Are you shopping for new pots and pans but can’t decide between Xtrema and Caraway?
Both brands claim to be non-toxic and healthier than traditional non-stick cookware. But which brand is better? What are the key differences?
In this comparison of Xtrema vs. Caraway, you’ll learn how their cookware differs in materials, design, performance, price, and more.
Plus, I share the results of the tests I conducted to determine which brand conducts and retains heat the best.
Use the links below to navigate the comparison:
- Xtrema vs. Caraway: Key Takeaways
- Difference 1: Construction
- Difference 2: Cooking Surface
- Difference 3: Finish and Colors
- Difference 4: Handles
- Difference 5: Cooking Performance
- Difference 6: Heat Conduction and Retention
- Difference 7: Oven-Safe Temperature
- Difference 8: Company History
- Difference 9: Downsides
- Difference 10: Price
- What Others Say About Xtrema and Caraway
- Bottom Line: Should You Buy Xtrema or Caraway Cookware?
Xtrema vs. Caraway: Key Takeaways
If you’re in a rush, below is a summary of the key differences between Caraway and Xtrema cookware. Throughout the full review, I provide a much more detailed analysis and share photos I captured during testing.
- Caraway’s cookware has an aluminum base coated with natural sand-derived silicon, giving it non-stick properties.
- Xtrema’s cookware is made entirely from ceramic, with no aluminum or other metals involved in its construction. The glaze on the surface is not non-stick.
Finish and Colors
- Xtrema cookware features a high-gloss black finish with no other color options available.
- Caraway cookware comes in several shades, periodically offering limited edition colors to appeal to younger cooks.
- Xtrema pans have relatively short and thick handles that heat up faster due to proximity to the heat source.
- Caraway handles are made of polished stainless steel or gold-toned steel and are designed to stay cool to the touch but can get slippery when wet.
- Caraway pans heat up quickly and evenly with excellent non-stick properties initially, but the coating degrades over time.
- Xtrema pans heat up slowly but retain heat exceptionally well, but food tends to stick, and the handles can be uncomfortably short.
Heat Conduction and Retention
- Caraway heats faster and more evenly, making it suitable for recipes that need a quick, even heat.
- Xtrema retains its heat longer, making it ideal for searing, browning, and slow cooking.
- Xtrema’s cookware is oven-safe up to 2,500°F and is broiler-safe.
- Caraway’s cookware is oven-safe up to 550°F and is not broiler-safe.
- Xtrema was launched in 2007 by Rich Bergstrom, focusing on pure ceramic cookware.
- Caraway was launched in 2018 by Jordan Nathan with a mission to craft well-designed home goods.
- Xtrema’s downsides include short, thick handles, slow heating, lack of responsiveness, durability issues (it can shatter if dropped), food sticking, ridged pan bottoms, and potential quality control issues.
- Caraway’s downsides include the degradation of non-stick properties, chipping exterior paint, susceptibility to scratches, incompatibility with broilers, and limited product lineup.
- Xtrema’s cookware is more expensive, with pricing similar to high-end fully-clad cookware.
- Caraway’s cookware is less expensive than Xtrema but more pricey than most non-stick brands.
Buy Caraway if you’re looking for non-stick cookware that heats quickly and comes in various colors. Go with Xtrema if you want thicker, all-purpose cookware for searing, braising, and broiling. Caraway’s non-stick coating makes it easier to use and clean, but Xtrema is more versatile and lasts longer. Compare prices on CarawayHome.com and Xtrema.com.
Caraway is commonly referred to as a “ceramic” cookware brand. However, it’s important to understand that Caraway’s products aren’t made entirely from ceramic. Instead, they’re created with an aluminum base coated with natural sand-derived silicon.
You’ll find this type of construction throughout Caraway’s entire product line.
In contrast, Xtrema creates cookware that is made of 100% ceramic. No aluminum, steel, or other metals are involved in the construction. Instead, the cookware piece is composed of clay, water, minerals, and oxides.
Like Caraway, Xtrema only produces one type of cookware — every pot and pan is made using the same materials.
Both brands are free of PFOA, PTFE, or other potentially harmful chemicals.
