The Best Copper Cookware for Your Kitchen

One of the oldest materials used for cooking, copper is attractive, sturdy, and often used in high-end kitchens.

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The Best Copper Cookware Option

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Copper has been in use for at least 11,000 years. And, throughout that very long time, it has proven to be an effective material for use in many applications, including cookware. Many highly regarded restaurants opt for the best copper cookware available on the market.

From the lining to the handles, numerous options exist. And making the right choice for your particular needs matters, since copper can come with a hefty price tag. In this guide, find out what you need to know about some of the best copper cookware for your kitchen, including the top picks.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Cuisinart Hammered Collection Cookware Set
  2. RUNNER-UP: Calphalon Tri-Ply Copper 10 Piece Set
  3. BEST BUDGET: BulbHead Red Copper 10 PC Copper-Infused Ceramic
  4. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Copper Chef Cookware 9-Pc. Round Pan Set
  5. BEST INVESTMENT: Mauviel 2.5mm Brushed Copper Cookware Set, 9 Piece
  6. BEST MID-RANGE: Gotham Steel Hammered Collection – 10 Piece
The Best Copper Cookware Option

Photo: amazon.com

Types of Copper Cookware

Several types of copper cookware are available. Figuring out which type is best suited to your needs and preferences is the ideal way to start your search for the best copper cookware for your kitchen. Consider these options.

Bare

Bare copper is not only beautiful but offers many benefits. It’s naturally antibacterial, as most bacteria simply can’t survive on it for long. Bare copper also heats up quickly and can lose heat just as quickly, making it perfect for sauces. Though lined copper cookware can perform in a similar fashion, it doesn’t match the quickness in temperature change you can find with bare copper.

The downside to bare copper is its reactive properties; it will react with acids, such as vinegar or tomato juice, causing a bit of the copper itself to leach into the food. This might not be an issue if you cook with bare copper only on occasion, but it could be of concern if you use bare copper to cook most of your meals.

Tinned

Copper cookware is traditionally lined with tin. Tin is a pure element that is not reactive, so it won’t react to acids in your cooking. For example, making a tomato sauce in a tin-lined copper pot won’t then leach heavy metals into the sauce. Tin is also relatively nonstick, without the use of sprays or oils, so you can use it for everything from delicate fish to pancakes without much worry about your food sticking to the cookware.

Tinned copper does have some disadvantages. Some utensils can damage tin, especially those made of metal. It also has a low melting point of about 450 degrees, which means it can’t be preheated when empty, and you can’t use it for tasks like searing a steak. Eventually, tin wears down, and your copper cookware will need another layer of tin. This requires finding a tinsmith for the specialized process of bonding the new tin with the old.

Stainless Steel Lined

Stainless steel is the most common lining for copper cookware today. Though it’s more difficult to line copper with stainless steel, which might push up the price tag, stainless steel has the advantage of lasting as long as you use a copper cookware set. Stainless steel can handle any sort of utensil and can also withstand very high heat.

The downside to stainless steel is that almost every food sticks to it, which necessitates the use of cooking oils. In addition, if there is damage to the stainless steel lining, such as the copper and steel separating—which can happen, as they don’t naturally get along—it can’t be repaired.

Copper-Infused

Some cookware is marketed as “copper infused,” which means there are bits of copper, or a copper-tone finish, blended with the primary cookware material. This copper infusion is usually found in cookware with a ceramic lining. Take care when shopping for a cookware set that claims to be copper infused, as you might purchase items that simply look like copper but don’t actually contain copper. With a true copper-infused cookware set, you’ll receive the benefits of copper without the worry of food sticking to your pots and pans.

The Best Copper Cookware Option

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Copper Cookware

Beyond the different types of copper cookware, consider several other factors as you decide on the most appropriate product for your needs, such as how many pieces are in a set, the thickness and weight of each piece, the compatibility with various cooktops, lining and finish, and even the lids and handles.

Pieces in Set

Most copper cookware sets contain 9 or 10 pieces as well as the lids. You’ll likely want a set that includes:

  • A pot suitable for stews and other larger dishes.
  • Skillets in varying sizes to allow for versatility in the kitchen.
  • Saucepans capable of creating a wide variety of dishes.
  • A small specialty item that appeals to you, such as a teapot or smaller saucepan.

Some sets also feature optional pieces, including bakeware, and even unique additions, such as a frying basket.

