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Xtrema Cookware Review: The Truth About Ceramic Pans

Xtrema cookware is made of pure ceramic without any harmful chemicals.

But how does it perform? Is it worth buying?

In this in-depth review, I break down the pros and cons of Xtrema cookware. You’ll learn about its materials, design, performance, safety, durability, and more.

If you’re considering buying Xtrema but need an unbiased review to help you decide, keep reading.


Use the links below to navigate the review:


Is Xtrema Healthier and Safer Than Other Cookware?

Xtrema’s main selling point is that its cookware is natural and safe. But is this claim true?

The short answer is yes. While most brands only produce ceramic bakeware, Xtrema is one of the only cookware brands that makes 100% ceramic pots and pans for stovetop use.

Each pot and pan is made entirely of natural materials without PFOA, PTFE, or other harmful chemicals.

According to independent test results, Xtrema’s ceramic cookware doesn’t leach toxic substances, like lead and cadmium, and complies with California’s Prop 65.

Since Xtrema cookware has no Teflon non-stick coating, it can last for decades. Most non-stick pans end up in a landfill after five years.

Although Xtrema is safe, it’s not the only healthy, chemical-free cookware. For example, stainless steel, cast iron, enameled cast iron, and carbon steel have been proven safe for cooking.

Trace amounts of iron can leach from cast iron into your food, but unless you have hemochromatosis, a condition that allows your body to absorb and hold onto too much iron in your blood, cooking with cast iron isn’t dangerous.

I reached out to Xtrema to learn more about their safe and healthy claims, and they said, “The healthier terms that we use are in direct reference to non-stick cookware and the new category of ceramic coated cookware that are on the market. Even though we have been around for 15 years, the current fad of ceramic-coated non-stick cookware has lumped us into a category we do not want to be a part of. PFAS and non-stick coatings are harmful to humans and the environment.”

They also mentioned, “Other materials like aluminum, cast iron, or stainless steel can leach metals into food over time, especially when you cook acidic foods. Some people want to avoid this and look to a more inert and nonreactive material like ceramic.”

The bottom line is that Xtrema cookware is made of natural materials (more on this in a minute), it’s safe, and better for the environment than non-stick pans you need to replace every five years.

But you can say the same for stainless steel, cast iron, enameled cast iron, and carbon steel cookware.

Materials and Construction

I mentioned that Xtrema cookware is ceramic, but what are the actual components of the material?

The term “ceramic cookware” is often used to refer to ceramic non-stick cookware (pictured below). Ceramic-coated cookware has a metal base (usually aluminum) coated in natural sand-derived silicon using a process called sol-gel.

Pioneer Woman ceramic nonstick fry pan
Pioneer Woman ceramic non-stick fry pan

Xtrema is different. It’s made of true ceramic and does not contain any metals like aluminum or steel. It’s PFOA and PTFE-free because it does not have a traditional non-stick coating on the interior.

Xtrema fry pan
Xtrema pure ceramic fry pan

The substrate (underlying material) is clay with water, minerals, and oxides. The glaze is mostly silica (sand and quartz) but contains other minerals and oxides.

The clay substrate is placed into high-pressure casting molds and fired in a kiln. Then, it’s glazed and fired again in a kiln to produce the glossy black exterior.

The combinations of these materials, along with the firing temperature and timing, create the black glossy finish. The ceramic surface that is produced is harder than metal and scratch-proof.

Like a cast iron skillet, Xtrema pans are one piece. So the body and handle are made of the same materials.

Design

Let’s explore the design features of Xtrema’s ceramic cookware. Throughout this section, I’ll highlight the features that make Xtrema cookware stand out.

Exterior

Xtrema cookware has a unique high-gloss black exterior and a smooth finish. Both the handles and the cooking surface are thick. The pans’ thickness makes them slow to heat up and respond to changes in temperature.