Taking a closer look at the cooking surfaces of Xtrema and Caraway cookware, you’ll notice key differences that affect their performance and ease of use.
Xtrema’s cookware is unique because its surface is covered with a specialized glaze. This glaze is primarily silica — components of sand and quartz — along with other minerals and oxides. It creates a surface resembling the porcelain enamel you might find on high-end cast iron cookware from brands like Le Creuset.
However, this surface type is not non-stick, meaning you may find it slightly challenging to cook certain dishes, particularly those prone to sticking, such as eggs or fish. You’ll need to properly prep the pan with oils or fats and manage heat carefully to avoid food sticking or burning.
Caraway features a ceramic non-stick coating on the interior of its pans. The non-stick quality is achieved through a coating made from silicon dioxide — a byproduct of sand. While the coating isn’t made of clay like traditional ceramic bakeware, it’s termed “ceramic” because its smooth and glossy texture mimics ceramic’s appearance.
Caraway’s coating released food exceptionally well. As long as the surface isn’t scratched, you can cook an egg without any oil or butter, and it won’t stick. More on both brands’ cooking performance in a minute.
Xtrema cookware is distinguished by its high-gloss black exterior and smooth finish. The sophisticated, glossy black lends a unique touch to the pieces. However, if you’re looking for a range of colors, Xtrema won’t satisfy your needs. The brand sticks with this single, distinctive color.
Caraway, in contrast, gives you a palette to choose from. Like Xtrema, Caraway’s cookware sports a high-gloss finish, but the similarities end there. You’ll find Caraway’s products in 13 different shades, including sage, cream, and peracotta, to name a few.
These shades are mainly neutral or soft pastels, blending with all kitchen aesthetics. Caraway also keeps things exciting by occasionally offering limited edition colors. This color diversity is part of Caraway’s strategy to appeal to younger cooks, often collaborating with social media influencers to showcase their wide range of choices.
Xtrema pans have relatively short and thick handles. For example, the handle on Xtrema’s 9-inch fry pan is 6 inches long, whereas handles on similar-sized pans from other brands typically measure around 8 inches.
These shorter handles heat up faster due to being closer proximity to the heat source. Always use a potholder or oven mitt when handling Xtrema cookware during and after cooking.
You won’t find rivets on Xtrema cookware because the handle and body are one piece. This rivetless design results in a smooth, uninterrupted cooking surface that’s easier to clean.
Caraway handles are either polished stainless steel or gold-toned steel. They’re hollow inside to disperse heat and riveted to the pan’s body. This design keeps the handles cool to the touch; however, the rivets tend to collect grime.
Another downside to Caraway handles is their shape. They can get slippery, especially when your hands are wet because they are rounded on the sides. Be careful when tilting or pouring liquids out of these pans.
I’ve been testing Caraway and Xtrema cookware, and here’s how they perform in the kitchen.
Caraway pans heat up quickly and evenly. Foods notorious for their stickiness, like eggs and fish, release easily. When you’re done cooking, a quick wipe and rinse is all it takes to clean these pans.
Unfortunately, Caraway’s non-stick properties don’t last forever. After a year or so, I noticed the non-stick coating starting to degrade. Eggs no longer had that smooth glide, and I had to add extra oil to prevent sticking.
Also, the rounded handles look and feel nice but rotate in your hand when pouring or tilting, especially if your grip is a bit slippery.
Xtrema pans heat up slowly, significantly slower than Caraway. It takes a while for the heat to distribute throughout the thick ceramic construction.
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But once it’s hot, the heat retention is fantastic. Unlike Caraway, a chilled steak won’t lower the pan’s temperature. Xtrema pans stay hot, allowing an even crust to develop. Caraway’s super slick surface causes food to slide around too much for a proper sear.
Also, Xtrema has an edge in terms of versatility. It’s compatible with almost any heat source, including the stove, oven, grill, and even a microwave.
The all-natural ceramic material can withstand temperatures over 2,500°F without damage — Caraway is only oven-safe up to 550°F.
While it might seem Xtrema is the clear winner, it’s not without drawbacks. Its glaze is scratch-resistant but doesn’t equate to a non-stick surface.
Cooking eggs in an Xtrema pan is a chore. Even with a well-oiled surface, they tend to stick and break apart. By comparison, Caraway, at least in its early life, is far superior for such delicate tasks.
