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You’re smart to be querying what kind of utensils you can use on your cookware. Certain cookware materials aren’t compatible with certain utensil materials…and the pair we are assessing here is ceramic cookware and metal utensils.
Are they compatible? Will metal utensils ruin or damage ceramic cookware? If so, what are the alternatives?
Let’s answer the question: can you use metal utensils on ceramic cookware?
So…can I use metal?
In a word? No. Well…you can, but it’s best if you don’t.
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Because unlike other materials such as stainless steel, ceramic can be scratched and damaged. This is especially relevant to ceramic-coated cookware which consists of a metal base and a ceramic coating over top.
Harsh, hard or sharp utensils such as metal spatulas and tongs can chip or scrape the coating and expose the metal beneath. This is bad news as it means the metal base can leach into your food, negating the safety of the ceramic coating.
The other reason is simply a matter of longevity and preservation. Ceramic cookware can become scratched, chipped and marked. This diminishes the overall finish, look and quality of the pans in terms of aesthetics and performance.
Ceramic cookware isn’t as hardy as stainless steel or cast iron which can be thrown around on very high heat and nudged with metal utensils. Ceramic cookware requires a little more gentleness and softer tools.
The best utensil materials for ceramic cookware
Wooden utensils are fantastic. They are long-wearing (if you choose high-quality ones), and gentle while still being firm enough to get a good, hard stir. A wooden spoon and spatula should be part of your utensil collection if you regularly use ceramic cookware.
Plus, they look very country-chic when stored on your kitchen counter in a glass or ceramic jug.
Silicone is a great material for utensils. Despite being nice and soft, it won’t melt or leach into your food when exposed to high heats. Most importantly, it will never ever scratch or harm even your most delicate ceramic cookware because it is very soft by nature.
Another great thing about silicone utensils is that they remain clean and fresh for a very long time. They don’t soak up odors and stains, so you can use them with any and every dish.
The malleable, soft nature of silicone makes it ideal for spatulas used for getting every last drop out of the pan or making sure all surfaces are thoroughly scraped to avoid sticking and burning.
For stiffer, more robust utensils such as fish slices and flipping devices (i.e. for pancakes and fritters), nylon is a good choice. It’s stiff enough to safely flip your food but it’s soft enough that it won’t harm your ceramic cookware surfaces whatsoever.
The only thing to be aware of is that it can melt if left in contact with very high heat for long enough. (However, ceramic cookware is best when used over low-medium heat, so the chances of having a searing hot pan are not likely, but it pays to be careful).
Nylon utensils are similar in appearance to plastic, and often have metal-reinforced handles for a sturdy grip.
How to keep your ceramic cookware in tip-top shape
Of course…use gentle utensils
As we’ve covered…the right utensils are crucial when caring for your ceramic cookware. For spoons and stirrers, go for wood. For spatulas and soft utensils, go for silicone.
And for stiff utensils such as fish slices and skimmers, go for nylon. Your ceramic pots and pans will remain in-tact, tidy and scratch-free. They’ll look newer for longer and remain safe to use.
Be careful of high heat
Ceramic cookware is best when used over low-to-medium heat as opposed to all-out, full throttle high heat. Ceramic cookware generally holds on to heat really well (especially those with a hard-anodized aluminum core) which means a medium heat will be sufficient for most cooking tasks.
What’s more, very high heat increases the risk of leaving marks on glass cooktops and causing burnt or stuck food on your ceramic surface. The more burnt or stuck food…the more need there is for vigorous cleaning…
Speaking of cleaning! Ceramic cookware should be cleaned with a gentle hand, not a vigorous dishwasher.
Ceramic cookware is compatible with soaking, so you can soften burnt or hard, stuck food with warm soapy water before wiping away. Use a soft-bristled brush to clean after usage and avoid metal scrubbers.
Be patient when cooling down
Don’t be tempted to toss your hot ceramic pots and pans into the sink straight from the heat. Leave them to cool on the stove until warm before washing.
This will prevent warping or heat shock which can damage the ceramic coating and cause the metal core to go a little wonky. This is a great rule of thumb for all cookware types.
Consider careful storage
The way you store your ceramic cookware also affects the way the coating wears over time. If you clang them all together in a pile in the drawer or cupboard, you can expect some chipping and scratching.
If you don’t have room to store them individually (i.e. not stacked), you can use rubber mats to lay in between them for protection. Or, you could hang them on hooks (if the handles have holes) for easy access and collision-free storage.
It’s definitely best to keep metal utensils well away from your ceramic cookware, for longevity and safety reasons. But that’s no big deal as wood, silicone and nylon utensils are affordable and easy to source…plus they’re often far more user-friendly than metal utensils.
Even if your cookware manual states that your ceramic cookware is “dishwasher safe”, we highly recommend avoiding the dishwasher and always opting for hand washing.
Ceramic cookware is a safe option, (especially when made according to FDA regulations as this ensures no lead or cadmium is used in the glaze), it often comes in bold color choices for a bit of fun, and it’s naturally non-stick.