February 4

How to Pick the Best Copper Cookware: The Complete Guide

By trk

Last Updated: September 18, 2021


There are several types of copper cookware--including "copper" cookware--at varying prices and levels of quality. To make sure you get the copper cookware you want, you have to know the differences. 

This article will guide you through all the different types of copper cookware and discuss the pros and cons of each. From traditional French brands hundreds of years old to affordable copper-colored nonstick, we will help you understand what you're buying.

What Makes Copper Cookware So Great?

Copper Cookware Review

A lot of cookware articles compare copper cookware to owning a fine sports car, like a Ferrari. It's an excellent comparison, or at least it is for traditional, heavy-gauge copper cookware: if you need to get somewhere, you can do so perfectly well with a Chevy. But if you want to get somewhere in style, you take a Ferrari.

It's all about the heating properties (which we discuss in more detail below). Copper has the best heating properties of any cookware material except silver, which isn't practical except for the exceptionally wealthy (and even then, copper has about 94% of the conductivity of silver, so it's very, very close).

Copper is about twice as conductive as the third place contender, aluminum. This can vary somewhat because different manufacturers use different alloys, but in general, it means that you need twice as much aluminum to achieve the fast, even heating of copper.

And even then, aluminum doesn't have the responsiveness of copper. Copper is extremely responsive to changes in temperature. This is particularly important if you're making something delicate and temperature-sensitive, like candies or egg-based dishes. 

You may not want this kind of efficiency for everything. For example, if you want to pan sear a steak and get a lot of delicious browning, you want to use cast iron, which hangs onto heat forever. Copper's efficiency makes it less than ideal for this task (although it will come back up to temperature quickly after its initial crash--any diehard copper fan will swear it's just as good as cast iron for searing, but we think that's debatable).

For most tasks, though, including most daily kitchen jobs, copper is an excellent choice.

However, nobody needs a Ferrari--and nobody needs copper cookware. 

If you're reading this, you should know going in that you can get perfectly good--even excellent!--cookware for less than you'll pay for copper cookware. (If you've perused this site at all, you know we're big fans of clad stainless cookware.) And the truth is that you will get used to the personality quirks of whatever cookware you use. Unless you are a professional chef trying to fine tune your methods to a high degree of accuracy, copper is a want, not a need.

If you care less about performance and more about aesthetics, you have a lot of options at a lower price range; we'll give you our best recommendations for these below. 

But if you want true copper performance, traditional copper cookware is really your only option. And you need a big budget to get it. There isn't really any substitute. 

The good news, though, is there are good options in other categories if  you don't have the budget for traditional copper. But this is where you really need to do your research. (That's where we come in.)

All of the traditional copper cookware we review here is high quality, factory-made cookware. However, you can still find artisan and hand-made copper cookware at even higher prices. Is the artisan copper cookware better? It may be more beautiful, but the heating properties and build quality are probably going to be about the same. If you're interested in artisan copper cookware--and have an unlimited budget--contact us and we'll be happy to help you find a maker. 

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Types of Copper Cookware at a Glance (What to Know Before You Buy)

Copper Cookware Review

If you don't want to read the whole article, the table below provides a quick but thorough overview of all the types of copper cookware on the market, including links to examples. 

The categories are:

  • Traditional copper cookware (either tin- or stainless-lined)
  • Specialty copper cookware (pure copper, unlined)
  • Copper core cookware
  • Tri-ply copper cookware
  • Copper-bottomed cookware 
  • Copper-plated cookware
  • Copper colored cookware (with no actual copper).

As you probably guessed, these categories have huge differences. We'll discuss each one below in more detail and provide short reviews of our recommended brands.

Copper Cookware at a Glance

Type of Copper/

Example

Description

Pros/Cons

Full copper cookware lined with stainless steel or tin. Available in 1.5 or 2.5mm thickness. Handle materials can be stainless, cast iron, or bronze (we like the stainless because it stays cooler). Do not buy expensive copper cookware that does not state the amount of copper it contains.

Pros:

-Excellent heating

-Beautiful

Cons:

-Expensive

-Heavy

-Requires polishing to keep shine.

Traditional Copper Cookware for Specialty Uses

de Buyer copper jam pan

Mauviel sugar sauce pan

Unlined copper cookware used for jam, candy, and other specialty tasks.

Pros:

-Great for specialty tasks

-Beautiful

Cons:

-Expensive

-Unitaskers.

Clad stainless cookware with a copper or copper/aluminum interior

Pros:

-Low maintenance stainless ext.

-Usually induction compatible

Cons:

-May contain less than 1mm copper

-Expensive

-Lacks gorgeous copper exterior.

3-ply copper-aluminum-stainless cookware w/copper exterior. Many levels of quality available--do your research before buying.

Pros:

-Costs less than trad. copper

-Gorgeous copper exterior

Cons:

-May contain very little copper

-Requires polishing to keep shine.

