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Can You Use Olive Oil in Ceramic Pans?

Just bought a new ceramic pan? You’re probably here because you came across a warning to not use olive oil in the usage instructions. Here’s everything you need to know about cooking in ceramic pans in a way that’s healthy and that preserves your cookware—and what this means for your choice of cooking oils in your home kitchen.

You can cook with extra-virgin olive oil in a ceramic pan, but only at temperatures below its smoke point, 410°F (210°C). Olive oil burns at high heat and will damage ceramic pans by coating it with a carbonized layer. A good alternative to olive oil for high-heat cooking is avocado oil. Avocado oil has a smoke point of 520°F (270°C) and neutral taste.

Only use small amounts of cooking oil in a ceramic pan. Using large amounts can lead to build-up on the ceramic surface. As ceramic pans are non-stick, it’s not necessary to add oil, butter, or lard to prevent food from sticking to it. Still, many home cooks like the slightly nutty and buttery taste that comes from cooking oils.

Only use ceramic pans on low to medium heat. If you’re looking to fry food in large quantities of oil and on high temperatures, ceramic pans are not a good choice of cookware.

How to Cook With a Ceramic Pan

Cooking with a ceramic pan is all about caring for the ceramic surface, so that the pan can keep its non-stick surface and last you for as long as possible.

Here’s my best three tips for cooking with ceramic pans:

  • Never use high heat when cooking with a ceramic pan. Ceramic pans are great conductors of heat and, because of that, temperature shocks will damage them. When you heat up a ceramic pan too high, too quickly, cracks will appear on the surface from the thermal expansion and contraction. Preheat the pan on low to medium heat for 2 minutes and add a small amount of avocado oil and/or butter.
  • Use only wooden, silicone, and plastic utensils when cooking with a ceramic pan. Metal forks, spoons, and spatulas have rough and sharp edges that will leave scratches, permanently damaging the non-stick surface of your ceramic pans.
  • Allow the pan to cool completely before washing it in cold water. Just like heating a ceramic pan too quickly can cause cracks on the surface, so can cooling it down too quickly by submerging it in cold water.

As you can see, cooking with a ceramic pan is all about care and patience. It’s not for everyone and every lifestyle. And if you’re already thinking about alternatives, check out my round-up of the best skillets on Amazon.

Which Ceramic Pan is Best?

If you’re looking to buy a ceramic pan, your first choice is between a 100% ceramic pan and a ceramic-coated pan made from metal. Which one is best?

100% ceramic pans are made from clay, minerals, and quartz. The mixture is poured into a shape and hardened at 1915°F (1045°C). The pans then go through a glazing process that gives them their decorative white and waterproof surface. Pure ceramic cookware can last for decades. Some manufacturers offer 50-year guarantees.

Ceramic-coated pans are made from a metal base, mostly aluminum and sometimes stainless steel, coated with a hard film of polymers that look like ceramic. This non-stick coating will degrade over time under normal use, gradually exposing the metal base. Ceramic-coated pans have a lifetime of 3-5 years. For extra durability, you can choose a pan with 3 ceramic non-stick coatings instead of the usual 1-2.

100% ceramic pans are a better option than ceramic-coated pans. Whereas pure ceramic pans are made from natural materials and can last for as long as 50 years, the surface of ceramic-coated pans will degrade in 3-5 years under normal use. Keep in mind that 100% ceramic cookware is more expensive and harder to find than ceramic-coated cookware.

If you’re looking for a ceramic-coated option that’s still high quality but won’t cost you a fortune, consider the Ozeri 12-inch Stone Earth Pan (at Amazon) and the Ozeri 14-inch Green Wok (at Amazon).

How to Clean a Ceramic Pan

Ceramic pans should be cleaned by hand and never put in the dishwasher. Dishwasher detergents contain bleach and other chemicals that can damage the non-stick coating. Temperature shocks can cause small cracks to the ceramic surface and floating utensils can scratch it.

