Although professional chefs have been cooking with it for years, copper cookware made a big splash in home kitchens across the country only recently. In the past few years infomercials showcasing “copper” cookware were all over streaming and cable TV. 

But most experienced home cooks have discovered that the best copper cookware sets have unique characteristics that make them durable, beautiful, and able to deliver professional results in the kitchen. 

After doing a bit of research, I’ve pulled together a list of the best copper cookware sets for the money. The list includes copper-infused ceramic nonstick, tri-ply, and stainless steel or tin-lined cookware.

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I this roundup review, I will focus on the following copper cookware pots and pans:

Copper Cookware Roundup Reviews

BulbHead (10824) Red Copper 10 PC Copper-Infused Ceramic Non-Stick Cookware Set

Red Copper cookware is promoted as copper infused non-stick ceramic. The process involves bonding aluminum to the nonstick coating in order to prevent food from sticking while facilitating heat distribution. The infomercials have made claims which, quite frankly, don’t live up to most of the hype. That said, this cookware set has received over a thousand positive reviews on Amazon. 

This 10 piece cookware set has everything you need to prepare a variety of foods from scrambled eggs, to soups, stews, and steamed vegetables. However, you MUST season your pots and pans first. Just apply a thin layer of vegetable oil to your pan(s) with a paper towel and place it in a preheated 300℉ oven for 20 minutes. Let it cool completely then wipe it clean. 

Although the manufacturer promotes it as “dishwasher safe”, the included instructions will advise you to use dish soap, a paper towel and warm water for cleaning. I would also avoid abrasive cleaners. I recommend you skip the dishwasher altogether and play it safe by washing by hand. 

To have the best nonstick experience, be sure to put a little butter or oil in the pan and never heat them ‘dry’ or on high heat. It will damage your cookware. Keep an oven mitt handy as the metal handles tend to get very hot after a few minutes on the stovetop and in the oven. Use silicone utensils to avoid scratching the cooking surface.

The handles are riveted on so there are no screws to work loose. The set comes with tempered glass lids. However the lids have a metal rim that tends to get very hot during the cooking process so be careful not to touch with bare fingers.

Pros
Oven safe up to 500℉
Heats quickly and evenly
No PFOAs or PTFEs
Tempered glass lids included

Cons
Handles get extremely hot
Nonstick surface not resistant to scratching (as advertised)
Top coat may chip

Calphalon T10 Tri-Ply Copper 10 Piece Set

The Calphalon Tri-Ply Copper cookware set has that winning combination of good looks and excellent conductivity that will help you get professional results. This set is perfect for the home cook who is ready to elevate her/his cooking skills. 

Tri-Ply construction is a fancy way of saying they’ve sandwiched heavy gauge aluminum between a stainless steel interior and copper exterior. The copper and aluminum help to conduct heat through to the stainless steel cooking surface which, next to cast iron, will give you an awesome sear on fish and meats. Expect some sticking to occur during the browning process though. After browning, most proteins will be released from the stainless steel surface to give you a rich, dark crust. 

The stainless steel is non reactive when exposed to acidic foods like tomato sauce or alkaline foods like onions and garlic. This means you won’t get that weird metallic taste in your mouth. It also means it won’t tarnish or change color.

I love that the rims are flared so that when you pour liquids you won’t get splashed and burned. The Cool-V handles are designed to stay cool during the cooking process and they have double rivets to ensure stability. The stainless steel lids trap moisture and hold in heat. There are no vents. 

Keep in mind that there are (always) maintenance issues related to both stainless steel and aluminum. When copper is exposed to air and heat it will develop a patina or even rust spots. This can be solved by using Calphalon’s RADIANCE cleaner. It also helps if you wash by hand and NEVER place your cookware in the dishwasher. Washing in hot soapy water with a dishcloth or sponge should do the trick. 

If these are big issues for you, then don’t buy this set. Or get one piece like a frying pan to see how you like it. 

Pros
Tri-Ply design eliminates hot spots and promotes even heating
Lifetime warranty

Cons
High maintenance
None of the lids fit any other pot or pan

 

Cuisinart HCTP-9 Hammered Collection Cookware Set

There is a lot to like about the Cuisinart Hammered Collection cookware set. First of all, it is very well made. The Tri-ply construction consists of an 18/10 stainless steel interior, aluminum core, and copper exterior. This combination helps with temperature control and even heat distribution. However, this is not the set to buy if you cook on an induction stove. It is compatible only for gas, electric, glass ceramic or halogen stoves. 

If you want to sear your meat on the stovetop, then finish in the oven, you can. This cookware is oven safe to 500

The handles are designed to stay cool but tend to get hot while on the stovetop. The notched saucepan comes in handy while pouring hot sauces or gravy so as to minimize splashes and burns. 

You will have to put in some time to maintain this cookware set because of the copper and stainless steel. I have included cleaning and maintenance information in the Cooking with Copper Pans section. 