Clad stainless or aluminum cookware with impact-bonded copper disc. Many levels of quality available--do your research before buying!

Pros:

-Costs less than trad. copper

-Usually induction compatible

-Easier maintenance than copper

Cons:

-Usually not more than .5mm copper.

Copper-Plated Cookware

Revereware Copper Bottom Saucepan

Cookware made of some other metal that's been plated with a thin coating of copper. Primarily for appearance, not recommended (and yes, we know that a lot of people love this cookware).

Pros:

-Low cost

Cons:

-Plating too thin to provide good performance.

Copper-Colored Cookware

Epicurious

Copper Chef

Cookware that looks like copper but contains no actual copper. Not recommended if you're looking for true copper performance.

Pros:

-Low cost

-Low maintenance

Cons:

-Contains no actual copper.

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How We Test and Rank Cookware

Copper Cookware Review

Before we dig deeper into the best copper cookware, here's a summary of our basic approach to researching, testing, and ranking cookware.

First, we weed out cookware that doesn't qualify for various reasons. The number one reason we disqualified copper cookware was if the copper content isn't provided by the manufacturer.

Since copper cookware is expensive--even copper core, copper-bottomed, and tri-ply copper cookware--the first thing buyers should know is how much copper they're paying for.

Of the brands that made it to testing, we looked at six major factors: heating properties, durability, stability, ease of care, design, and value. We then rank the brands of cookware on each factor and provide an overall rating which is an average of the six categories. 

We also provide our reasoning, so if you agree with it, you'll agree with our ranking. But if you don't agree with it--which is perfectly fine, as you may have different priorities--you can add or subtract points as you see fit. For example, we give copper cookware a fairly low ranking in the Ease of Care category because it requires regular polishing to retain its gorgeous luster. But if you don't mind this work, or don't mind using your copper cookware with a well-worn patina (which does not affect its performance), then you can give it a higher rating than we do. 

Here's a brief explanation of each category. 

NOTE: For actual ratings, see the detailed sections for each brand of copper cookware below. They vary so much we couldn't provide an overall rating for each type.

Heating Properties

Copper Cookware Review

For most people, heating properties are the most important category when buying cookware because the whole point of cookware is to transmit heat to your food. Makes sense, right? If your cookware is thin and cheap, you will have hot and cold spots that cause your food to cook unevenly and even burn in some spots while it remains cold in others. Good cookware spreads heat evenly and hangs onto heat well enough that a pan's temp doesn't crash when you add cold food to it. 

We measure three aspects of heating: Thermal conductivity, heat capacity, and mass. Thermal conductivity measures how evenly and how rapidly heat spreads throughout a pan. Heat capacity measures how long a pan holds onto heat. (It's a bit more complicated than this, but these are the most important factors.) Mass--how thick and heavy a pan is--affects both thermal conductivity and heat capacity. A thicker pan is going to have better thermal conductivity and better heat capacity than a thinner pan.

Every cookware material has a different rating for thermal conductivity and heat capacity. Copper has the highest thermal conductivity rating of all cookware materials (except silver), meaning it heats more rapidly and more evenly than other types of cookware. In fact, its conductivity rating is almost twice that of aluminum, which comes in second. While it depends on the actual alloys used, it takes roughly twice as much aluminum to achieve the same thermal conductivity as copper. For example, a 3mm thick aluminum skillet has roughly the same heating properties as a 1.5mm thick copper skillet.

Copper is also extremely responsive, which means that it adjusts to changes in heat rapidly. This provides a great deal of precise control, which makes copper excellent for heat-sensitive cooking projects (candy and sauce-making, for example). 

But what this also means is that copper has a fairly low heat capacity: that is, when you change the temperature or add cold food to a hot pan, the temp is going to drop faster than in an aluminum or cast iron pan. (This is why cast iron is the ideal choice for searing and deep frying--it hangs onto heat incredibly well.)

But here's the thing to remember: Both thermal conductivity and heat capacity are affected by the mass of the cookware. That is, thicker, heavier cookware heats more evenly (e.g., it has better thermal conductivity) and hangs onto heat better (higher heat capacity) than thinner, lighter cookware, regardless of the cookware's material.

Thus, mass is a primary difference between good quality cookware and mediocre cookware: The thicker and heavier cookware is, the more evenly it will heat, and the better it will hang onto heat when you add cold food. 

This is why professional chefs prefer heavier weight copper over the lighter weight stuff. In fact, a case could theoretically be made that it isn't so much the copper as it is the mass. 

This is why the thickness of a pan is important, and why the actual content--how much of each heating material the cookware contains--is something you should know before you buy, especially if you're going to buy expensive copper cookware. A 2.5mm thick copper pan is going to heat incredibly evenly, be responsive, and hang onto heat fairly well. It's one of the most versatile types of cookware on the market.

