While clay and other earthenware cooking dishes have been used for centuries around the world, clay pots (sometimes also called clay bakers or clay roasters) were first introduced in 1967 at a trade fair in Hannover, Germany, as the ‘Römertopf” (which loosely translates to Roman Pot).
Essentially a roasting dish that employs steam cooking, these clay baking dishes were billed as the ideal cooking vessel for those seeking a hands-off cooking experience without the need for additional fats.
With a naturally porous surface, clay pots use a unique method of steaming foods inside the enclosed pot to gently simmer and braise foods of all kinds without the use of added oil or fats.
Vegetables, grains, meats, and fish are all excellent options for cooking inside a Römertopf. You can even make soups, bread, and desserts such as puddings, stewed fruit, or baked apples! The German Römertopf website has a fantastic recipe section, and we hope to create our own clay pot recipes as well!
As mentioned above, the original Römertopf brand of clay cookers was originally developed and produced by the Eduard Bay company in Germany in 1967.
They later sold the North American rights of the Römertopf brand to Reco International, while the European rights of the brand were transferred to Römertopf Ceramic GmbH in 1997. Reco International produced and sold the clay cookers exclusively throughout Canada and the US until they went bankrupt in 2013.
![Image of used Römertopf on a white tile floor](image-link)
*An original Römertopf after many uses.*
Following the bankruptcy of Reco International, Reston Lloyd held exclusive rights to the Römertopf brand name in North America, but due to recent international manufacturing challenges have created their own line of clay baking dishes called Eurita Cookware.
While other companies have made similar looking clay bakers over the years, the Römertopf and Eurita brand stand out as offering a superior cooking experience while using only pure, natural clay.
**SO WHAT MAKES THESE CLAY POTS SO SPECIAL?**
The secret to the clay pots’ excellent cooking capabilities lies in its construction and design.
Produced from high-quality clay, the naturally porous surface allows water to steam the food as the clay baker heats up in the oven. (This is why Römertopfs and other clay bakers should always be soaked in water before using them.)
This steaming action locks in flavor and nutrition, all without the need for added oil or fat, resulting in a very healthy cooking method. A small gap between the lid and the bottom half helps regulate steam pressure and allows the outside of your roasts to form a crisp crust.
As the food cooks inside the Römertopf, it will naturally create a delicious braising liquid in the bottom section, perfect for use in gravies or as a jus over your cooked food.
**VARIOUS SIZES AND MODELS**
Available in varying sizes from small (1.5 quarts, which holds 3.3 pounds of food) to extra large (7.3 quarts, which holds 18 pounds of food), you can find a model to suit any need. The extra-large model can even cook a whole turkey!
All clay cookers have a bottom half and a top lid. Older Römertopf models, in particular, are completely unglazed, while the newer models employ a glass glaze in the bottom half to make clean up easier without affecting the cooking process.
Both glazed and unglazed models work the same, just take note that any glazed parts do not need to be soaked in water before cooking. Older unglazed models will need both halves soaked before cooking to avoid damaging the clay.
You can even purchase specialty mini garlic roasters or baked fruit dishes that use the same steaming principle!
**HOW TO USE A CLAY POT**
Think of these clay bakers as the original slow cooker. You put everything inside, meat, veggies, starch, etc., and then walk away while the pot cooks in the oven for 45 to 90 minutes (depending on the food inside, of course).
*Related: Chimichurri Chicken Breasts*
Before using one for the first time, though, there are a few things to know.
**FIRST TIME USE**
If you purchased a new Römertopf or another clay baker, you’ll want to follow the specific instructions included with it.
This will generally mean soaking the pot in water for 30-40 minutes and then scrubbing it with a stiff bristle brush to remove any clay dust or particles left over from production. This is the longest you’ll ever have to soak the pot for.
![Image of a clay baker soaking in water](image-link)
*The pot is then ready for use as described in a relevant recipe.*
If you already have a clay pot, found one at a thrift store, or had one handed down to you which hasn’t been used in a while, it’s best to soak the pot for 15-20 minutes and scrub the pot well to remove any dirt and ensure it has absorbed enough water.
*Note: Newer models will come with the bottom half glazed with a glass surface. The glazed half does not need to be soaked in water, but the un-glazed lid does.*
While the pot is soaking in water, prepare any food items you plan on cooking in the clay baker. Place these in the bottom half of the Römertopf without adding any oil or fat of any kind.
![Image of placing potatoes and onions in the clay baker with herbs](image-link)
*Raw chicken in the clay baker before cooking.*
Place the wet lid on the clay pot and place the entire clay pot in a COLD oven. Set the oven temperature, and heat the oven up with the Römertopf inside it. Placing the filled clay dish in the COLD oven is important to prevent the clay from cracking and breaking.
*Cook the food as per the specific recipe instructions, then remove the dish from the oven being careful not to burn yourself on the hot clay. Place the dish on a wood board or dish towel, to prevent sudden temperature change (and hence any cracking). Remove the lid and