Thickness and Weight

The thickness of the copper can have a dramatic effect on performance. Between 2.5-mm and 3-mm thickness is considered the most effective option because it’s thin enough to allow for very quick and even heating. Anything less than 2 mm is a bit too thin, as it can heat so fast you can easily burn the food. Some manufacturers consider copper 2mm or less to be “table service” grade, meaning these pieces are designed to serve food, not cook it. Copper thicker than 3 mm can result in cookware that is too heavy and cumbersome, making it difficult to lift a skillet to swirl that savory sauce or flip that perfect pancake.

Lining

Most copper pots and pans are usually lined with tin. Tin is a nonreactive element that still allows for ample flexibility in heating. However, tin needs some care; you should use the proper utensils to avoid scratches and clean it very gently. Though tin-lined copper will last for years, eventually it will wear through, and you’ll need to have the cookware retinned. Other lining options include stainless steel, though you can fully expect issues with food sticking to your cookware, as stainless steel is notorious for it. You can also look into bare copper, but there are caveats to consider, such as the copper leaching into your food.

Lids and Handles

Cookware lids are often made of the same combination of lining and copper as the cookware itself, but they might also be just bare copper. This shouldn’t be an issue, as the lid will not make contact with your food.

Cookware handles can be made of almost any material, including copper, but are also available in stainless steel and cast iron. Other materials, such as vinyl handles, aren’t common because copper cookware is a higher-end item that lends itself to elegance. Therefore, the handles are often lengthy, attractive, and made of a material built to last and blend in with the beauty of the piece.

Cooktop Compatibility

Copper cookware works well with almost any type of cooktop. However, there are several points to consider. If you’re using a ceramic glass cooktop, look for a thicker copper, as this will keep the cookware from becoming deformed over time. A gas or electric cooktop is well suited for thinner copper, as the heat will be more uniform and prevent warping of the bottom.

Copper cookware doesn’t work well for induction cooktops, though there are some sets created for this type of cooktop that feature a ferromagnetic bottom element. The downside is that this makes the pieces heavier.

Hammered vs. Smooth Finish

There was a time when a hammered finish was essential for copper cookware, as it proved the quality of the craftsmanship. Today, a smooth finish is more likely what you’ll find, since most copper pots and pans are now machine-made. Whether you choose hammered or smooth depends on which finish looks best to you and what fits into your decor; it won’t affect the performance of the cookware at all.

Our Top Picks

Taking into account the wide variety of copper cookware on the market, the following options were chosen as among the best. Criteria included thickness and weight, the lining of the pots and pans, the lids and handles, and more. Here are the top picks for some of the best copper cookware for your upcoming culinary creations.

Best Overall

The Best Copper Cookware Option: Cuisinart Hammered Collection Cookware Set
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This hammered copper cookware set from Cuisinart brings elegance to the table as well as the sturdiness of triple-ply construction, including an aluminum core and stainless steel interior. Cool-grip handles made of stainless steel not only make cooking easier but continue the elegant look of the set with a contoured shape, and they can be hung on a wall mount with the ample hole in the end of each handle. The set includes a 3-quart saucepan with lid, a 3.5-quart sauté pan with cover and helper handle, a 4-quart casserole with lid, and a 6-quart stockpot with lid. All of these tight-fitting lids are made of stainless steel. As an added bonus, you’ll receive a 1-quart open pour saucier.

Runner-Up

The Best Copper Cookware Option: Calphalon Tri-Ply Copper 10 Piece Set
Photo: amazon.com

With a smooth copper exterior, brushed stainless steel interior, and contoured handles that add a touch of sophistication, this set of copper cookware from Calphalon pairs well with both traditional and modern kitchen decor. Although the heat receives its biggest boost from the copper exterior, an aluminum inner core in each piece helps keep the heat even. The set features two skillet/omelet pans, a sauté pan, a saucepot, and two different sizes of saucepans, all of which include flared rims to make pouring easier. Each piece in the set can withstand heat up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and the accompanying lids are stainless steel.