You can also begin to see here that one important trade-off when buying cookware is usually between maneuverability and performance. For many home cooks, traditional copper, as well as cast iron and carbon steel, are too heavy for daily use cookware, so they opt for a lighter clad stainless, like All-Clad: the performance isn't as good, but it's good enough--and the pans are much easier to handle.

If you're interested in traditional copper cookware, then you should know going in that it's heavy. The weight is a giveaway of its quality, but it can also be a pain to use if you have any ergonomic issues. Mauviel solved this problem with the thinner, less expensive M'Heritage 150mm line, however, it's still fairly heavy, and it won't provide quite the performance of the thicker copper cookware (although it's still better than most clad stainless, including All-Clad D3).

The good news is that there are lighter weight versions of copper cookware that still provide good performance. If you're concerned about too-heavy cookware, we recommend you focus on tri-ply copper or copper core types, each of which we discuss below and provide buying recommendations. In most cases you won't get "real" copper performance, but you can come close.

Durability

We measure a pan's durability by how well it stands up to abuse in the kitchen: at the low end is nonstick cookware, which has to be babied (and even then has a fairly short life span), while at the high end is clad stainless, which can take abuse of all sorts and still provide decades of service. (Cast iron and carbon steel are also extremely durable.)

Since most copper cookware today has a stainless cooking surface, it can be considered quite durable, but probably not as durable as clad stainless because the copper exterior tarnishes and scratches more easily than stainless. So we give copper a slightly-above-average rating for durability. You can add points here if you don't mind the slightly more delicate (yet much more beautiful) exterior. 

Stability

Stability measures how much the cooking surface reacts with food. For example, aluminum and cast iron can both react with acidic foods, imparting an off, metallic flavor--so they get a below average rating for stability.

Copper can also react with food, but since almost all copper cookware has a stainless or tin cooking surface, it gets high marks for stability. 

Specialty copper pieces with a copper cooking surface are a different story--but because they're designed to react with food, they are pretty much exempt from this category. 

Ease of Care

Ease of care looks at how easy (or hard) the cookware is to maintain. The winner, of course, is nonstick cookware, which requires little more than a wipeout and rinse for cleanup. Copper gets an average or slightly below average rating because the stainless cooking surface typically requires some elbow grease to clean, and the exterior requires occasional polishing to keep lustrous. 

(NOTE: Not so with tin-lined copper cookware, which is almost as nonstick as PTFE. But tin has other drawbacks, such as its low melting point and the fact that it wears out, to the point that it eventually needs to be re-applied, a process called "re-tinning.")

If you don't care about how your copper cookware looks and don't plan on regular polishing, you can add a point here.

Design (Aesthetics, Usability)

Design is about both beauty and usability. Is the cookware beautiful? Does it enhance your time in the kitchen? Is it easy to use--not too light, not too heavy? Are the handles comfortable to use or do they cut into your hand? Is the pan easy to stabilize? Do the heavier pieces have  helper handles? Do the lids fit snugly? 

Of course copper cookware gets top ratings for beauty. But not all copper cookware is created equally, and even among the top brands of traditional copper there are a handful of features that can make the cookware a joy for one person and pure hell for someone else. 

For example, traditional, 2.5mm thick copper cookware is heavy. It's going to be considerably heavier than 3mm cast aluminum and heavier than most clad stainless cookware. While the weight provides that superb, evenly heating cooking experience, it might be awful for someone with wrist or hand issues.

And as beautiful as bronze handles are, they can get hot--hotter than stainless handles. (Ditto cast iron handles.)

Anyway, we include as many design issues as we can think of to help you figure out the details of which cookware is best for your needs. It is a very personal decision, and there can be a lot to consider!

Value

When we look at cookware value, we like to consider its cost-per-year-of-use. If you buy good quality cookware that's going to last for decades, your cost-per-year-of-use will be low even if your initial investment is high. It's a better way to think about it than just getting the cheapest cookware, which you'll almost certainly have to replace in a few years (not to mention hate using).

In the long run, higher quality cookware is a better deal than most cheap cookware. This is why we suggest you buy the best cookware you can afford. (Note: Nonstick cookware is an exception to this rule--see our Cookware Archives for articles on buying nonstick cookware.)

This doesn't mean you have to buy the most expensive cookware out there. There are plenty of good deals to be had in the cookware world. It just means that you should do your research so you can get the absolute best cookware you can afford, whatever your budget is. 

When people think of copper cookware, they don't generally think about value, because traditional copper cookware is expensive. However, it lasts for decades, so its cost-per-year-of-use is actually fairly low. If you have the budget for it, it's definitely worth considering. Just about any brand of high-end copper cookware is going to be excellent.

However, if you're looking at other types of copper cookware, like tri-ply copper, it's very important that you do your research. The quality levels and copper content vary so much among brands that you really have to be careful about what you buy. 

