Ready to vamp up your kitchen with some copper cookware but not sure you want to go all out? In that case, you may be interested in copper-bottom cookware.
Copper is beautiful and heats excellently, but it’s also terribly expensive and high-maintenance. So it only makes sense you might be conflicted about fully committing to copper cookware. But what if you could have the heating benefits of copper cookware without all the fuss?
Enter copper bottom cookware.
Copper bottom cookware provides you with the benefits of copper cookware but without the potential health risk or the other downsides.
To help you decide if this is the right choice for you, I’m doing a full copper bottom cookware review. You’ll find information on what to look for, which copper cookware has the best reputation, and potentially which pans you might try.
It’s important to read the guide entirely. Different people will have different preferences and needs, and it can be somewhat tricky. For a quick rundown of my choices, here are the top copper bottom cookware sets in 2023:
- T-fal C836SD Stainless Steel Copper Bottom Set (Best Copper Bottom Pots and Pans)
- Anolon Nouvelle Stainless Steel Cookware (Best Copper Core Cookware)
- Cuisinart Hammered Cookware Set (Best Hammered Copper Finish)
- Calphalon T10 Tri-Ply Cookware (Best Copper Cookware For Mess Free Pouring)
- All-Clad 600822 SS Copper Core Set (Best Copper Cookware for High Temperatures)
Why Copper-Bottomed Cookware?
Copper cookware heats quickly and conducts heat superbly. It’s also antibacterial and antiviral, and it looks amazing.
So why don’t we see more copper cookware? Well, copper is quite a soft metal that can damage easily, and it isn’t considered safe to expose food to a copper cooking surface while cooking.
However, most modern copper cookware comes with a lining, often tin or stainless steel. This interior lining stops copper from leaching into the food. Full copper cookware is still super expensive and a beast to maintain.
But there is another way.
Proper Heat Distribution
The first and foremost benefit of copper bottom cookware is it’s impressive heat conductivity.
The copper bottom allows heat to spread efficiently and evenly across the cooking surface. This, in turn, minimizes hot spots and makes it easier to regulate the temperature.
The heat distribution actually makes copper bottom pots and pans ideal for gas stoves–but other cookware can work well as well. Check out my gas stove pots and pans guide for more information.
The best copper cookware sets are highly durable and capable of lasting a lifetime if treated properly. Even if a pan isn’t fully copper, it should still be able to last many years. Yes, you’ll spend more on the front end, but you’ll be getting a potential lifetime piece.
Copper is a heavy material, so full copper cookware can be a strain on the arms and wrists. Copper-bottomed cookware is much lighter than other types of cookware, including bare copper and cast iron cookware. The lighter weight makes it easier to cook with, clean, and store.
How to Maintain Copper Bottom Cookware
Whether dealing with full copper pots and pans or just a copper bottom, you need to treat the copper cookware correctly. Proper care not only preserves its pristine look but may also increase its longevity. After all, who wants to spend money on copper cookware that doesn’t look good or last?
To keep your copper pans looking their best, you need to clean and polish them. Use the following methods to bring out that iconic sparkle and shine:
- Lemon and baking soda: Make a paste by combining lemon juice with 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Then, apply to the copper base using a soft cloth in circular motions. Rinse with water and pat dry.
- Vinegar and salt: Fill a spray bottle with roughly 3 tablespoons of salt, and mix in some vinegar. Shake to mix and apply the solution onto the copper bottom—let sit for 10 to 12 minutes. Scrub with a sponge, and rinse off.
- Lemon and salt: Pour some salt onto a plate and dip in half a lemon. Then, scrub the copper and re-dip as needed—double-dipping is okay!
Is Copper Bottom Cookware Dishwasher-Safe?
I highly recommend that you use the dishwasher sparingly, if at all.
With copper bottom cookware, there’s always a chance of the metal getting damaged in the dishwasher. The harsh detergents, high heat, and contact with other objects are all risks for scratching and discoloration. You might get away with using the dishwasher for a few weeks, but over time, it will begin to wear away the copper. My advice? Hand wash only.
That said, with copper core kitchenware—we’ll get to that in a second—it’s usually safe to use the dishwasher since there’s another metal protecting the copper.
How to Choose the Best Copper-Bottomed Cookware
Below are a few essential points to consider when looking for the best copper cookware:
One of the important measures of copper cookware is the thickness of the copper.
Go too thin and the copper pan might crack under high temperatures. Yikes! If it’s too thick, you’ll disrupt the heat distribution.
The best thickness to aim for is between 3/32-inch (2mm) to 1/8-inch (3mm). Anything above 1/8-inch (3mm) is too thick.
This thickness can still be important for copper-bottom cookware, but perhaps not as much so.
Copper is a highly reactive metal that doesn’t do well with acidic foods. In fact, this combination will alter the taste and may even become contaminated with copper. Tomato sauce? You’re out. Lemon pasta? You, too.
