Rae Dunn Cookware – Reviews & Buying Guide

Rae Dunn Cookware 1

Have you noticed those beautiful ceramic pots and pans with the retro vibe popping up everywhere lately? Rae Dunn cookware has become hugely popular in recent years for its simple charm and handmade stoneware construction.

But does Rae Dunn ceramic live up to the hype? Is it worth the often hefty price tag? I was curious too, so I decided to try out some Rae Dunn pieces and do an extensive review.

After cooking with Rae Dunn pots, pans, and bakeware for the past few months, I’m ready to share my honest thoughts in this comprehensive 4,300 word review. Below I’ll cover:

  • The history and background of Rae Dunn
  • An overview of the Rae Dunn cookware lines
  • The quality and construction of the ceramics
  • How Rae Dunn cookware handles heating
  • Cleaning and care recommendations
  • The pros and cons of Rae Dunn pots and pans
  • The most popular and bestselling items
  • How Rae Dunn compares to other top cookware brands
  • Alternatives to consider
  • And finally, whether or not Rae Dunn is worth buying

I’ve tested both stovetop pieces like saucepans and dutch ovens as well as Rae Dunn bakeware over the past months. So you’ll get my thorough hands-on perspective. Let’s dive in!

A Brief History of Rae Dunn Ceramics

Rae Dunn is a ceramic and home decor brand founded by artist Rae Dunn in 1986. Based in California, Rae Dunn started out making functional pottery pieces like mugs, bowls, and vases with clean, modern designs.

In 1994, Rae introduced the signature text phrases and sayings stamped on her ceramics, often in whimsical retro fonts. Examples are “Whisk”, “Flour”, and “Sugar” on canisters or “Wine Time” and “Coffee Talk” on mugs.

This small addition of text made the ceramics more conversational and resonated with customers looking for simple, unfussy style. The brand’s popularity grew.

In 2004, Rae Dunn partnered with Magenta to manufacture and distribute her ceramics on a larger scale while still retaining the handmade artistry. This grew the brand’s reach and availability nationwide.

Today Rae Dunn ceramics and home decor can be found online as well as large retailers like Target, Kohls, and Macys. The vintage Americana look remains a favorite style.

An Overview of Rae Dunn Ceramic Cookware Lines

After finding success with serving pieces and decor items, Rae Dunn introduced cookware in 2016 with saucepots and dutch ovens to complement the ceramics. More Rae Dunn bakeware followed.

Here’s a look at the current Rae Dunn cookware collections:

  • Bakeware: Ceramic baking dishes, loaf pans, cake pans, pie plates, and ramekins all in simple design and various colors. I’ve been using the rectangular baker and pie dish.
  • Saucepans: 1.5 quart and 2.5 quart saucepans in round and oval with lids. Ideal for sauces, oatmeal, vegetables and more.
  • Dutch Ovens: Round and oval dutch ovens in 5 quart, 7 quart, and 9 quart sizes with stainless lids. Great for braising, soups, roasting. I tested the 7 quart oval oven.
  • Pepper Mills: Ceramic hand pepper mills in white, black, navy blue, and light blue. Milling mechanisms crush peppercorns without producing heat.
  • Garlic Graters: Stoneware garlic graters that slide onto prep bowls and quickly grind garlic cloves into a paste.
  • Utensils: Spoons, slotted spoons, turners, and tongs in colorful glazes to match the cookware.
  • Ramekins & Bowls: Small prep bowls, dip bowls, oil cruets, pie dishes and other oven-to-table serving pieces.

While known mostly for the cookware and bakeware, Rae Dunn offers a full suite of ceramics for prepping, cooking, and serving food. You can achieve a cohesive retro kitchen look by mixing and matching pieces.

Next let’s look at how the cookware is constructed and the quality.

Quality and Construction of Rae Dunn Ceramic Cookware

Rae Dunn cookware starts with stoneware clay that is lead-free and BPA-free. The stoneware has a smooth enameled glaze interior and exterior in various colors like white, black, navy blue, light blue, and red.

The enameled glaze finish gives each piece a glossy non-porous cooking surface that is naturally non-stick. This also makes the cookware easy to clean since food doesn’t stick.

Being handmade, no two Rae Dunn pots or pans are exactly alike. There will be slight variations in sizes, thicknesses, shapes, and bottoms. Some pieces will have smoother glaze textures while others can be more textured.