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Copper Cookware Vs. Clad Stainless Cookware

Copper Cookware Review

It's almost impossible to say which type of cookware is "better," especially since there are so many types and grades of copper cookware on the market. There are also many grades of quality in clad stainless cookware. This makes it difficult to do an apples-to-apples comparison.

For example, the performance of top quality clad stainless cookware like Demeyere Atlantis is going to be very close to that of traditional copper, while thinner, lighter weight clad stainless cookware has other merits that may make it an excellent choice, but for different reasons. 

When you examine other types of copper cookware, the comparisons can be even harder because of the differences in construction among the different brands. For example, some tri-ply copper cookware and some copper core cookware are going to perform as well as top notch clad stainless, and some are going to be dismal. Without comparing exact brands, and without knowing the exact amount of copper and/or aluminum the cookware contains, it just isn't possible to do a fair comparison of heating performance. 

However, there are a few general statements we can make with certainty: 

  • Clad stainless cookware is easier to care for because it doesn't require polishing.
  • Most brands of clad stainless cookware are going to be lighter weight than traditional copper cookware (one exception being Demeyere Atlantis). So if weight is an issue, you're better off with a clad stainless brand like All-Clad D3 or, if you're on a tighter budget, Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad or Cuisinart Multiclad Pro.
  • If you want the beauty of copper without the weight, tri-ply copper cookware is an option, but you have to buy carefully or you may be disappointed with the small amount of copper the cookware actually contains (the copper amounts vary greatly among brands). 
  • If you want the beauty of copper without the maintenance, you can buy copper-colored cookware that contains no actual copper. You can find copper-colored cookware in both stainless and aluminum, and we mention a few brands below, but we weren't able to find one we liked enough to recommend. 

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Is Copper Cookware Safe?

Yes, copper cookware is safe. 

With the exception of specialty copper used for candies and jams, copper cookware has a lined cooking surface, usually stainless steel, although you may still find traditional tin lining in some copper cookware. Both stainless and tin are stable, nonreactive metals that are safe for cooking.

In the case of unlined, specialty copper pans, some copper may transfer to your food; in fact, that's how it is intended to work. However, the amounts are extremely small. The human body needs trace amounts of copper, so once again, this is not considered unsafe.

Yes, too much copper can be toxic to humans. But the chances of getting copper toxicity from your copper cookware are almost zero. 

As for copper-colored cookware that contains no actual copper, you will have to research whatever its cooking surface is: typically a nonstick coating (either PTFE or ceramic nonstick), or possibly stainless steel. To research nonstick coatings, see our article The Best Nonstick Frying Pan.

Click the link to read more about copper toxicity (Wikipedia).

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How to Use and Care for Traditional Copper Cookware

NOTE: This section is about traditional copper cookware and other types that have a genuine copper exterior, such as tri-ply copper cookware.

For copper core, copper-bottomed, and copper-colored cookware, follow use and care instructions for clad stainless cookware, aluminum cookware, or nonstick cookware (whichever applies). 

Using Copper Cookware

Copper is extremely efficient, and it definitely performs differently than other cookware types. Here are a few tips for using copper cookware:

  • Never heat an empty copper pan. First of all, it's unnecessary because copper heats so quickly. It can promote tarnishing on the exterior. If your copper cookware is lined with tin, this is especially important because tin melts at about 450F (and a stove hob can reach this temperature surprisingly quickly when a pan is empty).
  • Use low to medium heat most of the time. Because of copper's extreme efficiency, high heat is rarely needed.
  • You can use metal utensils on stainless lined copper, but you may not want to because they'll cause scratches (harmless, but not pretty). If tin-lined, use only non-metal utensils in order to get the longest life out of the tin cooking surface. 
  • Copper cookware is especially good for delicate and heat-sensitive foods because it responds so quickly to temperature changes. This limits possibilities of overcooking and ruining your food. 
  • Copper cookware isn't the best choice for high-heat searing because it doesn't hold onto heat as well as cast iron (or even heavy-gauge aluminum). And if tin-lined, the tin can melt at high heat. You can use copper to sear, especially heavy gauge copper, but cast iron is the ideal choice. 
  • Copper cookware is usually oven safe up to about 500F if lined with stainless steel or 400F if lined with tin. 

Caring for Copper Cookware

Copper Cookware Review

We have mentioned already that true copper cookware requires more maintenance than other cookware because you need to polish it occasionally to remove the natural patina that comes with use. However, copper cookware is just as efficient and responsive even with a patina. In fact, some copper fans prefer the patina and claim that it actually enhances the heating properties. And even with a patina, copper is still beautiful and can improve the aesthetics of just about any kitchen.

The point being, you don't have to polish your copper if you don't want to. 

