly exposed to different temperatures. The expansion and contraction of the material in response to these temperature changes can lead to cracks.
True ceramic cookware can also shatter if dropped or banged against a hard surface, so take care when using it around granite countertops and cast iron stove grates.
Enameled cookware has a longer lifespan and can last ten years or more if you take good care of it. The biggest threat to enameled cookware is chipping or cracks in the enamel surface.
If you’re gentle with your dishes and avoid using hard metal utensils that can scratch the enamel coating, you can expect them to last a long time.
But once chipped, enamel cookware is likely to chip even more. Disposing of any enameled pots and pans with noticeable cracks or chips is essential – otherwise, bits of enamel could end up in your food.
Regarding heat tolerance, true ceramic cookware outperforms ceramic non-stick and enameled cookware by a wide margin. Some brands can withstand temperatures of up to 2,500°F.
But remember that this doesn’t mean exposing ceramic cookware to direct heat (i.e., a stovetop burner) is safe.
For ceramic non-stick and enameled cookware, heat tolerance varies by brand and manufacturer. See the table below for a quick comparison of the most popular ceramic non-stick and enameled cookware brands.
I tested and reviewed several ceramic non-stick and enameled cookware brands, including Caraway, GreenPan, GreenLife, Pioneer Woman, Gotham Steel, Le Creuset, Staub, Lodge, Tramontina, Cuisinart, Made In, and Great Jones.
Based on my experiences, here’s what you can expect from each type of cookware.
Ceramic non-stick cookware provides a smooth, slick surface ideal for foods like eggs or fish. When you first use ceramic non-stick pans, food slides around with ease. You can crack an egg straight into the pan with very little oil, and the eggs will release without issue.
The problem is that the smooth surface wears out quickly, and performance suffers as soon as it starts to degrade. This isn’t a problem with just one brand; it’s a problem with the silica-based non-stick coating. Read my reviews of GreenPan, Caraway, and Gotham Steel for more details.
Enameled cookware has distinct advantages and disadvantages in the kitchen. On the positive side, it retains heat better than almost every other cookware. Since the base is usually made of thick cast iron, it holds its temperature well.
With a steady temperature that doesn’t fluctuate as you add ingredients, food cooks more evenly, and it’s easier to sear and form a crispy crust on meat.
Another benefit is that the tight-fitting lids that come with most enameled Dutch ovens lock in moisture and allow the meat to self-baste.
The main downsides of enameled cookware are that it heats up slowly (due to the thick walls), and the cooking surface is less slick than ceramic non-stick. It’s possible to cook eggs in an enameled pan, but they will stick if you don’t preheat it properly and add enough grease.
Like enameled cookware, true ceramic cookware maintains a steady temperature, which is why it’s an excellent material for baking. The temperature within an oven often fluctuates, so it’s important for the baking dish to regulate the heat.
The glaze on ceramic cookware helps reduce sicking, but it’s not non-stick. You’ll still need butter or oil to prevent bread, muffins, and other baked goods from sticking.
Regarding stovetop cooking, ceramic pans like Xtrema take a while to heat up and don’t heat as evenly as aluminum or cast iron. I conducted a quick test to see how fast and evenly Xtrema ceramic pans heat up, and they were the slowest I’ve ever tested.
It took the pan over six minutes to boil two cups of water. For comparison, most ceramic non-stick pans boil two cups of water in under three minutes.
Also, the Xtrema pan did not heat evenly. As you can see in the picture below, the bubbles are concentrated in the middle of the pan, which is a sign of hot and cold spots.
Besides the uneven heating, the handles get hot, and you need to be extremely careful not to bang the pan on the stove because the material can shatter.
Bottom line – I would not recommend ceramic if you plan to use your cookware for stovetop cooking.
Ceramic non-stick cookware’s smooth surface makes cleaning easy. Food is less likely to stick to the pan, and grease should wipe off quickly after you apply dish soap.
Beyond regular washing, ceramic cookware doesn’t require much maintenance. Many brands label their ceramic cookware dishwasher safe, though you should be wary of this — it can degrade the coating and shorten the pan’s lifespan.
Enameled cookware needs to be hand washed. It’s more challenging to clean than ceramic cookware due to its stickier surface, but many products — such as Bar Keeper’s Friend — can help prevent or remove stains when they appear.
The rim of enameled cookware is often bare metal, so make sure you dry it entirely after washing to avoid rust.
Ceramic non-stick cookware is a highly affordable option. It’s generally less expensive than enameled cookware, though there are exceptions depending on the brand you choose.
Enameled cookware comes in a wider variety of prices, and the core material of the pan determines the cost. Enameled steel cookware is more budget-friendly than enameled cast iron options.