Pros
Tri-ply construction 
Pots are weighty but not heavy like cast iron
The saucepan is notched for easy pouring
Made of 18/10 stainless steel
Even heat distribution along bottom and sides

Cons
Lid handles can get hot after extended cooking time
Lids are not vented (issue for some)
Copper is soft and subject to heat marks from a gas flame

Martellata “Lagostina” Hcammered Copper 10 Piece Cookware Set

The Lagostina line of the Martellata 10 Piece Copper Cookware set features an aluminum core that is clad between an 18/10 stainless steel interior and a hammered copper exterior. This combination ensures you of even heat distribution and great temperature response.

This cookware set is durable and makes a great impression when serving oven-to-table meals. Martellata has flared and rolled the edges of each pot and pan so pouring is safe and easy; splatters and drips are minimized. The set is oven and broiler safe up to 500℉.

The fully cast stainless steel handles are designed to stay as cool as possible and are riveted to the body of each cookware piece. However, you will still need to take care and use mitts or gloves to avoid burns — especially when lifting and moving them from the oven. 

This is a beautiful set, but to keep it that way you will have to invest time into care and maintenance. Never ever put the pieces in the dishwasher. Expect the copper to discolor over time. It can be restored by using a quality copper cleaning solution to the exterior. You will also have to spend time maintaining the stainless steel cooking surface.

Pros
Flared and rolled edges for easy, safe pouring
Tri-ply construction
18/10 stainless steel
Hammered copper exterior

Cons
Copper will discolor with normal use
Hand cleaning recommended
Must devote time to maintenance (stainless steel and copper)

Mauviel 2.5mm Brushed Copper Cookware Set, 5 Piece – Made in France – Stainless Steel Handles (M’heritage M250S)

I’ll just say it. This is a very expensive set of copper cookware. Even if you decide to buy once piece at a time expect to pay a premium for it. However, if money is not an issue and you’re in search of an outstanding set of French made copper cookware, then Mauviel is the way to go.

The 5 piece set includes a 10.2″ Skillet, 1.9 Quart Saucepan with Domed Lid and 3.2 Quart Saute Pan with Domed Lid. The skillet and pans are very heavy and made of 90% 2.5 mm thick copper and 10% 18/10 stainless steel. They are oven safe up to an impressive 680°F. (But you will probably never cook anything at such a high temperature in a steel oven.)

As far as the cooking experience goes, all of the pans are great at distributing heat evenly along the cooking surface. You don’t have to worry about hotspots or warping. 

The skillet has a big enough surface area to work with large spatulas. The stainless steel cooking surface will release hamburger patties effortlessly, but breakfast sausages tend to stick. When cooking eggs in the skillet you will need to be generous with the butter, which helps the eggs slide along the surface with minimal stickage. 

The handles are made of cast stainless steel that has a textured matte finish.  They are riveted to the pan and designed to stay cool. However, after about 12 minutes of cooking you will need to put on a mitt or gloves to pick up or move the cookware.  The included domed copper lids fit snugly and help to hold in moisture. They are not interchangeable.

So the question you have to answer is the expense worth the value you will get from a set like this? You will also have to keep in mind that copper and stainless steel are labor intensive in terms of maintenance and upkeep. They will need to be hand washed and expect them to develop a patina and discoloration. The copper will tarnish when exposed to air, whether or not the cookware has been used. So you will have to accept that there will be a certain amount of dish soap + hot water hand washing  and soaking you will be doing along with polishing the copper exterior.

If you’re cool with all that, I’d say Mauviel is well worth the investment.

Pros
Lifetime warranty
Warm resistant
Great heat transfer and conductivity

Cons
Labor intensive cleaning and maintenance
Very expensive
Copper will discolor
Not induction safe

How to Choose The Best Copper Cookware 

Actually the title of this section should be “How to choose the best copper cookware for you.” The way you cook should influence what you buy, especially when it comes to copper pots and pans.

Here is a list of considerations to take into account:

Maintenance

Stainless steel or tin-lined copper cookware is labor and time intensive. In addition to maintaining the copper exterior of your pans, a certain amount of “elbow grease” will be needed to clean the cooking surface. This cleaning regime will include hand washing with mild soap, hand drying, soaking, and removing food particles with soft brushes and sponges. You should never rely on your dishwasher to handle cleanup duty. 

Pots and pans have to be polished often to prevent corrosion, tackle tarnish, and maintain the exterior finish. 

If you are the type of person that’s just looking for something simpler, then you may want to consider copper infused ceramic non-stick cookware

Health Concerns

Most health concerns about copper cookware have to do with the degree to which food is coming in contact with the metal. Unlined copper pots can create an environment of copper toxicity within the body resulting in health issues such as fatigue, hypothyroidism, and headaches. 

This is less of a concern today than it was in the past when copper cookware was either unlined or lined with tin containing lead. Today’s copper cookware is lined with pure tin or stainless steel. 

Tin Lining 

Tin-lined copper cookware has some great features. The problem with food sticking to the cooking surface is minimized as most foods ‘release’ fairly easily. Tin heats up quickly and will not leach metal or other chemicals into your food. 