Here’s how to clean a ceramic pan by hand:

  • Always allow your ceramic pan to cool off completely before cleaning. Sudden differences in temperature will cause small cracks on the ceramic coating and cause permanent damage to its non-stick characteristics.
  • Fill your sink with warm water and dish soap. Submerge the ceramic pan and use a soft sponge to clean the surface from any food residue and leftover cooking oil. Never use hard sponges and steel wools on a ceramic pan as it will scratch its surface and make it unusable.
  • Rinse the pan under warm running water and pat dry with a cotton or paper towel. Some folks say that you can leave your pan to air dry, but I always prefer to wipe down moisture after cleaning from my kitchen essentials; it’s something I got from my parents and that stuck.

To get burnt oil off a ceramic pan, fill up the pan with water, add 3 teaspoons of baking soda, and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes. Baking soda will dissolve the burnt oil residue quickly, making it easy to clean afterwards. Leave the pan to cool down completely and wash it by hand.

Are Ceramic Pans Toxic?

100% ceramic pans are not toxic because they’re made from natural materials like clay, minerals, and quartz sand. Pure ceramic cookware doesn’t contain metals and coatings, making it completely safe to use.

Ceramic-coated pans are made from a metal base and non-toxic ceramic coating. Manufacturers of ceramic-coated pans generally avoid adding APEO, GenX, PFBS, PFOS, PFOA, and the lesser known chemicals like NMP and NEP to their cookware because their customers are eco- and health-conscious.

Always research a ceramic pan before buying, no matter if it’s made from clay or comes with a ceramic-coated metal base. Make sure that no toxic chemicals were used as part of the production process and check out all reviews, with a 5- and 1-star rating, on Amazon. You’re looking for products where 1-star ratings mostly came from customers who didn’t know how to use and care for a ceramic pan.

Does Ceramic Cookware Work on Induction Cooktops?

Most ceramic cookware is made either from 100% clay, minerals, and quartz sand, or from an aluminium base with ceramic coating. Because of that, it lacks the magnetic properties to activate induction cooktops and will not work on them.

Some ceramic-coated pans are made from stainless steel and will work on induction cooktops. If you have an induction cooktop at home, always make sure that ceramic-coated cookware is made from stainless steel and labeled as induction ready before buying.

Are Ceramic Pans Oven Safe?

If your frying pan is made from 100% ceramic and doesn’t have a polymer handle, it is generally safe to use it in the oven. When using ceramic cookware, you should always avoid big differences in temperature to prevent it from cracking. Preheat the oven on low, add the pan, and allow it to heat up gradually to the desired temperature as you turn up the heat.

Most ceramic-coated cookware can safely withstand heat up to 500°F (260°C). However, how much heat your ceramic pan can safely withstand in the oven depends to a large extent on the material that its handle is made from. Before using a ceramic-coated pan in the oven, read the usage instructions from the manufacturer to check what is the maximum recommended temperature when using in the oven.

Why Is My Ceramic Pan Sticking?

When you bought your ceramic pan, its surface had a ceramic white color that made it look less like cookware and more like decoration in your kitchen. The more you used it, the more stains, scratches, and cracks that surface sustained. Chances are that you, like everyone else, made a couple of mistakes along the way.

Clean a ceramic pan after every use. If you don’t do this and leave it on your stovetop or in the oven, leftover oil and food residue will build up on the ceramic coating and harm the non-stick surface. If that’s the case, the color of your pan has probably turned from mostly white to mostly burnt.

This is fixable. You can try to dissolve burt oil and food residue on a ceramic pan by filling it with warm water, adding 3 tablespoons of baking soda, and leaving the mixture to cook for 15 minutes on medium heat. When 15 minutes have passed, allow the pan to cool down completely and clean it in the sink by hand using a soft sponge.

If food continues to stick to your ceramic pan, it has probably lost its non-stick surface. The surface naturally degrades in 3-5 years under normal use, exposing parts of the pan’s metal base. When that happens, you should throw away the pan and buy a new one, as it’s no longer safe to use.

You can damage a ceramic-coated pan earlier if you’ve used metal utensils instead of wooden and silicon ones to stir food. Metal utensils scratch the non-stick coating beyond repair.

Exposing the ceramic pan to temperature shocks can also cause damage to the surface because of thermal expansion and contraction. Always use a ceramic pan on low to medium heat.

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Written by

Jim is the former editor of Home Cook World. He is a career food writer who's been cooking and baking at home ever since he could see over the counter and put a chair by the stove.