The White Knights looked to be cruising when goals from midfielder Emam Ashour and Tunisian striker Seifeddine Jaziri gave them a 2-0 halftime lead.
By the time winger Ahmed Zizo added the third 13 minutes into the second half the game looked dead and buried, but Ceramica squandered a host of clear-cut chances as they laid siege to Zamalek's area.
Their onslaught resulted in two balls being cleared off the line, one rattling the crossbar and two goals from forward Shadi Hussein and Tunisian defender Seif Teka.
However, they could not find what would have been a stunning stoppage-time equaliser as a Zamalek side featuring some inexperienced players, especially in defence, held on for a precious win.
The defending champions top the table with 51 points, five ahead of second-placed Pyramids, who played a game less, and seven clear of third-placed Ahly, who still have four matches in hand.
Ahly can trim the gap to four points if they beat Smouha on Wednesday.
Both sides had a chance apiece in the early stages, with Ashour having a bouncing shot tipped over by keeper Amer Amer and Ceramica's Hussein missing a sitter at the other end after drilling just wide with the goal at his mercy following a low cross from the right.
Zamalek looked lively going forward, with young winger Abdallah Sayed unsettling Ceramica's defence down the right.
They were rewarded on 27 minutes when a cross from Sayed was poorly cleared and Ashour gathered the loose ball on the edge of the area, his shot taking a wicked deflection off Ghanaian Kwame Bonsu to fly past the wrong-footed Amer.
Ceramica, who also looked dangerous, were unlucky not to equalise on at least two occasions, with Zamalek punishing them on 38 minutes when another shot from Ashour forced a one-handed save from Amer and the ball slipped to Jaziri to slot into an empty net.
The Tunisian continued his recent resurgence, having netted twice in Zamalek's 2-1 comeback win over NBE Club in their previous match.
Ceramica dominated the second half, with their chipped balls into the area repeatedly catching Zamalek's porous defence off-guard.
Ex-Zamalek playmaker Mohamed Ibrahim headed just wide early in the second period and had a dinked effort cleared off the line by Zamalek's young defender Mohamed Tarek.
Zamalek then scored against the run of play from a counter attack, with Moroccan winger Achraf Bencharki, who might have played his last game for the club as his contract expires at the end of the month, crossing low for Zizo to drill a first-time shot into the bottom corner of the net.
Zizo took his tally to 12 goals on top of the league's scoring chart, two ahead of Smouha striker Marwan Hamdi.
Ceramica continued to create chances at will, however, with Zamalek defender Hossam Abdel-Meguid making another goal-line clearance before Hussein finally made their dominance count on 66 minutes.
He collected a pass from Ibrahim in the area, cut inside Egyptian international defender Mahmoud El-Wensh and fired a low shot in off the far post.
Hussein could have scored again when his angled shot cannoned off the crossbar before Teka forced a nervy finish when he rose above El-Wensh to head home from a corner with two minutes remaining.
But Zamalek survived at the end to put pressure on Ahly and continue their bid towards a second successive league crown.
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