You will have to have your cookware relined after a time because it is a soft metal. Hand washing with mild dish soap and a soft sponge or brush will help it last.

Stainless Steel Lining

Since stainless steel by itself is not a good heat conductor, the copper exterior will compensate for that; helping it with temperature changes and even heat distribution. Stainless steel is durable and will not react with food.

There is a learning curve though. If you don’t learn how to control heat, your food will stick and burn. The key is bringing the pan to temperature slowly and never going above Medium-High heat. You should avoid adding food or oil to the pan without preheating it. 

You will also need to season your pan and learn how to properly clean it with baking soda or abrasives such as Bar Keepers Friend

Durability and Functionality

Quality copper cookware should have weight. It will not be as heavy as cast iron though. You should be able to lift it with one hand. Shoot for a metal thickness of at least 2.5 mm to ensure you’re getting high quality cookware. Thinner pans will be prone to warping and will not sit flat on your cooktop.

Pay attention to the handles. They should be balanced in a way that allows you to move them around the cooktop or place in the oven with ease. Look for ones that have a ‘cool touch’ feature.

Quality copper cookware should have weight. It will not be as heavy as cast iron though. You should be able to lift it with one hand. Shoot for a metal thickness of at least 2.5 mm to ensure you’re getting high quality cookware. Thinner pans will be prone to warping and will not sit flat on your cooktop.

Pay attention to the handles. They should be balanced in a way that allows you to move them around the cooktop or place in the oven with ease. Look for ones that have a ‘cool touch’ feature. 

Cooktop Compatibility

Copper cookware with work with most cooktops. However, the thing to look out for if you have an induction cooktop is a magnetic steel bottom layer. This is absolutely essential.

Another note of caution: Do not turn up the heat or you will ruin your cooktop and your cookware. Never allow your pans to overheat or get searing hot. You will risk leaving stains and marks on your flat top stove.

Aesthetics & Affordability

Quality copper cookware is not cheap. The good news is that you can find quality cookware in almost any price range from luxury high-end to mid-range pricing. There are a variety of finishes to choose from: hammered, high-shine, matte, flat and shiny. 

The main things to remember are to be sure the cookware is lined, has a thick and weighty construction, ergonomic handles, and cooktop compatible.

Cooking with Copper Pans

Copper is known for its heat conductivity and precise temperature control. That’s why it is the choice of professional chefs. When  you cook with copper, you can adjust the temperature on you stove and the cookware will change temperature almost immediately. Sweeeeeet. This is why braising and browning works so well with copper cookware. 

Copper is a reactive metal, meaning it will react to foods it directly comes into contact with acidic and alkaline foods. You can’t cook directly on it. Back in the day, unlined copper cookware seeped into your system, causing serious health problems. That’s why the cooking surface is always lined with another metal, like tin (professional chefs) or stainless steel (home cooking sets).

Tin is a bit more nonstick, but it is softer than stainless steel. That means no metal utensils allowed. Tin will also wear off over time and can be damaged with too much heat.

On the other hand, stainless steel is harder and more durable. The 18/10 stainless steel is a safer choice than tin-lined copper cookware. 

Do’s and Don’ts

1. Never heat an empty, dry copper pan. You will need to use butter, fat, oil, water or other liquid in the pan as you bring it up to heat. If you’re used to heating a dry cast iron skillet to ‘searing hot’ for a steak or getting a carbon steel pan up to smoking point to season it, doing the same will absolutely ruin your copper pan.

2. Never, ever cook on the HIGH setting. Keep it at Medium-high. You will destroy your pan if you do.

3. Do not add salt to a dry pan. The stainless steel cooking surface will pit. Add salt only after the water or liquid in the pan is hot.

4. Do not place your cookware in the dishwasher. You will regret it. Plan on washing every piece by hand in warm, soapy dish detergent. You should also hand dry to avoid spotting. Stainless steel WILL stain. However, you can use Barkeeper Friend to remedy this. White vinegar works wonders for removing meat film from the cooking surface.

5. Do expect the copper to tarnish or discolor and develop a patina. Use copper polish to remove. A brand new pan may already have some tarnish on it, depending on how long it has been exposed to air (or kept on a warehouse shelf). This can be rubbed off with a good copper polish and the beauty restored. 

6. Copper pots corrode so you must polish them often, even when you’re not using them. 

Final Thoughts

How much you invest in a good set of copper cookware really depends on your budget and the type of cook you are. If you’re the type of person who is looking for affordability, easy cleanup, and convenience, then copper infused ceramic nonstick is a good choice. 

However, if you want to invest in a good set of quality cookware, then the Calphalon, Cuisinart, or Martellata copper cookware sets reviewed here are excellent choices. If money is not an object, then I don’t hesitate to recommend the Mauviel 2.5mm Brushed Copper Cookware Set as my top choice. 

Main photo by Stefano Ferrario