Having said that, here are some tips on caring for your copper cookware:

  • Do not put copper cookware in the dishwasher ever. Always wash by hand. 
  • Dry copper cookware immediately after washing as moisture encourages tarnishing.
  • Treat the stainless cooking surface like any stainless cookware (e.g., you don't have to baby it).
  • If your copper cookware is tin-lined, don't use abrasive scrubbing pads. If you have stuck-on food, add some dish detergent and water and put on low heat for 15 minutes or so. The crud should wipe right off. (You can also do this with stainless-lined cookware if you want to avoid scratching it.)
  • Wash the copper exterior gently with mild soap, and dry immediately (because moisture promotes tarnishing). Do not use abrasives as copper is a fairly soft metal and will scratch easily. If you want to remove cooked-on food or oil stains, use a store bought copper cleaner or make your own cleaner with a paste of lemon juice (or white vinegar) and baking soda. Wipe on the surface, let it sit several minutes, then wipe off and rinse thoroughly with water. 
  • If you don't want the patina, then polish as needed, depending on use, with a store bought copper cleaner or a paste made of lemon juice (or white vinegar) and baking soda, or rub with a lemon wedge that you've sprinkled generously with table salt.
  • Rinse thoroughly with water and hand-dry immediately. 

With proper care, your fine copper cookware will last for decades, and maybe even centuries. 

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Traditional Copper Cookware (Review/Recommendations)

Copper Cookware Review

Our best copper cookware reviews begin with traditional copper cookware. Traditional copper cookware is probably best known as the cookware of French professional chefs. It's heavy, solid cookware with a copper layer 2-3mm thick. (There are some thinner versions, but this does result in a sacrifice of heating performance and would not be considered professional level cookware.) Its heating properties are fast and even, with the fastest rate of change of any cookware material. That is, it will change temperature almost as fast as your hob does; this is why copper is called the Ferrari of cookware, and why it's so great for delicate, temperature-sensitive dishes like candies, jams, and sauces. 

Copper can react with food and impart an off, metallic flavor, so even high-end copper cookware has a lined cooking surface. The traditional lining is tin, a safe, stable metal. However, tin has a low melting point (about 450F) and it's soft, so it wears off and needs to be re-applied. Tin can last for several years before needing to be re-applied, depending on use and how well you care for the tin surface. There are still tinsmiths who do this work in the US, but it's expensive, and can leave you without a pot for more than a month. (NOTE: We did not test any tin-lined copper cookware, but if you're interested in a brand, contact us and we'll send you more information about it.)

Most modern copper cookware is lined with stainless steel. Typically the stainless interior is 10% or less of the copper pan's total thickness, so it has a negligible effect on the heating properties. It's just thick enough to provide a durable, non-reactive cooking surface. 

If you go with traditional copper cookware, it's tough to go wrong. It's all top-notch stuff, especially if you go with the 2.5mm stuff. Here we review three sets, but the info also applies to individual pieces.

Matfer Bourgeat 8 Piece Set 

Copper Cookware Review

Matfer-Bourgeat Copper Cookware

Overall Rating: 3.7

Heating Properties: 5.0

Durability: 3.5

Stability: 4.0

Ease of Care: 2.5

Design (Aesthetics/Usability): 4.0

Value: 3.0

Matfer-Bourgeat is a French company more than 200 years old known for top quality products. In addition to their copper cookware, they make carbon steel, cast iron, clad stainless, and specialty (unlined) copper products. They also make several small kitchen tools. They've been selling in the US for about 30 years.

Features

  • 2.5mm thick copper
  • 0.1mm highly polished stainless steel cooking surface
  • Copper lids
  • Flared rims for drip-free pouring
  • Counter-balanced cast iron handles
  • Oven safe to 550F (including lids)
  • NOT induction compatible or dishwasher safe
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Made in France.

The set pictured here includes:  
-5 3/4 qt casserole pan w/lid (what we would call a stock pot)
- 2.5 qt sauce pan w/lid
-2.75 qt sauté pan w/lid (what we would call a 9.5-in. skillet)
-5.25 qt Brazier (what we would call a large, short-handled sauté pan).

Heating: With 2.5mm copper, the heating properties are superb.

Durability: Stainless cooking surface gets 5 stars, but we take points for the copper exterior, which scratches easily and is generally softer than stainless.

Stability: Excellent: stainless cooking surface won't react with food.

Ease of Care: The difficulty keeping copper beautiful is its biggest downfall. Regular polishing is required if you don't want the patina that comes from regular use. If you don't mind that, or don't mind the polishing, you can add points here.

Design/Usability: We give the set high marks for its sheer beauty, but you can deduct a bit if you prefer stainless handles.

