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How to Pick the Best Copper Cookware: The Complete Guide

By trk

Last Updated: December 28, 2023


There's a lot of copper cookware--and "copper" cookware--on the market, at different prices and levels of quality. To make sure you get the copper cookware you want, you have to understand the differences.  

This article guides you through the different types of copper cookware available and discusses the features and pros and cons of each. From traditional French brands to affordable copper-colored nonstick, we'll help you understand the copper cookware market.

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, this table provides an overview of all the types of copper cookware on the market, with links to examples. 

We discuss each category in more detail below, with 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, 2.0, and 2.5mm thickness. Handle materials can be stainless, cast iron, or bronze. 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. Not for use as regular cookware.

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:

-Cheaper 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 other metal that's been plated with a thin coating of copper. Primarily for appearance, so the copper doesn't add much to heating.

Pros:

-Cheap

Cons:

-Thin plating doesn't add copper performance.

Copper-Colored Cookware

Copper Chef

Cookware that looks like copper but contains no actual copper. 

Pros:

-Cheap

-Low maintenance

Cons:

-Contains no actual copper.

-Nonstick coatings don't last.

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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 a good comparison for traditional copper cookware: if you need to get somewhere, a Chevy is perfectly fine. But if you want to get somewhere in style, you take a Ferrari. 

It's all about the heating properties (which we discuss in 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 close).

Copper is about twice as conductive as the third place contender, aluminum. This can vary by alloy used, but in general, you need twice as much aluminum to achieve the same heating of copper. 

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

You don't need (or want) this responsiveness for everything. Cast iron is the best choice for searing steak because it's the opposite of copper and hangs onto heat for a long time. 

For most tasks, though, copper is an excellent choice. But nobody needs a Ferrari, and nobody needs copper cookware. 

You can get perfectly good cookware for less than you'll pay for copper. Unless you're 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 more options in 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 your only option. There isn't a substitute. 

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How We Test and Rank Cookware

Copper Cookware Review

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. Of the brands that make it to testing, we look at six factors: heating, durability, stability/safety, 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 fine, as you may have different priorities--you can add or subtract points as you see fit. 

Here's a brief explanation of each category. 

NOTE: For actual ratings, we had to look at each type of copper cookware. See the sections below for the ratings.

Heating

Copper Cookware Review

Assuming safety, heating is the most important category when buying cookware because the whole point of cookware is to heat your food. Bad cookware has hot and cold spots that cause food to cook unevenly. 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 retention, and mass. Thermal conductivity measures how evenly and quickly heat spreads throughout a pan. Heat retention (also called heat capacity) measures how long a pan holds onto heat. (It's a bit more complicated than this, but these are the two most important factors.) Mass--how thick and heavy a pan is--affects both thermal conductivity and heat retention. Thicker, heavier pans have better thermal conductivity and better heat capacity than thinner, lighter pans. 

Every cookware material is rated for its thermal conductivity and heat retention. Copper has the highest thermal conductivity rating of all cookware materials (except silver), meaning it heats faster and more evenly than other cookware materials. Its heat conductivity is almost twice that of aluminum. That is, it takes approximately twice as much aluminum to achieve the same thermal conductivity as copper. 

Copper is also extremely responsive, so it adjusts to changes in heat rapidly. This provides precise control, which makes copper excellent for heat-sensitive foods. 

What this also means is that copper has poor heat retention: when you change the temperature or add cold food to a hot pan, the temp is going to drop faster than other kinds of cookware.

Mass: Both thermal conductivity and heat retention are affected by the mass of the cookware. Thicker, heavier cookware heats more evenly and hangs onto heat better than thinner, lighter cookware, regardless of the material. 

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

This is why the thickness of a pan is important, and why the actual content is something you should know before you buy, especially if you're going to buy expensive cookware. A 2.5mm thick copper pan is going to heat incredibly evenly, be responsive, and hang onto heat fairly well (because of the mass).

One important trade-off for cookware is between maneuverability and performance. For many home cooks, traditional copper is too heavy, so they opt for lighter clad stainless, like All-Clad: the performance isn't as good, but it's good enough, and the pans are easier to handle. 

If you're interested in traditional copper cookware, then you should know that it's heavy. The weight is a giveaway of its quality, but it can also be hard to use if you have ergonomic issues. 