To prevent this reaction from happening, go for copper cookware lined with a non-reactive material. You have a few options for this, but the most common options include a tin or stainless steel interior.
Of these, the best option for home cooks is a stainless steel interior. Stainless steel is durable and doesn’t get easily scratched, making it effortless to clean as well. The material is also capable of withstanding high temperatures.
One of the main drawbacks of stainless steel is that it’s slow to heat, so it makes perfect sense to pair it with copper, which heats quickly. It’s a match made in cookware heaven.
Tin-lined copper cookware sets are generally less expensive. But although it’s a great heat conductor, tin isn’t as durable and melts quickly when exposed to temperatures above 232°C (450°F). You have to be very careful not to overheat your tin-lined copper pans.
Bare copper is the best heat conductor, but it’s highly reactive with acidic foods. This limits its uses to light cooking or for making sweet foods, like melting sugar. Unless you’re a professional candy maker or baker, I wouldn’t use an unlined copper pan.
Copper Bottom vs. Copper Core
The best copper cookware comes in two types: copper bottom and copper core.
A copper bottom is when only the exterior base contains a copper finish. This gives you the heat efficiency of copper and a nice aesthetic. But it may wear down with time, despite care.
Copper core, however, is when there’s a layer of copper between two other metals—usually stainless steel or aluminum. This preserves the natural heat conductivity of copper while also increasing its durability.
This is the type of cookware that can potentially go in the dishwasher since the copper might not be exposed to the heat and detergents. The downside? You don’t get to see as much of that beautiful copper finish.
There are two styles of copper pots and pans: hammered or smooth finish.
Hammered finishes are the crème de la crème of copper cookware. Hammered pans have a dimpled look to them. Although it’s pricier, a hammered finish is also the result of pristine craftsmanship. Despite the textured appearance, this finish is more durable than smooth.
A great thing about smooth finishes is that they’re a little more affordable for us who don’t have excess amounts to spend on kitchenware. A smooth finish is also a bit more contemporary, which suits many modern kitchens.
When it comes to the handle, the most common and best material to go for is stainless steel. Not only is it durable, but it also keeps cool during cooking. You’ll also find cast iron handles on some pricier brands.
Some, but not all, copper cookware is induction compatible. Make sure to check if you have an induction stove. If you have gas or electric, you’re good to go.
Copper cookware needs a magnetic material or a built-in plate at the bottom to enable induction cooking. Always check the product description to look for the term “induction-compatible.” I’ve labeled all the induction-capable sets on my list as such.
Sets or Individual Pieces?
Lastly, when purchasing a set of the best copper bottom pots and pans, I recommend choosing one that comes with a couple of stockpots, saucepans, and skillets.
You usually get better value for money by buying a whole copper cookware set.
Copper Bottom Cookware Reviews
T-fal C836SD Stainless Steel Copper Bottom Set—Best Overall Copper Bottom Cookware Overall
T-fal is one of the most popular cookware brands around, although most people associate the brand with non-stick cookware. However, this stainless steel copper bottom set is definitely worth a look.
This cookware set features a heavy-gauge, multi-layer base consisting of aluminum, copper, and stainless steel. The multiple layers increase the heat distribution while preventing any foods from reacting with the copper.
These pans also have sturdy, ergonomically designed stainless steel handles that are cool to the touch.
I love the way the copper is distributed here. It’s both part of the base (absorbing heat directly) and also forms its own layer (ensuring no hot spots). Very clever design for this price range.
Included with the pots and pans are vented glass lids. The vents enable the cooking vessel to release steam, which prevents its content from boiling over. I like the see-through lids, so I can monitor food while it’s cooking.
Another cool feature about the T-fal cookware set is that it’s oven-safe up to 260°C (500°F). It can also take a turn in the dishwasher, but avoid using the dishwasher too often as it can fade the copper.
Honestly? I was surprised at the level of quality this T-fal set brought. It’s an excellent value and gives you a lot of the benefits of having copper pans. I would recommend it.
- Multi-layer bottom
- Ergonomically designed handles
- Vented glass lids
- Works with all cooktops
- Oven and dishwasher-safe
- Has a limited lifetime warranty
- Great value – amazing design for the price range
- Copper bottom shows some wear over time
- Cleaning its around handle rivets requires some effort
Anolon Nouvelle Stainless Steel Cookware—Best Copper Core Cookware
When talking about stainless steel, copper core, cookware, it’s impossible not to bring up the Anolon Nouvelle. This 11-piece cookware set has pans and pots made with copper cores, sealed in with aluminum layers and magnetic stainless steel.
The copper core distributes the heat efficiently while the magnetic stainless steel layer allows you to use it on induction stovetops. Also, the aluminum and stainless steel combo increases the durability.
