Last Updated Oct 2019 – There are many materials to choose from when you’re looking for new pots and pans. You’ll see wonderful options in anodized aluminum, titanium, and even ceramic. But when it comes to ultimate control of your cooking, copper is king.
Why Is Copper Cookware So Sought After?
All metals, copper included, have unique characteristics that set them apart from each other. Copper is highly valued in the cooking world because of one thing: it conducts heat really, really well.
The job of your pots and pans is to take the heat from your stove, distribute it evenly across the cooking surface, and transfer it to your food.
The better your cookware conducts heat, the better it is at this.
The Copper Difference
Copper cookware is a bit better for mundane tasks like boiling water or browning meat since it’ll heat up faster. Where it really shines, however, is when you need to carefully control the temperature of a dish. Candy makers love copper cookware for this reason, and it’s definitely the material of choice when you need to precisely simmer a sauce or cook a filet just right.
But why is this?
For one, copper pots and pans heat more evenly than their aluminum or stainless steel counterparts. More importantly, however, they react much faster to changes in heat.
When you turn up the heat on a stainless steel pan, the pan has to get hot before your food feels the increased temperature. When you turn down the burner, the pan has to cool off before your food gets colder. Copper heats up and cools off a lot faster than steel, meaning that copper pots and pans give you much better control.
A Perfect Material?
Copper isn’t without its downsides, however. It’s expensive, heavy, and a terrible cooking surface for general-purpose cookware. This is because it’s not as non-reactive as materials like anodized aluminum or stainless steel.
If you cook acidic dishes (including tomato sauce or anything with wine or lemon juice), your food will start a chemical reaction with the copper pan, resulting in both a tarnished pan and a bad taste. As a result, it’s best to use cookware that’s entirely made of copper for special tasks only, like making candy.
Types Of Copper Cookware
In order to combat these disadvantages, cookware manufacturers often make cookware that has some copper in it but isn’t made entirely from copper.
Here are some of the common types of cookware you’ll see.
Remembering these terms will help you understand copper pan reviews and select the best copper pots and pans to buy.
Copper Core / Copper Bottom:
In both of these styles, pots and pans have a layer of copper sandwiched between some combination of stainless steel and anodized aluminum. The copper core helps the cookware heat up more quickly and evenly, while the other materials add strength, form a safe cooking surface, and protect the softer copper from damage.
This cookware is somewhat less thermally conductive than other options (because of the extra layers of not-copper), and you miss out on one big advantage of copper cookware: the beautiful red luster.
A less conservative style involves using copper for the entire body of the pot or pan and lining it with a thin cooking surface of a different metal. This enables you to use your pot or pan for general cooking without worrying about acidity or scratching the soft copper with utensils. You still get a wonderful copper exterior.
These beautiful pieces are usually reserved for special dishes. If you want the fastest pot to boil water in or the best saucepan to make candy in, a pure copper pot or pan is the option for you.
You’ll need to take special care of these dishes, however, since copper isn’t as user-friendly as something like aluminum, stainless, or even ceramic. You’ll also want to take extra care with what you cook in them. Avoiding acids is a must.
As Seen On TV
There are at least two companies that peddle low-quality aluminum pots and pans with “copper” in the name. There’s a decent chance you’ve seen a commercial or two featuring these pans.
While they’re advertised as containing copper, in truth, they’re just anodized aluminum pans (and pots) with a copper “infused” ceramic non-stick coating.
In other words, there’s a negligible amount of copper in these pots and pans. Not only will they not deliver any of the benefits of real copper cookware, they’re also far worse than other ceramic-lined aluminum pots and pans on the market today.
In other words, if you want to buy a copper frying pan, do NOT buy something you’ve seen on TV!
Copper Cookware Reviews: The Best Copper Cookware
If you’re looking to add a bit of copper to your kitchen, here are some of my favorite sets and pieces on the market today:
1) Matfer 8 Piece Bourgeat Copper Cookware Set
This serious copper cookware set is constructed almost entirely of copper. While it’s got a thin lining of 18/10 stainless for you to use as a cooking surface, the rest of the pot and pan is made from 2.5mm thick copper. The handles are made of solid cast iron, meaning that this set is oven safe to a pretty high temperature.
If you want the benefits of copper cookware in more than one size and form factor, this 8 piece set is a great starting point. You don’t get a huge number of pieces, but the included pots and pans give you plenty of options. After all, you’ll probably use a nonstick pan or a larger stock pot for some cooking jobs. You can save the pots and pans in this set for when you really need to heat things up quickly or carefully control your cooking temperatures.
The stainless steel cooking surface of this set is thin enough that it hardly impedes heat distribution, but it’s more than thick enough to provide plenty of durability and stability while you cook. Unlike a Teflon or ceramic coating, it’ll hold up for many, many years. The downside is that you’ll have to cook carefully and use some oil, butter, or another fat to keep food from sticking. Of course, if your food does stick, it’s incredibly easy to clean stainless steel.