Bottom of Xtrema pan
Bottom of Xtrema pan

The cookware’s surface is smooth, except for a ridge at the bottom of the pan. The ridge is a result of the molds they use to make the pans. Since the whole pan doesn’t directly contact the burner, it heats slower, especially on flat-top electric stoves (more on this in the next section). 

Interior

The interior of Xtrema’s cookware is smooth, with the same high-gloss black finish as the exterior.

Xtrema cookware interior
Xtrema cookware interior

Since the handles and body are all one piece, there are no rivets interrupting the cooking surface. The sidewalls of the pan are short and straight with a slight outward angle.

Handles

Xtreme handles are short and thick. The handle on the 9-inch fry pan is 6 inches long. For comparison, most handles on pans this size are around 8 inches. 

Xtrema pan handle
Xtrema pan handle

Since the handles are a shorter distance from the base of the pan, they heat faster than longer handles on other cookware brands. Use a potholder or oven mitt when handling your Xtrema pan to be safe.

An indentation on the bottom allows you to get a firm grip.

Bottom of Xtrema handle
Bottom of Xtrema handle

Lids

Even the lids have the same high-gloss black finish, which gives the entire cookware line a stylish and cohesive look.

Performance

Now that you know what Xtrema cookware is made of and how it looks, let’s talk about performance.

I’ve been cooking with it for several months, and here are my thoughts.

On the positive side, the heat retention is excellent. Since the thick ceramic base absorbs and holds onto heat so well, the temperature doesn’t fluctuate as you add cold ingredients. It sears meats like chicken and steak well.

Cooking chicken in an Xtrema pan
Cooking chicken in an Xtrema pan

When you place meat into the hot pan, it stays hot and allows an even crust to develop. Thin aluminum pans lose heat when you add cold ingredients, which results in uneven cooking.

Versatility is another positive for Xtrema. You can use this cookware on the stove, in the oven, on a grill, and even in the microwave.

Since it’s made of all-natural ceramic, it can withstand temperatures over 2,500°F without warping, cracking, melting, or any other damage.

Also, the glaze is scratch resistant, so you don’t need to worry about it flaking off into your food.

Now that you understand the positives, let’s talk about the negatives.

First, Xtrema cookware heats slowly. Since the walls are thick and it doesn’t sit flat on the stovetop, it takes several minutes to heat up. In fact, it’s the slowest heating cookware out of over two dozen brands I’ve tested (more on that in the next section).

Second, food sticks to the surface. People often confuse Xtrema with non-stick cookware because it’s ceramic, and most people think of ceramic-coated non-stick cookware when they hear ceramic. But this is NOT non-stick cookware.

Eggs sticking to Xtrema pan
Eggs sticking to Xtrema pan

Although cooking eggs in an Xtrema pan is possible, it’s not an easy task. If you don’t keep the heat low and grease the pan well enough, eggs will stick and break apart when you try to flip them.

Xtrema pan after cooking eggs
Xtrema pan after cooking eggs

Since food sticks to the surface, these pans are challenging to clean. After cooking chicken thighs, I had to soak the pan for 20 minutes and scrub hard to remove all the food bits.

Food bits stuck to Xtrema pan
Food bits stuck to Xtrema pan

And after removing all the food, the cooking surface was still covered in rough, blotchy stains that I still haven’t been able to remove fully.

Blotchy stains on Xtrema pan
Blotchy stains on Xtrema pan

Lastly, the handle is short, and since it’s not angled upward, your knuckles almost touch the cooktop. You need to be careful about your hand placement to avoid burns.

Holding Xtrema cookware handle
Holding Xtrema cookware handle

Overall, Xtrema cookware retains heat well and is versatile, but there are several downsides that are difficult to ignore. It looks and feels like enameled cast iron but heats slower, and food sticks more easily.

Xtrema vs. the Competition

I mentioned Xtrema heats up slowly but retains heat well, but how does it compare to the competition?

To find out, I conducted two quick tests.

The first test measures heat conduction (how fast and evenly it heats). For this test, I poured two cups of cold (55°F) water into the pan and placed it on the stove on the highest heat setting.

