The best copper cookware you can buy

The best copper cookware you can buy
  • Whether you're a cooking enthusiast, a chef, or a short-order cook, you deserve high-quality copper cookware that responds quickly to heat, accommodates culinary masterpieces as well as simple dishes, and enhances your kitchen's decor.
  • Copper cookware can be an expensive yet rewarding investment, so when researching different sets for your kitchen, you'll want to consider a variety of criteria.
  • Our top pick is the Lagostina Martellata Hammered Copper 10-Piece Cookware Set. It regulates and distributes heat well with its stainless-steel interior, aluminum core, and copper exterior.

Copper cookware is considered by many as "the fancy sports car of the cookware world," according to professional cook and culinary writer Daniel Gritzer of Serious Eats. Like a fancy sports car, though, copper cookware is pricey. Nonetheless, the high price tag begets excellent thermal conductivity, providing benefits like:

  • Efficiency in heating up: Copper heats up faster than stainless steel and aluminum do, enabling you to warm up ingredients in a hurry as well as save time and energy (no need to crank up the flame!).
  • Uniform heat distribution across the vessel's surface: This quality minimizes unequal temperatures and hot spots that lead to uneven cooking and burned/stuck-on food.
  • Rapid response to temperature changes: As Serious Eats notes, this serves you well when cooking fish, seafood, sauces, caramel, and chocolate.
  • Precision in control over cooking temperatures: This is especially useful when handling delicate ingredients and using an electric stove.

Finally, who can deny the gorgeous glamour of copper cookware that brings warmth to any kitchen? But its beauty comes with a price: more work. Like a fancy sports car, copper cookware can be high-maintenance in care. First, it's not dishwasher safe, so you need to wash all pieces by hand. Secondly, you must dry off any pieces right after washing them in order to prevent spotting or discoloration from water drops. Finally, in order to maintain copper cookware's lovely sheen, you need to polish it regularly to stave off corrosion.

Also, copper reacts chemically with acidic ingredients (tomato sauce, lemon juice, wine, vinegar) and alkaline (whole fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts), dissolves, and then leaches into whatever food is being cooked, resulting in copper toxicity; symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Therefore, stick to copper cookware lined with an unscratched, nonreactive metal (like aluminum or stainless steel but not tin or nickel).

Copper cookware can be an expensive yet rewarding investment, so when researching different sets for your kitchen, consider the following criteria:

  • Construction: Types of lined copper cookware include copper core (a thick layer of copper sandwiched between different metals), clad (bonded metal layers, e.g., an aluminum-stainless steel-copper composition), and copper bottom (with non-copper metals for the pieces' side and bottom interior surfaces and then copper for the bottom's exterior surface).
  • Thickness: Look for copper cookware between 2.5 and 3 millimeters in thickness. Choosing something as thin as 2 millimeters is okay, but Serious Eats notes that anything lower will not perform well in the kitchen. A thickness greater than 3 millimeters makes the copper less responsive to heat and temperature changes. Consumer Reports advises that heavy-gauge copper with a thickness of 1/16 inch to 1/8 inch holds up best over time.
  • Durability: You want pieces that stand up to repeat use and washes. Luckily, most pieces we selected carry a lifetime warranty.
  • Finish: In addition to a lustrous (shiny) vs. brushed (matte) surface, you can choose between a smooth finish and a hammered finished for decorative purposes.
  • Number of pieces: You may want to stick with what you need, just the basics. On the other hand, numerous different pieces accommodate a greater variety of recipes to make, either one at a time or simultaneously.
  • Price: If a price seems high, just be aware of how many pieces the copper cookware set contains (and if that makes it worth it). And don't forget the potential savings in energy and time copper cookware offers. If the price seems low, question how much copper is actually used in or the quality of the pieces.

Here are the best copper cookware sets you can buy:

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The best overall copper cookware set

The best overall copper cookware set
The Lagostina Martellata Hammered Copper 10-Piece Cookware Set has a well-made, triple-metal construction that heats up quickly and evenly while adding beauty to your kitchen.

You can cook up many different culinary delights with the Lagostina Martellata Hammered Copper 10-Piece Cookware Set, which includes an 8-inch skillet, a 10-inch skillet, a 2-quart saucepan with lid, a 3-quart saucepan with lid, a 3-quart deep saute pan with lid, and a 6-quart stockpot with lid. Constructed of a stainless steel interior, an aluminum core, and a copper exterior, each cladded piece consistently regulates temperature and distributes heat evenly to warm up and cool down rapidly. This reasonably priced and sturdy copper cookware set is compatible with gas, electric, and ceramic stoves and is both oven- and broiler-safe.

