Clay cookware brings traditions to the kitchen and tenderness to recipes. Since their invention about 12,000 years ago, clay pots have been used for good cooking and good eating across cultures and geographies. Clay vessels have unique properties that make them ideal for roasting, baking, steaming, and braising. The porousness of the material allows for heat and moisture to slowly circulate around the dish while it cooks. This makes the resulting food more tender, juicy, and delicious.
There are health benefits associated with clay cooking. Recipes do not require as much oil or fat because clay naturally draws out the rich flavors by heating evenly and recirculating steam. Some claim that clay cooking retains vitamins and minerals that otherwise would be lost in the process. Also, the alkaline in clay balances out the acidity in food, which makes the flavors more coherent and rounded.
Cooking and serving in clay cookware encourages a certain thoughtfulness in the kitchen. Gathering for a slow-cooked meal becomes a sought-often moment of respite. We offer a selection of clay cookware pieces, each with a unique story to tell. These made-to-last vessels are a way to connect to traditional cooking techniques from around the world and make your own memories.
Chamba (La Chamba, Colombia)
Chamba cookware is handmade by local artisans in La Chamba, Colombia, out of natural clay. Each piece is burnished with stones and fired on site. Chamba earthenware pieces are unglazed; their distinctive black color coming from the clay and how they are fired in the kiln. We use Chamba dishes in our Café because they retain the heat well from our oven to your table. The smooth black finish makes the vessels appear strikingly modern. However, the origins of the vessel’s design can be traced back 700 years to pre-Columbian archaeological sites.
The Chamba roaster and bean pots are designed for cooking meats, stews, and pulses. The lid-less options are the Chamba Oval Platter for roasting and baking, and the Chamba Comal for heating tortillas and roasting chilies.
Oaxacan Collection (San Marcos Tlapazola, Oaxaca, Mexico)
We are proud to offer a selection of clay earthenware from Oaxaca. These pieces were created in San Marcos Tlapazola in collaboration with Colectivo 1050º, a design guild devoted to maintaining and advancing Oaxacan craft tradition. There are over seventy pottery villages in Oaxaca, each with distinct workshops and artisans. Eric Mindling’s book Fire and Clay: The Art of Oaxacan Pottery is an essential introduction to the culture imbued in Oaxacan pottery.
The Elia Cooking Pot is suited for beans, soups, and braising meat. The Elia Rice Pot can be used for rice and other grains. The Clay Grill is a portable grill for meat and vegetables, as well as a mobile stovetop for cooking soup and warming tortillas. It is an intricately made and striking to watch in action.
Manufacture de Digoin (Burgundy, France)
Founded in 1875, Manufacture de Digoin originated as a family ceramic business in the northern Loire valley and established itself crafting staples of the French kitchen. Digoin specializes in earthenware and stoneware made from local materials. Each piece of pottery is hand-shaped by artisans and made to stand the test of time.
We’re honored to be Manufacture de Digoin’s first collaboration with a U.S. company. Digoin’s selection of clay cookware includes unglazed and glazed pieces that serve a variety of functions. The Unglazed Roasting Pot works like a stove-top to roast potatoes, beets, and even chestnuts and coffee beans. The Unglazed Terracotta Roaster is ideal for baking bread (the clay will keep the insides soft and the make crust crispy) and roasting chicken – check out our roast chicken recipe. This type of roaster dates back to Roman times and is nicknamed the “four crétois,” which translates as “the Cretan oven” or “Mediterranean oven.”
Nagatani-en Pottery (Iga, Japan)
We source our donabes, traditional Japanese clay pots, from the Nagatani-en clayware house founded in 1832. Nagatani-en is the leading producer of Iga-yaki pottery, which is crafted from clay from the 4-million-year-old seabed of Lake Biwa. Iga-yaki donabes are handcrafted, each taking two weeks to complete. Donabe cooking has been traced by 10,000 years, yet the vessel remains a modern kitchen staple.
The Donabe Clay Smoker can be used for grilling vegetables and fish (here’s our getting started guide). Due to its thick clay body, the Donabe Rice Cooker steam-cooks rice even after it is removed from the heat source, making the rice extra fluffy. The Donabe Clay Steamer is an impressive cooking and serving vessel well-suited for fish, chicken, or vegetables.