TLDR: Stoneware is a durable and versatile material that can be used for cooking, baking, and serving. When choosing quality stoneware, look for pieces that are heavy, have a smooth finish, and are dishwasher-safe. Our tips for picking a quality made piece will help you pick stoneware, dinnerware, dishes, and vessels that will last a lifetime.
What is stoneware?
Stoneware is a type of ceramic that is made from high-fired clay that is fired in a kiln at temperatures in excess of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Stoneware is known for its durability, heat resistance, and versatility and is used for cooking, baking, serving, and even as decorative pieces.
What to look for and how to buy quality made stoneware
If you are looking for handcrafted, quality-made stoneware, there are a few things you should keep in mind when shopping to ensure that the investment you make is a good one.
Stoneware is a dense material, so it should feel heavy and substantial in your hand. If it feels lightweight or flimsy, it's probably not made of genuine stoneware.
Stoneware is typically white, off-white or beige, but it can also be found in other colors, such as black, brown, or red. The color should be evenly distributed throughout the finished piece and free of any blemishes.
Stoneware should have a smooth, matte finish unless glazed. If it feels rough or it is bumpy, then it’s not made of the best quality materials and should be avoided.
Stoneware is a very durable material with a dense clay body, so it should be able to withstand everyday use without chipping or cracking. In general, stoneware does not break easily. You can test the durability of a piece of stoneware by lightly tapping a piece on a hard surface. If it feels hollow or breaks or chips easily, then this is not a good quality stoneware piece.
Stoneware is oven-safe and can withstand temperatures up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. This means you can use it to cook, bake, and serve food. Just be careful not to quickly change the temperature of your stoneware. Taking a stoneware piece from hot temperatures to very cold temperatures can cause the piece to break because of the quick temperature change. It’s best to check with the manufacturer to see if the stoneware can be used in the oven, but generally broiling or exposure to minimal heat in an oven is generally acceptable with stoneware pieces.
Stoneware is available in a variety of designs, from simple and elegant to rustic and traditional. Choose a design that you love, and that will complement your unique style, your dining room décor, and your table and place settings.
How to care for your stoneware
Stoneware is easy to care for, and following these simple steps will ensure your new stoneware pieces last, and look great, for years to come.
Handwashing is always best
Yes, you absolutely put glazed stonewear in the dishwasher, but as with any dishwasher safe items, your stonewear dishes will last longer and look more vibrant and hold up better over time if you hand wash it. Using a mild dish detergent is preferred as well as a non-abrrasive brush or scrubber. Never use any steel wool, scrubbers, or brushes with metal pieces in them on your stoneware.
Avoid cutting cutting and scraping metal on the glaze
Yes, most cutlery is metal, and yes you can use metal cutlery with your glazed stoneware pieces, but be advised metal cutlery can create scraps on the stonewear glaze and the harder you dig or scrape into the glaze the more pronounced the marks will be. These marks can be polished out with a product like Barkeeper’s Friend, but it’s best to cut your meats or slice your bread on a non-stoneware surface. If you like a paninade used look then this may not be a big issue for you.
Stoneware is microwave safe, but not always oven safe
Stoneware is also microwave-safe, so you can use it to heat up food quickly in the microwave. While most stoneware is oven-safe you need to be careful how you use it in the oven. You never want stoneware to be in the oven for extended periods of time or at a really high heat. We recommend broiling in stoneware for a short amount of time – think getting the cheese bubbly and crunchy on a french onion soup. Avoid baking in stoneware because stoneware if heated too hot, too fast has a tendency to crack. Also if your stoneware is hot don’t dunk it in cold water to clean it. Changing the temperature of stoneware too quickly can cause it to crack.
Stoneware is dishwasher safe, but we recommend handwashing
Stoneware is dishwasher-safe, so you can easily clean it after every use. If you don’t have a dishwasher, then your stoneware will clean up nicely with a mild dish detergent handwashed in the sink. We always prefer to handwash our stoneware pieces because some dishwashers can get too hot and some detergents can be too abrasive, but generally you’re fine to run your stoneware int he dishwasher. But remember to never, ever use baking soda or vinegar in your dishwasher if you run out of detergent as this can permanently damage stoneware and many other types of dishes too. And again, if you are handwashing, just be sure to use a non-abrasive scrubbing brush or sponge. While stoneware doesn’t damage easily, you never want to scratch up your stoneware’s finish with an abrasive cleaning pad or wire brush.
Where to buy quality made stoneware
The best place to buy stoneware is on Made Trade. Not only are you guaranteed an exceptional, high-quality piece of stoneware for your kitchen and home, but you also are buying stoneware that is made with 100% verified fair labor and sustainably sourced materials.
Want to know the difference between porcelain, stoneware, and earthenware? Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Ceramics for a deep dive into the most common types of ceramics and what to look for when making an investment in a quality made piece.