With many beneficial properties, including high thermal conductivity, moderate corrosion rate, and luxurious look, copper is one of the most commonly used metals for manufacturing cookware.
Apart from silver, copper is the best heat-conducting metal. It conducts heat twice as fast as aluminum and ten times faster than stainless steel. That responsiveness and conductivity make copper cookware perfect for sautéing meat, boiling root vegetables, making salted caramel sauce. Or preparing any recipe that involves dairy products (melting butter, chocolate, or cheese, for example).
Other features that make copper cookware a popular choice for daily meal preparation are its scratch-resistant, durable, and easy-to-clean surface. Indeed, the best copper cookware sets will help enhance your cooking experience, making it more practical to prepare food for even the messiest of people.
However, over the past decade, the safety of copper cookware has become an ongoing topic of discussion and controversy, with many different opinions. Some assume that cooking with copper cookware could pose serious health risks. While others assure that as long as safety precautions are taken, exposure to copper in cooking is completely harmless.
So before making a buying decision, it makes sense to take time to understand the safety of your cookware, so you can cook with complete confidence. And that’s where this article comes in handy. Explaining everything you need to know, from what copper cookware is to what its health effects are, and how safe it is to cook with. We hope the information and reviews will make it easier for you when choosing the best cookware set.
Is Copper Cookware Safe to Use?
Most studies show that copper cookware does not pose a threat to human health as long as it’s coated with a non-reactive metal, which helps prevent contact between food and the structural copper element. So unless the copper coating is scratched, there is absolutely no risk of ingesting copper. Your copper pots and pans are entirely safe to use.
But what if the protective layer of your coated copper pans gets damaged? Cooking in badly scratched or uncoated copper cookware could cause the copper molecules to leach into the food. Especially when there is an acidic solution involved.
As stated by the National Institute of Health, the ingestion of copper in amounts between 10 and 15 milligrams can lead to unpleasant symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and taste disorders. Copper toxicity also causes Kayser–Fleischer rings in patients with Wilson’s disease.
To maintain the safety of your cookware, you’ll need to prevent damage to the protective layer by strictly following the Use & Care document supplied by the cookware manufacturer. If the coating of your copper pan starts to flake off, stop using it. It’s time to consider a new alternative.
What is Copper Cookware?
As mentioned above, due to potential risks of copper toxicity, aside from a few specific types of cookware, like jam pots, you’re not going to find copper cookware that has a copper coating on the interior.
While there are some brands of cookware that advertise their non-stick copper-colored interior or decorative copper exterior, that cookware is not copper. It doesn't provide any of the advantages of copper, except for the elegant look. If you want to buy pure copper pans, choose the ones that have tin or stainless steel lining
Copper cookware with tin lining conducts heat pretty well, has a toxic-free non-stick cooking surface, and is non-reactive with acidic foods like tomatoes or vinegar. While tin distributes heat nearly as well as copper, this soft metal is susceptible to scratches and can wear out over time. It also has a low melting point (450°F). So never leave an empty tin-lined copper pan unattended on your cooktop over high heat.
Copper cookware lined with stainless steel (also called stainless steel cookware) has great heat retention, provides high thermal response, and doesn’t impart an off color/flavor in acidic foods.
Unlike its counterpart, this cookware isn’t non-stick. So food can stick to the cooking surface, making it more challenging for you to remove burnt-on food. But as long as you remember to add cold oil in a hot pan, even delicate foods like eggs and fish should release relatively easily.
There is also cookware that features either a pure copper core clad between two layers of stainless steel or a disk of copper welded only on to the bottom of the cookware.
With tri-ply cookware, heat is evenly distributed throughout the entire pan to minimize “hot spots”. This makes it ideal for preparing food that needs the even heat from the cookware’s sides, such as a custard.
Compared with its tri-ply counterparts, encapsulated-bottom pans are usually cheaper. While they can heat up quickly, they can only distribute the heat across the base, often leading to uneven cooking and burning from “hot spots” at the cookware’s sides. Due to this, encapsulated-bottom sets are only perfect for water-based cooking, like steaming, boiling, and making sauce.
How to Choose the Best Copper Cookware Set
When it comes to buying the best cookware set, key considerations include:
As stated above, copper cookware can have a tin or stainless steel lining, a thin decorative layer on the exterior, a disk of copper at the bottom. Or multiple stainless steel layers sandwiching a pure copper core.