The Lagostina Martellata Hammered Copper 10-Piece Cookware Set boasts a gorgeous look — but then again, what copper set doesn't? Its rustic hammered appearance and natural rainbow hues resulting from heat and oxidation enhance and blend into a busy kitchen setting. Polished stainless-steel lids (a bit lighter in weight than the pots and pans themselves) and riveted-on smooth stainless-steel handles contrast with the copper bodies. A few Amazon customers remarked that the lid handles get hot while others found the bodies' handles to stay cool.

Another convenient feature is the shape of each piece's rim. As Kitchen Sanity noted, the pots and pans sport "a flared rim along the exterior which should make it easier to pour out of these pots without mess or drip. This rolled edge is a continuation of the stainless-steel interior lining, making sure your food doesn't come in contact with the aluminum core of the pan" and copper exterior.

As with all copper cookware, the Lagostina Martellata Hammered Copper 10-Piece Cookware Set requires hand-washing and polishing. Nonetheless, much user feedback indicates that this set is easy to clean and maintain. A small minority of users remark that the copper layer (which appeared thin to some) faded or seemed to wipe away after being washed, making this cookware look less attractive.

Better Homes & Gardens awarded it with the "Editors' Choice" designation, and Diligent Chef named it the "Best Copper Cookware Set for Those Who Are Starting Out." At Amazon, 72% of the reviews are positive (4 and 5 stars).

Pros: Beautiful hammered copper finish, great heat regulation and distribution, sturdy, easy to clean

Cons: Lightweight lids, exterior layer of copper seems very thin and sometimes comes off

The best high-end copper cookware set

The best high-end copper cookware set
Crafted in France, the top-of-the-line Matfer Bourgeat 8-Piece Bourgeat Copper Cookware Set is elegant yet sturdy and elevates the cooking experience.

"Cooking with Bourgeat is like taking a Ferrari to its limits on the track," says one reviewer of the 8-Piece Bourgeat Copper Cookware Set, echoing the fancy sports car metaphor. This fine set includes a 9 1/2-inch casserole with lid, a 7 1/8-inch saucepan with lid, a 9 1/2-inch flared sauté pan with lid, and an 11-inch heavy sauté pan with lid. Longtime users (including a few who've owned this set for more than a decade) recommend this line over other high-end brands. They praised its simple, beautiful design and fine craftsmanship.

Each piece is constructed of an interior layer of .1-millimeter-thick 18/10 polished stainless steel fused to an exterior layer of smooth 2.5-millimeter-thick copper. Although strong and sturdy, the pieces can be a little heavy for some users. Nonetheless, rivet-attached cast iron handles counterbalance the bodies' weight. Cook Novel notes that the handles are very easy to grip but says potholders are a must-have as the cast iron gets quite hot.

Conducting thermal energy quickly and evenly, the Bourgeat 8-Piece Copper Cookware Set is like a set of professional cooking tools that seemingly improves your culinary skills and experience in your home kitchen. Cookware Diary says that each piece has a smooth interior surface that heats quickly without hot spots, and that there no issues with foods sticking or burning. Also, each piece's rim is straight with an overturn edge — like an extra lip — to contain sauces and liquids as well as prevent drips and spills.

The set is easy to wash. Polish the smooth red copper exterior with a soft cloth to maintain its elegant appearance. You want to display this major investment while showing off your culinary skill on any type of stove (except induction) or hanging these pieces up for decor.

The Matfer Bourgeat 8-Piece Bourgeat Copper Cookware Set was chosen as the top pick by Diligent Chef and On The Gas. Amazon shoppers love it, too, with 18 out of 19 reviewers giving 4 or 5 stars.

Pros: Simple yet elegant design, superb performance, excellent response to changes in temperature, similarity to professional culinary tools

Cons: Expensive but worth it, heavy for some


The best middle-range copper cookware set

The best middle-range copper cookware set
Not too expensive yet definitely not cheap, the reasonably priced Calphalon Tri-Ply Copper 10-Piece Cookware Set is perfect for home cooks who don't want to splurge on copper cookware yet still desire quality.

You don't need to spend thousands of dollars to purchase better-than-budget and high-quality copper cookware — try the Calphalon Tri-Ply Copper 10-Piece Cookware Set. It comes with an 8-inch omelette pan, 10-inch omelette pan, 1.5-quart saucepan with lid, 2.5-quart saucepan with lid, 3-quart saute pan with lid, and a 6-quart stockpot with lid.

