An unglazed clay pot filled with delicious chicken curry and surrounded by dices of vegetables.

Simple Guide To Glazed vs Unglazed Clay Pots for Cooking

If you’re just starting out in the kitchen and don’t know what the best clay pots for cooking are to invest in? Then a simple guide to glazed vs unglazed clay pots is just what you need.

Cooking is a magnificent stress reliever and I love the experience of kinda being a mad scientist. As I dance around the kitchen to my favourite playlist, grabbing spices (aka portions) and mixing my concoctions in my cauldron, I mean pots, I can experiment to my heart’s content. 

I adore doing dishes with my unique blends, having taste tests while I sing at the top of my lungs.

I have learnt many things through experience; the main one is that you need the right tools for the job. I may not be a pro like Gordon Ramsey, but I have learnt that while there are all sorts of specialized pots and pans for different dishes, there also types of clay pots for cooking.

There are two main types: glazed vs unglazed clay pots.

What are glazed cooking clay pots?

A glazed clay cooking pot placed on an oriental red mat with 2 wooden spoons.

Glazed clay pots refers simply to the layer of glaze applied to the pots, which produces a shiny and smooth surface. The application of glaze is a glassy coating that is used to protect the pot from moisture and heat. The glazed surface of the clay pot makes it ideal for cooking stews, casseroles and other dishes that require a lot of moisture.

Advantages of glazed clay pots

  • The glazed surface of the clay pot aids in preventing the food from sticking
  • Compared to unglazed pots, glazed clay pots are easier to clean
  • Glazed clay pots do not to absorb flavors from foods, thus allowing you to cook a more flavorful dish
  • They are available in a variety of colors and designs, giving you more options for creativity

Disadvantages of glazed clay pots

  • All things being equal, glazed clay pots can be more expensive than unglazed clay pots
  • The smooth surface of the glazed clay pot can make it difficult to brown meats, although you could brown it in a cast iron pan and add it to the clay pot afterwards
  • Glazed clay pots are not as good at retaining heat as well as unglazed clay pots do

How to season a glazed clay pot for cooking

Trust me, I learnt this the hard way – you will need to season your glazed clay pot before cooking with it for the first time. People tend to think that because the clay pot is glazed, it does not need to be seasoned. This is a fallacy.

Seasoning your clay pot will help to create a natural non-stick layer or surface, thus preventing the loss of flavors during your cooking experience.

To season a glazed clay pot you will need:

  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil (olive or canola)
  • a clean cloth
  • paper towels


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Pour the oil into the pot and use the cloth to spread it around
  • Place the pot in the oven and bake for 30 minutes
  • Remove the pot from the oven and let it cool
  • Wipe the pot with the paper towels to remove any excess oil

Your pot is now ready for use!

How to cook in glazed clay pot

  • Use a lower temperature than you would with other cookware
  • Sear meats in a separate pan before adding them to the pot
  • Use a little bit of oil or fat to help prevent sticking
  • Add liquid to the pot before adding dry ingredients
  • Stir food gently to avoid scratching the surface of the pot

Now that you understand glazed clay pots better, you can try your hand at some recipes using clay cooking pots

A prawn curry layered on a scoop of white rice and served in a glazed clay cooking dish.

What are unglazed cooking clay pots?

Unglazed clay pots are not coated with glaze and this means that they have a more porous surface or composition. Unglazed cooking pots are great for cooking dry foods such as roast chicken or vegetables [1]. The porous surface of the pot helps to keep the food moist and warmer for longer.

Advantages of unglazed clay pots

  • Unglazed clay pots are less expensive than glazed cooking pots
  • The porous surface of unglazed pots helps to brown meats and adds flavour to the food
  • Unglazed pots are better at retaining heat compared to glazed clay pots

Disadvantages of unglazed clay pots

  • The porous surface of unglazed cooking pots can make cleanup more difficult
  • Unglazed clay pots are more likely to absorb flavors from foods
  • These pots are not available in as many colours and designs as the glazed counterparts

How to cook in glazed clay pot

  • Use a lower temperature than you would with other cookware
  • Soak the pot in water for at least 30 minutes before cooking
  • Do not put cold water in a hot pot
  • Be careful when adding liquid to the pot
  • Stir the food gently to avoid cracking the pot
  • Do not put the pot on a direct flame
  • Use a little bit of oil or fat to help prevent sticking
  • Let the pot cool gradually before washing it
A prepared fish curry cooked in an unglazed clay cooking pot, with some green leaves.

So, which type of clay pot is best for cooking? The answer depends on the type of food that you are cooking. If you are cooking a dish that requires a lot of moisture, then a glazed clay pot is a good choice. If you are cooking a dryer dish, then an unglazed clay pot is a better choice.

Learn: How I cook an Indian curry recipe from scratch.

FAQ: Glazed vs unglazed clay pots for cooking

Are glazed clay pots safe?

You can be rest assured that clay pots, whether glazed or unglazed are safe for cooking purposes. In fact, clay pots are made from 100% natural and organic materials and are thus completely safe for cooking. Additionally, clay pots are also very durable and can last for many years with proper care.

Which type of clay pot is best for cooking?

Well, based on my personal experience, I would say that unglazed clay pots are the best for cooking. This is because they allow the food to breathe and cook evenly, resulting in juicier and more flavorful food. Also, unglazed clay pots are also much easier to clean than glazed ones.

Additional reading: Best Indian clay pots for cooking

Can I use any clay pot for cooking?

If you are experimenting with using clay pots for cooking, then it is best to use those that are specifically designed for cooking purposes. These clay pots are made from a certain type of clay that is fired at a high temperature, making them much more durable and resistant to heat.

Furthermore, these pots also usually come with a glaze that is food-safe.

What are the disadvantages of cooking in clay pots?

Without contradicting myself, the main disadvantage of cooking in clay pots is that they can be quite fragile. If you drop a clay pot, chances are it will break.

Additionally, clay pots are not induction friendly and can only be used on gas, fire, certain stoves or in ovens. It is not recommended to use a clay pot in a microwave oven. The uneven heating used in a microwave can cause hotspots around the pot, and this could lead to crack formation.

Finally, clay pots can be quite pricey, depending on the brand and quality. So, when you have a good quality one, then best to know how to properly care for your clay cooking pot.

Final thoughts

Whether you choose a glazed or unglazed clay pot, you will be able to create delicious and healthy meals. Keep in mind the tips for cooking in each type of pot, and experiment with different recipes. Be sure to check the manufacture’s instruction around whether you can use your clay pot in a microwave oven as well. With a little practice, you will be a pro in no time! 

When it comes to cooking it is all about trial and error so being sure to be prepared to fail before you succeed. Like life, no one just knows what they are doing… we all fall and we all fail, it is what you do thereafter that defines you.

Please let me know your favourite recipes and feel free to share any tips I may have missed:)

Happy cooking!

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Charlene Gallant

Charlene is a lover of good food. She enjoys nothing more than cooking up a storm in the kitchen and sharing her favourite recipes with her readers. She also enjoys reading a good book.

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