As the water heated, bubbles formed in the center of the pan; it took several minutes for the bubbles to spread to the sides. This bubbling pattern is a sign of uneven heat distribution. The middle of the pan heat faster than the edges.

Xtrema uneven heating
Xtrema uneven heating

Although this is common for thick pans like Xtrema, other materials like aluminum and fully-clad stainless steel distribute heat more evenly.

It took three minutes and 41 seconds for bubbles to appear, and the water came to a full boil after 6 minutes and seven seconds.

I conduct this test with every cookware brand I review. As you can see in the results below, water in the Xtrema pan took the longest to boil. If you’re looking for pots and pans for quick meals or often cook for impatient kids, this is not the brand for you.

PanTime to First BubblesTime to Boil
Farberware1 minute and 2 seconds1 minute and 29 seconds
Made In stainless steel fry pan1 minute and 40 seconds2 minutes and 21 seconds
Anolon X pan1 minute and 35 seconds2 minutes and 22 seconds
Misen fry pan1 minute and 50 seconds2 minutes and 25 seconds
Caraway1 minute and 53 seconds2 minutes and 26 seconds
Anolon Advanced fry pan1 minute and 55 seconds2 minutes and 27 seconds
HexClad fry pan1 minute and 40 seconds2 minutes and 30 seconds
Made In non-stick fry pan1 minute and 53 seconds2 minutes and 31 seconds
Zwilling fry pan1 minute and 45 seconds2 minutes and 31 seconds
T-fal fry pan1 minute and 50 seconds2 minutes and 32 seconds
Gotham Steel fry pan1 minute and 58 seconds2 minutes and 32 seconds
Rachael Ray fry pan1 minute and 47 seconds2 minutes and 36 seconds
Viking fry pan1 minute and 42 seconds2 minute and 39 seconds
Calphalon fry pan1 minute and 45 seconds2 minutes and 40 seconds
Pioneer Woman fry pan2 minute and 2 seconds2 minute and 46 seconds
Hestan fry pan1 minute and 52 seconds2 minutes and 47 seconds
GreenLife pan2 minutes and 11 seconds2 minutes and 47 seconds
Our Place Always Pan2 minutes and 2 seconds2 minutes and 48 seconds
Tramontina fry pan1 minute and 53 seconds2 minutes and 52 seconds
Circulon fry pan2 minutes and 7 seconds2 minutes and 55 seconds
All-Clad skillet1 minute and 55 seconds2 minutes and 55 seconds
Demeyere Industry fry pan2 minutes and 3 seconds3 minutes and 10 seconds
Ballarini fry pan2 minutes and 15 seconds3 minutes and 12 seconds
Heritage Steel fry pan1 minutes and 59 seconds3 minutes and 15 seconds
Demeyere Atlantis fry pan2 minutes and 11 seconds3 minutes and 25 seconds
Xtrema fry pan3 minutes and 41 seconds6 minutes and 7 seconds

The second test measures heat retention. And, as I mentioned in the last section, Xtrema is a star in this category.

After the water began boiling, I removed the pan from the stove and set it on the counter to cool. The pan retained heat so well that the water continued boiling for over a minute on the counter.

Water boiling in an Xtrema pan on the counter
Water boiling in an Xtrema pan on the counter

After five minutes, the water in the pan was 142°F.

Xtrema cookware heat retention test results after 5 minutes
Xtrema cookware heat retention test results after 5 minutes

After ten minutes, the water in the pan was 113°F.

Xtrema cookware heat retention test results after 10 minutes
Xtrema cookware heat retention test results after 10 minutes

As you can see in the results below, Xtrema retains heat better than every cookware brand I tested.