Each piece has a brushed copper exterior, a heavy-gauge aluminum core, and a fine-satin stainless-steel interior. The copper-and-aluminum combination produces excellent thermal conduction and precise cooking control. Many Amazon reviewers praise the cookware's heat distribution with one verified buyer noting that the pieces "distribute heat incredibly well so even cooking is achieved." Cook Novel found that the tri-ply cladding is accommodating to foods that require strong temperature control. The brushed stainless-steel lining won't react with foods and provides sturdiness.

Oven- and broiler-safe, the Calphalon Tri-Ply Copper 10-Piece Cookware Set is compatible with all types of stoves: gas, electric, halogen, and even induction models. The pieces' stainless-steel handles stay cool and are — as described by Diligent Chef, which highlighted this model for "Burn-Free Handling" — "double-riveted, so stability is not questionable but at the same time are lightweight enough that you can easily grab it and transfer as you cook in the kitchen. The rims of the pieces are even flared so you can pour your contents neatly and efficiently."

Although some owners put this set in dishwasher, it is not recommended by the manufacturer — hand-washing is. Cleaning was easy for some, okay for others, and difficult for some who complained of sticky food on the interiors and spots and discoloration on the exteriors after washing. Maybe dishwashing or not properly drying led to the spots, which many people cleared up by using a professional cleaner like Bar Keepers Friend.

Cook Taste Eat named the Calphalon Tri-Ply Copper 10-Piece Cookware Set its top pick, and Better Homes & Gardens included it within its top three. At Amazon, the set has an overall rating of 4.2 stars from 446 reviews.

Pros: Rapid and even heat distribution, precise temperature control, stay-cool handles

Cons: Difficult to clean in some cases (sticky food on interior) and prone to external spotting and discoloration

The best luxurious copper cookware set

The best luxurious copper cookware set
Live the lux life with the visually stunning French-made Mauviel M'heritage 9-Piece 2.5mm Copper Cookware Set, which functions as beautifully as it appears.

Dress up your kitchen with the gorgeous Mauviel M'heritage 9-Piece 2.5mm Copper Cookware Set. Since 1830, Mauviel has been manufacturing copper cookware, and this set exudes an heirloom quality in looks, craftsmanship, and performance.

Consisting of a 1.9-quart saucepan with lid, a 2.7-quart saucepan with lid, a 3.2-quart saute pan with lid, a 6.4-quart stockpot with lid, and a 10-inch skillet, this set is strong; its construction is 90% copper and 10% stainless steel. The 18/10 stainless-steel interior layer is nonreactive and responsive, cooking foods while preserving flavors and nutrition without sticking or burning. The 2.5 millimeter-thick copper exterior layer heats up ingredients quickly and evenly on the bottom and up the sides of each piece.

The Mauviel M'heritage 9-Piece 2.5mm Copper Cookware Set's sturdy construction inspires confidence in home cooks. Some users liked the cookware's heft, while others thought the pieces were a bit too heavy. As Diligent Chef noted, luckily the "thick bronze handles keep the pieces balanced, but the wideness can be awkward for some users. The bronze build also affects the handles in a way that you have to be extra cautious since they get hot quickly."

On the other hand, a couple of reviewers felt that this set's lids are a bit light, especially for such heavy pots and the high price tag. At least this set is oven-safe; compatible with gas, electric, and halogen stove tops; and easy to clean. You definitely want to show off this lovely copper cookware while creating culinary treats, hanging them up as decor, or displaying them on your kitchen's countertop.

The Mauviel M'heritage 9-Piece 2.5mm Copper Cookware Set was ranked second place on lists of best copper cookware at Diligent Chef and On The Gas. It earned an average rating of 4.5 of 5 stars by Amazon reviewers.

Pros: Beautiful appearance, rapid and even heating, solid construction (lids excluded)

Cons: Lids are a bit thin, pots and pans heavy for some, handles become very hot


The best budget copper cookware set

The best budget copper cookware set
Enjoy the culinary benefits of copper without breaking the bank with the T-fal Ultimate Stainless Steel Copper Bottom 13-Piece Cookware Set.

You get more for your money with the T-fal Ultimate Stainless Steel Copper Bottom 13-Piece Cookware Set. Inexpensive, practical, and versatile, it's convenient for everyday cooking with an 8-inch frying pan, a 10.5-inch frying pan, a 12-inch covered frying pan with lid, three saucepans (1-inch, 2-inch, 3-inch) with matching lids, a 5-quart stew pot with lid, and a stainless-steel steamer basket.

The body of each piece (except the steam basket) is made of a thick-gauge aluminum core sandwiched between two layers of stainless steel; on the bottom is a copper disc (a solid copper circle in the center) with five copper lines radiating out like points of a star. This combination of metals is efficient and effective: the aluminum and copper layers conduct heat well and warm up quickly and evenly while the stainless steel layer provides stability and durability. A few Amazon reviewers reported using lower stove fires/burner levels for this set than for other cookware without sacrificing performance — saving energy and money.

