The Most Important Criteria to Choosing the Best Cooper CookwareHere are the factors our experts consider when putting together these reviews
Perhaps the most crucial aspect of copper cookware, the thickness of the cookware will determine its durability. If you’re looking for cookware that’s going to stand the test of time, you’ll want to opt for thick copper.
Few pieces of cookware have an appearance as luxurious or beautiful as copper. The beautiful finish of quality copper cookware is also a major indicator of superior quality. An uneven or blotchy appearance is usually a sign that you’re dealing with lesser quality cookware.
You’ll find unlined cookware, as well as cookware that’s lined with either tin or stainless steel. While unlined copper pots and pans are useful for certain tasks, tin or stainless lining can significantly increase the versatility and lifespan of your new cookware.
Handles are usually made from one of four materials: cast iron, stainless steel, brass, or bronze. While brass and bronze tend to be more affordable, cast iron and stainless steel have a longer lifespan and some additional benefits that serious cooks look for.
More affordable options tend to have rivets made from tin or stainless. These materials can result in cool spots along the rim of the pan. Copper rivets are more expensive, but they’re also a mark of higher quality.
THE BEST COPPER COOKWARE IN OUR EXPERIENCEHere are the three best kits on the market
BEST BANG FOR BUCK
Red Copper 10 PC Copper-Infused Ceramic Non-Stick Cookware Set
BEST OF THE BEST
Ultimate 15 Piece All in One Chef’s Kitchen Set with Non-Stick Ti-Cerama Copper Coating
WITH A COPPER BOTTOM
Ultimate Stainless Steel Copper-Bottom Heavy Gauge Multi-Layer Base Cookware Set
"Never heat a tin-lined pan dry. Tin is an exceptionally useful lining for copper cookware, but it has a very low melting point (425°F). Preheating copper pans is never advised, but if you preheat a tin lined pan, it could cause catastrophic damage. All you need to do to avoid damage is make sure you have some oil or butter in your pan when you put it over the heat source. "
ADVANTAGES OF COPPER COOKWARE
Copper is a fairly versatile cookware material, and you’ll find that your copper cookware lends itself well to most different kitchen tasks, including sauteing, frying, simmering, boiling, and more.
Since copper conducts heat so evenly, and it heats and cools quickly, copper cookware gives a chef precision control over the temperature of the pan as they cook. This is a great feature in general, but it’s especially handy when it comes to cooking foods that require a delicate touch, like fish.
Copper’s ability to conduct heat evenly is especially useful when you’re using a larger piece of cookware. With other materials, it’s virtually impossible to regulate the temperature of large pans – you end up with a hot spot in the middle, and the further from the middle you get, the cooler the pan gets.
Uncoated copper cookware also has a significant advantage when it comes to desserts. For example, an unlined copper bowl is perfect for whipping egg whites or making meringues because the copper allows the egg whites to retain more air. Uncoated copper is also popular for making candy.
"Copper cookware can become even more versatile when outfitted with a quality handle. Opting for a cast iron or stainless-steel handle will allow you also to use your pan in the oven, so you can broil and roast with the pan in addition to using it on the stove top. "
DISADVANTAGES OF COPPER COOKWARE
On the other hand, copper cookware does have some inherent disadvantages compared to other materials.
While copper is an excellent option for virtually every cooking method, it does not play well with extremely high heat. Extreme heat can damage the liner of the pan, and it can also compromise the integrity of the pan itself. Of course, there are very few applications that would call for heat that exceeds what a piece of copper cookware can handle.
Cooks should also avoid using copper when cooking highly acidic or alkaline dishes, as they can react adversely and damage the pan. But, since nearly all copper cookware is coated with a liner, this is only a problem for messy cooks who regularly get food or sauce stuck to the outside of their cookware.
Copper also isn’t conducive to use with induction cooktops. These types of cooktops require a magnetic surface to work properly. Unfortunately, copper isn’t magnetic. Many manufacturers make special plates that allow you to use copper cookware with an induction cooktop, but they can be clunky and add an extra expense to your kitchenware collection.
Copper is also a relatively soft metal, and as a result, it’s easy to dent your cookware if you’re not careful. It also needs to be polished regularly to maintain its beautiful appearance.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN DIFFERENT COPPER PRODUCTS
The thickness of the cookware is a particularly important feature to consider. Thickness is important for two main reasons:
- Thicker copper is more durable and less likely to dent
- Thicker copper is far less likely to warp when used on a glass, ceramic or electric cooktops
However, once you reach a certain thickness, it becomes a path of diminishing returns. As a rule of thumb, 2.5mm is the ideal thickness for copper cookware, but any piece that’s thicker than 2mm but thinner than 3mm is certainly worthy of your consideration. The only reason to avoid cookware that’s between 2.5-3mm is because it’s going to be more expensive without adding any additional benefits.
