What you should know, why you should buy, and the best sets online. We will also be comparing the pros and cons of investing in a copper cookware set.
Why You Should Trust My Opinion On Copper Cookware
- Cookbook Author: I've written 5 Instant Pot Cookbooks and 2 Air Fryer Cookbooks so I've spent more than my fair share of time in the kitchen.
- Efficient: That's the only way I know how to do things in the kitchen. Who has time to waste when you're trying to get food on the table? I'm known for my ruthless efficiency and use the pot in pot cooking method every chance I get.
- Gadget geek!: I'm a self-proclaimed food tech enthusiast and have been known to purchase (and review) just about any kitchen appliance I can get my hands on.
What Is Copper Cookware?
Copper cookware is a staple in many kitchens, but is it worth the investment? While these cookware sets can cost a pretty penny, there is an allure to them beyond their old-world charm and fancy gleam.
Copper is not particularly strong and can be quite expensive and high maintenance. However, it has become a coveted metal for kitchen cookware. This cookware is famously preferred by French chefs. Its unique abilities making it beneficial for more temperamental recipes.
The use of copper in kitchens can be found throughout history. In fact, humans’ use of copper to fashion tools can be found as far back as 10,000 years ago. There is evidence of Mesopotamians shaping copper into molds. There’s also evidence that copper was used for cookware by Egyptians. It was also used by the Greeks and Romans.
This historical preference for the use of this metal could be due to its easy to work with nature. Unlike iron that needed to be forged in hot fires, copper could be rolled into sheets and shaped quite easily. These attributes lead to the rise in its popularity and its increased use in kitchens throughout history.
This popularity continues to reign today, with home cooks and chefs across the globe preferring these tools for their unique benefits. There’s a reason Julia Child declared that “Copper pots are the most satisfactory to cook in” in her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This metal has a multitude of positive attributes that make it a great asset in the kitchen.
In this guide, we’re going to dive into everything you need to know about copper cookware. We’ll look at the pros and cons. We'll also see how copper cookware compares to its cast iron and stainless steel counterparts. Finally outline everything you need to know before you buy.
Why Should You Use Copper Cookware?
The largest benefit of investing in your own copper cookware is its versatility of use. This makes it the perfect tool for various complex cooking techniques. Copper is most famous for its ability to conduct heat. It gives this cookware the ability to heat up quickly and evenly and cool down just as rapidly.
This ability makes copper cookware ideal for recipes that are temperamental in nature when it comes to cooking temperature. Due to its ability to quickly heat up and cool down, copper cookware is ideal for braising. You can make tricky sauces like hollandaise and they are great for cooking delicate fish and seafood dishes. It’s also favored for delicate candy work. These pans provide the temperature control needed for chocolates, syrups, jams, and caramels.
Copper has the ability to quickly heat and cool. This can make for much faster cooking than cast iron or stainless steel pans. With a copper cookware set, you can easily use your pieces for several different meal components, cooking food with faster speed and less energy.
These pans are great for speedy cooking. Things like boiling your water faster, frying foods quicker, and preparing jams and syrups in half the time. These pans can also be much lighter in weight when compared to their cast iron counterparts. With proper care, they can last a lifetime.
The properties of copper itself also offer some great benefits for home cooks, especially evident when using pure, unlined pieces. For example, many chefs prefer pure copper bowls for whipping egg whites, as the copper ions work to stabilize the eggs better than stainless steel or glass, making them less likely to unfold.
Copper's innate antibacterial effects are another reason why this metal is preferred by cooks today. Copper is naturally antibacterial- there’s a reason why this metal is preferred for hospital piping and door handles! Germs and bacteria cannot survive on copper. While copper is toxic to these microorganisms, it poses no strong threat to humans, making it safe for cooking use.
Are Copper Pans Lined?
Most copper pans today come lined. While tin was the traditional lining for these pans, you are more likely to find copper cookware lined with stainless steel. These metals tout various benefits. Some of them are: tin is naturally nonstick but more durable than raw unlined copper, and stainless steel boasts far better durability and strength. Tin and steel linings are useful, combining copper’s fast-heating ability with increased durability.
