Pros: Dishwasher-safe; microwaveable; freezer-safe
Cons: Ceramic requires handling with care
Rating: 4 out of 5
The Calphalon 2 quart ceramic covered baker is a handy piece of cookware to have around. It’s relatively heavy (heavier than, say, glass), allowing heat to spread evenly. It isn’t as heavy as enamel-coated cast iron, however, making it easier on the hands. It’s also microwaveable, unlike coated cast iron.
It’s dishwasher-safe—a wonderful trait in any piece of cookware—and comes clean quite easily, particularly if you wipe just a little oil over the surface before using. Which I do recommend, as the instructions advise against soaking for anything other than a very short length of time.
The ceramic baker is safe for the freezer, fridge, and broiler as well, and can withstand temperatures up to 550 F, although it shouldn’t be preheated and can’t be used on the stovetop.
My favorite features of the ceramic baker are its versatility and the ease of cleaning. A two quart volume is just about perfect for most uses, and it’s nice to have another piece of cookware that’s safe for both the oven and the microwave, and can be used to put leftovers straight into the fridge or freezer. Melted and browned cheese and baked rice come right off without any sticking, at least in my experience, such that even if this weren’t dishwasher-safe it would be a cinch to clean.
In fact, my only reservation is that you really do have to take care with ceramic items. I wouldn’t recommend buying this if you’re the kind of casual cook who prefers buying cheap pots that can be banged around and replaced frequently. You can’t use metal utensils on this, shouldn’t strike the side with a spoon or other utensil, shouldn’t stack it with other items, shouldn’t place the hot pan in water or use an abrasive cleanser, shouldn’t soak it for an extended time, and so on. For someone who’s used to taking excellent care of their kitchen equipment and keeps primarily nylon utensils around this isn’t a problem, but make sure it’s the right material for you!