Value: Value is a little tricky to determine for high-end copper cookware. It's very expensive, but it's cost-per-year-of-use is low, and it's also extremely high quality. It's also a want, not a need, but if you can afford it, you won't regret buying it. For these reasons--the pros and cons taken in aggregate--we give it an average rating. If you love it and appreciate its long term value, you can rank it higher; if you think it's a waste of money, you can rank it lower.

Pieces in Set: The skillet and sauce pan are smallish, while the casserole/stock pot is average, and the brazier is a good size and an extremely versatile piece. You will probably want to augment with a larger sauce pan at the least, which is unfortunate considering the price of this cookware.

Recommendation: If you want the whole copper experience (at the whole copper price), this is the set to get. It's beautiful, the pieces offer a lot of versatility (even if a couple of them are on the small side), and will last for decades--in fact, you will probably be handing this cookware down to your children. 

buy matfer-bourgeat 8 piece copper set on amazon now:

Copper Cookware Review

Buy other matfer-bourgeat copper cookware on Amazon:

Mauviel M'Heritage Brushed 250S 

Copper Cookware Review

Mauviel M'Heritage Brushed 250S Cookware

Overall Rating: 3.6

Heating Properties: 5.0

Durability: 3.5

Stability: 4.0

Ease of Care: 2.5

Design (Aesthetics/Usability): 4.0

Value: 2.5

See Mauviel M'Heritage Brushed 250S set on Amazon

See all Mauviel M'Heritage 250mm cookware on Amazon (sets, individual pieces, brushed/polished, bronze/cast iron/stainless)

See Mauviel M'Heritage 250B set on Amazon ("B" for bronze handles; you can also find cast iron--"C"--and stainless--"S"--handles)

Mauviel is another French cookware giant that's been in business for almost 200 years (since 1830). It's similarly constructed to the Matfer Bourgeat and so gets essentially the same ratings.

One thing we like about Mauviel is all the options they offer. You can get the cookware in a brushed or polished exterior, with stainless, bronze, or cast iron handles. Though we prefer the stainless handle because it stays cooler, you should go with the design you find most beautiful. It's all going to perform flawlessly.

Features:

  • 2.5mm thick copper
  • 0.1mm highly polished 18/10 stainless cooking surface
  • Domed copper lids
  • Flared rims on sauce pans (not skillets) for drip-free pouring
  • Stainless handles (also available in bronze and cast iron)
  • Available in brushed or polished copper (purely aesthetic)
  • Oven safe to 500F
  • NOT induction compatible or dishwasher safe
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Made in France.

See Matfer Borgeat above for description of ratings (they are almost identical).

Pieces in Set: The 5 piece set includes a 10.2 in. skillet, 1.9 qt sauce pan w/domed lid, and 3.2 qt. sauté pan w/domed lid.

The 9 piece set includes these pieces plus a 2.7 qt. sauce pan and a 6.4 qt stock pot, each w/domed lids.

The 12 piece set includes all of these plus a 3.6 qt sauce pan and an 8 in. skillet.

Once again, some of these pieces are on the smallish side, but pretty standard for most cookware sets.

Mauviel M'Heritage 150S 

Copper Cookware Review

Mauviel M'Heritage 150S Cookware

Overall Rating: 3.6

Heating Properties: 4.0

Durability: 3.5

Stability: 4.0

Ease of Care: 2.5

Design (Aesthetics/Usability): 4.0

Value: 2.5

See Mauviel M'Heritage 150S set on Amazon (1.5mm, stainless handles)

See all Mauviel 150mm cookware on Amazon

See Mauviel USA website

This set has all the great features of the Mauviel 250 lines except you get a millimeter less copper. This affects the performance, however, the 1.5mm of copper still outperforms most clad stainless cookware with 1.5-1.7mm of aluminum; remember, copper is roughly twice as conductive as aluminum so you need half as much to get similar performance. 

So: Compared to good quality clad stainless like All-Clad, the performance is superior. The heat is going to be more even and be more responsive to temperature changes.

If you have any ergonomic issues and have always wanted copper cookware, the lighter weight 150 M'Heritage is a good option.

The features are the same as the 250mm except you won't get quite the heating performance. We rate the value slightly lower because you're not quite getting the true copper experience with the lighter weight cookware--but it's still very good.

Set Pieces: The 12 piece set includes 1.9 qt copper sauce pan, 2.7 qt sauce pan, 3.2 qt sauté pan, 3.6 qt sauce pan, 6.5 qt stock pot, 8 in. skillet, 10.2 in. skillet. 

All Mauviel cookware sets come with a jar of copper cleaner, too.

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Unlined Copper for Specialty Uses (Review/Recommendations)

Copper Cookware Review

Specialty copper pieces are used for making jam, candy, and other sugar-based foods. Here's an example of a pure copper sugar sauce pan:

Copper Cookware Review

Copper mixing bowls are also superb for whipping egg whites, as they help stabilize and keep the whites stiffer for longer:

Why copper for candy? Primarily because copper heats and cools extremely efficiently, and precise temperatures are crucial when making candy. And, because there are fewer hot spots, copper is less likely to result in sugar crystallization (if you've ever had a grainy fudge or chocolate sauce, you know what we're talking about).