Copper is also corrosion-resistant. This is unlike cast iron pans. When unlined, it's naturally nonstick. With doctor’s today touting nonstick linings as toxic when put through high enough heat, investing in copper pans could pose as a safer option for the health-conscious consumer.
What Are the Cons of Copper Cookware?
Though there are many benefits to using copper pans, the same aspects that mark it as a great choice for some cooking methods can be its downfall for others.
The main drawback to copper pans is its ability for rapid heating and cooling. While this ability makes it a great choice for some recipes, it can pose an issue for others. Slow cooking dishes like stews and steaks may be better suited for a cast-iron pan. This is because of their increased ability to retain heat.
Copper also has a melting point between 425-450 degrees Fahrenheit. This melting point means it’s unsuited for oven use. It cannot be transferred from stovetop to ovens like a cast-iron pan. Copper cookware is best suited for stovetop cooking only.
The natural properties of copper metal also present a few drawbacks, with the same copper ions that benefit some recipes causing harm in others. You should be mindful of cooking with acidic ingredients such as tomatoes or vinegar in your copper cookware, as their reaction with copper metal can cause copper to leach into foods and make your recipes come out off-flavored. Though this issue can often be combated with stainless steel linings, this lining will cancel out the naturally nonstick properties of pure copper, which can be seen as a drawback for some cooks.
The magnetic and electrical properties of copper can also be an issue for certain kinds of cooktops. While traditional copper cookware can be used easily with gas and electric stovetops, they struggle to heat properly on induction stoves. This limits their effectiveness.
Are Copper Pans Hard To Clean?
Another drawback to owning copper cookware is the upkeep. These pans will require love and care over time. They can be prone to discoloration with frequent use. Copper can scratch easily. So, placing them in dishwashers can rapidly dull the surface. The use of metal utensils can eat away at tin or steel pan linings, meaning they will have to be re-lined for proper use.
However, many of these surface-level cosmetic issues with discoloration and dullness can be remedied with proper care and a simple polish. There are many copper polishes available online. Another option is using a natural acidic solution such as lemon juice or vinegar to return your copper cookware to its gleaming glory.
What to Know Before You Buy
Before you invest in your own copper cookware, here are some key factors to familiarize yourself with:
The main reason behind the exceptionally high prices for copper cookware is the precious nature of this metal. Copper has many amazing physical properties. Its ability to conduct heat is matched by its ability to conduct electricity, making it a preferred substance in wiring. Its antibacterial properties also make it preferable for piping and other materials in medical fields.
These beneficial uses have made copper both useful and highly valuable, upping the price point of copper cookware sets much higher than their stainless steel or aluminum counterparts. This usefulness has also led to a depletion of its natural supply. With many copper mines limiting their supply, it is no longer as abundant as other metals, adding to its costly nature.
When purchasing a copper pan, you’ll want to make a note of what lining works best for you. Most copper pans are lined with tin- a soft metal that works to combat the reactivity between acids and copper and is naturally nonstick. However, tin-lined copper pans are prone to scratches and general wear, meaning your pans may need to be re-tinned during their lifetime.
Alternatively, you could invest in a stainless-steel lined pan, which is much more durable than tin. However, stainless steel lining has a distinct disadvantage- food loves to stick to stainless steel. Extra care will need to be taken in cooking with stainless steel linings involved.
There are also silver-lined copper pans out there, which work to conduct heat even better than tin or steel, and are naturally nonstick. However, these silver-lined pans will up the price factor significantly.
In a few instances, you can find copper cookware that is unlined. While the lack of lining can make them more delicate, these pans are preferable for cooking sugars, syrups. They are especially preferred for jam making where premium temperature control is needed.
Not Dishwasher Safe
If you choose to invest in copper cookware, it’s best to never wash them in a dishwasher. The harsh chemicals found in most dishwasher soaps today will weather the appearance of copper, dulling its shine and tarnishing the metal.
When cleaning copper cookware, it’s best to do it gently. Use a soft sponge with soap and water. Avoid using anything abrasive, and stay clear of any cleaners that contain bleach, as they can be too harsh on this soft metal.
