If you’re anything like us, you’re already starting to plan those big holiday meals you’ll be whipping up in just a few months — including their execution. While you may be getting by just fine in the kitchen with your standard aluminum or stainless steel cookware sets, there’s another school of thought that would have you leave it all behind for the fastest, most even heat distributor on the market — copper. The best copper cookware set could be the difference between a good feast and a great one this holiday season. Keep reading to find out why.
Benefits of Cooper Cookware
There are a whole host of reasons why you might want to consider making the swap to copper cookware, but the most obvious is its renowned abilities as a thermal conductor. Copper is *the* material to beat when it comes to quick — and more importantly, even — heat distribution. In fact, it’s been said to heat more than four times (!) better than stainless steel.
What’s more, once you remove it from is heat source, it cools down just as fast, meaning you won’t have to worry about overcooking foods. Copper is also corrosion-resistant, meaning your cookware set will offer up plenty of bang for your buck.
The advantages to cooking with copper go far beyond the functional, however. While liver, kidney, and other health issues can arise from ingesting high doses (the Environmental Protection Agency recommends a maximum contaminant level of 1.3 milligrams of copper per liter of water) of copper, trace amounts, like those you could potentially ingest from cookware, are considered safe, and are even beneficial and necessary for a range of bodily functions.
Case in point? Copper has surprising antimicrobial properties, so using it to prepare your meals can reduce your chances of ingesting harmful bacteria, such as salmonella and E. coli.
What’s more, a 2016 study published in Nature Chemical Biology found that the metal could be a useful aid in burning fat. “We find that copper is essential for breaking down fat cells so that they can be used for energy,” said research leader Chris Chang, a faculty scientist at Berkeley Lab’s Chemical Sciences Division, a UC Berkeley professor of chemistry ,nd a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. “It acts as a regulator. The more copper there is, the more the fat is broken down.”
The Pros and Cons of Copper Cookware
Not that you know a bit about the pros, let’s talk about the cons. The most obvious drawback to using this material is the price. Most real copper cookware sets — read: those with a thickness of 2 to 2.5mm or greater — will cost you a pretty penny, with many in the $1,000+ range. But plenty of modern copper sets are made of mixed materials, such as stainless steel, tin, or non-stick materials, that render them slightly more affordable.
As with most luxury items, copper cookware requires a heck of a lot more maintenance than your average department store finds. Not only will you want to steer clear of any metal utensils, you’ll want to avoid washing them in the dishwasher. Additionally, bleach-based cleaners will wear down your wares fast.
Thankfully, you can pick up a specialty cleaner, like Wright’s Copper and Brass ($4.69, Amazon) or French-made Mauviel’s Copperbrill ($21.90, Amazon) to keep pots and pans gleaming and in tip-top shape. Alternately, you can use a DIY vinegar-salt solution or simply rub the metal with a lemon that’s mixed with baking soda or salt before rinsing and drying.
If you’re ready to make the commitment and experience a higher level of cooking, keep reading for FIRST’s favorite picks for the best copper cookware your money can buy.
We write about products we think our readers will like. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the supplier.
Cuisinart 8 Piece Copper Cookware Set
Top-Rated Copper Cookware Set — Cuisinart 8-Piece Tri-Ply
Where to buy: $299, Amazon
Amazon shoppers can’t say enough about this Cuisinart copper set, which boasts cool, stainless steel handles, is oven-safe up to 500 degrees, and has a stainess steel interior. “I absolutely love these pans!!! They cook evenly and once you learn how, and what, you should cook in them, they are amazing!” one shopper raved, with another writing, “These pots and pans are show-stoppers! … They perform better than aluminum, better than stainless (by a long shot) and far better than your recipe!”
For the price, you'll get a 2.5-quart saucepan and cover, a 4-quart sauté pan and cover, a 6-quart stockpot and cover, and an 8 and 10-inch skillet.
