A donabe, or traditional Japanese clay pot made to be heated over a gas flame, will make your one-pot soup, stew, rice, or braised dishes taste great and give you a beautiful presentation for a family-style meal. These donabe pots have different styles to handle different functions, but they’re all sure to give you the long, slow heat that makes cooking with this type of pot special!
A donabe is a centuries-old type of earthenware pot made from coarse clay, the most famous coming from the Iga region in Japan’s Mie prefecture 210 miles southwest of Tokyo. When the clay is fired, the resulting pot is very porous and has exceptional heat retention. With use, the pot develops a darker patina and a character all its own. If properly cared for, these pots will last for decades.
Simple one-pot meals are made by placing your donabe on a gas burner. Once the heat has built up within the donabe, you can lower the flame, and it will maintain a steady and gentle heat, evenly distributed over the pot’s surface. Donabe pots are also used to serve meals: their heat retention means that food stays warm long after it has been placed on the table. With a portable gas burner, you can even cook at the table!
Choosing the Best Donabe for Your Cooking
To find a pot for cooking and sharing donabe-style food, look at these features:
- Material: Coarse clay is the best material for a donabe, and traditional Iga clay pots will be more expensive. Some pots may be made from finer clay, but those will not retain heat as well. Clay mixed with other materials is not authentic to the donabe tradition.
- Size and Purpose: Donabe pots range from a single-person size to larger family sizes. For rice dishes, a taller pot is recommended. Hot pots and braised dishes do well in a larger, more shallow pot. Some pots may be specialized for steaming or smoking food.
- Aesthetics: Donabe pots are not only functional but also made to reflect the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi—a hand-crafted donabe reflects the Japanese embrace of uniqueness and imperfection rather than the standardization of mechanized production.
Our recommendations for donabe cookware are versatile pots great for a simple nabe (Japanese hot pot) and your favorite comfort food recipes.
Top Choice: Kamado-San Hase Garden Donabe
Kamado-san is an authentic product of Iga, Japan. The bottom is thicker than others for exceptional heat distribution and retention. This double-lid donabe comes with a wooden rice spoon and trivet.
Hase Garden stove's Sanhe (open fire only) CT-01
This donabe gives you exceptional heat distribution and retention.
Great for Rice: Daikoku Furnace Donabe
The double lid design and deep shape of this donabe make it perfect for cooking great rice without the worry of boiling over. It’s also great for curries and stews!
Daikoku Furnace Banko Ware Rice Pot Handmade Black Glaze Two Cup Capacity Made in Japan
The shape of this donabe makes it great for worry-free rice.
Best Personal Size: Kinpo Kikka Donabe
This elegant donabe measures 7.5 inches in diameter with a depth of about 2.25 inches, and it holds 3.5 cups. It’s perfect for personal servings of Japanese hot pot!
Ginpo Pottery Chrysanthemum Earthenware Pot, Banko Ware (No. 6 / Lapis / One Person / Single Pot), "Next Generation Earthenware Pot That Will Decorate Your Table Gorgeous" Stylish, Direct Fire
This elegant donabe holds just enough for one.
Best for Sharing: Ginpo Mishima Flower Donabe
This Kamado-san donabe is sized for gathering around and sharing a meal. The shallow body makes it great for cooking and presenting beautiful ingredients Japanese-style for friends and family.
Banko Ware 52013 Ginpo Hanamishima Earthenware Pot (Deep Pot), No. 9, For 4-5 People
This donabe is sized for gathering around and sharing a meal.