The thickness of your copper pots and pans should be taken into account, as they will directly affect their performance in the kitchen. Ideally, your copper cookware should be between 2.5mm - 3mm thickness.
Thicker copper will provide structure and durability to your pan and prevent heat-related warping issues. This is especially important for electric and gas stovetops, whose high heat can greatly affect the pans. While thicker copper pans can speak to their high quality, pans thicker than 3 mm will not conduct heat as well. This will hinder its fast heating and cooling ability.
Thinner copper can be fine for cooking on gas stovetops and can be priced cheaper too. However, this thinness will also make them easier to deform, and it will lack the sturdiness and structure needed by some cooks in the kitchen. As a good rule of thumb, copper cookware thinner than 2 mm will be more decorative than functional.
Smooth vs Hammered Finishes
When shopping for copper cookware, you may notice that these pieces come in both smooth and hammered finishes.
Traditionally, the hammered look of copper was meant to indicate that it was a product of hand craftsmanship. However, these days, most copper cookware is machine-made, so this logic no longer applies. A smooth finish is much more common among copper pieces today, especially among stainless-steel infused pieces.
The appearance of your copper cookware will ultimately make no difference in its performance. You can feel free to choose pieces that fit whatever aesthetic best suits your kitchen!
Care and Upkeep
It’s important to be aware of the proper ways to care for your copper cookware. The linings of copper pans will thin over time, especially if they are lined with tin. Be sure to watch out for copper peeking through the lining, or a shiny/silvery tint, as an indicator that your pans need to be re-tinned.
To maintain their inner linings, extra care should be taken. Copper cookware is best used with silicone and wooden utensils to avoid scratches to its surface. Be sure to avoid scouring copper pans when cleaning, to preserve their linings.
Copper pans will also naturally dull over time but can be polished with a light acidic solution (lemon juice or vinegar work great) or widely available copper cleaner. However, be sure to gently wash your pans before polishing for optimum results!
Is Copper Cookware Right for You?
If you are a home cook looking for pans that meet both fashion and function, investing in copper cookware is perfect for you!
Cooks who plan to embark on cuisines that require steadfast equipment with good temperature control. Or someone who is looking to invest in long-lasting cookware.
Best Copper Cookware to Buy Online
If you’re looking to invest in copper cookware, here are some great pieces to start with:
1. Cuisinart Hammered Collection Cookware Set
This copper cookware set from Cuisinart features 5 pieces, making it a great investment! This set comes with an open pour saucier, saucepan, saute pan, casserole pan, and a stockpot. The set will provide you with some key kitchen staples.
Their elegant hammered design will make them a beautiful statement piece in your kitchen. These are not pure copper pans. Instead, they are a copper wrapped stainless steel. However, the copper exterior will still allow for the even distribution of heat. Copper is famous for spreading heat evenly throughout the bottom and sidewalls of these pots and pants.
Stainless steel accent features also improve these pans’ usability. Their stainless steel handles ensure a cool touch while cooking. They also feature tight-fitting stainless steel covers, designed to seal in moisture, and boast more flavorful results.
This cookware is compatible with gas, electric, glass-ceramic, and halogen stoves, and are oven safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Mauviel M’Heritage Copper Cookware Set
Made in France, this copper set features 100% copper body pans. They come with a saucepan with a lid, saute pan with a lid, and a round fry pan. These pans have been manufactured by Mauviel- a French company. It has been a leading manufacturer of copper cookware since 1803. Their products, made for both professional and household chefs around the globe.
These high-performance pans have an ideal thinness of 2.5 mm. This allows for the rapid and even heat distribution copper pans are known for. These pans are lined with stainless steel. What this means is they aren’t nonstick, but the metal lining can circumvent the reactive properties copper can have with acidic cooking.
The handles on these pans are also stainless steel. It proves optimum balance and designed in a way that marries function and form. Stainless steel handles will also ensure a cool touch while cooking.
These are best suited for gas, electric, and halogen stovetops. However, you can purchase a separate Mauviel induction stop top interface disc to make it compatible with induction stoves. Mauviel pans also boast a lifetime guarantee. This makes them an ideal investment piece.