In terms of cleaning, Xtrema is less forgiving than Caraway. After cooking, you may find stubborn food bits clinging to the surface, requiring a good scrub and soak. Also, stains tend to linger, leaving a rough, blotchy aftermath.
Lastly, Xtrema’s handle is short and straight, leaving little room between your knuckles and the hot cooktop. You don’t have to worry about this with Caraway’s design.
Overall, Caraway heats faster, and the initial non-stick properties are excellent, but the coating doesn’t last. Xtrema has excellent heat retention and versatility, but it heats slowly, food sticks, and the handles are short.
In addition to my real-world tests in the kitchen, I conducted two experiments to measure the heat conduction and retention of Caraway and Xtrema pans.
The goal of the first test is to see how fast and evenly each brand heats. I poured two cups of cold water (55°F) into each pan, placed them on the stove, and cranked the heat to high.
The Caraway pan showed bubbles evenly across its surface after one minute and 53 seconds, reaching a full boil at two minutes and 26 seconds.
The Xtrema pan took significantly longer to heat. Bubbles started to form at three minutes and 41 seconds, mostly in the center. It wasn’t until six minutes and seven seconds that the water boiled. The uneven distribution of bubbles is a clear sign that Xtrema’s heat transfer isn’t as uniform as Caraway’s.
Here’s how both brands’ heat conduction compares to several others I’ve tested:
|Pan||Time to First Bubbles||Time to Boil|
|Farberware||1 minute and 2 seconds||1 minute and 29 seconds|
|Made In stainless steel fry pan||1 minute and 40 seconds||2 minutes and 21 seconds|
|Anolon X pan||1 minute and 35 seconds||2 minutes and 22 seconds|
|Misen fry pan||1 minute and 50 seconds||2 minutes and 25 seconds|
|Caraway||1 minute and 53 seconds||2 minutes and 26 seconds|
|Anolon Advanced fry pan||1 minute and 55 seconds||2 minutes and 27 seconds|
|HexClad fry pan||1 minute and 40 seconds||2 minutes and 30 seconds|
|Made In non-stick fry pan||1 minute and 53 seconds||2 minutes and 31 seconds|
|Zwilling fry pan||1 minute and 45 seconds||2 minutes and 31 seconds|
|T-fal fry pan||1 minute and 50 seconds||2 minutes and 32 seconds|
|Gotham Steel fry pan||1 minute and 58 seconds||2 minutes and 32 seconds|
|Rachael Ray fry pan||1 minute and 47 seconds||2 minutes and 36 seconds|
|Viking fry pan||1 minute and 42 seconds||2 minute and 39 seconds|
|Calphalon fry pan||1 minute and 45 seconds||2 minutes and 40 seconds|
|Pioneer Woman fry pan||2 minute and 2 seconds||2 minute and 46 seconds|
|Hestan fry pan||1 minute and 52 seconds||2 minutes and 47 seconds|
|GreenLife pan||2 minutes and 11 seconds||2 minutes and 47 seconds|
|Our Place Always Pan||2 minutes and 2 seconds||2 minutes and 48 seconds|
|Tramontina fry pan||1 minute and 53 seconds||2 minutes and 52 seconds|
|Circulon fry pan||2 minutes and 7 seconds||2 minutes and 55 seconds|
|All-Clad D3 skillet||1 minute and 55 seconds||2 minutes and 55 seconds|
|All-Clad HA1 fry pan||2 minute and 12 seconds||2 minute and 58 seconds|
|Demeyere Industry fry pan||2 minutes and 3 seconds||3 minutes and 10 seconds|
|Ballarini fry pan||2 minutes and 15 seconds||3 minutes and 12 seconds|
|Heritage Steel fry pan||1 minutes and 59 seconds||3 minutes and 15 seconds|
|Demeyere Atlantis fry pan||2 minutes and 11 seconds||3 minutes and 25 seconds|
|Xtrema fry pan||3 minutes and 41 seconds||6 minutes and 7 seconds|
The second test measured heat retention, which is vital for searing and slow cooking. With searing, a pan that holds heat well ensures a high, consistent temperature, essential for quickly browning food and locking in flavors.