Cast iron handles are an interesting choice. Cast iron takes a while to heat up but retains heat for a very long time once it gets hot. The result isn’t too different than a stainless steel handle in practice. You still need to use a potholder to move this set around once you start cooking. You’ll definitely notice that these pots and pans are far heavier than their non-copper counterparts, so make sure that you have a potholder that’s grippy enough to move around a hefty pot or pan.
The manufacturer recommends that you season the handles of each pot and pan periodically. They’re seasoned out of the box, but if you decide that it’s important to keep them seasoned, you’ll have to pay extra attention when you wash your cookware and occasionally spend a bit of time re-seasoning them.
While this set is a bit on the pricey side, bear in mind that it’s constructed carefully from sturdy metals. With proper care, you’ll be able to enjoy this set for decades.
The exact contents of this set are as follows:
- 9.5″ copper casserole pot with lid
- 7.125″ copper sauce pan with lid
- 9.5″ copper saute pan with lid
- 5.25 quart copper stock pot with lid
If you want a small cookware set that gives you plenty of options to harness the power of copper, this set is a good choice.
2) Mauviel M’heritage 9-piece Set with Bronze Handles
Like the Matfer set above, this cookware set utilizes almost pure copper construction, metal lids, and unconventional handles. The biggest difference here is that the handles are made from bronze rather than cast iron. In practice, you won’t notice much difference. You’ll still want to use a potholder while these pots and pans are in use.
As far as looks go, however, the subtle yellow luster of bronze serves as an excellent accent to the reddish copper exterior of these pots and pans. This set definitely looks a bit fancier than the Matfer set. Whether that’s an upside in your kitchen is up to you and your aesthetic tastes.
Again, a thin stainless cooking surface means you can cook all sorts of dishes without worry and makes cleanup easy. You’ll still have to worry about food sticking, but you’ll also get the upside of having cookware that’s likely to last for many years.
Mauviel’s lifetime warranty makes this set especially attractive since you can call them up for customer support at any point decades from now and you’ll still be covered.
When it comes to cooking, you couldn’t ask for more. The copper construction of this set means that it conducts heat quickly and evenly throughout each piece of cookware. You’ll enjoy boiling water in record times and cooking your meats to perfection with precise temperature control.
Should you choose, you can also use this cookware set to make candy with ease or precisely manufacture delicate sauces and other tricky dishes.
But what’s in the box? Each 9-piece Mauviel set includes:
- 1.9-quart copper saucepan with matching lid
- 2.7-quart copper saucepan with matching lid
- 3.2-quart copper saute pan with matching lid
- 6.4-quart copper stock pot with matching lid
- 10 inch copper frying pan
This beautiful 9-piece set fits perfectly in the kitchen of any cooking enthusiast. If you want excellent heat transfer across a wide range of pot and pan sizes or you’re simply looking for an incredibly elegant cookware set, it’s a great choice.
3) T-Fal Ultimate Copper Bottom Cookware Set 13-Piece
This cookware set is a great way to get your feet wet with copper. It’s reasonably priced, made by a reputable brand, and while it’s made with copper in all the right places, it’s still easy to cook with and clean. If you’re after a general purpose cookware set with superior thermal conductivity, this T-Fal set is a top choice.
First, the basics: this set is made from aluminum, stainless steel, and copper sandwiched together. The stainless steel is used for the exterior for ease of cleaning and maintenance since stainless is very tough and non-reactive. The aluminum is light, strong, and has superior thermal conductivity to stainless, so it’s used to house a thick core of pure copper, which helps the pots and pans heat up quickly and evenly. The particular type of stainless used in the bottom of these pots and pans is magnetic, meaning that this entire cookware set is induction compatible.
With a cooking surface of regular old stainless steel, you’ll have to manage your heat carefully and oil these pots and pans before you use them. Luckily, the copper bottoms will help you do just that. With a bit of practice, you can use your superior heat control to fry eggs, cook meat, and even make sticky sauces without anything sticking to the pan. Best of all, the stainless steel cooking surface means easy cleanup no matter what.
The stylish steel handles on this set aren’t the best at keeping your hands cool, but they do offer a much more tangible upside: oven safety. Unlike cookware sets with rubberized handles, you can throw any of the pots, pans, or even lids in this set into the oven at broiler temperatures of up to 500 degrees. This gives you a lot more freedom with how you use your cookware.
All of this steel used in the construction has another nice upside: durability. With no plastic parts or scratch-prone nonstick coating, this set has the potential to last for decades. You might see a little bit of visible wear on your favorite pan at the five-year mark, but every piece of this set should hold up for a very, very long time with proper care.