There are lighter versions of copper cookware that heat well. If you're concerned about too-heavy cookware, focus on tri-ply copper or copper core, which we discuss below and provide buying recommendations. In most cases you won't get "real" copper performance, but you can come close.

In general, you should buy the heaviest cookware you can comfortably handle (whatever the material).

Durability

We measure durability by how well a pan stands up to hard use: high heat, metal utensils, scrubbing, oven use, etc. At the low end is nonstick cookware, which has to be babied (and even then has a short life span), while at the high end is clad stainless, which can take a ton of abuse and still provide decades of service. Cast iron and carbon steel are also extremely durable.

Most copper cookware today has a stainless cooking surface, so it can be considered quite durable. We give copper an above rating for durability. You can deduct points here for the higher maintenance (yet much more beautiful) exterior. 

Stability/Safety

Stability measures how the cooking surface reacts with food and the environment, which is also a measure of the safety of the cookware. (Safety is the most important consideration for any cookware, but we know good quality cookware is safe, so we put heating first.)

Copper does react with some foods, but copper cookware always has a stainless or tin cooking surface, which are both safe, stable cooking surfaces. So lined copper cookware gets a high rating for stability.

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

Ease of Care

Ease of care is about how easy cookware is to maintain. The winner is nonstick cookware, which requires little more than a wipe and rinse. Copper gets an average rating for the stainless cooking surface, which can sometimes require elbow grease to clean. The exterior gets a lower than average rating because it requires occasional polishing to keep shiny. 

(Tin-lined copper cookware, which isn't as common anymore as stainless lined, is easy to care for and almost a nonstick cooking surface, but it's very soft and wears away, so tin-linings have to be re-applied every few years. The cookware has to be sent to an expert and it's expensive, so tin-lined copper cookware gets only two stars for ease of care.)

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

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? Is the pan easy to stabilize when full of food? Do the larger pieces have  helper handles? Do the lids fit snugly? Is there a good amount of flat cooking surface in the skillet?

Copper cookware gets top ratings for beauty. But not all copper cookware is created equally, and even among top brands of traditional copper there are a handful of features that can make cookware great (or not so great) to use.

For example, traditional, 2.5mm thick copper cookware is heavy. It's considerably heavier than 3mm cast aluminum and heavier than most clad stainless cookware. The weight provides excellent heating, but it's the wrong choice for someone with wrist or hand issues. 

Value

When we look at value, we consider 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 probably have to replace in a few years (and hate using). 

In the long run, higher quality cookware is a better deal than cheap cookware. This is why we suggest you buy the best cookware you can afford. (Note: Nonstick cookware is an exception to this rule: it doesn't last no matter how much you spend, so buying on the cheaper end makes sense.) 

This doesn't mean you have to buy the most expensive cookware you find. There's plenty of reasonably priced quality cookware. It just means you should do your research to get the best cookware you can afford, whatever your budget is. 

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

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 have to be careful what you buy. 

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Copper Cookware Vs. Clad Stainless Cookware

Copper Cookware Review

It's impossible to say which type of cookware is "better" since there are so many types and grades of both types of cookware on the market. An apples-to-apples comparison isn't really possible.

For example, the performance of top quality clad stainless cookware like Demeyere Atlantis is very close to traditional copper. But thinner, lighter clad stainless cookware has other merits that make it a good choice for different reasons. 

When you examine other types of copper cookware, comparisons get even harder because of 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 awful. 

There are a few general statements we can make with certainty: 

  • Clad stainless cookware is easier to care than copper for because it doesn't require polishing.
  • Most clad stainless cookware is lighter than traditional copper cookware (one exception being Demeyere Atlantis). So if weight is an issue, you're better off with most brands of clad stainless steel.
  • If you want the beauty of copper without the weight, tri-ply copper cookware is an option, but you have to buy carefully because 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 stainless steel and aluminum. We give a few brands below, but 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, though you can still find traditional tin lining. 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, which is intentional. The amounts are extremely small and not unsafe. 

Too much copper can be toxic to humans. But the chances of getting copper toxicity from copper cookware are close to zero (even for unlined copper pieces). 

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 stainless steel. To research nonstick coatings, see our article The Best Nonstick Frying Pan.