Another notable feature is the dual-riveted handles. The shape makes them extremely comfortable to use when cooking. Included in the bundle are also deep, dome-like steel lids that seal in moisture and heat.
As with most stainless steel cookware, the pots and pans in the set can be tough to clean.
- Lifetime warranty
- Five layers of metal
- Durable handles
- Compatible with induction cooktops
- Dishwasher safe
- Lids don’t allow visibility
- Cooking surfaces aren’t non-stick
Cuisinart Hammered Cookware Set—Best Copper Cookware with Hammered Finish
For cookware with a beautiful design and timeless hammered exteriors, I suggest looking at the Cuisinart hammered cookware set. The decorative outer surface is available in a hammered finish.
However, looks aside, the feature to note is the heat Surround technology. This allows for even heat distribution along the cookware’s side and bottom.
It also has a triple-ply stainless steel interior, copper exterior, and aluminum core. You get the best of each metal in one pan.
Another noteworthy feature is the stainless steel handles, finished with a contoured design, offering a secure grip.
This cookware set is oven safe to 260°C (500°F) and is versatile—use it for stovetop cooking, baking, or table-serving.
That said, it seems there’s a problem with the finish. Over time, it discolors, giving it a holographic look.
Since you need to avoid the dishwasher and it has a stainless steel interior, this set is one of the harder ones to clean.
- Compatible with electric, glass-ceramic, halogen and gas
- Heat Surround technology
- Contoured handles
- Stainless steel lids
- Oven safe
- Not dishwasher safe
- May discolor over time
Calphalon T10 Tri-Ply Cookware – Best Copper Cookware For Mess-Free Pouring
If you’re on a tight budget and want to find quality stainless steel cookware with a copper base, consider the Calphalon T10 Tri-Ply Cookware Set. Sometimes it’s unavailable, so if it’s the set you want, be sure to stay on the look out for availability.
This 10-piece copper cookware set has a triple layer of steel, copper, and aluminum, with the latter being the filling in the sandwich—this design aids in durability and distribution of heat.
Another notable feature is its flared rims. These make for mess-free cooking as you can quickly empty the contents without spilling.
What’s more, the set includes cool-to-touch handles, finished with a double-riveted design, which is supposed to provide extra stability.
This Calphalon set also includes precision-fit lids. These are highly effective at sealing in moisture and heat.
However, the set isn’t as durable as hoped. And it isn’t dishwasher-safe. Hand wash only.
If you’re willing to spend extra time cleaning to save yourself some money, I would consider this Calphalon Tri-Ply set. Just be aware that it might not last as long as some other cookware.
- Tri-ply construction
- Smooth copper finish
- Flared rims
- Precision fit lids
- Cool-to-the-touch steel handles
- Not dishwasher friendly
- Not as durable as expected
All-Clad 600822 SS Copper Core Set—Best Copper Cookware for High Temperatures
Lastly, we have this 10-piece set from All-Clad. If you are looking for the absolute best quality, All Clad is often a safe bet. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most expensive. No surprise there.
This copper core set is made with five layers of aluminum, stainless steel, and copper. The stainless steel interior is non-reactive and scratch-resistant, while the layers of aluminum and copper create a heat-conductive environment and help in even heat distribution.
You don’t have to worry about hotspots or unevenly cooked food with this cookware.
A great feature is the stainless steel tight-fitting lids. These ensure that no moisture or heat escapes.
This All-Clad cookware set is broiler and oven safe up to 315°C (600°F) and optimized for induction cooking.
However, it seems that the surface is somewhat susceptible to staining. That’s unfortunate when spending this much!
- Limited lifetime warranty.
- Smooth finish.
- Flared edges for easy pouring.
- Five-ply bonded construction.
- Dishwasher safe.
- Lids aren’t interchangeable.
- Quite pricey.
- Stains easily.
I’ve done a more in depth review of All Clad Copper Core, here.
Best Copper Bottom Cookware
Although all the products are worth trying, the best overall copper bottom cookware is the T-fal C836SD Stainless Steel Copper Bottom Set.
It has a heavy-gauge base with a copper base core and works with all stovetops. There’s also a multilayered base, giving you an even and fast heat distribution, while the cooking surface is non-stick and oven and dishwasher-safe.
Best Copper Core Cookware
The thing that makes me nervous about copper bottom cookware is that it can wear out so quickly. I’ve seen the copper bottom wear away on cookware I’ve owned before. It loses effectiveness and can look ugly.
That’s why I like copper core cookware. Sure it’s not quite as beautiful as a copper exterior. Yet, in some ways, it’s subtly more attractive. That thin line of copper says “I’m here doing my job, but I won’t get in the way.”
If you are thinking the same, then I would recommend the Anolon Nouvelle Stainless Steel Cookware as the best copper core cookware.