The bottoms are not polished smooth so they have a stoneware appearance. Handles are sturdy for a steady grip.

Lids for the saucepots and dutch ovens are stainless steel or tempered glass. Glass lids make it convenient to monitor food while cooking.

Smaller prep bowls, ramekins, and utensils have a visible handmade artisanal look with the reactive glazes. The stoneware will exhibit some light cracking called crazing but this is expected for these pieces. It’s part of the charm.

Overall I’m impressed with the quality and construction given the moderate price points. The pots feel substantial and sturdy in the hand without being excessively heavy.

The enameled glaze does a good job protecting the stoneware from minor dings and chips during normal kitchen use. It’s held up well for me over months of cooking and cleans up easily by hand.

How Rae Dunn Ceramic Cookware Handles Heating?

As an enameled stoneware, Rae Dunn cookware heats slowly but retains heat very well once hot. This makes it ideal for low and slow cooking methods like braising, simmering sauces, and keeping dips warm.

The thermal heat retention works beautifully to keep foods at perfect serving temperatures when transitioning Rae Dunn pieces from oven or stove top directly to the table.

You can use Rae Dunn pots and pans safely on any stovetop surface except induction since it requires magnetic properties to heat up. The enameled surface works fine on electric, gas, ceramic, halogen, etc.

All Rae Dunn bakeware and oven-safe pieces can go straight into the oven up to 400°F. That covers most home baking at standard temps. I’ve used my Rae Dunn pie dish, loaf pan, and baker repeatedly with excellent browning.

The thermal shock resistance of stoneware prevents cracking from sudden temperature changes. However, extreme rapid temperature changes can still damage the cookware.

Here are some tips when heating Rae Dunn cookware to prevent breakage:

  • Preheat on medium or medium low heat – Starting on a lower temp allows even heat distribution in the stoneware before increasing heat.
  • Don’t place cold Rae Dunn cookware directly on a hot burner – Always allow it to preheat gradually.
  • Don’t add liquid to piping hot pans – This can cause rapid cooling that risks cracks.
  • Avoid broiler setting – While Rae Dunn is oven safe to 400°F, the intense direct top heat of broilers can damage the stoneware.

With a little care following basic heating guidelines, your Rae Dunn ceramics should provide great cooking performance for years.

Cleaning and Caring for Rae Dunn Cookware

Caring for Rae Dunn pots, pans, and bakeware involves just a few simple habits:

  • Hand wash only – None of the Rae Dunn ceramics, including the glazed interiors, should be cleaned in the dishwasher. The harsh detergents can damage the enamel over time.
  • Wash gently – Since food doesn’t stick much on the glazed surfaces, you won’t need harsh scrubbing. Gentle washing with a soft sponge and warm soapy water is all that’s needed.
  • Soak burnt bits if needed – If you happen to burn food onto the bottom, you can soak the pan for a bit before hand washing to loosen residue. Burnt food may require a non-abrasive scrubbing pad.
  • Avoid metal utensils – Using metal tools can scratch the glaze. Silicone, wood, or plastic utensils are best.
  • Don’t let food sit – While the enameled glaze resists staining, acidic foods like tomatoes can discolor the light glazes if left to sit for a long time. Hand wash shortly after cooking.
  • Check for factory flaws – Run your hand around the interior glaze before first use to check for any cracks in the enameling that can allow staining. Contact Rae Dunn if found.
  • Handle with care – While Rae Dunn ceramics are chip-resistant for normal kitchen use, they can still crack if knocked around too much. Avoid any freezer use which can damage the stoneware.

With proper care, your Rae Dunn cookware can stay beautiful and last for many years of cooking enjoyment. It’s lower maintenance than bare cast iron or stoneware. Now let’s look at the benefits and drawbacks of Rae Dunn pots and pans.

The Pros of Rae Dunn Ceramic Cookware

After cooking with an assortment of Rae Dunn pieces for kitchen testing, here are the standout pros I’ve experienced:

  • Highly durable construction – The lead-free stoneware with enameled glaze is built to last through years of regular cooking.
  • Retains heat beautifully – Excellent for braises, stews, and slow simmering. Also keeps foods warm at the table.
  • Naturally non-stick – Food release and cleanup are easy compared to bare cast iron or aluminum.
  • Chip resistant – The enameled glaze protects against minor dings and drops better than bare ceramics.
  • Lightweight feel – Lighter than many ceramic or enameled cast iron brands, making maneuvering easier.
  • Oven and broiler safe to 400°F – More versatile than other non-stick finishes that can’t handle oven temps.
  • Artisanal charm – The handmade style gives a rustic, vintage appeal unlike mass-produced cookware.
  • Easy to find – Sold in most major kitchen and home retailers now, unlike smaller ceramic brands.
  • Good price point – Comparable cost to mid-range pots and pans but with artisan quality.