Click the link to read more about copper toxicity at 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 real 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. It can cause tarnishing on the exterior. If the pan is lined with tin, this is especially important because tin melts at about 450F. (It's also unnecessary because copper heats quickly.)
  • Use low to medium heat most of the time. Because of copper's 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 and carbon steel. You can use copper to sear, especially heavy gauge copper, but cast iron is better.
  • Copper cookware is usually oven safe up to about 500F if lined with stainless steel or 400F if lined with tin. (Tin has a melting point of 449.5F, so this is an important guideline for tin-lined copper.) 

Caring for Copper Cookware

Copper Cookware Review

We have already said that true copper cookware requires more maintenance than other cookware because you need to polish it 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. Even with a patina, copper is still beautiful and can improve the aesthetics of any kitchen.

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

Here are some tips on caring for copper cookware:

  • Do not put copper cookware in the dishwasher ever. Always wash by hand.
  • Treat the stainless cooking surface like any stainless cookware (e.g., you don't have to baby it).
  • Don't use anything abrasive to clean tin lining. If you have stuck-on food, add dish soap 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 copper exterior with mild soap and dry immediately (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 stains, use a store bought copper cleaner or make your own cleaner with a paste of lemon juice (or white vinegar) and baking soda. Rub on the surface, let sit several minutes, then wipe off and rinse thoroughly. 
  • If you don't want the patina, 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.

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

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Review: Traditional Copper Cookware

Copper Cookware Review

We start 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 1.5-3mm thick, with pros preferring the thicker copper. Copper has the fastest rate of change of any cookware material: it will change temperature almost as fast as your hob does, which is why copper is called the Ferrari of cookware, and why it's so great for delicate, temperature-sensitive dishes.

With the exception of some specialty pans, all copper cookware has a lined cooking surface. 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.

Traditional lining is tin, but 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. There are still tinsmiths who do this work in the US, but it's expensive, and it 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.)

If you go with real copper cookware, it's tough to go wrong no matter which brand you choose. Mauviel, Matfer Bourgeat, Ruffoni, and Falk are all great choices. 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: 4.0

Heating Properties: 5.0

Durability: 5.0

Stability: 5.0

Ease of Care: 2.5

Design (Aesthetics/Usability): 4.0

Value: 3.0

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

This set has cast iron handles, which are beautiful and durable, but can get hotter than stainless steel handles.

Features

  • 2.5mm thick copper
  • 0.1mm 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 8-piece set pictured above 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 
  • 5.25 qt brazier (what we would call a short-handled sauté pan).

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

Durability: Stainless cooking surface and copper exterior both get 5 stars.

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 a patina. 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 the cost-per-year-of-use is low because it will last for decades. If you can afford it, you won't regret buying it. We give it an average rating, but if you love it and appreciate its long term value, you can rank it higher.

Pieces in Set: The skillet and sauce pan are smallish, the casserole/stock pot is average, and the brazier is a good size and a 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 a good set. 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 Copper Cookware 

Copper Cookware Review

Mauviel M'Heritage Cookware

Overall Rating: 4.0

Heating Properties: 5.0

Durability: 5.0

Stability: 5.0

Ease of Care: 2.5

Design (Aesthetics/Usability): 4.0

Value: 3.0

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

See all Mauviel 150mm cookware on Amazon

See Mauviel USA website

Mauviel is another French cookware giant that's been in business since 1830. It's similar 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 beautifully.

Features:

  • 1.5, 2.0, and 2.5mm thick copper pieces available
  • 0.1mm 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 a description of ratings (they are almost identical).

Pieces in 250 M'Heritage 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.

Set Pieces in 150 M'Heritage: 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 (with lids).

The M'150 Mauviel has all the great features of the Mauviel M'250 line except you get a millimeter less copper. This affects the performance, but 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 150 M'Heritage is a good possibility--but test it before you decide to buy.

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

Mauviel M150B 12 pc set

buy mauviel copper cookware:

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Review: Unlined Copper for Specialty Uses 

Copper Cookware Review

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

Copper Cookware Review

Copper mixing bowls are also great 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 specialty pieces only for the purposes intended. Do 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.

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. Read reviews before buying. 