Since each metal has its own special properties, the performance of your copper cookware depends highly on its composition. Different structures react with heat at a very different rate. This will affect how the cookware conducts heat and how beautiful your cooked food is when you plate it.
The composition of your copper cookware will also dictate the way it's maintained. While some copper cookware sets are dishwasher safe, others require handwashing for the best long-term use.
Keep in mind that whatever type you choose, your cookware is not suitable for high heat cooking tasks. For the best possible results, use low to medium heat only. It’s also not compatible with metal utensils of which sharp edges may leave small scratch marks on the cooking surface, causing molecules from the structural copper element to leach into your food.
The perfect size for a piece of cookware depends on your particular set of needs: How much food do you want to cook at a given time? How much space do you have available for storing your pots and pans? And how much money are you willing to spend?
If you live alone or usually cook for a couple, find a set with a 10-inch skillet. This set provides you with enough cooking space for frying 3-4 sunny-side-up eggs or 1-2 portions of meat. If you feed a family of 3-4 people, a larger skillet (13-inch) would be a better choice. It’s large enough to handle large batches of stir-fries, 3-4 chicken breasts, or medium-sized portions of scrambled eggs. Just make sure you have the space to store this larger frying pan.
Some users prefer lids that are made from stainless steel. So they can handle high oven heat and can be easily cleaned in the dishwasher. While others prefer lids that are made from tempered glass so that they can see the food without having to lift the lid and let essential moisture escape. In general, glass lids are not oven compatible. But there are also lids that are oven safe up to 350°F (175°C). So it’s best to check the product packaging to determine what you have.
Ease of Storage
A cookware set that has 10-12 pieces may take up a lot of your valuable kitchen space. So we recommend you find one that is stackable. However, because the entire cookware set is nested together, you’ll need to grab the whole set to pick the item you want. Be advised that when stacking, the cookware’s interior can be damaged unless you remember to place a couple of paper towels between each piece.
You can also save your cabinet or pantry space by buying sets with pieces featuring hollow-core handles. The little hole at the end of each handle will allow you to hang your pans on the wall or from a rack for easier access, beautiful display, or space-saving organization.
Reviews of the Best Copper Cookware Sets in 2021
- Gotham Steel - Best to Buy in 2021
- Copper Chef - Best Value Copper Cookware Set
- Home Hero - Best Non-stick Copper Cookware Set
- T-fal C836SD - Best Copper Bottom Cookware Set
- All-Clad 600822 SS - Best Copper Core Cookware Set
Here’s our picks for the Best Copper Cookware Sets:
1. Gotham Steel Hammered Collection - Best to Buy in 2021
The Gotham Steel Hammered Collection is a high-quality cookware set that has a solid aluminum construction to promote even heating and a longer lifespan. Featuring a gorgeous copper exterior, it is sure to coordinate with any kitchen decor, from modern styles to classic looks.
Triple coated non-stick coating
Solid aluminum construction
Oven-safe of up to 550°F
Metal utensil safe
Ergonomic, hollow-core handle
Handle gets hot when heated
Discoloration with use
With Gotham Steel Hammered cookware, you can enjoy flavorful fried food without adding too much cooking oil. This is because the non-stick interior is reinforced with proprietary titanium and ceramic to ensure optimal food release, while the aluminum construction is hard-anodized for extra durability. And since these pots and pans are made from aluminum, they’re reasonably lightweight, making it easier for you to flip pancakes or omelettes.
More impressively, the triple coated non-stick cooking surface is ultra-durable. It can be able to withstand some kinds of abrasion and be resistant to scratching, even with the use of metal utensils. The interior is also PTFE-, PFOA-, and PFOS-free so you can cook with peace of mind.
The Gotham Steel Hammered Collection cookware set is induction compatible. Not only can it withstand oven heat of upto 550°F, it also can go from broiler to burner to table when placed on a heat-resistant trivet. Keep in mind that when used in the oven, the handle as well as the pan will naturally become hot. So make sure you always have pot holders available.
Included are a 8.15-inch frying pan, a 9.75-inch skillet with lid, two saucepans with lids (1.35-quart and 2.65-quart), a 4.9-quart stockpot with lid, and a stainless steel steamer insert.
While all are dishwasher-safe, it’s best to wash them by hand for best long-term use. As a nice bonus, each pan has an ergonomic, hollow-core handle that is secured with stainless steel rivets to ensure comfortable grasp and heavy-duty use.