PanTemperature After 5 MinutesTemperature After 10 Minutes
Xtrema fry pan142°F113°F
Made In stainless steel fry pan121.1°F106.6°F
Demeyere Atlantis fry pan122.0°F106.3°F
Made In non-stick fry pan120.2°F105.8°F
Misen fry pan118.6°F103.4°F
Zwilling fry pan121.1°F103.0°F
Rachael Ray fry pan126.3°F102.7°F
HexClad fry pan120.7°F102.4°F
Circulon fry pan133.3°F102.0°F
Tramontina fry pan118.5°F101.3°F
Calphalon fry pan112.8°F101.1°F
All-Clad skillet111.6°F100.9°F
Ballarini fry pan120°F99.9°F
Heritage Steel120.1°F98.2°F
Hestan fry pan114°F98°F
Demeyere Industry fry pan115.2°F96.6°F
Our Place Always Pan118.0°F96.7°F
Caraway fry pan116.6°F96.4°F
Anolon X pan114.1°F96.0°F
Viking fry pan106.6°F95.9°F
Farberware fry pan112.0°F95.4°F
GreenLife fry pan119.0°F95.0°F
Gotham Steel fry pan113.0°F95.0°F
Anolon fry pan112.7°F90.9°F
Pioneer Woman fry pan104.3°F90.9°F
T-fal fry pan108.7°F88.0°F

While superior heat retention is ideal for searing, you need to be careful after you’re done cooking. The pan stays hot for over 10 minutes after you take it off the heat, so you can’t wash it or grab the base without an oven mitt right away.

Price

Xtrema cookware is relatively expensive compared to other brands that offer ceramic cookware.

It’s comparably priced to multi-clad stainless steel cookware, like All-Clad D5, or premium enameled cast iron, like Le Creuset.

Unlike other brands that offer multiple collections at various price points, Xtrema only has one ceramic cookware offering, and each pot and pan is pricey.

Go to Xtrema.com to view the current prices.

Downsides

Xtrema cookware is natural, safe, and retains heat well, but it’s not perfect. Consider these downsides before purchasing.

Short handles: Xtrema’s handles are short and don’t angle upward. If you have large handles, your knuckles could be within an inch of the stove while gripping the handle. Also, the handles are thick, making them hard to grip well if you have smaller hands.

Heavy: Aside from cast iron, ceramic cookware is heavier than most types of cookware. Because of its heft, it’s difficult to maneuver and slow to heat up.

Unresponsive: Because Xtrema’s ceramic cookware is thick, it’s not responsive. In other words, it takes a while to heat up and cool down. It’s not the best cookware for one-pot meals and ingredients that require quick temperature changes, like sauteing garlic and onions.

Shatter and chip prone: If you’re looking for durable cookware that will last a lifetime, ceramic cookware isn’t the best option. Although the surface is scratch-proof, the pan’s body is prone to breaking and can shatter if dropped. It’s also vulnerable to thermal shock — when you take it off of heat and immediately expose it to cold water. Stainless steel, cast iron, and carbon steel pans are more durable.

Food sticks: Xtrema’s cookware isn’t non-stick — its cooking surface resembles enameled cast iron. Foods like eggs, cheese, or meats with low fat content, like chicken and lean beef, will stick if you don’t use the proper techniques.

Ridged pan bottom: The bottom of Xtrema’s cookware has a ridge, which means it doesn’t sit flat on electric flat-top burners. That can cause it to heat unevenly — which is only made worse when you consider how slow ceramic cookware takes to heat.

Not compatible with induction: Cookware must contain magnetic metals, like steel or iron, to work on an induction cooktop. Since Xtrema it’s not made of magnetic metal, it won’t work on induction.

Quality control: The pan I tested had two flaws: the label on the bottom was off-center, and part of the glaze under the handle flaked off. Although neither of these minor flaws impact performance, it’s a sign of quality control issues.

Off-center label on Xtrema cookware
Off-center label on Xtrema cookware
Xtrema cookware chipped glaze
Xtrema cookware chipped glaze

Xtrema Cookware FAQs

Below are answers to frequently asked questions about Xtrema cookware.