Two additional details really help separate this set from the pack.
First, the included lids are made of glass, with functional steel handles and steam vents. This lets you effortlessly monitor your cooking. The whole point of copper is that it adjusts to changes in temperature quickly, so it’s extra important that you can still see what’s going on through the lid.
Second, this 13 piece set comes with a steamer insert. Usually, you have to go out of your way to buy a steamer that fits your pots. You probably won’t use this insert every day, but it certainly makes cooking a whole host of dishes a lot easier.
The rest of this set’s contents are pretty normal.
Here’s everything that you’ll get in the box:
- 8″ frying pan
- 10.5″ frying pan
- 12″ frying pan with matching lid
- 1 quart sauce pan with matching lid
- 2 quart sauce pan with matching lid
- 3 quart sauce pan with matching lid
- 5 quart stew pot with matching lid
- Steamer insert
If you’re looking to buy copper pans and pots on a budget, this T-Fal set is definitely one of your best choices. While you’ll miss out on the distinctive reddish hue of a pure copper cookware set, you’ll more than make up for it with the superior durability, easy maintenance, and low cost of this copper-bottomed option.
4) Lagostina Martellata Tri-ply Hammered Stainless 10-Piece
“What’s the point,” you ask, “of buying a copper cookware set if you can’t see the copper?” I could argue for hours about the relative strength of different metals, or how a copper core helps your pots and pans heat up without making them harder to maintain.
At the end of the day, however, there’s certainly something to be said for having a beautiful copper exterior on the cookware you choose.
This Lagostina 10-piece set is one of the most beautiful and distinctive cookware sets available today. It’s got a hammered copper exterior that combines a beautiful red luster and a unique hand-crafted aesthetic. It’s easy to forget that this is a functional cookware set as well as an incredible work of art.
As far as materials go, this set has a copper exterior, a thin aluminum core, and a stainless steel cooking surface. This means that you can safely cook anything you want and still have easy cleanup. Like other stainless steel cooking surfaces, you’ll have to manage your temperatures carefully and use a bit of fat to keep things lubricated. Again, copper’s superior heating response means that this will be fun and easy.
Like the T-Fal set above, metal handles mean that this set is oven safe to 500 degrees. It’s got steel lids, which I think is a small downside, but they’re beautifully crafted and complement this set’s aesthetic rather well. They’re also a bit easier to clean and far less likely to break than glass lids.
There’s also a small detail included with this set that makes it perfect for cooking sauces and other liquid dishes. The pans have rolled edges, which makes it a little bit easier to pour liquids out when you’re done cooking them. Most of the time, you’ll hardly notice this feature, but every once in a while you’ll really appreciate the drip-free pour that a rolled edge provides.
It’s worth noting that while this cookware set is absolutely beautiful when cared for, it will take a bit of occasional labor to preserve its incredible luster. This pretty much just involves rubbing a copper cleaning solution on a clean pan and then rinsing it off. If you don’t use copper cleaner, these pots and pans will still be perfectly usable, they’ll just be less shiny. Personally, I think the incredible look of this cookware set is more than worth a bit of cleaning before you have company.
Again, all-metal construction and the lack of a delicate non-stick surface means that this cookware set is likely to last you for many years. Lagostina has a literal lifetime warranty on these pots and pans, meaning that you’re totally covered in the event of any accidental mishap.
This 10 piece set includes:
- 8″ copper frying pan
- 10″ copper frying pan
- 2 quart copper saucepan and matching lid
- 3 quart copper saucepan and matching lid
- 3 quart copper deep saute pan with matching lid
- 6 quart copper stock pot with matching lid
If you’re trying to buy a copper cookware set that’s genuinely made of copper, this is one of your best options. You’ll get wonderful cooking performance, a beautiful copper exterior, and a totally safe stainless cooking surface that will let you cook anything you want without worry.
– Copper 1.9-Quart Sugar Saucepan – Mauviel M’Passion
Some of you would prefer to buy a single copper pot than invest in an entire copper cookware set. If you’re big on candy making, this French saucepan is an incredibly smart buy. Made entirely of copper, it’s got excellent thermal conductivity, a lifetime warranty, and a handy pouring spout.
This is the only item on the list that’s made from pure copper. If you purchase it, you’ll quickly figure out why. Don’t get me wrong, this is an absolutely astounding pot and very much deserves a place in any kitchen where a candy thermometer is frequently used.
It is not, however, a general purpose pot.
There are many reasons for this. For one, this is a crazy heavy pot, especially given its size. For two, copper has great thermal conductivity, and this pot is made of nothing else. This means that the handle gets wicked hot at nearly the same rate as your cooking surface.
Finally, while copper is a totally safe cooking surface, it’ll tarnish easily when it comes into contact with some foods and will react with other ingredients, making your dishes taste bad. You can certainly use this pot to make some of your favorite sauces, but anything with tomatoes should really be cooked on a different surface.