Note that you should use these specialty pieces only for these purposes: you should not use them for daily cookware. Copper can leach from the cooking surface into your foods, causing an off metallic taste--and while the human body needs trace amounts of copper, copper toxicity can occur, though it's unlikely to happen unless you're ingesting a lot of copper.

We won't talk more about these now, except to say that if you need pieces like this, it's worth it to invest in a good brand--"too good to be true" priced-pieces probably are exactly that. Meaning that even if they're marketed as pure copper, they probably aren't. Read reviews carefully before buying (there are several such brands on Amazon).

We didn't test any specialty for this best copper cookware article, so we don't have any recommendations in this category. But as with other copper cookware, if you buy a top notch brand, you can't really go wrong.

Mauviel sugar sauce pan

de Buyer copper jam pan

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Copper Core Cookware Review and Recommendations

Copper Cookware Review

Copper core cookware has an internal copper core with a different metal on the exterior, usually stainless steel. This is fully-clad cookware where the internal copper layer goes all the way around the bottom and sides of the pan.

Some copper core cookware is pure copper, like this impressive line from Falk. Some also has thin layers of aluminum, like All-Clad's 5-ply Copper Core line.

The advantages of copper core cookware is that it's usually induction compatible (but check to make sure if that's important to you), and the stainless exterior is lower maintenance than a copper exterior. Some of it is even dishwasher safe (though we recommend hand washing all your quality cookware).

The disadvantage is that copper core cookware is usually thinner than traditional copper cookware. All-Clad Copper Core cookware has a 0.9mm thick copper layer: about a third as much as traditional 2.5mm copper cookware. The aluminum layers add slightly to performance, but as we say in our Copper Core review, it's best to think of All-Clad Copper Core as good quality clad stainless, but not like traditional, 2.5mm French copper cookware.

Today, there are several All-Clad Copper Core knockoffs on the market from big brand cookware makers. As far as we've been able to find, not a single one provides exact copper specs--so you have no idea what you're paying for. Thus, we did not test, nor do we recommend, any of these Copper Core knockoffs. (There may be good ones out there; we just weren't able to find any we really liked or wanted to test.) 

As with traditional copper cookware, our recommendation is that if the manufacturer doesn't provide exact information about copper content, you shouldn't buy because you don't know what you're paying for.

All-Clad Copper Core 

Copper Cookware Review

See All-Clad Copper Core cookware on Amazon

All-Clad Copper Core has 0.9mm of copper plus two thin layers of aluminum to enhance the heating properties; in truth, it heats only slightly better than All-Clad tri-ply; it's beautiful, durable cookware, but if you want true copper performance, this is not the cookware for you. 

If you want more info, click over to our detailed All Clad Copper Core review.

Falk Copper Core

Copper Cookware Review

Falk Copper Core Cookware

Overall Rating: 3.9

Heating Properties: 4.5

Durability: 4.5

Stability: 5.0

Ease of Care: 3.0

Design (Aesthetics/Usability): 4.0

Value: 3.0

Go to the Falk website

The Falk Copper Core is an impressive product and we think one of the best copper cookware options on the market. It has a copper core that's 1.9mm thick--that's impressive! It is also induction compatible, so you get the best of everything: easy maintenance, induction compatibility, and true copper performance. Of course, you'll pay for it: Falk Copper Core is going to set you back almost as much as the traditional stuff. And it doesn't have that gorgeous copper exterior.

If you need induction compatibility and want copper performance, Falk Copper Core is as good as we've been able to find.

Falk is a Belgian cookware company that's been around since 1958. They bill their product as the world's finest copper cookware, and it's certainly as top quality as the brands we've listed above. (In fact, if the Mauviel or Matfer Borgeat copper didn't impress you, take a look at Falk's website--their products are just as good.)

Unfortunately, we couldn't find any US dealers of the Falk Copper Core, so if you want it, you'll have to buy from their website, which may be overly expensive (manufacturer websites often overcharge). You may want to wait a few months and see if it's offered on Amazon or Williams-Sonoma. As it gains popularity, this should definitely happen. (We'll keep you posted.)

Features:

  • 1.9mm copper
  • 0.4mm magnetic stainless exterior (induction compatible)
  • 0.2mm polished 18/10 cooking surface
  • Oven safe to 500F
  • Stainless handles
  • Induction compatible
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Made in Belgium.

Heating: With 1.9mm copper, the heating properties are going to surpass any other copper core cookware we know of (including All-Clad Copper Core). 