For slow cooking, a steady temperature provided by good heat retention gently breaks down tough fibers in food over time, resulting in tender, well-cooked dishes. In both scenarios, heat retention prevents temperature fluctuations that could lead to uneven cooking.
After the water boiled, I removed each pan from the heat and set it on the counter to cool.
Five minutes after removing from the heat, Caraway’s water temperature read 116.6°F, while Xtrema’s was higher at 142°F.
Ten minutes later, Caraway had cooled to 96.4°F, but Xtrema still held a temperature of 113°F.
As you can see below, Xtrema holds heat better than over two dozen brands I’ve tested.
|Pan||Temperature After 5 Minutes||Temperature After 10 Minutes|
|Xtrema fry pan||142°F||113°F|
|Made In stainless steel fry pan||121.1°F||106.6°F|
|Demeyere Atlantis fry pan||122.0°F||106.3°F|
|Made In non-stick fry pan||120.2°F||105.8°F|
|Misen fry pan||118.6°F||103.4°F|
|Zwilling fry pan||121.1°F||103.0°F|
|Rachael Ray fry pan||126.3°F||102.7°F|
|HexClad fry pan||120.7°F||102.4°F|
|Circulon fry pan||133.3°F||102.0°F|
|Tramontina fry pan||118.5°F||101.3°F|
|Calphalon fry pan||112.8°F||101.1°F|
|Ballarini fry pan||120°F||99.9°F|
|All-Clad HA1 fry pan||117.9°F||98.1°F|
|Hestan fry pan||114.4°F||98.0°F|
|Demeyere Industry fry pan||115.2°F||96.6°F|
|Our Place Always Pan||118.0°F||96.7°F|
|Caraway fry pan||116.6°F||96.4°F|
|Anolon X pan||114.1°F||96.0°F|
|Viking fry pan||106.6°F||95.9°F|
|Farberware fry pan||112.0°F||95.4°F|
|GreenLife fry pan||119.0°F||95.0°F|
|Gotham Steel fry pan||113.0°F||95.0°F|
|Anolon Advanced fry pan||112.7°F||90.9°F|
|Pioneer Woman fry pan||104.3°F||90.9°F|
|T-fal fry pan||108.7°F||88.0°F|
These tests demonstrate important points for you to consider. While Caraway heats faster and more evenly, Xtrema retains its heat longer.
If you’re preparing recipes that need a quick, even heat, Caraway is the better choice. But if you want cookware that holds heat well for searing, browning, and slower cooking methods, go with Xtrema.
Xtrema cookware boasts an impressive oven-safe temperature threshold. The pans can endure temperatures as high as 2,500°F — a temperature far beyond any ordinary kitchen usage. Additionally, Xtrema cookware is broiler-safe.
Caraway cookware is more limited in terms of oven-safe temperature. Caraway pans are oven-safe only up to 550°F. While this is quite respectable for ceramic non-stick cookware, it’s still substantially lower than Xtrema.
Unlike Xtrema, Caraway cookware isn’t safe for use under a broiler.
Rich Bergstrom launched Xtrema in 2007. His focus on pure ceramic cookware was inspired by centuries of culinary history.
Bergstrom’s search for the perfect manufacturing solution led him to China, a country known for producing over 70% of the world’s ceramic products.
Today, Xtrema remains a family-owned business committed to providing safe cookware. Its mission revolves around promoting non-toxic cooking as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Caraway launched much more recently in 2018. Its founder, Jordan Nathan, had previous experience as the CEO of Vremi, a kitchen and home goods company. Caraway emerged as a direct-to-consumer cookware company with a mission to craft well-designed home goods that raise the standards in your kitchen.
Caraway aims to make your life easier and healthier with its products. The brand’s name, inspired by the versatile caraway seed used in sweet and savory dishes, reflects this versatility.
By 2021, Caraway expanded its reach beyond direct-to-consumer and became available at retailers like Amazon, Crate and Barrel, and West Elm.
There’s a lot to like about Xtrema and Caraway, but both brands have flaws. Consider these downsides before deciding which brand to buy.
Short Handles: The short, thick handles may be awkward for those with large or small hands, placing your knuckles uncomfortably close to the stove.
