Ceramic Mixing Bowl
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Ceramic bowls mean bowls made from clay. They are among the most ancient type of "pottery bowls." They date back as far as Ancient China. Modern ceramic bowls can be made from Earthenware, Stoneware or Porcelain which are the specific sub-categories of Ceramics.  

On this, Resource Page we are discussing Ceramic Bowls made for Mixing. The clarification is needed because for most of history a bowl was a bowl, even if it was large or small, a rectangle, a triangle or a square.  There just were not many specialty bowls with their own sub-designations, like Salad Bowl, Soup Bowl, etc. at least not until closer to our modern era. Purpose build "Mixing Bowls" like the iconic, ceramic Mason Cash Cane Bowl first hit the market in 1901.

Today, ceramic Mixing Bowls are generally used to hold and mix foods behind the scenes. They can also be used to Marinade, Temper, Measure, Store, Whisk, Mix, Beat, Hold, Reheat, etc. They are not normally used to serve foods at table, but some ceramic bowls are very decorative and can be brought out for service.  

When discussing Ceramic Mixing Bowls, the first concept we should put forward is that there is not one type of "best mixing bowl” of any kind. Each type of material, shape, size, etc. has pros and cons that may work, or not work, in a given situation. At Smart Kitchen, we consider Ceramic Mixing Bowls in the context of their Reactivity, Fragility, Absorption, Size, Shape, and Weight.

REACTIVITY

We don't usually think about it a lot, but the kitchen is akin to a culinary chemistry lab so we need to understand that some ingredients and materials don't play well together. When you are the chef, you are in charge. If you make a bad match between materials, you can end up with bad tastes, weird colors, staining, etc.

Ceramic Mixing Bowls are non-reactive which means that they don't react, produce off-tastes or off-colors when they come in contact with Acids, which are the most noted reactive compound in the kitchen. Vinegar is one of the most common, but Acid is also found in Wine, Citrus (Lemons, Oranges, etc.), Tomatoes (including Tomato Sauce), and many other Fruits (Pineapple, Peach, Apple, Grapes, etc.). These Acidic Foods can be problematic if they come in contact with metals like Copper, Cast Iron, Aluminum, some types of Steel, or other reactive materials. When working with acid or acidic foods, Ceramic  Mixing Bowls (and Glass Mixing Bowls) are best. Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls can work too.

FRAGILITY

Another consideration is fragility, by which we mean three things: softness, brittleness, and temperature sensitivity.

Ceramics are the opposite of soft. They are very hard so you don't have to worry about scraping off shards that wind up in your foods, like you might with an Aluminum Mixing Bowl, even if you use a Metal Spatula or Metal Whisk.

Like Glass, Ceramics are very brittle. We may have less experience dropping ceramic coffee mugs than we do accidentally dropping glass items, but the results are pretty much the same. Chipping can also be a problem. Think about which uses and which helpers should be working with a fragile mixing bowl. Junior Chefs can be left on the floor with a Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl but should not be with a ceramic one. 

When Ceramic Mixing Bowls are Oven-Safe, they are very handy for mixing, cooking, serving and cleaning in only one vessel. Remember though, that all Ceramic are not oven-proof, or freezer proof. In the wrong circumstances they can shatter. Also, ceramics are decent conductors of heat and filling them with a hot item can cause the whole bowl to heat up to such a degree that your could burn yourself. Think ahead and take precautions (Oven Mitt, Kitchen Towel, etc.)

 ABSORPTION

Because of their hardness, Ceramic Mixing Bowls do a great job of repelling fats and odors. Storing Onions or Garlic in the wrong type of bowl can leave an odor that might taint the next item(s). Fruits are particularly susceptible and do better stored in glass, ceramic or in a single-use container like a paper bag or plastic bag (depending on the fruit or vegetable).