Durability: Stainless cooking surface gets 5 stars, with half a point deducted for the visible copper seam. This is probably a little harsh; the seam shows because it's beautiful. But sealed seams are more durable (in fact, if the seam were sealed, this would probably be dishwasher safe cookware--not that we would recommend using a dishwasher for it). Exposed seams like this separate more easily and water or other liquids can work their way inside the cookware. We're not saying this will happen--but it could.

Stability: Excellent: Stainless cooking surface won't react with food, while stainless exterior is tough and won't scratch or dent easily.

Ease of Care: Like all clad stainless cookware, this gets an average rating for ease of care; easier than copper, but not as easy as nonstick.

Design/Usability: The design is stellar for anyone with induction who wants true copper performance. We also love the stainless handles. In all honesty it's not the prettiest cookware out there, but the design works, with no real drawbacks that make it at all hard to use.

One usability drawback is the weight: copper is heavier than aluminum, and the 9.4 in. skillet weighs about 4 pounds. If you have any ergonomic issues, this may not be the cookware for you. If weight is an issue for you, subtract a point or two. 

Value: We give an average rating as, once again, this is expensive cookware with a low cost per year of use, as it's going to last you forever. If this cookware is worth it to you, then add some points--you'll never regret making the investment, that's for sure. 

Pieces in Set: The Chef set has a 3 qt Dutch oven, a 2 qt sauce pan and a 9.4 in. sauté pan--all smallish pieces. We would prefer a skillet in the set, but the sauté pan actually is the more versatile piece, so it's a nice beginner set, but you'll probably need to augment with a larger skillet and a larger sauce pan, at the very least.

Actually, you may be better off buying individual pieces over the set in the Falk Copper Core line. This way, you'll be sure to get exactly what you want, and with this 5 piece set costing almost $700, you won't be spending all that much more buying individually. 

Recommendation: If you need induction compatibility and want copper performance, the Falk Copper Core is one of the best copper cookware sets to get. 

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Copper Cookware Review

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Tri-Ply Copper Cookware (Review/Recommendations)

Copper Cookware Review

Tri-ply copper cookware has three layers: a copper exterior, aluminum center, and a stainless cooking surface. It's a way to get copper looks for less than you'd pay for traditional copper cookware--but as we've mentioned, you have to be careful about what you buy, as quality varies considerably.

The advantage of tri-ply copper cookware is that you get the beauty of copper for less, but still with decent performance. Tri-ply copper cookware is at most 20% copper and 65% aluminum (with the stainless cooking surface making up the rest). Some brands, however, have considerably less copper than this.

And that's the great disadvantage of tri-ply copper cookware: you often don't know how much copper you're getting because the manufacturer doesn't provide this information. Another possible disadvantage is that manufacturers--particularly at the low end of the market--frequently change and update their tri-ply copper cookware, so if they don't specifically state the copper content in their cookware, it can be nearly impossible to know what you're paying for. 

Also, most tri-ply copper cookware is not induction compatible. If you need induction compatibility, you're probably better off going with a copper core cookware (see above). This KitchenAid Tri-Ply Copper skillet (see the set here) is induction compatible as it has a magnetic stainless-aluminum disc bottom, which is somewhat impressive--but unfortunately, KitchenAid doesn't supply the crucial copper content information. It might be a good buy, but we just can't say for sure.

Another disadvantage of tri-ply copper cookware is that, because the copper layer is so thin even on good brands (e.g., 0.5mm or less), the copper tends to discolor faster with use. However, do not be discouraged by reviewers who claim that the copper is "coming off." Almost 100% of the time, they've mistaken the patina from normal use for the copper coming off the pot. Copper polish or even some Barkeeper's Friend will almost always restore the original luster.

Is it possible that the copper layer is thin enough to come off (that is, copper-plated and not an actual layer of copper)? Yes, it's possible, particularly if the price was too good to be true. But most cookware makers aren't that deceptive, and if they call the cookware tri-ply, it almost certainly has more than just a plating of copper.

If you want great copper performance, we recommend only buying a tri-ply copper cookware brand with a disclosed copper content. Even if you don't care about copper performance, all the lower-priced sets are going to have the same quality issues as other low-priced cookware. That is, they'll be too thin to provide good heating, and will be prone to warping and corrosion--plus, the copper exterior may not last very long.

Our recommendations for tri-ply copper cookware are Kila Chef and, reluctantly, Mauviel Tri-Ply Copper cookware. The makers disclose the copper content, so you know exactly what you're buying. But only the Kila Chef is a good deal; Mauviel, as well as a few other good quality brands like Ruffoni, will set you back almost as much as traditional copper cookware.

Kila Chef Tri-Ply Copper Skillet

Copper Cookware Review

Kila Chef Tri-Ply Copper Skillet

Overall Rating: 3.75

Heating Properties: 4.0

Durability: 3.5

Stability: 4.0

Ease of Care: 2.5

Design (Aesthetics/Usability): 4.5

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