This article compares Teflon-coated cookware vs. ceramic-coated cookware.
For sticky foods like fried eggs and crepes, there’s just no beating the quality and release of a non-stick pan. But people are understandably squeamish about using non-stick cookware.
I never want to sacrifice health for convenience, so it’s important that my non-stick pans are free of toxins and harmful chemicals.
Teflon-coated cookware is a popular choice for nonstick pans, but ceramic pans are on the rise in popularity.
Which is best? Well, each type of nonstick surface has advantages and disadvantages.
So, when it comes to ceramic vs. Teflon, which one is the right nonstick cookware for you? Keep reading to learn more.
Ceramic vs Teflon Cookware At a Glance
With ceramic-coated pans increasing in popularity, the debate over ceramic vs. Teflon is heating up. Is ceramic actually safer than Teflon? Will a Teflon non-stick surface outlast a non-stick ceramic coating? Are there any alternatives?
For some quick answers, to see if ceramic or Teflon is right for you, use the chart below to:
|Which is better?
|Oven use, versatility
|Easy to clean
Generally speaking, Teflon cookware like T-Fal Ultimate Hard Anodized is more durable and longer lasting than ceramic cookware. On the other hand, ceramic cookware such as Greenpan Valencia is more versatile and potentially healthier.
However, other factors can affect both Teflon and Ceramic equally; for example, the body is made of hard-anodized aluminum, making the cookware more expensive and durable.
All About Teflon Non-Stick Cookware
When most people think about non-stick cookware, they think of Teflon. Teflon is just the trademarked name for PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene), a synthetic fluoropolymer used to produce non-stick coatings.
PTFE is non-reactive and resists staining, sticking, and liquid. Because of its repellant properties, a Teflon coating is a popular choice for cookware surfaces.
The only problem? If overheated, PTFE begins to break down. When that happens, it can release fumes that are lethal to birds and cause flu-like symptoms in humans. This phenomenon even has a name, the “Teflon flu.”
While there is no evidence that using Teflon at normal cooking temperatures is potentially dangerous, some people still wish to avoid it. If you use Teflon cookware, stick to low or medium heat on the stovetop to prevent overheating the pan. Never heat an empty non-stick pan.
Most Teflon pans have an aluminum or hard-anodized aluminum pan underneath. Sometimes you’ll find a stainless steel base, although that’s not as common.
Teflon Product Examples
T-fal Ultimate Hard-Anodized Nonstick 14-Piece Cookware Set
T-fal is among the top brand names in affordable, non-stick pots and pans. This T-fal complete 14-piece set includes the following:
- 8-inch (20.32 cm) & 10-inch (25.4 cm) fry pans
- 11.5-inch (29.21 cm) fry pan with lid
- 10.25-inch (26.04 cm) square griddle
- 1-quart (.95 liters), 2-quart (1.89 liters), & 3-quart (2.84 liters) covered saucepans
- 5-quart (4.73 liters) covered Dutch oven
- 3-quart (2.84 liters) steamer insert
T-fal’s proprietary Thermo-spot indicator turns solid red to show when pans are perfectly preheated. These Teflon pans feature a titanium-reinforced PTFE coating for extra durability.
T-fal claims this set is scratch-resistant, but you should still skip the metal utensils to avoid damage to the pan’s nonstick coating.
This T-fal Teflon cookware features hard-anodized aluminum construction, which means it can withstand more use in the kitchen. It’s dishwasher-safe for easy cleanup, and you can use this set on all stovetops except induction.
Customer reviews were favorable, although there were mixed opinions on the effectiveness of the thermo-spot indicator. Users liked how easy these pans were to clean, although several said they were cautious and hand-washed them.
T-fal Nonstick Dishwasher Safe Fry Pan, 10-Inch
Not interested in a complete set? T-fal also sells individual pans. This 10-inch (25.4 cm) fry pan comes with a tempered glass lid, and it has a nonstick surface and a hard-anodized aluminum body. This T-fal Teflon pan is oven-safe up to 400°F (204°C), but the lid can only go up to 350°F (177°C).
You can use this pan on all cooktops except induction. Customers liked the pan, but some reported an uneven base.
All About Ceramic Non-Stick Cookware
In an effort to produce more environmentally-friendly cookware free of PTFE or harmful chemicals, companies introduced ceramic non-stick into the cookware market over a decade ago.
Manufacturers coat cookware in a silica (sand) based gel to make ceramic cookware. The coating is then cured through a firing process. The result is a naturally non-stick coating that is non-reactive and safe for use.
Simple, right? Not so fast.
Some ceramic coatings still include PTFE (a.k.a. Teflon). In those cases, the ceramic vs Teflon is moot as it’s the same thing!
If you wish to avoid PTFE in your ceramic-coated cookware, make sure you check the product description or contact the manufacturer for materials. The ceramic non-stick examples listed in this article are PTFE-free.