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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Review: Copper Core Cookware

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. Some 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. 

Today, there are a few All-Clad Copper Core knockoffs on the market. We haven't found the copper specs on them, so we 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
Amazon buy button

All-Clad Copper Core has 0.9mm of copper plus two thin layers of aluminum to aid with cladding to the steel. It heats slightly better than All-Clad D3 (tri-ply); it's beautiful, good quality cookware, but if you want true copper performance, this is not the best choice. 

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: 4.1

Heating Properties: 5.0

Durability: 5.0

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 one of the best copper core 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. 

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 sell 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.)

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. 

Features:

  • 1.9mm copper heating core
  • 0.4mm magnetic stainless exterior (induction compatible)
  • 0.2mm polished 18/10 stainless 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 and exterior gets this cookware 5 stars. 

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, 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, but the design works, with no real drawbacks.

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. 

Value: We give an average rating as this is expensive cookware but with a low cost per year of use, because it will last for decades. If this cookware is worth it to you, then add some points--you won't regret making the investment if you can afford it. 

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 want a larger skillet and a larger sauce pan at some point.

You may be better off buying individual pieces 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 that much more buying individual pieces.

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

see falk COPPER core cookware at falk Usa NOW:

Copper Cookware Review

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Review: Tri-Ply Copper Cookware

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 set 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 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 real 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, reluctantly, Mauviel Tri-Ply Copper cookware (because it's expensive for the amount of copper you get). The makers disclose the copper content, so you know exactly what you're buying. 

Mauviel Tri-Ply Copper Cookware

Copper Cookware Review

See Mauviel Tri-Ply Copper cookware on Amazon

We didn't include an attributes table here because, in all honesty, we're not recommending this cookware. We had a hard time finding any brands of tri-ply copper cookware that we were enthusiastic about. Either the copper content wasn't listed so you have no way of knowing what you're paying for, or the cookware is so expensive that  you'd be better off buying traditional copper cookware.

In the end, we picked the Mauviel, primarily because they were up front about the copper content, and it wasn't quite as outrageously expensive as the Ruffoni.

Mauviel's tri-ply is 20% copper, 64% aluminum, and 16% 18/10 stainless cooking surface. With a total thickness of 2.0mm, this means the copper layer is 0.4mm thick. This adds some copper performance, but nothing like the real thing, and it's not all that much cheaper than the 150 M'Heritage or even the 250 M'Heritage lines. The thick layer of aluminum enhances heating properties--but why not just buy a good clad stainless (for a lot less) if you're paying primarily for aluminum?

To compare, All-Clad tri-ply has a total thickness of 2.6mm and an aluminum layer of 1.7mm; Mauviel tri-ply has an aluminum layer just under 1.3mm; this plus the 0.4mm of copper makes the heating properties roughly the same or slightly better. 

Glass lids are another drawback--this is expensive cookware to have glass lids, which aren't as durable as stainless or copper lids.

For a little more, you can buy the Mauviel 150S M'Heritage cookware and get a much higher copper content (1.5mm vs. 0.4mm, or more than three times as much).

This is our recommendation: If you don't want to throw down for the 2.5mm copper cookware, buy the 1.5mm copper rather than the tri-ply. You'll be happier with the performance, plus you get copper lids. The 1.5mm copper is also lighter than the tri-ply. 

buy mauviel tri-ply copper cookware:

Copper Cookware Review

Other Tri-Ply Copper Cookware

We also like:

Ruffoni Symphonia tri-ply copper 7 pc set on Amazon: Very expensive, 1.9mm copper, made in Italy (top notch cookware, but you pay for that quality). In the Ruffoni vs. Mauviel competition, our choice is Mauviel, mainly because it's less expensive yet still very good.

KitchenAid Tri-Ply Copper cookware: The copper content isn't given, but it's induction compatible and reasonably priced. Expect decent aluminum, but not high-end copper, performance. Made in China.

Overall Recommendation for Tri-Ply Copper Cookware: Most tri-ply copper cookware, including Lagostina Martellata, Viking, Cuisinart, and most other brands, are made in China and do not disclose copper content. Some of these sets are beautiful, and we understand if you fall in love with one. Just assume that if the copper content isn't disclosed, you are probably not getting anything close to true copper performance. You may not care about this, and that's fine--there's nothing wrong with aluminum cookware, if it contains enough to have good heating properties. But even if you don't care, we suggest you go for a decent quality clad stainless set, instead--or at least not pay any more than you would for a decent quality clad stainless set. 