At an inexpensive price, the Gotham Steel Hammered Collection comes with enough pieces for your daily cooking tasks. Apart from adding a touch of warmth and elegance to your kitchen, the set will surely also provide you with a more efficient way to prepare healthy meals. We highly recommend it!Check Latest Price on Amazon
2. Copper Chef - Best Value Cookware Set
This cookware set has 9 pieces that come with a five-year warranty: a 2.8-quart sauté pan with lid, a 1-quart sauté pan, a 5.8-quart casserole pan with lid, two round frying pans (10-inch and 8-inch), a 9x3.5-inch round frying basket, and 9-inch round steamer tray cooking pan.
Excellent thermal conductivity
Full, heavy-gauge aluminum core
Efficient Cerami-Tech non-stick coating
Riveted hollow stainless steel
Interior is susceptible to scratching
Handle gets hot at high temperatures
Each multi-layer cookware features the pure aluminum core sandwiched between the advanced Cerami-Tech non-stick coating and the stainless steel induction plate. While the stainless steel base helps distribute heat quickly and evenly to the entire cooking surface. The advanced Cerami-Tech non-stick coating offers strong food release, allowing protein-rich foods to cook more quickly without the need for added oil.
We like that the Copper Chef cookware is dishwasher safe. But keep in mind that the abrasive nature of dishwasher detergents can cause the non-stick surface to chip off. This will in no way impair the performance or safety of your pans. But to maintain their shining beauty, handwashing is highly necessary. The PFOA-free non-stick coating can also be easily scratched by the sharp edge of metal utensils. So it’s advised to only use non-metallic utensils.
This set can be compatible with all cooktops, including induction. It can also go from the stove top right into the oven with the riveted hollow stainless steel handle. Just make sure you remember to use a pot holder when handling.
The Copper Chef is a copper-colored cookware set with exceptionally high thermal conductivity. Capable of evenly distributing heat throughout the food, it could potentially be a perfect choice for all your cooking needs, from searing and browning to sautéing and simmering.Check Latest Price on Amazon
3. Home Hero - Best Non-stick Copper Cookware Set
Including up to 23 copper-colored pieces, the Home Hero is one of the largest bakeware and nonstick pan sets on the market formulated for optimal heat transfer and excellent heat control. You don’t need to pay extra for optional baking accessories. This set comes with enough add-ons to get your cooking game started— right out of the box. It even includes a 2-piece steamer pot for steaming seafood, vegetables, and more.
Ultra ceramic non-stick surface
Large induction base
Handles can get hot
As a great bonus, all pieces are induction compatible and oven-safe, with the exception of the egg pan. They can also work well under the broiler. Just make sure you wash them by hand to prevent the non-stick coating from gradually peeling off.
The Home Hero pans feature four-layer construction. The ultra non-stick ceramic interior for easy food release, the base coat for extra adhesion, the cast aluminum core for even heat distribution. And the heavy-duty exterior coat for excellent wrasp-strength.
You might be happier to know that the copper-colored nonstick ceramic coating is non-reactive with acidic food, does a great job in preventing scratches, and can last three times as long as its conventional non-stick counterparts.
While the tempered glass lids fit tightly onto the cookware to trap in heat and moisture for a faster cooking time, they also have a steam vent to allow the pans to “breathe”. So that the boiling liquid will be prevented from splattering on your cooktop.
We like that the riveted stainless steel handles have a reasonable length and are ergonomically designed to provide secure grasp. They are able to tolerate temperatures of up to 500°F in an oven. But they can get hot enough to burn you. Be sure to hold the pan handle and use pot holders when taking it out of the oven.
The Home Hero cookware set isn’t a typical collection of pots and pans, since besides 14 cookware pieces, it additionally includes 6 bakeware tools to let you create more delicious baking recipes. Indeed, the set has everything needed for even a demanding cook.Check Latest Price on Amazon
4. T-fal C836SD - Best Copper Bottom Cookware Set
The T-fal Ultimate Stainless Steel set is a disc-bottom cookware set that has a thick, extremely heat-responsive aluminum core cladding between two layers of stainless steel.
Long, oven-safe stainless steel handles
Tempered glass lids with vents
The exteriors can discolor with use
Together with a copper disc on the bottom, the multi-layer construction base will provide you with exceptional tasting food, even heat distribution, and rapid heat-up time.