With all of these savings come some compromise. As The Cookware Advisor noted, "the copper is ONLY present as a thin disc on the bottom of the pans and not up the sides. This is what allows this set to be affordable while still imparting some of the heat conducting properties of copper." Also, for some owners, the copper discolored or came off after being washed or having the manufacturer's stickers removed from the bottom, leading them to question the copper's quality and thickness.

Speaking of washing, dishwashers are not recommended for the PFOA-free T-fal Ultimate Stainless Steel Copper Bottom 13-Piece Cookware Set. Nonetheless, some reviewers have used the dishwasher, but the majority hand-washed it — most finding it easy to clean with a minority complaining of sticky interiors as well as spotting and discolored stainless steel and copper. However, it's unknown whether these were the same people who put the set in the dishwasher and/or didn't dry it off.

Luckily, the T-fal Ultimate Stainless Steel Copper Bottom 13-Piece Cookware Set owners complimented the lids for two reasons: 1) they're made out of glass, so you can check on ingredients without opening them and losing heat, and 2) they each have a vent hole to let steam escape and keep liquids from boiling over. The riveted stainless steel handles are sturdy but get hot quickly, so be careful. Unlike other copper cookware, this oven-safe set is compatible with all stoves, even induction stoves.

According to On the Gas, the T-fal Ultimate Stainless Steel Copper Bottom 13-Piece Cookware Set is "reasonably priced, made by a reputable brand, and while it's made with copper in all the right places, it's still easy to cook with and clean." Diligent Chef named it "Best Copper Bottom Cookware." Aat Amazon, this set has a 4.3-star rating overall from 4,382 reviews.

Pros: Good price, rapid and even heating, vented glass lids

Cons: No lids for frying pans, copper discolors or comes off easily, surfaces stain but can be cleaned

Tips for using copper cookware

Tips for using copper cookware
  1. Before you start cooking, prepare everything (ingredients and tools) you need. Since copper cookware heats so quickly, you won't have much time to search for ingredients and utensils.
  2. Use wooden, nylon, or silicone utensils to avoid scratching the pan or pot's interior.
  3. Don't preheat an empty copper pot or pan. Because it heats up so quickly, you don't need to preheat and want to avoid melting or burning it. At the very least, pour cooking oil, a liquid, or a fat into the pot or pan before putting it on a hot stove.
  4. Due to copper's efficiency, you need to use only about half the heat level you'd use for a comparable pot or pan made of stainless steel or another metal.
  5. Don't use badly scratched and, if possible, uncoated copper pots and pans to cook or store food.

How to clean and care for your copper cookware

How to clean and care for your copper cookware

Take care of your copper cookware, and you'll reap years of culinary dexterity and aesthetic beauty. To maintain your copper cookware's shiny and burnished appearance, manually wash and dry it carefully. Don't put it in the dishwasher or use detergents with bleach, which can corrode copper. Copper is soft and scratches easily, so avoid any abrasive tools (like steel wool or a copper scouring pad) or cleaners. Stick with softer material, like a sponge or a soft cloth.

In order to clean the piece's lined interior, apply gentle soap with a soft rag or sponge, rinse, and dry thoroughly. Clean the copper exterior with a commercial copper cleaner or any of these four home methods:

  • Apply a mixture of vinegar and salt with a soft rag or sponge, leave the mixture on for about 10 minutes, rinse, and then dry the piece thoroughly; or
  • cut a lemon in half, sprinkle it with a little table salt, rub the lemon half against the copper (especially discolored spots), rinse, and dry; or
  • mix equal parts baking soda and lemon juice (or vinegar) into a paste, rub with a soft cloth, then rinse, and dry; or
  • spread on a medium layer of ketchup, leave it on for 10 minutes (the ketchup's acidity attacks tarnish), scrub off with soft sponge or pad, then wash with warm water and dishwashing liquid, rinse, and dry. This process sounds a bit implausible and gross, but it works! Even Cook's Illustrated agrees, saying, "When you're desperate to clean up a tarnished copper pan and have no commercial polish on hand, ketchup does a decent job."

To prevent tarnishing, regularly polish and shine your copper cookware with a lightly acidic solution (e.g., vinegar or lemon juice) or a commercial copper cleaner cream. Or if you want to let your copper cookware age naturally, just skip all the polishing. In fact, a copper surface that develops a patina actually becomes harder and more efficient thermally.

Finally, don't throw away your old copper pots and pans. Recycle the copper for scrap metal, repurpose them as decoration, or reshape them into something else like a candy dish, bird feeder, or planter.