Copper that’s thinner than 2mm is generally of much poorer quality and is more susceptible to dents and warping. Copper that’s thicker than 3mm doesn’t heat or cool as quickly as cookware in the 2-3mm range, which defeats one of the purposes of purchasing copper cookware in the first place. Unnecessary thickness also makes the cookware heavier and more difficult to manage. Plus, anything over 3mm becomes prohibitively expensive.
For the most part, manufacturers have done away with producing 3mm+ cookware. However, you’ll find plenty of thinner cookware on the market, so it’s wise to do your research on specific cook sets or individual pieces to make sure they fall between that 2-3mm range.
The appearance of your new cookware could be a major consideration for you. Copper is widely regarded as the most visually appealing cookware available, and many cooks who opt for copper also display their pots and pans on hooks in their kitchen and use their cookware to serve from, as well.
The first thing you’ll want to look for is a uniform, shiny and lustrous finish. This generally implies that the cookware is well made, and that the manufacturer treated it with care. Cookware with a dull or uneven finish implies that it’s of poorer quality craftsmanship, which means it may not be as durable or perform as well as cookware with a nicer finish.
The next thing to consider is the characteristics of the finish itself. Copper cookware is available with a smooth finish, or a hammered finish. While the type of finish you choose doesn’t have much impact on the quality of the cookware, both offer a distinctly different appearance, and they should be carefully considered.
Most manufacturers make both hammered and smooth finishes for a variety of their pieces. Smooth finishes tend to be more readily available, but if you prefer a hammered finish, you’ll still have plenty of options to choose from.
In the past, a hammered finish was a telltale sign of impeccable craftsmanship. However, thanks to the marvels of modern machinery, even the cheapest, lowest-quality cookware can be imparted with a hammered finish.
While some manufacturers still employ artisan craftsman to do their hammering work, this is becoming more and more rare. If you’re able to find hand-hammered cookware, it’s typically prohibitively expensive as well.
The lining of your cookware is another critical point to consider before you decide on the best cookware for your needs.
In your search, you’ll find a few specific pieces which are unlined, as well as individual pieces and sets that are lined with tin or stainless steel.
As we mentioned earlier, the unlined cookware is only applicable when working with candies or desserts. You should never use unlined cookware otherwise.
Tin is a tried and true coating that’s been used on copper cookware for hundreds of years with great success. It also has natural non-stick properties. Short of Teflon, you won’t find another material that sticks less than tin does.
Tinned cookware does have a few issues, though. With extended use over time, the layer of tin tends to “wear out.” This process can be accelerated with the use of metal utensils, or abrasive cleaning materials. Fortunately, your cookware can be re-tinned by a metal shop whenever the lining wears out. But, for most home cooks, that’s not something you’ll have to worry about for at least a decade.
Since tin has such a low melting point, high heat should be avoided when using tinned cookware.
Stainless linings offer some benefits over tin, but there are some negatives with this lining as well.
On the plus side, stainless steel is extremely hard, has a high melting point, and is virtually indestructible under normal use. Since a stainless lining is less delicate than tin, you can use and abuse these pans to your heart’s content. You’ll also have no problem running a stainless-lined pan through the dishwasher, and you can use abrasive cleaning materials on them as well.
But, stainless doesn’t offer any of the non-stick properties of tin. So you’ll need to put a little extra elbow grease into your cleaning routine if you opt for a stainless steel coating.
The type of material that the handles of the cookware are made from is another characteristic worth considering. When it comes to handles, there are four primary types you’ll come across:
- Cast Iron
- Stainless Steel
Brass and bronze handles are usually a feature of cheaper cookware. While they do offer a beautiful appearance that’s similar to copper, they come with some disadvantages.
First, they conduct heat well, so you’ll need to make sure you’re always grabbing the handle with a pot holder. They’re also more susceptible to breakage, and they discolor after extensive cleaning. Finally, they don’t stand up to heat as well as some other metals do, so copper cookware with brass or bronze handles doesn’t translate well to use in the oven.
Stainless handles are often seen on more expensive cookware, and they stand up to breakage and wear much better than brass or bronze does. They’re also safe to use in the oven. However, as with brass or bronze, stainless conducts heat very well, and you’ll need to avoid grabbing the bare handle of a hot pan as well.
Cast iron is perhaps the best handle material for several reasons. First, cast iron conducts heat poorly, so you probably won’t have to worry about the handle getting hot, unless you’re pulling it out of the oven. Cast iron’s pitted exterior also gives it a superior grip compared to the other three handle materials, which can come in handy with thicker and heavier pots.