Best Budget

The Best Copper Cookware Option: BulbHead Red Copper 10 PC Copper-Infused Ceramic
Photo: amazon.com

This copper-infused ceramic cookware set from BulbHead features a bright red exterior, creating an eye-popping focal point for your kitchen. The ceramic ensures it’s nonstick, while the infused copper lends a handsome look. That look gains an additional boost from elegant handles that curve to fit your hand. Oven-safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, this versatile set can meet all your cooking needs. Keep in mind that this set must be well seasoned to use properly and should never be touched with abrasive materials or cleaners. Gentle washing by hand is a must to keep this red copper set looking pristine. Expect two frying pans, two sauce pots, a stockpot, an aluminum steamer, and accompanying lids.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Copper Cookware Option: Copper Chef Cookware 9-Pc. Round Pan Set
Photo: amazon.com

This set boasts nine pieces: two fry pans, two saucepans, one stockpot, two lids, and an aluminum fry basket and steamer tray. Copper Chef’s Cerami-Tech nonstick coating should make for easy cleanup. It is designed free of PTFE and PFOA to help ensure the food you prepare in these pans is safe for you and your guests. A stainless steel induction plate makes this set usable on induction cooktops, with a heat threshold of a whopping 850 degrees Fahrenheit. Though this copper cookware set is obviously quite user-friendly, the handles can become hot when you use the pieces for a long time or at a higher heat, so always use oven mitts or pot holders to protect your hands.

Best Investment

The Best Copper Cookware Option: Mauviel 2.5mm Brushed Copper Cookware Set, 9 Piece
Photo: amazon.com

With nine brushed exterior pieces, including saucepans, a sauté pan, and a stockpot with domed lids as well as a quintessential frying pan, this copper cookware set will draw compliments from anyone who sees them hanging in your kitchen. This set from Mauviel is constructed with the 2.5-mm standard for the best possible cooking experience. The stainless steel liner matches the handles on the pots as well as the handles on the lids. Each piece is oven-safe up to 680 degrees Fahrenheit and requires hand-washing to maintain that beautiful shine. Made in France, this set is definitely an investment you can pass down through the generations.

Best Mid-Range

The Best Copper Cookware Option: Gotham Steel Hammered Collection - 10 Piece
Photo: amazon.com

This handsome 10-piece copper cookware set from Gotham Steel features the classic look of hammered copper along with the nonstick properties you need. In fact, this set is made with an award-winning nonstick blend of copper, ceramic, and titanium—meaning no oils or butters should ever be required to help your food slide out of each piece. Oven-safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, this copper cookware is appropriate for all cooktops, including induction models.

The lightweight design makes these pots and pans easy to use, with handles that stay cool to the touch on the cooktop. The nonstick surface is tough enough to handle metal utensils, and the set is even dishwasher-safe. Solid aluminum construction ensures even heating, and you can feel confident your food is safer with the absence of PTHE, PFOA, and PFOS. This set comes with five pots and pans, four corresponding lids, and an aluminum strainer to round out your cooking needs.

The Advantages of Owning Copper Cookware

Copper cookware has many advantages that go well beyond eye-catching looks. Here are just a few:

  • Conductivity. The conductivity of copper is second to none in the world of cookware. In fact, it can heat so quickly that you might need only half the heat you do with other cookware sets to achieve the optimal cooking temperature for each dish you prepare.
  • Even heating. Copper heats up quickly and evenly with none of the “hot spots” you might find with stainless steel or other materials. It also cools down very quickly, which means the moment you remove it from the heat, the temperature begins a precipitous drop. This feature is ideal for creating sauces that require a gentle touch.
  • Antibacterial. Copper is a naturally antibacterial material, which means your cooking process and your food will be as safe as possible. Though proper food hygiene is obviously still a must, copper can provide a measure of assurance that you’re using cookware to help keep you and your family healthier.

FAQs About Copper Cookware

You might have more questions about copper cookware. Here are some answers to some commonly asked questions to start you on the path to choosing the best copper cookware for your kitchen.

Q. Are copper pans better than others?

That depends on who you ask. Some professional chefs prefer copper, while others will choose stainless steel, ceramic coated, or even cast iron.

Q. What foods should you not cook with copper cookware?

Bare copper cookware doesn’t work well with acidic foods, as it is a reactive metal that will leach out into the food itself. You might also want to avoid foods that should be cooked at very high heat, as this could easily warp or disfigure bare copper pans.

Q. Is copper cookware safe?

Yes, copper cookware is safe, especially when lined with tin or stainless steel. However, bare copper cookware is fine for occasional dishes, but using it too often with acidic foods can lead to leaching of copper into your food, which builds up in the body over time.

Q. How long do copper pans last?

With proper care over the years, copper pans can last a lifetime. The classic tin lining might need to be replaced from time to time, but the pans themselves will keep going strong for decades.