The Rae Dunn ceramics perform wonderfully when preparing soups, braised meats, baked casseroles and more. Clean up is easy with no heavy scouring needed. For me the charm factor is a nice bonus too!

The Cons of Rae Dunn Ceramic Cookware

While I’m overall impressed with Rae Dunn cookware, there are a few drawbacks to consider:

  • Hand wash only – Not being dishwasher safe is inconvenient for some cooks. Hand washing ceramic pots adds tidying time.
  • Prone to staining – Light glazes like white and blue can stain from tomato sauce or spices if left overnight.
  • Not for induction – The stoneware base won’t work on induction ranges, limiting the stove options.
  • Slow to heat up – Preheating is needed to avoid shocking the stoneware when going from stove to oven.
  • No slick non-stick – Glazes aren’t as slippery as PFOA non-stick pans, so some residue may stick after cooking.
  • Heavy when full – The light stoneware feels hefty when loaded with ingredients. Harder to transport.
  • Risk of chipping – The enamel glaze makes it only chip resistant, not immune. Must be handled carefully.
  • Hard to find popular items – Bestselling products often sell out quickly online and in stores due to popularity.

The benefits outweigh the drawbacks for me, but it’s important to consider them, especially if you prefer dishwasher-safe cookware for fast cleanup.

The Most Popular and Bestselling Rae Dunn Pots and Pans

Now that we’ve covered the product lines and pros and cons, let’s look at some of the most wished for and bestselling Rae Dunn cookware items.

  • Rae Dunn Oval Dutch Oven 7 quart – This size is ideal for cooking soups, stews, roasts and more for families. The shape accommodates longer cuts of meat. It transitions beautifully from stovetop simmering to oven braising. The 7 quart oval dutch oven is one of Rae Dunn’s top sellers.
  • Rae Dunn Round Dutch Oven 5 quart – For smaller households, the 5 quart round dutch oven is the perfect size for baking bread, cooking deep dish pizza, whipping up pot roasts and casseroles to serve 4 people.
  • Rae Dunn Sauce Pot 2.5 quart – This compact sauce pot with lid has the right capacity for making sauces, cooking grains or oatmeal, blanching veggies and more for 2 to 4 servings. It’s affordably priced too.
  • Rae Dunn Canisters – While not technically cookware, the ceramic canister sets remain hugely popular bestsellers for their charming style and usefulness organizing flour, sugar, coffee, and more.
  • Rae Dunn Pie Dish 9 inch – When it comes to bakeware, customers rave about the porcelain pie dish. It holds a standard 9 inch pie with high angled sides for both sweet and savory pies. The stoneware heats evenly for consistent browning and a flaky crust.
  • Rae Dunn Garlic Grater – For prepping ingredients, the ceramic garlic grater makes quick work of crushing garlic cloves into a paste. The handy design slides onto a prep bowl. Fans love the grater’s whimsical style.
  • Rae Dunn Mugs – Again, not cookware but worth mentioning are the popular retro-styled mugs with cute sayings and motifs. The diner-style mugs have amassed a devoted following. They make great gifts and kitchen displays.

Focus on the versatile sauce pots, dutch ovens, and baking dishes and you can’t go wrong for building an attractive Rae Dunn cookware starter set. Now let’s see how Rae Dunn compares to other ceramic brands.

How Does Rae Dunn Ceramic Cookware Compare to Other Top Brands?

Rae Dunn fills its niche for vintage Americana style ceramic cookware at moderate prices. But how does it stack up against other premium ceramic brands or classic cookware like cast iron and stainless steel?