As a general rule, try to avoid brass or bronze handles and instead opt for stainless steel or cast iron.
The final characteristic you’ll want to consider is the material that the rivets which attach the handle to the cookware are made from. This may seem like a small factor, but the material the rivets are made from can make a big difference in the performance of your cookware. Three different materials are used to rivet handles to the body of the cookware:
As you’d imagine, copper rivets are the standard of quality cookware, and they’re the most desirable of the three materials used to make rivets. A feature to look for is a rounded appearance on the heads of the rivets. While this isn’t a make-or-break type feature, it’s an extra step that fine cookware makers take to differentiate their products from the lesser competition.
The reason why copper rivets are so desirable is that they’re made from the same copper that’s used to make the rest of the pan or pot. They conduct heat the same way, and as a result, you’ll never have to worry about cold spots around the rim of the pan. Plus, they make for a more attractive look.
Iron or steel rivets are every bit as useful as copper rivets. But, since these metals have different properties compared to copper, and don’t conduct heat nearly as well as copper does, cookware with iron or steel rivets is prone to cold spots around the rim of the pan.
"Be careful with the accessories you choose! Metal utensils can degrade the finish of your cookware, especially if it has a tin lining. Instead, opt for plastic or wooden utensils and accessories wherever possible. "
HOW DO I CLEAN A TIN LINING?
Cleaning pots and pans with a tin liner is especially easy. However, there are some things you should avoid at all costs when it comes to cleaning.
You’ll be able to clean most things from your cookware with a soft sponge and hardly any elbow grease. The non-stick properties of tin make cleanup quick and easy. But, for the occasional bit of cooked on food, you’ll need to take care in how you approach cleaning.
Never, under any circumstances use abrasive materials to clean tinned cookware. These abrasives can wear away at the lining, causing your cookware to wear prematurely.
Instead, place the pot or pan back on the stove and fill it with about a ½” of water and a few drops of dish soap. As the water heats up, work the stain with a plastic or wooden cooking utensil until it comes off. Then you can wash and dry your cookware as you usually would.
A scraper made of bamboo or other wood makes a useful accessory for cleaning stubborn stuck on food quickly.
HOW DO I CLEAN COPPER COOKWARE?
With stainless liners, less care is necessary when it comes to clean up. You can clean this type of cookware the same way you’d clean any other pot or pan; you can even run it through the dishwasher.
As for polishing, some cooks love the patina that develops on their copper cookware with extended use. But, many others prefer to keep their cookware looking spotless.
Products like Wright’s Copper Cream or Brasso work wonders on copper pots and pans. You can also make your own polish by adding a tablespoon of salt to ½ cup of white vinegar. Then, add flour to the salt and vinegar until you’ve achieved a maple syrup-like consistency. Add some of the mixture to a paper towel, and work it throughout the exterior of your pan, then wash it off with warm water.
The easiest way to polish copper is to do it often. It may take an extra minute or two to polish your copper cookware once every few weeks, but you’ll save time in the long run. Polishing copper that has months or years’ worth of patina on it is far more difficult.
CHEAPEST CHOICERed Copper 10 PC Copper-Infused Ceramic Non-Stick Cookware Set
This ten-piece set is attractive, easy to clean, and economical. While these pans are technically aluminum, they use innovative copper infused ceramic coating that helps to keep food from sticking, while also aiding in heat distribution across the area of the cookware. Plus, it’s oven safe up to 500°F.
- Oven safe
- Easy to clean
We don't like
- Made from aluminum
- Prone to warping
BEST CHOICEUltimate 15 Piece All in One Chef’s Kitchen Set with Non-Stick Ti-Cerama Copper Coating
This large 15-piece set includes everything you’ll ever need for the kitchen of your dreams. This cookware set is surprisingly light despite its solid feel. The pans are finished with a proprietary copper infused titanium and ceramic coating that’s safe for use with metal utensils doesn’t stick and is oven and dishwasher safe.
- Includes virtually every piece of cookware you’ll ever need
- Extremely non-stick coating
- Compatible with induction cooktops
We don't like
- Outside is difficult to clean
- Prone to warping
WITH COPPER BOTTOMUltimate Stainless-Steel Copper-Bottom Heavy Gauge Multi-Layer Base Cookware Set
These pans combine the bulletproof durability of stainless steel cookware with the benefits of copper. They feature all stainless construction except for the bottom of the pan, which is copper. These pans heat quickly and evenly and don’t require nearly as much care as the best copper cookware options.
- Provides the benefits of copper with the durability of stainless
- Includes glass lid for every pot
- Compatible with induction cooktops
- Dishwasher and oven safe
We don't like
- Doesn’t have a non-stick coating
- Interior of cookware stains easily
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