For more information, see our article The Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware.

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Review: Copper-Bottomed Cookware

Copper Cookware Review

Copper-bottomed cookware can be clad stainless or aluminum with a disc of copper or, more often, a copper-aluminum-magnetic stainless disc, bonded to the bottom. The copper layer varies from 0.5mm thick (as with Anolon Nouvelle Copper) up to 2.0mm, which you'll find in Demeyere Atlantis cookware (straight-sided pieces only--the curved pieces have an aluminum heating core). (See our articles All-Clad Vs Demeyere: Which Is Better? and Demeyere Cookware: A Detailed Review for in-depth discussions about Demeyere cookware.)

Since the configuration and quality of copper-bottomed cookware varies so much, it's hard to list advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is that it's usually induction-compatible, while one disadvantage is that it won't have the beautiful copper appearance. 

For more information , you'll have to read specific product reviews.

Most copper-bottomed cookware contains both copper and aluminum, and the copper is there just to provide a little bump. You shouldn't expect superior copper performance. The exception is Demeyere Atlantis, which is stellar cookware (and priced up there with traditional copper cookware). 

Other than Demeyere, you aren't likely to find exact copper content in copper-bottomed cookware given that it's typically lower priced and the copper is only there to provide a slight bump in performance. One brand that does provide this info is Anolon, with their Nouvelle Copper cookware, which is one of the best deals to be found in the nonstick cookware market.

Anolon Nouvelle Copper/Copper Luxe Nonstick Skillet

Copper Cookware Review

Anolon Nouvelle Copper Nonstick Skillet

Overall Rating: 4.2

Heating Properties: 4.5

Durability: 3.0

Stability: 4.0

Ease of Care: 5.0

Design (Aesthetics/Usability): 3.5

Value: 5.0

See Anolon Nouvelle Copper Nonstick Skillet on Amazon

See our Anolon Cookware Review

Anolon is a brand owned by the cookware giant Meyer Corporation, which also owns Circulon, Farberware, SilverStone, Ruffoni, Hestan (see our Hestan review), and more. Along with these in-house brands, Meyer also makes cookware for other sellers (celebrity cookware for chefs like Rachel Ray and Paula Deen, for example). Most of their cookware is made in China. Anolon Nouvelle Copper/Copper Luxe cookware is made in Thailand.

Meyer's cookware lines vary considerably in quality and price, and it's not true that just because they make a top notch brands like Ruffoni that all of their cookware is top notch. However, Anolon Nouvelle Copper or Copper Luxe (two very similar brands, one of which is probably going to be phased out) are an economy-priced brand that nevertheless offers an outstanding amount of quality and performance; particularly the nonstick skillets. If you're looking for a great performing nonstick skillet, Anolon Nouvelle Copper is one of the best choices on the market. In fact, it's one of your best nonstick options no matter how big (or small) your budget is.

Anolon also makes a Nouvelle Copper line in clad stainless, too, which we like, but not as much as the nonstick. 

Features 

  • 2.5mm thick anodized aluminum body, plus aluminum/copper disc for almost 7mm total heating core
  • Triple-layer nonstick cooking surface (Autograph PTFE by Dupont)
  • Induction compatible base with 0.6mm copper layer and 4mm (total) aluminum
  • Stay-cool stainless handles
  • Oven safe to 500F
  • Limited lifetime warranty.

Heating: This pan is highest-rated for heating in its price range. The pan, like most cast aluminum, has a 2.5mm thick body which by itself provides excellent heating. When you add the 4mm of aluminum (wow!) and 0.6mm of copper to the bottom, you have a pan that can compete at the top end of the market. 

There is no other nonstick aluminum that comes close to Anolon Nouvelle Copper/Copper Luxe. 

Durability: Like all nonstick, the cooking surface has to be babied to get maximum use out of the skillet. Don't use high heat, don't use metal utensils, don't put it in the dishwasher, etc. The pan has three layers of Autograph PTFE and is actually one of the more durable PTFE pans around. That just isn't saying a lot. But hey, you know going in with nonstick that this is the case, so you may want to give this a higher rating than we did.