SIZE

Mixing Bowls come in many sizes. Not every size is right for every kitchen or chef. Generally, Ceramic Mixing Bowls can be classified by size as:

1. Under Two Quarts

2. Two to Four Quarts

3. Five to Seven Quarts

4. Eight to Ten Quarts

The smallest Ceramic Mixing Bowls are easy to store and can be handy for small tasks like Whisking together a few eggs. Slightly larger bowls are good for handling parts of a Recipe that will later be consolidated in a larger bowl. Separately mixing the wet & dry ingredients for a Batter, is a good example. Bowls larger than 5 quarts tend to have enough space to hold multiple ingredients and still have room to do some work.

We don't run across a lot of ceramic mixing bowls that are larger than 10 quarts. At that size, they would be very heavy for most people, even empty, Therefore many of the larger Mixing Bowls tend to be made of lighter Stainless Steel.

SHAPE

The issues with Ceramic Mixing Bowl shape really come down to depth, geometric shape and rims.

Ceramic Mixing Bowls are most actively used for Mixing, Whisking, working Dough and Marinating. Generally, Mixing requires higher sides, meaning a deeper bowl. Keeping the mixed contents inside the bowl leads to a better yield and an easier clean up. Higher sides are also best for holding rising dough.

If the sides are too high, it can be more difficult (especially for shorter chefs and junior chefs) to reach inside the bowl and do their work. This is especially true for Whisking, where a shallower bowl makes it easier to tilt and maneuver the bowl to get the job done.

As to specific shapes, Mixing Bowls are normally round but technically can be any shape. A lot of time can be spent discussing the slope of the interior walls, the type of seams / edges, etc. but we think those items are matters of personal preference. If you don't have a preference now, you will form one as you are trying to pour out the contents or scraping down the edges and fishing out those last bits of dough from a difficult seam.

The issues with Rims are mostly about manipulation. How easy, and or comfortable, is it to grasp and move the bowl?  A rim gives you something to hold on to while you work. One quarter inch to one half inch of rim is our preference.

WEIGHT

The issue of weight in Ceramic Mixing Bowls comes down to how much weight can you manage? Some Ceramic Mixing Bowls can weigh three or four pounds empty.

In addition, Ceramic can be extremely decorative, resist stains and have a cooling effect because of its good insulating properties. Ceramics can generally be used in the refrigerator, freezer and microwave.  The major drawbacks of ceramics are that they can be fragile and some older ceramic containers are not lead free.

Varieties

Modern Ceramic Mixing Bowls can be made from Earthenware, Stoneware or Porcelain. They can also be un-glazed, glazed, enameled, etc. 

Purchasing

When choosing a bowl, or set, be aware that some ceramic mixing bowl sets are designed to be “nested” or stored one inside the other from largest to smallest. Nested mixing bowls come in various sizes ranging from ¼ cup - 12 cups.

Some bowls / bowl sets, come with covers for each of the bowls and these can make good storageware.  

Because, the term "ceramic" covers a few types, consider whether Earthenware, Stoneware or Porcelain, glazed or un-glazed will best serve your purposes. Ceramics can also be pricey. There are many factors to consider when Purchasing Ceramic Mixing Bowls.

Culinary Uses

The major beneficial features of Ceramic Mixing Bowls are that they are non-reactive, translucent, (in some cases) non-absorbing and microwaveable. Some are oven-safe and freezer-safe and can be used for both cooking and service.

Generally, Ceramic Mixing Bowls are used for manually, or mechanically, combining ingredients or for Marinating, since they don't react to acids and oils or odors won't be absorbed by the walls. If you are going to be working with odiferous foods like Onions or Garlic, they are a good choice. Rehydrating and Fermenting are some other tasks where ceramics shine. 

Besides the possibility of chipping, cracking out outright breakage and Ceramic, when coated with oil from foods or hands, is a pretty slippery material.

Some chemical food reactions are harder to achieve with ceramics and better in metal. Beating Egg whites into peaks or foam is an example that comes to mind. Ceramics are also heavy, so it may be more difficult to pick up and maneuver for Whisking, Pouring, Tossing, carrying, etc.

They are usually Dishwasher-Safe and Scratch-Resistant. Many Ceramic Pieces are also Oven-Safe, Freezer-Safe, Microwave-Safe and they tend to have good insulating properties. Make sure to double check with your manufacturer.