Clay pots have become well-loved in kitchens all over the world. They are great for delicious cooking, easily retaining heat inside the pot, and concentrating flavors to make your food savory. From the Japanese donabe to the Moroccan tagine, these pots are more than just cooking gear. They can be used in the oven and go straight from the stovetop to the table while offering aesthetic appeal to your table. Read on to learn the best clay pots for cooking!
When it comes to cooking with clay pots, there are some things you’ll need to know. As they are made from clay, they work a little differently than your typical pots or pans. When using clay pots for cooking, meat and liquid combine with vegetables and a few seasonings to bring tenderness to the meat. It gives your meat the tenderness you’d find with braising it while giving it the roasted finish. The cover is typically left on the pot until the food is just about done cooking. Then, the lid is taken off to allow your food to have a golden-brown finish.
When searching for clay pots to add to your kitchen, you’ll find there are several types to choose from. Clay pots come glazed, unglazed, and partially glazed. You might hear the term “earthenware” used to describe clay pots as well, or you might hear the term terra cotta, which is a common term used.
To help narrow down your search, I’ve listed some of my favorite clay pots below. From budget-friendly to durability, these clay pots won’t disappoint.
Best Clay Cooking Pot for People on a Budget: Korean Premium Ceramic Black Casserole Clay Pot with Lid
If you’re looking for a clay pot that won’t break the bank, this clay pot by Coisound1688 might be an excellent option for you. It’s made of non-toxic and lead-free ceramic. It’s been glaze-fired two times using natural glaze. This is an ideal pot for making soups, stews, casseroles, and more. So get creative with your cooking! You’ll find this pot can be used on the stovetop and even in the oven! Moisture absorption is blocked, which helps prevent cracking or rippling.
- Use your clay pot in the oven, microwave, or stovetop without the fear of it cracking from heat.
- Cook your favorite sizzling bibimbaps or your favorite stews on a cold winter night.
- This clay pot measures 8.85 x 2.55 inches.
- Cleanup is simple
- Durable design, so it’s built to last
- Very budget-friendly
- Too small
This clay pot from Coisound1688 is excellent for the wallet. Built to withstand high heat, this clay pot will last you for several years if maintained properly. Cooking tender and juicy food just got a lot easier with a moisture absorption blocking design, preventing food from being dry or overcooked. If you are new to clay pot cooking, this is a great starter pot to consider trying. Some customers have concerns about this pot being too small, but if you aren’t cooking food for an army, this might just be perfect for your cooking needs.
Best Clay Cooking Pot for Cooking Beans: R&M International Traditional Style 4.5-Qt Large Ceramic Bean Pot with Lid, Brown
If you’re looking for the perfect way to cook beans, have you considered checking out this clay bean pot? R&M International brings you this ceramic pot that allows you to make some of your most-loved bean-inspired dishes. Made to be used in the oven, you’ll find cooking beans are a breeze in this clay pot. Measuring 7.75-inches tall and 9.5” wide, this pot was made to hold quite a bit. There’s a 4.5” opening at the top.
- This clay pot can be used in the oven or microwave and is also dishwasher safe.
- This bean pot is lead-free and is designed from high-fired ceramic, and the glaze is also cadmium-free.
- R&M International has designed clay cooking pots for almost 30 years, offering high-quality pots built to last.
- Can withstand being in the oven for several hours
- Easy to clean
- Heavy duty
- Easy storage
- Can’t be used on stovetops
- The handle on the lid is small
Baked beans are a favorite among many people and being able to cook your own at home is possible with this clay pot made for cooking beans. With the ability to hold 4.5 quarts, you’ll find making beans for your family is possible. Keep in mind this clay pot can’t be used on your stove. Some consumers have said the handle is relatively small, but consumers have gotten creative at ways to make lifting the lid easier. Baking beans at home allows you to get creative, and this pot is a great place to start for delicious homemade beans your family will love.
Best Clay Pot for Cooking Rice: Milo Japanese Style Donabe Rice Cooker
Making rice can be tricky if you don’t have the right cookware for cooking it. Luckily, Milo brings you this rice cooker to help make that fluffy, authentic rice you’ve come to know and love. With a large capacity, you can put 1.5 cups of uncooked rice in this cooker to make 4 cups of cooked rice. In addition, this clay pot heats slowly, helping to enhance the flavor of your rice. These clay pots have been used for centuries in Japan, and because they are somewhat porous, it allows air to circulate throughout this pot while rice is cooking, unlike other metal pots.
- You can braise, stew, and make some of the best rice you’ve had.
- You’ll find this clay pot offers durability and can be used in the oven as well as on your stovetop.
- Elevate the look of your table as this clay pot offers a simple yet aesthetically pleasing look.
- There are natural undertones visible, giving it an artisan-made appearance and feel.