Ceramic cookware almost always has an aluminum or hard-anodized aluminum construction, similar to non-stick. You can occasionally find stainless steel ceramic cookware, but it’s uncommon.
Ceramic Non-Stick Examples
GreenPan Valencia Pro Hard-Anodized Ceramic Non-stick Cookware Set, 11 Piece
GreenPan was among the first in the ceramic nonstick cookware business with their proprietary Thermolon ceramic technology. The Valencia Pro set is one of their higher-end sets, and it comes with the following:
- 8-inch (20.32 cm), 9.5-inch (24.13 cm) & 11-inch (27.94 cm) fry pans
- 2-quart (2.84 liters) & 3-quart (2.84 liters) covered saucepans
- 3-quart (2.84 liters) skillet with lid
- 5-quart (4.73 liters) casserole with lid
This GreenPan Valencia Pro set uses hard-anodized aluminum coatings with a ceramic nonstick interior and exterior. The coating is reinforced with diamonds for scratch resistance.
This set comes in a sleek gray color. GreenPan does have several product lines in a wide variety of eye-catching colors, however.
This particular set is induction-safe and oven-safe up to 600°F (315°C), making it quite versatile. It is not metal-utensil safe, but you can put these in the dishwasher. The pan’s surface is PTFE-free as well as PFOA, cadmium, and lead-free.
Overall, customers were pleased with their GreenPan Valencia Pro sets. Some were disappointed in the longevity of the ceramic coating, but they liked having a healthy nonstick option.
GreenPan Valencia Pro Hard-Anodized Ceramic Non-stick Gray Frying Pan, 10-Inch
GreenPan’s 10-inch (25.4 cm) Valencia Pro skillet has a hard-anodized aluminum construction with a diamond-reinforced Thermolon ceramic nonstick coating. It’s completely PTFE-free.
This pan is induction-compatible and safe for the oven and broiler up to 600°F (315°C). It’s dishwasher-safe but not safe for metal utensils.
Users loved their GreenPan nonstick pans initially, but the ceramic nonstick coating wore off over time.
Teflon Coating vs. Ceramic Coating: A Comparison
A non-stick pan is only as good as its nonstick properties. If you can’t cook eggs without them sticking to the pan, not much else matters. For that reason, it’s essential to evaluate which one releases food more efficiently.
Initially, both PTFE coatings (Teflon) and ceramic coatings should perform well. Both GreenPan and T-Fal users are happy with their non-stick performance.
However, a ceramic coating can deteriorate faster than PTFE-coated cookware. For this reason, you may have better long-term non-stick performance with Teflon.
I cover this in durability below, so I won’t double penalize ceramic here!
Cookware that’s compatible with all cooktops and oven-safe will give you more value than a single-use pan.
The versatility of nonstick cookware depends mainly on each individual product. That being said, you shouldn’t use Teflon at high heat to avoid releasing toxic fumes.
Ceramic is frequently oven-safe up to higher temperatures than Teflon. For example, the GreenPan set is oven safe to 600°F (315°C), versus T-Fal’s 400°F (204°C) , making GreenPan better suited for oven dishes.
When it comes to induction compatibility, you’ll find a mixture. Hard-anodized aluminum is the base for a lot of nonstick pans. And unlike stainless steel cookware, it’s not induction-compatible on its own, and it requires a disc to be bonded to the base of the cookware.
In this particular case, T-Fal is not induction compatible (and customers who tried using it on induction stoves were disappointed.) However, the GreenPan set included is induction compatible. This has nothing to do with the Teflon or ceramic, though.
If you have an induction stove, be sure to choose nonstick cookware that is induction-compatible. The type of coating isn’t a factor here.
Overall, you’ll get more versatility from a ceramic non-stick coating as it’s more likely to be safe for the oven.
Health & Safety
Historically, the Teflon coating contained PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid), a problematic chemical that stays in the body for long periods. This hasn’t been the case since 2014, since the use of PFOA was banned in the manufacturing of cookware.
Nowadays, all Teflon-coated pans are free of PFOA, and they do still contain PTFE, which is safe to use at typical cooking temperatures.
PTFE is made with new chemicals called GenX, I’m not aware of there being problems, but there are some concerns.
A ceramic-coated pan will not contain PFOA, either. Some contain PTFE, but most do not. In general, companies that manufacture ceramic pans place a lot of emphasis on their environmentally-friendly practices.
For instance, GreenPan touts that they only use 100% recycled aluminum for their pots and pans. This is on top of the environmentally safer process they have for their PTFE-free non-stick coating.
Although you can use both ceramic and Teflon cookware safely, I give the edge to ceramic. Ceramic pans don’t typically include PTFE and, therefore won’t emit any toxic fumes if accidentally overheated.