Heavy and Slow to Heat Up: The thick ceramic construction makes the cookware heavy and increases the time it takes to heat up.
Responsiveness: The cookware’s unresponsiveness is also a concern. Some tasks require quick temperature adjustments (like sautéing garlic and onions). Since Xtrema pans take a while to heat up and cool down, they’re not the best tool for these tasks.
Durability: Durability is another issue with Xtrema. While the surface is scratch-proof, the cookware is prone to shattering and chipping. It’s not suited for those seeking lifelong cookware or people prone to dropping pans.
Food Sticking: Food sticking is a common problem as Xtrema isn’t non-stick. Cooking low-fat content foods like chicken and lean beef may require a learning curve to prevent sticking.
Pan Bottom: Another design flaw is the ridged pan bottom. It doesn’t sit flat on electric stovetops, leading to uneven heating. Also, the cookware isn’t induction compatible since it lacks magnetic metals like steel or iron.
Quality Control: Finally, the pan I bought had minor flaws — an off-center label and flaking glaze — suggesting potential quality control issues.
Coating Wears Down: Caraway’s main downside is the loss of its non-stick properties over time. After about five months of use, eggs and other delicate foods start to stick.
Exterior Chips: The exterior paint also chips easily, so the pan might not maintain its appealing look for long. The paint can be damaged by contact with utensils or food and oil spillover.
Prone to Scratches: The interior is susceptible to scratches and damage if you don’t handle it carefully. Overheating, using metal utensils, and cleaning these pans in the dishwasher can scratch and degrade the coating.
Not Broiler Safe: Caraway doesn’t offer any broiler-safe pots or pans. Exceeding its 550°F heat limit could result in warping and damage to the non-stick coating.
Environmental Impact: Caraway claims to release 60% less CO2 during manufacturing than traditional non-stick coatings. However, considering the shorter lifespan of Caraway cookware due to its lost non-stick properties, you might need to replace them more often, creating more waste.
Limited Offerings: Caraway has a limited product lineup. The company only offers one size (10.5 inch) frying pan. If you need different sizes for different cooking needs, this is restrictive.
Regarding pricing, the difference between Xtrema and Caraway cookware is significant.
Let’s see what other reviewers are saying.
Food Network named Xtrama the Most Durable Non-Toxic Cookware, highlighting its versatile design and high heat resistance. The reviewers note its non-toxic construction and applaud its performance for frittatas and grilled meats.
Esquire commends Caraway for its design-forward approach and the brand’s use of a ceramic coating as a healthier alternative to traditional non-stick materials. They called it The “I Went Viral” Cookware Brand due to its bright colors that are all over social media.
Food & Wine named Caraway the best non-toxic cookware set. The reviewers appreciate the high-functioning non-stick feature and the fun, vibrant color options. The included modular pan racks and canvas lid holder are a bonus for convenient storage.
The Spruce Eats shares the sentiment, citing Caraway as a perfect blend of performance and design. The reviewers particularly like its even heat distribution and non-stick surface, though they wish the brand offered a smaller fry pan for single-meal preparation.
The key takeaway is this: Caraway and Xtrema offer two different types of cookware.
Caraway pots and pans are made of aluminum with a convenient non-stick coating. They’re ideal for quick meals like eggs, pancakes, grilled cheese, and fish because they heat up fast and evenly, and delicate foods won’t stick.
Xtrema cookware is 100% ceramic. It’s thicker, heavier, and heats up slower. You have to treat it like stainless steel or enameled cast iron to prevent food from sticking. It’s not the best cookware for quick meals or sticky foods like eggs, but due to its superior heat retention, it’s the better brand for searing and slow cooking.
Bottom line — when deciding between Xtrema and Caraway, consider your cooking style, the longevity you seek from your cookware, and your budget. If you value non-stick properties and color variety, Caraway is a better fit. If you prefer thicker, more versatile cookware that can withstand higher heat, Xtrema is the better choice.
That said, if you’re looking for thick, long-lasting cookware that retains heat well, I recommend enameled cast iron over Xtrema — it boasts superior non-stick properties and won’t shatter if you drop it. My top recommendations are Made In, Le Creuset, Staub, and Lodge.
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