While the T-fal Ultimate Stainless Steel cookware is able to cook at high heat, it works well and gives a great sear on your chicken thighs, beefsteak, or piece of fresh salmon using low to medium heat too. It’s worth trying to cook on a lower heat to extend the life of your cookware.
Plus, the interior isn’t non-stick. You'll need to add a thin coating of cooking oil into the hot pan. Or food will stick to the cooking surface— which can be a great inconvenience, especially when it comes to releasing and cleaning burnt-food.
The T-fal Ultimate Stainless Steel kitchen pots and pans are suitable for use on all types of rangetops, including induction. Beyond their ability to withstand oven temperatures up to 500°F, they can also handle sudden temperature changes. So you can move them from the stove top right into the oven using the long, sturdy stainless steel handle. They can even be put under the broiler for a greater variety of dishes.
As a nice bonus, each pan comes with a little hole at the end of the handle so you can hang it on an organizer-rack over the kitchen island. This helps you to get more storage out of your cabinets. The handle can get very hot if cooked on high heat. So make sure to use oven gloves or a dry towel when holding hot pans.
The T-fal Ultimate Stainless Steel cookware is quite durable if properly washed by hand. For hassle-free cleaning, you can also put it in the dishwasher.
But we found that the copper color design on the bottom of the cookware can be discolored by the high heat of a normal dishwasher cleaning cycle. Though discoloration doesn’t affect the performance of your pans, it makes them look less beautiful. To minimize the risk of discoloration, we recommend you wash your cookware by hand.
The T-fal Ultimate Stainless Steel cookware includes a 5-quart covered Dutch oven with lid, two open skillets (8-inch and 10.5-inch), a 12-inch frying pan with lid, three covered saucepans with lids (1-quart, 2-quart, and 3-quart), and a stainless steel steamer insert.
The T-fal Ultimate Stainless Steel cookware set is a perfect collection for making delicate sauces and searing sensitive foods. Durable and practical, it can give you years of great cooking performance if delicate cared for.Check Latest Price on Amazon
5. All-Clad 600822 SS - Best Copper Core Cookware Set
The All-clad 600822 SS collection includes two frying pans (8-inch and 10-inch), a 3-quart covered sauté pan with lid, an 8-quart covered stockpot with lid, and two covered saucepans with lids (2-quart and 3-quart). All are dishwasher-safe for easier clean up.
Interchangeable stainless steel lids
Thick copper core
Handles are too long and can get hot
Featuring a thick core of copper covered on the cooking surface by a highly polished 18/10 stainless steel, each cookware ensures high warp-free strength, reliable responsiveness, and precise temperature control.
You can use All-clad 600822 SS pots and pans on most rangetops (gas, glass, induction, and electric), in the oven (up to 600°F), under the broiler, and with various types of kitchen utensils (with the exception of metal utensils).
The riveted stainless steel handles are ergonomically designed to ensure comfortable grasp. But the long design could make it more difficult for you to fit the whole pan into the fridge if needed.
The cookware comes with stainless steel glass lids that are interchangeable with pans of the same size. We like that all the lids fit tightly into the pan to lock in flavor and moisture, allowing you to enjoy tastier and healthier food. However, like the cookware’s handle, they can get extremely hot when heated at high temperatures.
The All-clad 600822 SS is the most expensive cookware set on our list, costing five times as much as the top pick. But it’s totally worth the investment, given its lifetime warranty, long-lasting beauty, and solid construction. Still, with five-ply construction, your pans are quite a bit heavy. So it might be harder to hold with one hand when it comes to moving them from one place to another.Check Latest Price on Amazon
Comparison Chart of The Best Copper Cookware Sets in 2021
|Model||Oven Safe||Induction Safe||Dishwasher safe||Warranty
|All-Clad 600822 SS||600°F||✓||✓||Lifetime|
So that is our list of the best copper cookware sets this year. While there are a lot of models on the market, these are just a few that really impressed us. We hope it will help you in your purchasing decision and will continually update the list as we find more. If you have any questions or any personal experience with one of these sets, let us know by dropping a comment in the box below.
A writer and entrepreneur, Luna’s day doesn’t start at the computer keyboard, but in the kitchen.
Half of her working hours are spent on mixing ingredients for her recipes. The other half involve working with the tech team to research and test the tools and appliances that promise to make kitchen work effortless and mess-free. From a kitchen knife or water filter to the Instant Pot, if it can help save time and effort for the home cook, Luna and her team are on it.
Luna’s extracurricular pastimes include camping, travel, and photography.