- Great for making sticky rice
- Perfect for beginners who are getting into using clay cookware
- Easy to cleanup
- Dishwasher safe
- It comes with a 30-day guarantee
- Some people complain that it boils over while cooking
- It doesn’t come with instructions for cooking rice
Cooking rice is a breeze with this clay pot from Milo. Make rice of all sorts with ease and create perfect rice every time. Avoid messy, overcooked rice with the use of a clay pot. Because rice is cooked slowly in this clay pot, you’ll enjoy evenly heated and cooked rice. If you can get online to find how to cook rice in this clay pot and don’t mind keeping an eye on it while cooking, this clay pot is an excellent replacement for rice cookers. They are easier to store as opposed to larger rice cookers.
Best High-Quality Clay Pot: Swadeshi Blessings Unglazed Clay Pot for Cooking & Serving, 2.8 Liters
This clay pot has earned a name for itself among consumers everywhere interested in cooking with clay pots. Brought to you by Swadeshi Blessings, this clay pot has been beautifully crafted by craftsmen of India. It’s sure to bring that WOW factor to the table for guests. You won’t find chemicals being used on this clay pot, and it doesn’t have that mirror finish others might have. Air circulates throughout the pot while cooking helping to lock in moisture resulting in food that’s not dried out. Unlike most other clay pots, this design is left out to dry in the air and sun as opposed to high temperature ovens.
- Most clay pots are glazed or painted with paints that contain chemicals which imparts their shine and glossiness. This clay pot is made from clay that’s been naturally excavated.
- This clay pot helps retain heat for evenly cooked food. It can keep food warm with the lid on to prevent re-heating food.
- Soaking your clay pot in water or buttermilk for a day prior to use can make this clay pot even stronger and robust.
- Oven proof and can be used on gas stoves, which makes it a great addition to any kitchen.
- Built to last and withstand high heat temperatures
- Less oil required for cooking
- Comes with a free palm leaf stand
- A special stone is used to impart the finish on the product
- Pricey for some
- No money back guarantee offered
The Swadeshi Blessings clay pot is great for cooking anything from stews to soups and meats. No matter what you throw its way, this clay pot was built to last and withstand high heat settings for extended periods of time. You can slow cook just about anything in it without the fear of overheating your food. As long as you’re prepared to spend a little extra as opposed to the other clay pots I’ve listed, you’ll find this clay pot can help you cook up your favorite meals and might even have you trying new foods you might not have cooked before. Make sure this is the clay pot you want as you are not able to return this pot once it’s used for safety and sanitary reasons.
Best Clay Pot for Cooking with Extreme Heat: Neoflam 2 Quart Non-Stick Clay Pot, Heat Resistant up to 752F
Neoflam has worked hard to bring consumers products that are designed to withstand high heat from your stove or grill flames. You’ll love the versatility this pot offers you from stir frying, braising, and even baking in it. You can cook just about anything you imagine in this clay pot without fear of food burning or being overcooked. It can also be used in the microwave. As it also offers a unique appeal to it, it makes a great serving dish if you want to keep your foods warm as it holds on to heat for longer.
- This clay pot offers versatility which means you can use it on your stovetop, in the oven, over open flames, in your microwave, and more.
- This Neoflam clay pot is made from eco-friendly and all-natural material that’s both non-toxic and non-reactive, and the colors used for each pot are made from all-natural pigments allowing it to be safe for cooking.
- It’s aesthetically appealing as it uses colors that you won’t typically find used with other clay pots, while the knob on top is natural stone.
- Freezer safe
- Scratch resistant
- Durable design
- Great for serving on the table
- Some consumers claim the sizing is wrong and too small
The Neoflam clay pot offers added durability most clay pots might not have, especially if they are poorly made. If you want a pot you can use with high heat temperatures, this might be the clay pot you’ve been looking for! It can withstand heat from your grill allowing you to cook just about anything! Some consumers have stated this clay pot isn’t as large as they had expected, but overall, this is a great pot for the price. It’s perfectly priced making it an affordable option to add to your kitchen.
Best Unglazed Clay Pot for Cooking Roasts- Romertopf by Reston Lloyd Modern Series Natural Clay Cooker, 3.1-Quart
The Romertopf by Reston Lloyd Modern Series Clay Cooker is a clay style baking pot specially designed for cooking roasts, braises and breads. The cooker is unglazed earthenware and is shaped like a loaf. It has a bottom and top with side handles for gripping the pot while lifting into and out of the oven. It has an unassuming utilitarian look and design, but it is exceptional at cooking roasts. It is not the cheapest clay pot you can find, but it is the best unglazed clay pot for making juicy roasts.
- Handcrafted in Germany- The Romertopf pot is designed and created in Germany.