The thick bottom disc adds to the pan's durability, making it pretty much impossible to warp

Stability: The PTFE cooking surface is inert and stable. It won't react with any foods. Just remember not to use high heat, metal utensils, or aerosol cooking spray on PTFE pans, and follow all the care instructions that go along with nonstick pans.

Ease of Care: Nonstick gets a top rating for ease of care.

Design/Usability: It's a really nice skillet, especially for the price. We wish the sides were a little straighter so it had a larger flat cooking surface.

We do not recommend buying entire sets of nonstick because they wear out so fast, and you don't really need nonstick other than in a skillet (or sauté pan, if that is your preference for frying). 

Value: The Anolon Nouvelle Copper nonstick skillet gets a top rating for value. The two-pack 8in./10in. is one of the best buys on the market.

Recommendation: Highly recommended: If you're looking for a great nonstick skillet, this is one of best you'll find. 

buy anolon nouvelle copper skillets:

Copper Cookware Review

Demeyere Atlantis/John Pawson (Straight-Sided Pieces Only)


Copper Cookware Review

Demeyere Atlantis/John Pawson Sauté Pan

Overall Rating: 4.2

Heating Properties: 4.5

Durability: 5.0

Stability: 5.0

Ease of Care: 3.5

Design (Aesthetics/Usability): 3.5

Value: 3.5


See Demeyere Atlantis sauté pan (straight-sided pieces only, e.g., sauté pan and stock pot)

See Demeyere John Pawson cookware (straight-sided pieces only)

Demeyere has been making top quality clad stainless cookware since the 1970s. All of their cookware is induction compatible and designed for use with induction--note the extremely flat bottom on the sauté pan above; this makes Demeyere more efficient on induction than other clad stainless brands. Demeyere claims the difference is as high as 30% (though we're not exactly sure what that means or how to measure it).

If you want the best copper performance and induction compatibility, Demeyere is one of the best choices available. We highly recommend it. 

Features

  • Stainless exterior/interior
  • Base has 2mm copper, plus two layers of silver to enhance performance even more
  • Welded, rivetless handles
  • Silvinox® treatment makes the stainless steel less sticky, easier to wash, and helps it keep its shine
  • TriplInduc® technology makes Demeyere 30% more efficient on induction
  • Stainless lids
  • Induction compatible and dishwasher safe
  • Stay-cool stainless handles
  • Oven safe to 500F
  • 30 year warranty
  • Made in Belgium.

Heating: Demeyere's bottom cladding has a wraparound design that virtually eliminates heat discontinuity. It has an amazing 2mm of copper, plus two thin layers of silver to further enhance heating. Here's a diagram from Demeyere showing their design:

Copper Cookware Review

In short, Demeyere has some of the most impressive heating of any cookware of any type.

(And yes: that's real silver in there!)

Durability: All stainless steel cookware is extremely durable, but this Demeyere has a few added features that give it a top rating. The proprietary Silvinox® coating makes the stainless even more durable and less prone to scratching. The disc bottom is hermetically welded, making it completely waterproof. And the Triplinduc® places the magnetic stainless steel inside two layers of 18/10 stainless: since magnetic stainless is more prone to corrosion and rust, this is a truly superior design, more durable than any other clad stainless cookware.

Stability: Silvinox®-treated stainless cooking surface is extremely stable.

Ease of Care: We rank most stainless steel cookware as average for ease of care, but the Demeyere gets a slightly better rating for a couple of reasons. First is the Silvinox® treatment, which makes the steel less sticky so food scrubs off more easily (though it's still nothing like nonstick). Second is the welded handles: there are no rivets on the cooking surface to collect gunk, making this cookware easier to wash:

Copper Cookware Review

Design/Usability: Demeyere has put a lot of thought into design, and it has a lot going for it. We take points off for how heavy it is. In the straight-sided pieces, most of the weight is in the disc cladding, and if you're not used to that, it can feel awkward. If you love the cookware you can get used to it, but it can feel odd at first.

If you have ergonomic issues, you won't like how heavy this cookware is. 

