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Dec 7, 2005 11:26 AM

clay pot cooking

  • c

I've been given a wonderful clay pot, for chinese cooking, and recipes I've considered call for cooking stovetop (and later in the oven)...unfortunately I have an electric stove! Can I cook in the clay pot over an electric burner?

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    1. You should use a defuser under your clay pot. Not all clay pots can go on the stove but you could have one that can. I have a blog about clay cooking. You might want to check it out to see if you see a pot like yours. And if I recommend putting it on the stove. Important to lead test all clay pots too.
      Good luck.

      1. I have a couple of sand pots (unglazed on the outside, wire frame). Normally I use them on a portable butane burner. Same with the Spanish teracotta cazuella.

        With gentle heat, I did use one of the sand pots on my electric coil burner, but I don't routinely do this.

        8 Replies
        1. re: paulj

          I also have a couple Chinese sand pots and cook Adobo, Curries, Stewed Ox tails, Pepperpot, and Chili all over a medium flame. Do you soak your pots before using them? My oldest is about 6 years old and has this great patina but now it seems that they are getting harder to find in Chinatown.

          1. re: currymouth

            I don't routinely soak them. If it's been a while since I used the pot, and I think of in time, I will soak it. I get the impression, especially from instructions for the Spanish pots, that the initial soaking is most important. Apparently the dry pot, straight from the kiln is most fragile.

            I bought mine at 99Ranch, a California based chain with a Chinese bent. We now have a Hmart (NJ based Korean) in the area. I've eyed the Korean clay pots there, but haven't bought one yet. They are glazed inside and out, so soaking probably does not do any good.

            1. re: paulj

              Thanks for the info, I can get the glazed pots in my town but I am very attached to the sand pots, and there is a H Mart 20 min away. Thanks again.

              1. re: currymouth

                Any tips on how to begin with clay pot cooking? I would be using one cheaply bought from an Asian supermarket.

                What do I do when I first get it?
                What is the heat capacity?
                Can I slow-cook with it on a gas stove?
                Can I bake bread (around 500 degrees F) in it?


                1. re: sjgray

                  You may consider starting a new post, although it isn't bad to tag along an older post. There are a few posts on this, but it may not be easy to find them on your own.

                  How to begin, right? Do you have a photo of your clay post? Is it glazed or porous?

                  <What do I do when I first get it?>

                  If it is glazed, then you can start right away. If it is unfinished porous, then you need to soak the pot in water first before using it.

                  <What is the heat capacity?>

                  I am not answering this one

                  <Can I slow-cook with it on a gas stove?>


                  <Can I bake bread (around 500 degrees F) in it?>

                  Depending how you want to do. If you know what you are doing, yes. If not, I won't do it. You can crack it.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    Thanks! I realize it's silly to ask the heat capacity because the pot itself is fired at such a high temperature, I guess the question was more about the bread:

                    The thing about using the clay pot for bread is that the vessel the bread is baked in needs to be pre-heated first. However, I know it's a taboo to heat clay pots with nothing inside (it promotes cracking, right?). How to get around this? Bake something else first? Has anyone had any luck with this?

                    Also, if it's only glazed on the inside, do I still need to soak it?

                    1. re: sjgray

                      <! I realize it's silly to ask the heat capacity because the pot itself is fired at such a high temperature>

                      No, it wasn't silly. I wasn't answering that question because I didn't have a good answer. I think it is a complicated question -- for me anyway.

                      Yeah, I was suspecting that you are thinking about using it as a "no knead bread" vessel. I think heating the clay pot alone is not that bad, but the fact that you will later dump a cool dough in it may be too much for the clay pot. It is sudden change of temperature there. I know people have been doing this for a long time like using these clay vessels:


                      Some people even use a generic flower pot:


                      But those are dedicated vessels, and it won't matter if they develop tiny fine cracks. It would matters for a vessel which you also want to use to make soup and other things.

                      <Also, if it's only glazed on the inside, do I still need to soak it?>

                      Yes, you will still need to soak it in water.

                      1. re: sjgray

                        Soaking is supposed to restore some of the moisture lost during firing, and make the ceramic more durable. It's recommended for Spanish casuelas as well.

                        I haven't seen anything about not heating earthenware like this empty. What you need to careful about is temperature contrasts - either rapid changes, or hot and cold parts. The big no-no is putting a hot pot on a cold surface. But I'm also careful not to put a room temperature pot on a hot surface (e.g. oven rack). Instead I warm the pot with the oven.

                        I don't know about putting dough inside a hot pot. It might work, but it might also produce cracking. However clay 'pots' are used to bake bread - an inverted pot can be placed over a loaf to promote crust development. It's the same idea as using the hot dutch oven.