Enameled cast iron cookwares are often hundreds of dollars, whereas enameled steel cookware tends to stay in the $100 range or below. Pricing will also vary by brand and where it’s made.
Compare prices of popular ceramic and enameled cookware brands using the links below:
- Enameled Cookware:
- Ceramic Non-Stick Cookware:
- 100% Ceramic Cookware:
Both ceramic and enameled cookware have their share of downsides, and you should be aware of these before committing to a purchase.
- Expensive: Enameled cookware is more expensive than ceramic, especially if you want to buy high-quality pieces from a premium brand like Le Creuset.
- Heavy: This cookware is heavier and more challenging to maneuver than ceramic options.
- Heats Slow: Due to its thick walls, enameled cast iron cookware heats slowly.
- Prone to Chipping: Finally, enameled cookware tends to chip and crack if the piece is dropped, banged against something, or exposed to different temperatures too quickly. Once chipped or cracked, it’s no longer safe and must be replaced.
- Short Lifespan: The most glaring downside of ceramic non-stick cookware is its short lifespan. Sometimes, the ceramic coating degrades within months of use.
- Poor Heat Retention: Ceramic non-stick cookware tends to haveinferior heat retention because most pans have a thin aluminum base. It’s not the best cookware for searing, browning, and other high-heat cooking.
- Not Broiler Safe: Never use ceramic non-stick pans under a broiler. The direct heat and extremely high temperatures will degrade the coating.
- Lack of Availability: Ceramic bakeware is everywhere, but ceramic stovetop pieces are difficult to find. Xtrema is one of the few ceramic stovetop brands.
- Fewer Features: Modern features like stay-cool handles aren’t possible since this cookware is wholly made from clay.
- Fragile: Full ceramic cookware can completely shatter if dropped or hit against a hard surface. You must be very careful to avoid thermal shock, as it can cause structural damage to the cookware.
Bottom Line: Should You Buy Ceramic or Enameled Cookware?
Now that you understand the major differences between enameled and ceramic cookware, it’s time to decide which material is best for your kitchen.
Before giving you my take, let’s quickly recap:
- Enameled cookware is metal with an enamel coating made of fused glass particles. True ceramic cookware is made of clay with no non-stick coating, whereas ceramic non-stick cookware has a metal base and a silica-based coating.
- You can find all types of ceramic non-stick pots and pans, but most enameled pieces are Dutch ovens and skillets.
- Ceramic non-stick cookware is ideal for delicate foods. Enameled cookware is excellent for searing, simmering, slow-cooking, roasting, or baking (such as large cuts of meat or pies).
- Ceramic non-stick cookware has a short lifespan and needs to be replaced frequently (every 1-3 years). True ceramic cookware can last 5-10 years with proper maintenance and care. Enameled cookware lasts the longest, around ten years.
- Ceramic non-stick cookware is easy to clean and maintain thanks to its smooth coating. Enameled cookware isn’t non-stick, so it’s difficult to clean and stains easily.
- Ceramic non-stick cookware is less expensive compared to enamel cookware. Enamel pieces can cost hundreds of dollars.
Bottom line — ceramic non-stick pans are affordable and convenient. They heat quickly, clean efficiently, and don’t require much maintenance. True ceramic cookware is ideal for baking, but I caution against using it on the stove because it’s fragile, the handles get hot, and it heats slowly and unevenly.
Enameled cookware offers superior heat retention, making it the better choice for braising, slow cooking, and searing. This cookware is ideal for steaks, stews, short ribs, and chili.
- Enameled Cookware:
- Ceramic Non-Stick Cookware:
- 100% Ceramic Cookware:
- What Are the Best Cookware Materials? (Top 10 Compared)
- Caraway Cookware In-Depth Review (After 2+ Years)
- 18 Pros and Cons of Enameled Cast Iron Cookware
- The 6 Best Frying Pan Materials (With Comparison Chart)
- 21 Pros and Cons of Ceramic Non-Stick Cookware
- Cookware Essentials: 9 Pots & Pans Every Kitchen Needs
- Is Le Creuset Worth the High Price? An In-Depth Review
- Lodge vs. Tramontina: Which Dutch Ovens Are Better?
- 6 High-Quality Alternatives to Le Creuset Dutch Ovens
- Xtrema Cookware Review: The Truth About Ceramic Pans
- Le Creuset vs. Tramontina: Which Dutch Ovens Are Better?
- Ceramic vs. Teflon Cookware: What’s the Difference?
- Hard-Anodized vs. Ceramic Cookware: What’s the Difference?
- Cast Iron vs. Stainless Steel Cookware: What’s the Difference?
- Stainless Steel vs. Non-Stick Cookware: What’s the Difference?
- Carbon Steel vs. Stainless Steel Pans: What’s the Difference?