The Best All-Natural Clay Pots For Healthy Home Cooking

Our guide to the best all-natural clay cooking pots.

June 14, 2017
best pots for healthy clay pot cooking
Photograph courtesy of Amazon.com

When it comes to non toxic cookware, one of the best ideas is a very, very old one: clay pot cooking.

Clay pots and casseroles, unlike cookware made of materials like steel, iron or aluminum, take a long time to absorb heat. But once they do, they spread that heat evenly throughout the clay pot body and releases it just as slowly to the food cooking within. This allows for the flavors of a dish to build slowly, for spices penetrate more deeply, and for meats, even the tough cuts, to break down into succulent pieces. This also helps the food more retain nutrients. (Read more about the surprising health benefits of cooking in clay pots.)

There are many types of pots, each with differences that come from the kind of clay that is used, the way it’s made, or how it’s fired. One isn’t better than the other, they all just perform a little differently. What is key, though, is that pots are unglazed and come with a well-fitting lid.

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Because of their porousness, clay pots will take on the flavor of whatever you cook in it. The functional learning from this is that each pot is best used for similar flavored dishes—if you use a pot to cook fish, don’t use it to make hot chocolate. So you may want to invest in multiple pots as you get more comfortable with this type of cooking vessel.

Here are 4 great clay pots to start cooking with.

La Chamba is one of the best clay pots for clay pot cooking
Photograph courtesy of Amazon.com
La Chamba Black Clay 6 Quart Flat Casserole

A traditional kiln-firing, that includes smoking the pots in smouldering organic materials, gives this unglazed baking dish from Colombia its deep black color and, many swear, a smoky flavor. The pot is made with finer clay so it has lower porosity and is polished with semi-precious agate stones, giving it a lustrous appearance. The flat bottom lets you use it in the oven, or on top of a gas or electric range, making it great for stews, braises, and baked dishes.

Buy it now: $80, Amazon.com

a tagine is one of the best clay pots for clay pot cooking
Photograph courtesy of Amazon.com
Unglazed Moroccan Tagine — 12 inch

If the one property of a clay pot that’s got you most excited, is its ability to (slow) cook down the toughest cuts of meat, then a tagine should be your pot of choice. The sloping walls of the lid recirculate the rising steam from the food back down, ensuring meats cook down into juicy, tender and flavorful bites, even more so than in any other clay pot. Plus, the exotic visual appeal of a tagine means it looks gorgeous even on your dinner table, too. 

Buy it now: $50, Amazon.com

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best pots for healthy clay pot cooking
Photograph courtesy of Amazon.com
Indian Clay Curry Pot — 9 Inch

Made from coarse clay mined from riverbanks in India, this curry pot is extremely porous, making it ideal for cooking curry and stews, sautéing vegetables and greens, and — my favorite — steaming rice. A unique traditional process of shaping the pot gives it a rounded even base that is sturdy enough for gas-flame cooking yet thin enough for a more controlled heating of the food. 

Buy it now: $36, Amazon.com  

this clay bread pan is one of the best clay pots for clay pot cooking
Photograph courtesy of Amazon.com
Unglazed Terracotta Bread Form

Something magical happens to bread when it bakes in unglazed clay—it turns soft on the inside, crusty on the outside and irresistible all over. Any of the clay pots in this list will get you there but if you’re a stickler for shape, this unglazed bread pan is what you want. Just be ready for all the old-world feels. 

Buy it now: $25, Amazon.com