Value: This Demeyere is a big investment; almost as big as traditional copper cookware. But the cost-per-year-of-use is low, and it's absolutely top notch quality. If you make the investment, you'll have cookware you can love and use for a lifetime.

And yet: it's expensive. So we give it only a slightly above average rating for value. Unlike All-Clad, you can't really find quality as good as Demeyere in a Chinese knockoff because nobody else is making cookware like this.

Recommendation: Highly recommended: If you want the best of the best and need induction compatibility, Demeyere Atlantis (or John Pawson) is an excellent choice. 

buy demeyere atlantis cookware:

Copper Cookware Review

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Review: Copper-Plated Cookware

Copper Cookware Review

Copper-plated cookware is essentially some other metal--in the case of the Revereware we link to here, stainless steel--with a thin layer of copper applied to it. Copper plating is primarily for appearance, and has little effect on heating performance (it's too thin).

A lot of people love these Revere sauce pans, which may be nostalgia more than anything: most of us over 40 remember our mothers using these pans. But the truth is that the quality is mediocre at best, and has gone downhill since their height of popularity in the 1960s (read the Amazon reviews to see what we mean). This is non-clad stainless steel, so the only heating properties come from the thin layer of copper plating. 

If you want true copper performance, copper plating is not the way to go. Thus, we don't have any recommendations in this category. If you want inexpensive cookware, you're better off buying a decent All-Clad knockoff like Cuisinart Multiclad Pro. 

See Revere Copper Bottom Saucepan on Amazon

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Review: Copper-Colored Cookware

Copper Cookware Review

Finally, we have copper-colored cookware: cookware that looks like copper but contains no actual copper (or amounts so small they have no effect on the heating properties).

One example is Copper Chef cookware, which has gained an enormous following in recent years, largely from late-night TV infomercials.

There are dozens of brands of copper-colored nonstick cookware. Most, if not all, of it is made in China and is mediocre quality at best. It can be PTFE or ceramic nonstick, but is most often ceramic.

If you want cheap, copper-colored nonstick cookware, buy the brand with the lowest price, and don't expect too many years of use (the right strategy for nonstick cookware in general). 

Just know that, despite what some reviewers claim, there is no actual copper in this cookware. 

You can also find copper-colored clad stainless cookware that has no actual copper in it. Note that this differs from tri-ply copper cookware (discussed above) in that the exterior layer is not copper but rather, copper-colored stainless steel or aluminum. You may find good quality brands, but we haven't tested any of them so can't make a recommendation.

If you're looking for true copper performance, we recommend skipping copper-colored cookware entirely. However, if you're looking for easy-to-maintain cookware or inexpensive nonstick, there may be something for you in this category.

We don't have a recommendation here, just general advice:

  • If you want an inexpensive nonstick skillet, any of the Copper Chef knockoffs will suffice.
  • Copper-colored aluminum is inexpensive cookware with mediocre heating.
  • If you want clad stainless steel, you're better off buying for performance rather than color. 

Here a few examples (not recommendations):

Copper Chef (copper-colored nonstick aluminum skillet, induction compatible):

Fleischer & Wolf Tri-Ply Stainless set (copper-colored clad stainless tri-ply, 2.5mm thick. To compare, All-Clad tri-ply, Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad, and Cuisinart Multiclad Pro are all 2.6mm thick, so provide more aluminum for better heating properties.) It's pretty, as you can see here, but the performance is just meh:

Copper Cookware Review

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FAQs About Copper Cookware

Here are some common questions about copper cookware.

What Makes Copper Cookware So Great?

Real copper cookware is great because it is extremely responsive to changes in heat. Copper has the highest thermal conductivity of any cookware material and is excellent for foods that require a high degree of precision.

What Are Some Disadvantages of Copper Cookware?

Two disadvantages of real copper cookware are that it's expensive and it needs to be polished a few times of year so as not to tarnish. It heats fine even if it's tarnished, but if you want it to be beautiful, you have to polish it a couple of times a year (or more, depending on use).

Another disadvantage, as this article shows, is that copper cookware can be tricky to buy because there is a lot of copper-plated and copper-colored cookware on the market that looks like copper but doesn't perform like copper. If you want real copper, it's expensive, so price is one way to know how much copper you're getting if the maker doesn't share it.

Are Copper Pans Hard to Maintain?

