The homemaker’s best friend when it comes to cooking is non-stick cookware. Since its inception in the 1950’s, it has revolutionized how we cook and, ultimately, how we wash and clean up after cooking.
And this is for very obvious and practical reasons. Food doesn’t stick to the non-stick pan while whipping up our little dishes!
But with multiple options out there, we have a burning question arising: which non-stick coating is best? To answer it, we have today’s article to finally settle the battle between non stick ceramic vs teflon.
It all started with the inception of Teflon or otherwise known as PTFE pans which coated aluminum or steel pans.
The substances were initially applied to the cooking utensils to give them more strength and durability, but an unexpected property was discovered: the non-stick nature of teflon. Since then, they have been patronized for this very reason.
Non-stick cookware is perfect for the start-up cook with less experience on how to manage food. No elbow grease will be needed to scrub down the pan after and more often, recipes are more easily executed with confidence. They also became a more economical alternative.
At a certain point, concerns were raised on the environmental and health safety of Teflon pans. PTFE eventually evolved to be safe for both nature and humans, while PFOA was completely removed from Teflon pans in 2015. PTFE has been proven safe and as a result, it is even used in medical procedures like bone implants.
But Teflon was not going to remain the only non-stick coating available for our kitchenware. Ceramic pans entered the market.
Their non-stick ability comes from the ceramic coating which is either sprayed or applied through a dipping process then cured at high temperatures.
You can also find more expensive, but pure ceramic pans. These are the heavy, and considerably more costly, ceramic pans that are entirely made of clay, sand, or quartz, which are the base of the ceramic material.
Sure, they’re not perfect on all occasions – for example, sharpening a ceramic knife is more difficult than a regular one. But sometimes it’s worth going the extra mile for a bit of extra quality.
Now that we have a better understanding of these two coatings, let’s allow the battle to begin and find out which is best: ceramic coating or teflon coating!
Ceramic vs Teflon: Differences
You will be surprised to find out that non-stick ceramic and teflon are very much alike, actually. But there are some important things that make them different and, as a result, can make one better than the other.
So here are the main differences between teflon and ceramic coatings:
1. Weight – Teflon pans are simply a delight to use because they are quite light. Many pancakes will attest to this as they have been easily flipped. Ceramic pans are, by nature, heavier. This would be an advantage if you were to pack a wallop at someone.
2. Color choice– Teflon pans are more drab because you will always find the signature black interiors. Ceramic, however, comes in an array of colors that can match your kitchen countertop, apron and home color scheme.
3. Product life – Ceramic pans get damaged faster than Teflon, as reported by many home cooks and chefs. Many use their Teflon pans more often and retain a ceramic piece for specific cooking purposes.
Fortunately, we have various options when it comes to cooking with ceramic pans (and cleaning them) which make their lives longer. We should know already that you can’t use metal utensils on either coating.
On the other hand, Teflon has a tendency to flake or simply peel off when damaged, making that particular pot or pan useless when that happens.
4. Heat retention – If ceramic has one edge over Teflon, it would be its excellent property of keeping the heat in the pan. You can actually remove it from the stove or turn off the heat and allow the food to cook inside the pan to completion for a few minutes.
Again, this can be considered an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on how you cook and how you want to store your food afterward.
5. Safety – even though the PTFE used as the main Teflon coating was declared safe, it can still emit some toxic fumes at higher temperatures. They can even start breaking down at very high temperatures (300 degrees Celsius or 570 degrees Fahrenheit).
While these temperatures will rarely (if ever) be reached when cooking, the ceramic coating which is made of natural minerals which are considered much safer.
All in all, I would consider this final difference the main one. For your own ease of mind, it might be better to simply choose Ceramic as the safer option.
Ceramic or Teflon? More Alike than We Think!
I mentioned that, even though completely different materials, ceramic and teflon are very much alike. Here’s how:
1. Ease of use – both types of nonstick pans are a blessing in the sense that runny eggs don’t stick, and you end up using less oil in your recipes. Therefore, cooking is easier and you can also prepare healthier food!
2. Easier to clean – both Teflon and ceramic pans are wipe and wash – no heavy scrubbing needed (it’s not even allowed, actually!)
3. No metal utensils – all stirring and mixing utensils such as ladles, whisks, spatulas, and tongs should not be made of metal if you want to keep your pans and pots in tip top shape. Use heat-resistant plastic, silicone or wooden utensil instead.
4. No deglazing – if you want to make your sauces savorier and render the flavor of reduced fat or flavorful spices and meat into a liquid base, then don’t use a Teflon or ceramic pan for the job!
A simple metal pot will do the trick. You don’t want to use your nonstick in the high heat that creates the caramelization of spices or rendering of fat. This could end up in you feeding either the Teflon or Ceramic coating to your diners. Which is hopefully something you don’t want to do.
5. Check for oven safety – although most companies have innovated and did away with plastic handles on nonstick pots, many still do attach these handles which are not safe, even for a short time in the oven.
That said, both Teflon and ceramic pans cannot handle intense temperatures, so it’s better not to use them in the oven.
Just to stress out the obvious – cooking in high heat with both Teflon and ceramic pans is not recommended since the coating deteriorates at certain high temperatures.
Non-stick Ceramic or Teflon: Which Is Best?
While the cooking performance of both coatings is almost identical – and they make cooking itself as easy as possible – we will say that Ceramic is the better option here because of the health concerns associated with Teflon.
It is true that the Teflon nonstick has weathered wars, environmental issues, taken a beating at the press, changed in shape and form in order to be the nonstick pan that it is now and always evolved to be safer.
Due to the competitive nature of kitchen industry, we will constantly find companies innovating to further improve the performance and functionality of the Teflon nonstick pan, churning out every possible cookware possible from pots to pans to trays with corresponding methods of use.
Teflon pans are also generally more affordable than ceramic pans. However, when health is concerned, it’s always a good idea to spend more in order to stay healthy (you know those medical bills will be a LOT more expensive!).
And even though things are definitely not that bad and chances of you harming your health if you use Teflon pans are minimal, we’ll still choose quality over price – and that means that we’ll go for the non-stick ceramic coating.
Talking about quality, it’s important to know that in the realm of nonstick pans, the company that stands behind the product is very important. In this case, make sure that you go for a renowned brand that actually sells safe products, as advertised.
The company that stands behind its products, the procedures of manufacturing, sourcing of material, innovation, together with improved environmental and health safety, wins in our books.
It is simply not worth the health and safety risk to purchase a generic nonstick – for all we know, it has just been coated with similar-looking material. By the time you discover this, you will have used the “faux” pan to cook several meals and whatever substance on its surface has made its way into your body. Certainly not worth it.
And always remember: buy for quality!