Fleisher And Wolf Copper Cookware Set
Most Attractive Copper Cookware Set — Fleisher and Wolf Seville Series 10-Piece
Where to buy: $399.99, Amazon
This hammered copper set is so gorgeous, even Oprah Winfrey wants them in her kitchen! The media mogul listed them among her Favorite Things for 2017, saying, “I used to have copper pots hanging in my kitchen, but the thought of the cleanup kept me from actually using them. These are lined in easy-to-wash stainless steel—dinner party, here we come!”
They’re nice and thick at 2.3mm, and include two frying pans (8 and 9.5-inch), three saucepans (1, 2, and 3-quart), a Dutch oven (5.75-quart), plus four lids.
Mauviel 9 Piece Copper Cookware Set
Best French Copper Cookware Set – Mauviel M’Heritage 9-Piece
Where to buy: $1,699.95, Amazon
Leave it to the French to knock it out of the park in the cookware department. This overseas brand is ranked among the best of the best as far as copper sets go, offering up one of the thickest collections you can buy today at 2.5mm. Generally, the thicker the better when it comes to copper (Julia Child famously preferred 1/8-inch thick copper pans), and this set, which is comprised of 90 percent copper, definitely does the trick. Investment though it may be, it comes with a lifetime warranty, so you’ll certainly get your money’s worth from this 1.9 and 2.7-quart saucepans with lids, 10-inch skillet, 3.2-quart sauté pan and lid, and 6.4-quart stockpot and lid.
Best Affordable Copper Cookware Set — Concord 8-Piece Tri-Ply
Best Affordable Copper Cookware Set — Concord 8-Piece Tri-Ply
Where to buy: $169.98 (Originally $180), Amazon
Most of the more affordable copper sets out there have little — if any — actual copper within, but this Concord set is coated with an all-natural red copper exterior, ensuring you’ll still get the even heat distribution you’re seeking at a far lower price. It has a stainless steel interior for increased durability and includes a 5-quart Dutch oven, a 3-quart saucepan, a 1.5-quart saucepan, a 10” frying pan, and four stainless steel lids.
Lagostina 10 Piece Copper Cookware Set
Best Stainless Steel Copper Cookware Set — Lagostina Martellata Tri-ply 10-Piece
Where to buy: $499.97, Amazon
This copper and stainless steel selection is a set beloved not only by amateur chefs the world over, but by celebrity chefs, such as Food Network’s Giada De Laurentiis — she created her own Dutch oven with the brand in September. The 8 and 10-inch skillets, 2 and 3-quart saucepans with lids, 3-quart sauté pan with lid and 8-quart stockpot, have rolled edges for easy pouring, an eye-catching hammered exterior, and are oven safe up to 500 degrees. A word to the wise: While stainless steel will increase your set’s durability, it can also be a bit sticky, so make sure you give it a good soak before cleaning.
Kitchen Aid 10 Piece Copper Cookware Set
Best Satin Copper Cookware Set — KitchenAid 10-Piece Tri-Ply
Where to buy: $699.95, Amazon
With a smooth, satin-like finish, KitchenAid — the same brand you know and love for their cult-favored mixers — delivers a beautiful cookware set with a pure copper exterior and a stainless steel interior. The top-of-the-line collection also features a few extra niceties, such as etched-in measurement markings that make cooking an absolute breeze. It’s oven safe up to 500 degrees and is approved for all stovetops, including induction. The set comes with 8 and 10-inch open skillets, 1.5 and 3-quart saucepans with lids, a 3.5-quart sauté pan with lid, and an 8-quart stockpot.
Analon 11 Piece Cookware Set
Best Non-Stick Copper Cookware Set — Analon Nouvelle 11-Piece
Where to buy: $333.99 (Originally $799.99), Wayfair
This set offers up the best of both worlds. On the one hand, it's got a non-stick aluminum interior that will keep you free from any unwanted extra scrubbing. On the other, there's an internal copper core that makes it ideal for even heat distribution. It's compatible for all stovetops and oven safe for up to 500 degrees, and includes five lids, a stockpot, two saucepans, two frying pans, and a sauté pan.