- Steam while cooking- Soak the top lid before using and it will create a layer of steam while cooking which intensifies the flavor of whatever you are cooking.
- Has side handles and the bottom is glazed for easier clean up.
- The pot is dishwasher safe as well as microwave and oven safe.
- Holds up to 3 quarts which will serve up to six people.
- Excellent at making juicy roasts
- Easy to clean up due to glazed bottom
- Large capacity can make large roasts
- Easy to pick up with the side handles
- Intensifies flavor of food due to steaming
- If it is dropped it may shatter
- Costs more than some other options
This clay cooker is not a fancy-looking piece of cookware, but it is excellent at its job. It has a plain look to it with the loaf shape and basic design, but it functions well. It is the best clay pot for making roasts that I could find, because of the simple design, and the ability to steam while it cooks, as well as the capacity for keeping the juices in the roast. It is not the cheapest pot, but if you are looking for a way to cook roasts where the roast will maintain its juices and flavor, this pot may be a great match for your needs.
Best For Baking Bread- Emile Henry Charcoal Artisan Bread Baker, 13.6 x 8.9 x 3.4in
The Emile Henry Charcoal Artisan Bread Baker is a French made ceramic clay pot created specifically for baking bread. It is a large heavy cooking pot shaped like a loaf of bread. It is dishwasher safe and resistant to temperature changes meaning it can go from freezing to a hot oven without cracking. It is 13.6 x 8.9 x 3.4inches making it a large pot, allowing you to make sizable loaves of bread. There are 3 color options with this pot, red, black, or white. It is an expensive pot, but it offers a 10 year warranty.
- French made- Made with natural materials in Marcigny France the same way since 1850. Using burundy clay the pot is shaped and fired.
- Shock resistant- The pot will not crack due to changing temperatures like some other pots may do. The ceramic is a proprietary formula that is especially resistant to temperature issues.
- Scratch resistant- The finish is hard and glossy and will not scratch easily. It is specially designed to resist the normal scratches you get with pots of this type.
- Easy to Clean- It can go directly in the dishwasher or be cleaned in the sink with standard soap and water. It requires no special cleaning instructions.
- 10 year warranty
- Exceptionally well made
- Perfect device for cooking bread
- Comes in 3 color options
- Very expensive compared to many other pots
This is the best clay pot for baking bread, in fact it is specifically designed for just this purpose. It has been being made the same way since the 1800s, and the design has not needed to change all this time because it is already the best possible design for the job of baking bread. It is not a cheap pot, but if quality and effectiveness are your primary concerns, this may be the best option for you. It will not crack when you take it from hot to cold and will not scratch.
Clay Pot Buyer’s Guide
There are so many clay pots for so many different purposes, it can get overwhelming when you are trying to choose the best one for your needs. Here we will cover some of the most important things you need to consider before making your purchase.
Types of Clay Cookware
Not all clay cookware is the same, in fact there are 3 main types that are quite different from one another, they are:
- Flame ware
Stoneware is especially hard and dense pottery that is created at extremely high temperatures which makes the pieces non-porous and able to retain liquids inside. It is the most common kind of clay cookware. It gets its name from how hard it is, and how heavy and durable it is as well. Cooking pots are not the only things made from stoneware. Beer steins, crock pots, and coffee mugs are also common items made from stoneware.
The key attribute that makes earthenware is that it is nonvitreous pottery that is hardened and fired at relatively low temperatures (compared to stoneware) usually around 190 degrees Fahrenheit. Some types of earthenware are called terra cotta which typically absorbs liquids. Earthenware does not always absorb liquids, if the earthenware is glazed, it will become nonporous. Once earthenware is fired it can be scratched or etched. Because it absorbs liquid, earthenware is popular for steaming food.
Flame ware is named for its ability to be placed on or over an open flame. Flame ware is fired at extremely high temperatures which allows them to be used on the open flame without any ill effects. Flame ware is typically scratch-resistant and extremely durable. It is the easiest of all the clay cooking pots to use because there is no special preparation needed, you can just take it out of the box and cook with it. Because it is still made of clay, it can shatter if it is dropped on a hard surface from a significant height. However, it is durable and will last for years if properly cared for.
Preparing Your Clay Pots Before Cooking
All clay pots need to be prepared before use. Stoneware and flame ware are the easiest to prepare. With stoneware and flame ware you can simply just give your new pot a good wash in the sink with soap and water.
Unglazed clay pots, however, require some special attention before you can cook in them properly. Because they are porous pots made of clay, they will absorb water. If you want your pot to function properly, follow the following steps:
- Fill a clean bucket with clean water.
- Submerge your clay pot and lid fully into the bucket with water.
- Allow the pot to sit in the water bucket overnight.
- Take out the pot and set it somewhere and allow it to dry completely
- Once it is completely dry you can season it.