3. INOCUIVRE Copper Stainless Steel Conical Saute-Pan
If you aren’t comfortable investing in a large cookware set, you could look to invest in a staple copper piece. This saute pan from INOCUIVRE can be a great place to start if you are looking to slowly grow a copper cookware collection.
Made in France, this saute pan features a pure copper body with stainless steel lining. This makes it longer lasting than pans with traditional tin linings. This pan also features a cast-iron handle, designed for comfortable and ergonomic handling.
Before buying, you should note that this traditional copper pan is not compatible with induction cooktops. It will also need proper care, with hand washing and regular polishing to preserve its shine.
4. DEMMEX Thick Hammered Copper Sugar Sauce Zabaglione Pan
This sugar saucepan from DEMMEX is a great investment piece for those interested in using copper cookware for sugars, sauces, caramels, and candies. This piece is handmade in Turkey, with a traditional hammered copper exterior that makes it an elegant addition to your line of pastry tools.
Thinner than your traditional copper pan, this piece is 1.2 mm thin, meaning proper care must be taken with use- be mindful of high temperatures warping this pan. However, this thinness also makes it ideal for heating sugar and syrups for candy and dessert making.
This pan also features two brass handles, providing expertly controlled movement and pouring. However, these handles are prone to getting quite hot in the cooking process, as they are made of brass rather than stainless steel.
Its unlined interior works to provide exceptional temperature control needed for sugars and syrups and makes it naturally nonstick. This lack of lining means you may run into copper's negative effects on acidic foods.
This copper pan would be an ideal investment for pastry chefs and confectioners. Especially if they're looking to try traditional copper pots in their cooking.
5. Calphalon Tri-Ply Copper 10 Piece Set
This cookware set from Calphalon features pans with a copper exterior and aluminum inner core, providing superior heat conductivity. This set will give you a solid collection for your kitchen, featuring variously sized omelet pans, covered saute pans, and covered sauce pots.
Their copper exterior and stainless steel handles marry the best of classic and contemporary styling. The steel handles ensure a cool touch even while cooking, and their steel covers have a precision foot to seal in heat and moisture.
These pans feature flared rims, upping these pans durability and ensuring that pouring is neat and easy. These pans are also oven safe up to 450 degrees, making it relatively oven and broiler safe.
As these are copper on their exterior, these pans are still not dishwasher safe, and care must be taken to prevent dullness due to use over time. However, the steel lining will make the interior resistant to corrosion and scratching, so less care is needed when choosing cooking utensils.
6. Viking Culinary 3-Ply Stainless Steel Hammered Copper Clad Cookware Set
This set from Viking Culinary features ten pieces, making it a great investment for your first kitchen! This set comes with a stockpot with a glass lid, two saute pans, two saucepans, and two fry pans.
These pans have a durable copper exterior and aluminum alloy core and are lined with stainless steel. Their vented tempered glass lids reduce the chance of boil-overs, making them a great addition to a busy kitchen.
These pans also feature heat-safe handles, and their interiors have internal volume measurements that make cooking quick and precise. They are also oven safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit without their glass lids, 400 degrees Fahrenheit with.
|Cuisinart Hammered||- Nine Piece Set |
- Copper Wrapped Stainless Steel
- Hammered Design
- Oven Safe to 500 Degrees
|Mauviel M’Heritage||- Five Piece Set |
- Stainless Steel Lining
- Lifetime Guarantee
- Easy to Clean
|Inocuivre||- Sauté Pan|
- Stainless Steel Lining
- Requires Polishing
|Demmex ||- Perfect for Desserts and Candy Making|
- 100 Percent Copper
- No Lining
- 1.7Q Capacity
|Calphalon Tri-Ply||- Ten Piece Set|
- Stainless Steel Lining
- Stainless Steel Handles
- Oven Safe Up to 450 Degrees
|Viking Culinary||- Ten Piece Set|
- Stainless Steel Lining
- Stainless Steel Handles
- Oven Safe Up to 500 Degrees
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If you found this buying guide for choosing the best copper pans helpful, make sure you share it with your friends on Facebook and Pinterest so they can grab one too.
Originally Published October 12, 2020
Very useful article. Thank you
What’s your opinion on Dutch ovens? Please shed some light on that too 😊