Of course, this pot is not without its share of upsides.
For one, the right-hand pour spout is excellent for moving melted sugar or sauces to another dish. It’s a perfect way to easily transfer food from your specialty cookware to something a little more general purpose. Another major plus is the perfectly straight sides, which easily support a candy thermometer for consistent performance.Perhaps the biggest upside is the incredible thermal performance of this pot.
You’ll find that there’s a bit of a “breaking in” period, not because of the pot, but rather because of how incredibly fast it reacts to changes in heat. You’ll probably find that you can use a completely different range of heat settings with this pan and you’ll almost certainly need to check your thermometer a bit more often. This won’t make things harder. Instead, it’ll make them easier, since very small changes in burner heat will translate into temperature changes much more quickly.
Mauviel makes this pot in three sizes: 1.2 quart, 1.9 quart, and 2.5 quart. Personally, I think that the 1.9 quart option suits my kitchen best, but you should let your own candy and sauce making experience dictate which pot you buy.
Overall, I think that this pot is borderline essential for making candy and temperature-sensitive sauces. You’ll definitely want to make sure that you’ve got a potholder you can use to pick it up, however, as the handle gets very hot.
– All-Clad 6405 SS Copper Core 5-Ply – Saute Pan
If you’re after something you can use for general cooking but you don’t want to buy a whole cookware set, this All-Clad option is one of the best copper pans available. It’s got a stainless cooking surface, an easy-to-clean stainless exterior, and it’s made with All-Clad’s legendary American workmanship.
You’ll get a high-quality saute pan that you’ll be able to use for years.
There are a few features about this pan that jump out, but the biggest one has got to be its shape. Unlike a traditional frying pan, this copper core pan has deep, straight sides. When paired with the included metal lid, it can do virtually any cooking task. This means that you can boil water, cook pasta, or simmer sauces using the superior thermal conductivity of this pan’s copper core.You can also use it as a regular frying pan, of course.
The stainless steel cooking surface has all of the usual pros and cons. It’s easy to clean, it’ll last forever, and it won’t scratch or chip like a nonstick pan. On the other hand, you’ll have to carefully manage your cooking temperature and use a bit of fat while you cook. Like the other copper options on this page, the extreme thermal conductivity of this pan makes managing this quite a bit easier.
The stainless steel cooking surface has the additional application of being totally non-reactive. This means you’re free to cook anything you want in this pan without having to worry about it being too acidic and corroding the copper.
When it’s time to move this frying pan, you’ll use a riveted stainless steel handle. While this gets fairly hot as you use the pan, it also means that this pan is oven safe to 600 degrees F. This means you’re free to get as creative as you like with your cooking. There’s also a little handle opposite the big one that makes lifting this pan much easier when it’s full.
In terms of metals, this pan is constructed with all of the usual suspects. It’s got a thick copper core, a bit of aluminum to save weight, and stainless steel on both the inside and outside. There’s enough magnetic stainless included for use on induction cooktops, upon which you’ll experience absolutely incredible heat responsiveness.
While I alluded to this previously, it’s worth mentioning that All-Clad is an extremely reputable brand when it comes to cookware. This pan has a limited lifetime warranty, which is excellent, as you’re not likely to need to use it anytime soon.
All-Clad makes deep, straight sided frying pans in 3, 4, 5, and 6-quart sizes. If I had to choose today, I’d go with the 5-quart for myself, but you should let your own kitchen experience which size you choose.
Overall, this is probably the best copper frying pan for households that don’t want a full set of copper cookware. Not only is it incredibly versatile due to the deep design and included lid, you can also cook anything you want on the stainless surface without worry. The only minor downside is that it doesn’t have the wonderful copper exterior of something like the Mauviel.
The Best Copper Pots And Pans For Your Kitchen
The options above represent the very best copper cookware on the market. If you’re after the best copper pot for candy making, you’ll definitely choose the Mauviel pot above.
If you want the best copper skillet, choosing the All-Clad copper core saute pan gives you plenty of flexibility with your cooking while still giving you excellent thermal conductivity.
When it comes to budget cookware sets, the T-Fal and the Lagostina sets offer slightly different takes on copper pots and pans. The T-Fal set is easy to maintain and comes with a few extra pieces, while the Lagostina has a beautiful hammered copper exterior that’s sure to impress your guests.
Finally, the first two sets represent a more serious investment into copper for the more serious chef. If you want beautiful pieces made almost entirely of pure copper with virtually unparalleled thermal conductivity, either the Mauviel and the Matfer set is an excellent choice.
Best of all, the thin stainless steel inlay means that you can use these sets to cook any food you like with your incredible copper pots and pans.
Credit Image: matferbourgeatusa.com,lagostinausa.com