  • Rae Dunn vs Le Creuset – Le Creuset is the gold standard for enameled cast iron but comes at a steep luxury price point. Le Creuset pots like the dutch oven boast unmatched heat retention and a broader range of pieces like grill pans and stock pots. But they must be seasoned properly. Rae Dunn wins on price while Le Creuset wins on performance.
  • Rae Dunn vs Caraway – Caraway makes gorgeous non-stick ceramic cookware with sleek minimalist design. Caraway ceramic frying pans in particular heat up rapidly on the stove top. But Rae Dunn retains oven heat better for braises and casseroles. Caraway pots are also dishwasher safe. It comes down to your style and cooking preferences.
  • Rae Dunn vs GreenPan – GreenPan uses a patented Thermolon non-stick ceramic coating for slick cooking surfaces. However, the coating can’t handle oven temperatures over 400°F. Rae Dunn stoneware goes up to 400°F. For higher heat cooking, Rae Dunn is the better choice.
  • Rae Dunn vs Staub – French brand Staub makes premium enameled cast iron cocottes but they cost a hefty $200 to $400 each. Users love Staub’s smooth enamel that heats evenly, but most home cooks don’t need performance that professional. Rae Dunn Dutch ovens offer similar braising utility for much less.
  • Rae Dunn vs Lodge Cast Iron – Pre-seasoned Lodge cast iron skillets have been kitchen staples for generations due to their searing capabilities. But Lodge pans require more care to maintain the seasoning. Rae Dunn cookware needs less polishing and maintenance for busy home cooks.

While not the leader in innovative features or cooking performance, Rae Dunn holds its own against pricier competitors. The handmade stoneware construction and charming retro look remain the key selling points.

Alternatives to Rae Dunn Worth Considering

While I’m impressed with Rae Dunn based on my testing, more serious home cooks may want to also consider these top-rated ceramic cookware lines in the high-end space.

  • Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron – If you’re seeking superior heat distribution and retention for searing and braising, Le Creuset can’t be beat. It’s a premium brand with premium pricing, but Le Creuset lasts decades. The brand offers the widest range of enameled cast iron cookware.
  • Caraway Ceramic Non-Stick – For an affordable PFOA-free non-stick option, Caraway has won awards for its cleverly designed ceramic frying pans in fashionable hues. Quick heating and easy dishwasher-safe cleaning make Caraway a great eco-friendly set.
  • GreenPan Venice Pro – Another leader in ceramic non-stick, GreenPan Venice Pro combines durable anodized aluminum with a high-quality Thermolon Minerals coating. The toxin-free pans provide excellent sear and release. Also oven safe to 600°F.
  • Emile Henry Ceramic Bakeware – Made in France, Emile Henry offers beautiful quality ceramic casseroles, tagines, pizza stones and bread cloches for baking enthusiasts who want restaurant-worthy results. Their HR Ceramic heats evenly and adds vibrant cooking color.
  • Lodge Cast Iron Skillets – For an affordable option to hold a mean sear, pre-seasoned Lodge cast iron skillets are a tried and true kitchen staple. Once seasoned properly, Lodge pans last forever and lend great char to steaks, burgers, and more.

The Bottom Line – Is Rae Dunn Worth Buying?

After extensive testing of an array of Rae Dunn bakeware and cookware, would I recommend Rae Dunn ceramic to a friend?

The short answer is yes, I think Rae Dunn delivers stylish and functional ceramic pots and pans that perform reliably when cooking.

The stoneware construction feels lighter than other ceramic brands but still robust and durable. The enamel glazing resists staining and cleans up easily by hand.

For beginning cooks or folks seeking fuss-free oven-to-table pieces, Rae Dunn’s vintage charm and easy maintenance are ideal.

While Rae Dunn’s not the fanciest or most innovative ceramic cookware, it brings traditional quality craftsmanship with some handmade character at reasonable prices.

The brand has clearly resonated with home cooks looking to add retro flair to their kitchens. And the coordinated canisters and mugs let collectors achieve a full Rae Dunn look.

If the signature Rae Dunn aesthetic appeals to you, I can recommend the cookware as a thoughtful addition to your kitchen. It will serve you well for low and slow braises, hearty baked casseroles, steaming soups, and more.

Just hand wash gently after each use, preheat on medium settings, and handle the stoneware with a little care to prevent chips.

So in summary, yes – Rae Dunn ceramic certainly measures up to the hype. This American-made stoneware brings artisanal charm to everyday cooking. I’m glad to have the oval dutch oven, sauce pot, and pie dish in my cookware rotation and love showing them off when hosting dinners.

Rae Dunn proves you don’t need the most expensive ceramic to get beautiful, functional pots and pans. For cooks wanting unfussy vintage style in the kitchen, you can’t go wrong collecting some favorite Rae Dunn pieces. They’ll become cherished additions you use for years to come.

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