Seasoning a Clay Pot
- To have years of great food with your clay pot, you should season it before your first use.
- Wipe down all the surfaces of your clay pot with either olive oil or vegetable oil.
- Fill up the pot about 75% full of water
- Place the lid on the clay pot
- Put the clay pot in the oven (do not preheat).
- Heat the oven up to 350 degrees
- Bake the pot with water for up to 3 hours
- Turn off the heat while leaving the pot in the oven
- When it has cooled enough, take it out and wash and dry the pot
- Store it in a dry cool place
What Can You Cook in a Clay Pot?
- Baked pasta like lasagna or ziti- Clay pots are especially good for making baked pasta. The nature of the clay (especially unglazed) will help the pasta to cook thoroughly and maintain the flavor.
- Potato dishes- Potatoes are excellent choices to cook in a clay pot. There are many delicious potato dishes and all of them will be easy to cook in a clay pot.
- Bread pudding or other puddings- Puddings are easy to make in a clay pot because they will heat the contents evenly and maintain a high temperature throughout.
- Bread- Bread is well suited to clay pot cooking. Simply make the dough and form it into the clay pot and bake in the oven.
- Vegetable-based dishes- Veggies go very well with clay pots. There are many wonderful veggie dishes suitable for cooking a clay pot.
Cleaning Your Clay Pot
Flame ware or stoneware pots are very simple to clean. You can treat them just like any other normal pot or pan, just be extra careful not to drop them. Unlike metal pots, clay pots will break if they are dropped on the ground. Simply take your flame ware or stoneware pot and add it to a sink full of water and scrub them clean with some soap and a soft sponge. When your pot is clean rinse it and allow it to dry completely.
For unglazed earthenware clay pots, deep cleaning is a little more complicated. Before you clean your earthenware pot, make sure all debris is gone and the pot is free of food or crumbs.
- Fill your sink with water and 3 tablespoons of baking soda per liter and stir.
- Allow your pot to soak in the sink with baking soda overnight.
- After your pot has soaked overnight, scrub it with a soft bristle brush or scrubbing pad. Make sure to not use a metallic scrubbing pad as that will scratch your pot.
- If you need to use an abrasive powder on your pot, you can use salt, do not use any other chemical scouring powder on your earthenware pot.
- Rinse your pot and allow it to dry completely.
- Place it back in the cabinet.
What is clay cookware?
Clay cookware is exactly what it sounds like, it is cookware made from clay. Sometimes it is glazed and sometimes it is fired at extremely high temperatures to make stoneware or flame ware. Clay cookware has become popular in recent years as an alternative to metal and non-stick cookware. There are some undesirable chemicals released from metal cookware, but clay cookware, it is all-natural with no harmful chemicals used to create it.
Is clay cookware safe?
Clay cookware is made of all-natural ingredients and is non-toxic. It will not harm you at all, it does not shed any harmful chemicals while cooking. The only way a clay pot can hurt you is if you drop it on your foot, that will hurt quite badly and probably break your foot. There are no ingredients in clay cookware that are harmful or toxic in any way.
Can clay cookware go over a flame-like cast iron can?
Yes, if it is flame ware. Flame ware is a kind of clay pot that is fired at an extremely high temperature and coated with a special glaze. This kind of clay pot can be used just like cast iron, on an open flame. Therefore, it has the name of flame ware because it is used on open flames.
Will food stick to clay cookware?
It can if your cookware does not have oil on the cooking surfaces. Most cooks like to prepare their pots with olive oil or vegetable oil before cooking. This is done to avoid burned food sticking to the cooking surfaces of the pot. If you oil your pot, food will not likely stick to the sides.
How is clay cookware created?
A large glob of clay is placed on the throwing wheel. As the throwing wheel is spun, the potter will shape the clay using water and their hands and tools. There are some pots that are made with molds instead of a pottery wheel. Pottery wheels are only effective at creating symmetrical circular pots. For loaf-shaped pots, molds must be used.
Once the pot is in the desired shape, it is removed from the wheel and allowed to dry. Once the pot is dry, it is smoothed out with very fine sandpaper. When the pot is smooth and dry it is then placed into a kiln to be fired.
The firing process is different for each type of clay pot. Flame ware will be fired at higher temperatures than earthenware. Before firing the pot, depending on the type of pot, a glaze may be added to the surface of the pot with a paintbrush.
Once the pot has been fired and allowed to cool, it is ready for use.
What are the benefits of cooking with clay pots?
Like I said earlier, clay pots are non-toxic which is a huge benefit. In addition to being all-natural and non-toxic, clay cookware retains heat better than metal pots do. This excellent heat retention will keep your food warm for longer, as well as cooking your food more evenly. Earthenware, if properly soaked before use, will continue to steam your food naturally during cooking, which locks in the flavor and prevents your food from being dried out.