When it comes to kitchen trends, copper cookware is one that never seems to go out of style. Why do people love their copper pans and pots so much? It’s all about the quality heating—and the visual appeal doesn’t hurt either.
Copper is one of the oldest materials used in cookware, and with good reason. This popular metal not only heats in a way that makes cooking easy to control, but it also lasts for years and is downright stunning to see on your kitchen shelves. Buying copper cookware is a bit of an investment, so before you buy, get a better understanding with a few of the most important reasons why people seem to love cooking with copper.
Copper is an incredible conductor of heat, making it a popular choice for cooking for, quite literally, thousands of years. When placed over a heat source, copper heats both quickly and evenly. Because of this, you don’t typically have to worry about things like hot spots that can cause issues during the cooking process.
By the same token, however, copper can lose heat just as quickly as it gains it. This makes it a great choice for dishes where you’re looking to closely control the heat and timing, since residual heat won’t stick around for long after you’ve turned off the heat source. Sauces, seafoods, and temperature-sensitive sweet ingredients (caramel and chocolate, for instance) all can benefit from this tightly-controlled heating. On the other hand, copper’s rapid heat loss can make it harder to use for dishes that need to be seared or slow-cooked—those tend to cook better in a slow-conducting but long-retaining material, like cast iron.
You can start your copper collection with something versatile, like the Mauviel M’Heritage 8 Inch Copper Skillet. The copper pan with a stainless steel lining is ideal for keeping careful control over your favorite dish for perfect texture and heating.
Mauviel M'Heritage 250B 2.5mm 8-inch Copper Skillet
Upgrade your cooking with this beautiful copper skillet.
Because copper is a relatively delicate and reactive metal, you can’t just toss it in the dishwasher or scrub at it with some steel wool. That doesn’t mean it has to be a huge hassle to clean, though. In fact, copper cookware is actually pretty straightforward to clean.
There are two separate parts of any copper pan that you’ll need to clean: the outside, which is where the copper shows on the surface, and the inside, which is lined with another metal due to copper’s reactivity with food (usually tin or stainless steel). You can simply hand-wash the cookware, using dish soap and a soft wash cloth or dish sponge. If there’s a particularly stubborn bit of stuck-on food, just soak the pan for 10 to 15 minutes in warm, soapy water, then wash as normal.
Tip: Never put copper cookware in the dishwasher.
The key to keeping your copper cookware in great shape is to dry it, immediately and thoroughly, after washing it. Unless you’re deliberately looking to get a patina on the exterior, it’s important to remove every bit of moisture from the surface of the copper in order to keep it shiny and untarnished.
de Buyer Prima Matera Sauteuse Pan
Cook your favorite dishes in this induction-safe and oven-safe pan.
Despite best efforts, there’s a good chance that your copper cookware will, at some point, need an exterior polish to remove tarnish and restore its shine.
You can use a pre-made copper cleaning solution, or you can follow these easy DIY steps:
- Cut a regular lemon in half.
- Dip the cut half into plain kosher salt.
- Use the salted lemon to gently rub the copper surface, using small circular motions.
- Let the salt and lemon residue sit for about 1 minute.
- Rinse, wipe, and dry immediately. You should see the original copper color coming back. If necessary, repeat the process.
Lemons, Small, 2 lb bag
The mild acidity in lemons helps restore shine to copper.
Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
Salt provides a gentle, natural abrasive to scrub away tarnish on copper.
When cared for properly, copper cookware can last for years or even generations. In terms of durability, the copper itself is typically strong and durable enough to hold up for many years, but you’ll also want to make sure you know what material the lining is made from.
Tin linings are non-reactive and are naturally non-stick, but because of the relative softness of tin, these pans will probably need an expert to re-line them at some point (probably years or decades down the line, but it is likely to happen at some point). Stainless steel linings are not non-stick, but they are more scratch-resistant than tin. That being said, if and when the lining is damaged, you’ll need a new pan—there’s no easy process for re-lining with stainless steel.
One of the keys to keeping your copper cookware in the long term is using the right utensils with it. Avoid using metal spoons and other utensils with copper, especially with tin-lined copper, as they can easily scratch the metal. Instead, use wooden or silicone utensils, which will neither scratch the metal nor react with any food being cooked.
OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Wooden Spoon Set
Wooden spoons are your best bet for cooking in copper.
Umite Chef Silicone Cooking Utensils Set
Silicone offers a soft but durable option for cooking without scratching the pan.
If your copper is lined with stainless steel, like the Mauviel M’Heritage Copper Saucepan, it’s probably sturdy enough to withstand the use of metal utensils. You may schoose to use wood or other softer materials anyway, if you prefer.
Mauviel M'Heritage Copper Saucepan
Perfect for delicate sauces, reductions, and more.
Let’s be honest: part of the joy of copper is that it’s just really beautiful to look at.
While some cookware is best stored in a cupboard out of view, copper pieces can actually become part of your kitchen decor when stored on open shelving or hung from the wall or ceiling. The pieces can bring a warmth and personal touch to the space, while the metallic shine and beautiful detailing give an elegant, luxurious feel.
Copper also meshes well with many popular trends in home decor. Trends like “coastal grandmother” and “grandmillennial” aesthetics emphasize a feeling of “home” and combining modern touches with vintage pieces.
Inocuivre Tradition Saute Pan
Get even, quick, and controlled cooking with this beautiful copper saute pan.
One popular way to display your copper cookware is to hang it somewhere in your kitchen. Simply choose a few of your favorite pots and pans, then arrange them with the help of a wall organizer like the KES Wall Mounted Hanging Storage Organizer. You’ll have easy access to the cookware you need, and when it’s not in use, it doubles as a beautiful addition to your kitchen decor.
KES Wall Mounted Hanging Storage Organizer
Let your copper cookware shine on this display rack.
Copper cookware sets can feel like an intimidating splurge, but there are plenty of good reasons why people love cooking with copper so much. With high-quality cookware and the right care tips, you’ll be enjoying the benefits of copper cookware for years to come!