Copper can be a pain to maintain. Over time, copper discolors (oxidation) and requires polishing to keep its gorgeous luster. You'll have to do this at least twice a year if you want it to stay beautiful, but if you don't care, oxidized copper heats just as well as shiny copper.

Copper cleans up much like clad stainless steel after use, so other than polishing, it's not hard to maintain.

Is Copper Cookware Safe?

Bare copper is not safe to use as regular cookware. Other than specialty pans that are intentionally bare--such as candy and jam pans where you want the copper to react with the food--copper cookware is always lined with a stable metal, either tin or stainless steel; tin is the traditional lining, but most modern copper cookware is lined with stainless steel. So yes, copper cookware is as safe to use as clad stainless steel cookware (tin is also a safe, non-reactive metal).

How Can You Tell If a Pan Is Real Copper?

The easiest way to tell if a pan is real copper is by the price: if it's real copper, it will be very expensive. You can also tell by the weight: real copper cookware is much heavier than copper-colored aluminum or copper tri-ply cookware.

Is Copper Cookware Oven Safe and Dishwasher Safe?

Real copper cookware should be oven safe, but should be washed by hand. 

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Final Thoughts on the Best Copper Cookware

Finding the best copper cookware can be tricky because there are a lot of options to choose from and the quality varies considerably. If you want to buy wisely, you have to do a little homework to understand all your options and where to get the best bang for your buck. This copper cookware review should help you do that. 

To reiterate, here are all the types of copper cookware on the market:

  • Traditional copper cookware is super high quality and expensive. Any brand that has 2mm or more of copper is a worthwhile investment if you have the budget for it. Drawback: It's heavy. Even the lighter weight 1.5mm Mauviel is going to offer better performance than most clad stainless cookware (e.g., All-Clad tri-ply), though it won't heat quite as evenly as the heavier stuff.
  • Specialty, unlined copper is for jam and candy making and you should only use it for those purposes. We did not test any of these and offer no recommendations, however, any maker of traditional copper cookware will have high quality specialty pieces as well (e.g., Mauviel).
  • Copper core cookware is clad stainless, induction compatible cookware with a copper interior. Our favorite brand right now is Falk Copper Core (drawback: it's expensive). 
  • Tri-ply copper cookware has an exterior layer of copper, an interior layer of aluminum, and a stainless steel cooking surface. It varies wildly in structure, cost, and quality, and you really have to do your research if you want decent copper performance. Drawback: Usually not induction compatible, though there are exceptions. 
  • Copper-bottomed cookware can be aluminum or clad stainless with an impact bonded disc that can be copper or a combination of copper and aluminum. The structure, cost, and quality of copper-bottomed cookware also varies wildly, so you have to do your research. Most of it is induction compatible.
  • Copper-plated cookware has a thin plating of copper that adds very little to heating performance. We have no recommendations in this category.
  • Copper-colored cookware is just that: copper colored with no actual copper in it. There are also several of these, with the most popular right now being the Copper Chef ceramic nonstick. We have no recommendations in this category, either.

Thanks for reading! 

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  1. I tried out both a Kila Chef skillet and saute pan, and I did have to return the first saute pan for having a very loose handle. Not sure if that was a defect or if the poor packaging was the problem (it shipped in a solo box with basically no padding, part of the handle even made a hole in the box?). Old research from Chowhound popped up loose handle issues due to an error in their riveting process? It was supposedly fixed years ago, but who knows.

    The other issue I guess is availability: I don't think the brand is made anymore so all that's left is whatever small stock amazon has left. They even used to have a dutch oven but can't find that anywhere now.

    With that said, they really do perform fantastic. I wish someone else more mainstream would try 1.5 – 2mm of copper with a thick aluminum core added, seems like the performance would still be great and cheaper than a full 2.5-3mm of copper.

    1. Hi Robert, Thanks for your input. I agree, someone should make a 1.5 copper with aluminum core. All-Clad Copper Core comes close, but the copper layer is just under 1mm, so the performance is only slightly better than D3. There are a number of tri-ply copper/aluminum brands out there, but most of them have a negligible amount of copper.

      Thanks also for letting us know that Kila is out of business–we’ll have to update the site when they are finally sold out. 🙂

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