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What’s the Difference Between Stoneware and Porcelain?

Everything you need to know about the differences between stoneware versus porcelain.

By Team Made In
Apr 6, 2021
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We often don’t think about the exact materials in our everyday kitchen items. Things like plates, mixing bowls, pie plates, and casserole dishes are often made of some type of ceramic, but what’s the difference? They’re all made of clay that’s hardened in a kiln, but the make-up of the clay and temperatures that they’re fired at make the most significant difference in their performance. Two of the most common are stoneware and porcelain.

Porcelain is probably best known for tea sets and decorative statues, but did you know it’s actually an incredibly durable material for bakeware? Not just for your grandmother’s company china, porcelain is a surprising powerhouse for kitchenware. Stoneware has a rustic aesthetic , and is known for its versatility. Here’s how they stack up against each other.

What Is Stoneware?

When you think of ceramics, the image that pops into your head is probably stoneware. It’s the most common type of ceramic and encompasses mugs, bowls, plates, casserole dishes, and more. Stoneware is fired at a lower temperature than porcelain, and is made up of refined clay with several types of coarse additives.

Advantages of Stoneware

Stoneware is one of the most common types of dinnerware and bakeware for a reason— it’s durable, affordable, and easy to make. Here are some additional reasons it’s a popular choice in home kitchens.

Durability

Stoneware is one of the oldest forms of dinnerware and bakeware. Most vintage or ancient plateware that survived until today is usually stoneware. The added moisture and inherent elasticity of the clay allows stoneware to withstand more wear and tear.

Cost-Efficient and Affordable

Stoneware is one of the most common materials you see for dinnerware and bakeware. The clay and additives are easy and cheap to source, plus stoneware requires less intense firing which makes it a more affordable choice.

High Heat Threshold

Stoneware holds heat exceptionally well and heats up quickly. When it comes to baking, this means that stoneware yields extremely browned bottoms, crispy edges, and thoroughly cooked middles.

Considerations of Stoneware

While stoneware is a great choice for some applications, it’s not always the best choice because it can be hard to clean, absorbent, and scratch other surfaces. Here are some factors to consider before opting for this material.

Coarse Texture

Stoneware has a coarser grain than porcelain. This gives it a more unrefined and rough and ready look which might look nice for, say, a pot for a house plant, but isn’t ideal for bakeware. Sponges,rags, and bits of food can get caught in these pores, so stoneware can be difficult to clean.

Absorbent Material

A characteristic that distinguishes different types of clay, like the kinds used to make stoneware or porcelain, is its porousness. By definition, stoneware absorbs more moisture than porcelain due to the additions to the clay and firing temperatures. This moisture absorbency leads to a softer finished product that can hold bacteria.

Rough Bottom

Stoneware often has a rustic look and finish, which is appealing to some but usually has a rough bottom. Glaze can’t be applied to the bottom of each piece because it will fuse to the kiln, so the rough, coarse-grained clay is exposed and can scratch countertops, tables, or other dinnerware and bakeware.

What Is Porcelain?

Given its bright white color, it may be surprising to learn that porcelain is a composite material made up of a kaolin clay base with feldspar and quartz silica mixed in to reinforce it. This mixture is fired at around 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit, while stoneware is fired at about 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit.

The higher temperature allows the silt additives in the clay to meld together better and create a stronger material. The end product is a robust, hard piece of bakeware with a beautifully smooth, glossy finish.

Advantages of Porcelain

Porcelain is fired at a higher temperature than stoneware. This leads to a harder and more durable composition that’s much less likely to break. Given its composition, the finer particles in porcelain clay make it much denser when fired, so less of it is needed to be strong.

Lightweight

Unlike stoneware, makers can pull porcelain thinner without compromising the integrity of the clay. So, porcelain tends to be lighter and less cumbersome while still retaining its strength. Lighter porcelain bakeware is much easier to maneuver and lift in or out of the oven.

Smooth Texture

Porcelain is made with a type of clay that has a much finer grain than the clay used for stoneware. Once it’s fired, porcelain has a smoother texture that’s easier to clean and has a more visually appealing and non stick finish. Because of this, porcelain is considered a more high-quality material since it’s so polished and smooth while maintaining durability. Our Bakeware can easily go straight from the oven to the table and fit in with all your beautiful serveware.

Thermal-Shock Resistant

Nothing is worse than the heartbreak of shattered bakeware. Unlike many other types of materials, porcelain is thermal-shock resistant so it can handle all types of temperature fluctuations without cracking or breaking, since the heat is distributed exceptionally evenly across the material with no hotter zones or spots of the bakeware. It can also be heated to 650 degrees Fahrenheit, much higher than stoneware.

Considerations of Porcelain

Porcelain is a hard and durable material, but it can sometimes chip or be difficult to make and expensive. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when shopping for or using porcelain bakeware or tableware.

Susceptible to Chipping

Porcelain's biggest advantage is its extreme hardness. But the trade-off of extra hard materials is a lack of tensile strength, meaning it’s not so great at handling a shock like being put down hard on a counter or bumping into a hard corner. The most common reaction to a shock by porcelain is chipping. . Porcelain is more susceptible to chipping because its hardness doesn’t absorb shock as well as other more malleable materials.

More Expensive

Often, porcelain is pulled into ultra-thin designs and can be manipulated into many elaborate shapes with ornate decorations or delicate patterns.  This isn’t always the case when it comes to bakeware or plate sets, but porcelain is generally decorated, making it more expensive than stoneware.

Can be Made Cheaply

Unfortunately, lower-quality porcelain is often coated in enamel or non stick coating to compensate for its  below-par craftsmanship, as this is cheaper than making porcelain the right way to strengthen it. When this happens, the bakeware is more prone to cracking and chipping.

Luckily, all of our porcelain is made using a 200-year-old French recipe that yields a naturally non stick exterior and super strong interior—no need to add anything extra to our durable porcelain. 

Which One is Better?

While stoneware may be  great for a decorative fruit bowl or mug, when it comes to bakeware, porcelain is the way to go. Bakeware should be durable and able to perform in the  high heat of the oven, making porcelain the only choice. 

Ready to Shop?

Now that you know porcelain is the preferred choice over stoneware when it comes to Bakeware, it’s time to outfit your kitchen in this durable, versatile material. Luckily, Made In Cookware has an extensive line of porcelain Bakeware to suit any need or color preference, from 9x13 Baking Dishes to perfect a peach cobbler to Oval Gratin Dishes for mushroom lasagna. All you need to decide is what color and shape (or shapes) you’ll be using for years to come.

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