You shouldn’t expect your nonstick cookware to last a lifetime. No matter the quality, nonstick coatings are just not designed to last as long as stainless steel or cast iron cookware. However, that doesn’t mean you have to settle for replacing cheap pans every six months.
A high-quality Teflon pan will last longer than a comparable ceramic nonstick pan. This can vary among individual products, but a ceramic pan surface is more susceptible to scratches and normal wear and tear than Teflon.
You can see this when comparing T-Fal and GreenPan; customers love GreenPan, but many comment that it is less durable than expected. Yet T-fal can last for many years if treated correctly.
Note that both are hard anodized, which makes a difference. Hard anodized pans are much more durable and longer-lasting than other aluminum non-stick pans.
So I have to choose between ceramic or Teflon for maximum durability? I’d go with Teflon hard anodized pans. Ceramic hard-anodized pans are OK, but don’t usually quite reach Teflon standards.
Cleaning & Maintenance
Both Teflon and ceramic material are relatively easy to clean. Simply wipe and rinse, using mild dish soap and a soft sponge or cloth. Most Teflon and ceramic nonstick pans are dishwasher-safe, including T-Fal and GreenPan Valencia. Yet most customers get better results when handwashing for both types of nonstick coatings.
For maintenance, Teflon and ceramic require careful treatment to prolong their lifespans. First, never overheat an empty pan. That’s a surefire way to damage the cooking surface. Preheat nonstick pans, with oil, for a short time on low or medium heat. T-Fal’s Thermospot can help you tell when the pan has reached the right temperature, though most cooks are happy to rely on experience.
Next, stick to wooden utensils or silicone utensils. Metal will scratch up nonstick skillets faster than you can say, “nonstick skillets.” Neither T-Fal, nor GreenPan claim their pans are metal-utensil safe. This is good because I’ve yet to see a non-stick pan which is, whatever the manufacturer claims!
Also, be sure to avoid nonstick cooking spray. It can leave a residue that breaks down the nonstick cooking surface.
If you find performance degrading, one thing to try is to clean your pan with chemicals. Barkeeper’s Friend is a good choice, or even vinegar if that’s all you have. This will strip any microscopic particles that could be interfering with the non-stick performance.
Teflon pans usually don’t need seasoning, but some ceramic pans do. GreenPan, specifically doesn’t need seasoning, and you shouldn’t season pans unless the manufacturer tells you to. (Seasoning the wrong type of pan can destroy the non-stick layer.)
Lastly, let your nonstick pan cool down before washing. Plunging a hot pan in cold water can cause thermal shock, warping and ruining a pan.
So when it comes to ceramic vs. Teflon, there is no clear winner in this category. Both need to be treated gently but are easy to clean and maintain.
While Teflon pans generally come in just a standard black or gray color, ceramic non-stick cookware comes in a wide range of colors and finishes.
In fact, popular ceramic non-stick brands like GreenLife and GreenPan are known for their colorful cookware collections.
The GreenPan Valencia collection I’ve chosen isn’t actually that colorful, but even the subtle gray of the interior seems more attractive than T-Fal’s patterned design.
While both Teflon and ceramic pans are more affordable than a stainless steel clad pan, there is a price difference. Usually, a nonstick pan with a ceramic coating is more expensive than a Teflon pan.
The good news? Whichever way you go, you’re getting good value. Both materials are reasonably affordable. But in this case, the clear winner is Teflon.
100% Ceramic Alternative
Xtrema Pure Ceramic 5-Piece Starter Set
Most ceramic and Teflon cookware has another material underneath the coating, whether it be stainless steel, aluminum oxide, uncoated aluminum, or carbon steel. That’s where Xtrema Pure comes in.
An Xtrema Pure Ceramic set features 100% ceramic cookware. No coatings, not metal bodies. Be warned, though, this might not be quite what you expect. The pure ceramic cookware won’t heat as efficiently, nor be quite as non-stick as typical non-stick ceramic cookware.
Pure ceramic cookware is very hard to find, maybe there is a reason for it, or perhaps it is the future?
This Xtrema cookware provides an alternative for avoiding all metals and synthetic coatings in their pots and pans.
Teflon vs. Ceramic: Which is best for you?
In the ceramic vs. Teflon debate, which one comes out on top? The short answer is, it depends.
Do you want colorful, environmentally friendly cookware that is good for oven use? Are you prepared to replace your cookware slightly more frequently in exchange for PTFE-free nonstick pans? Then ceramic cookware, like the GreenPan Valencia Collection is the best option for you.
If, however, you aren’t as concerned about PTFE but just want the best value and longest-lasting nonstick pans, go with Teflon cookware, such as T-Fal. You’ll get more bang for your buck in that case.
Or, if you want absolutely pure ceramic cookware with no compromises, at the cost of performance and durability, then consider Xtrema.