Is Xtrema cookware safe?

Xtrema is made from natural ceramic that does not leach toxic materials, like lead or cadmium, into your food. While there’s no definitive proof that ceramic is safer than other cookware materials, like cast iron or stainless steel, it is considered safer and more sustainable than Teflon-coated and ceramic-coated non-stick pans.

Does Xtrema cookware contain lead?

Xtrema cookware is made with all-natural materials and does not contain metal, lead, cadmium, glues, polymers, coatings, or dyes. It is also PFOA and PTFE-free. Xtrema is made of natural materials, including clay, water, and minerals.

Is Xtrema cookware non-stick?

No, Xtrema cookware is not non-stick. Based on my experience, you must use low to medium heat and plenty of oil to prevent sticking. Still, delicate foods like eggs may stick.

What is Xtrema’s high-gloss coating made of?

Xtrema does not disclose what the glaze on its cookware is made of on its website, so I contacted them and asked. They said, “The glaze is mostly silica (sand, quartz) based with other minerals and oxides mixed in.”

Is Xtrema cookware oven-safe?

Yes, Xtrema’s cookware is oven-safe, even at higher temperatures. It can withstand temperatures far higher than you would use in any kitchen — up to 2,500°F. It’s also broiler safe.

Is Xtrema cookware dishwasher safe?

Xtrema claims its cookware is dishwasher safe. However, they recommend hand-washing. Since Xtrema’s cookware is ceramic, it can’t be scratched, so it’s best to clean it with steel wool, brillo pads, or heavy-duty scrubbing sponges. Xtrema encourages customers to clean their pans like any other non-coated metal cookware.

Where is Xtrema cookware made?

Xtrema is a US-based company, but the cookware is handcrafted in China. They wanted to manufacture locally, but the samples they got from the factory in China were much higher quality than the ones made in the United States.

Where can I buy Xtrema cookware?

Xtrema cookware is only available on Xtrema.com.

Bottom Line: Is Xtrema Cookware Worth Buying?

Now that you know the pros and cons of Xtrema cookware, it’s time to decide if it’s right for your kitchen.

Here’s my recommendation.

You should buy Xtrema cookware if:

  • You want natural ceramic cookware free from toxins like lead and cadmium.
  • You want nonreactive cookware that can last decades.
  • You prefer a heavier and sturdier pan construction.
  • You want cookware that retains heat well.
  • You have a gas or electric stovetop.

If you’re ready to buy, check out all the options on Xtrema.com.

You should not buy Xtrema cookware if:

  • You want cookware that won’t shatter or break if dropped.
  • You want non-stick cookware for eggs, fish, and other delicate foods.
  • You want cookware that heats fast and responds quickly to changes in heat.
  • You want lightweight cookware that is easy to maneuver.
  • You have an induction cooktop.

Bottom line — Xtrema is one of the few pure ceramic cookware brands that makes pots and pans for stovetop use. In a world filled with toxic chemicals, the natural, non-toxic makeup of these pans is appealing.

However, there’s a reason why major cookware brands aren’t making pure ceramic pots and pans for stovetop use — they have several undeniable downsides. Besides the slow and uneven heating, food sticks, and the risk of shattering a pan if you accidentally drop it is high.

Although I support Xtrema’s mission to promote healthy and sustainable cookware, quality stainless steel, cast iron, and carbon steel pans check that box while delivering better heat control, more durability, and, in the case of cast iron and carbon steel, a stick-resistant cooking surface.

My top picks for stainless steel are Made In, All-Clad, and Demeyere; the best cast iron is Lodge, Le Creuset, and Stargazer; my favorite carbon steel pans are de Buyer and Made In.

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He began his career in marketing, managing campaigns for dozens of Fortune 500 brands. In 2018, Andrew founded Prudent Reviews and has since reviewed 600+ products. When he’s not testing the latest cookware, kitchen knives, and appliances, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew via emailLinkedIn, or the Prudent Reviews YouTube channel.

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