Copper vs Stainless Steel Cookware: What’s the Difference? (updated 2023)

Copper vs Stainless Steel Cookware

Today we are going to compare copper vs stainless steel cookware. We have provided a comprehensive guide that will hopefully allow you to make the right choice. Take a look.

You can find tons of cookware on the market.

With so many options to choose from, it can be challenging to find one that is right for your cooking needs.

Many don’t know that having a variety of cookware in your arsenal makes for a more efficient time in the kitchen, especially when you know just what to reach for.

Two of the more common types of cookware are copper and stainless steel.

Both of these materials hold advantages in the field, making it important to know the qualities of each prior to cooking.

Copper vs Stainless Steel Cookware

Getting to Know Copper and Its Properties

Copper Cookware

Copper has been around for thousands of years.

In fact, the emergence of this metal traces back to approximately 10,000 years ago in the Middle East.

According to Epicurious, one of the world’s oldest copper pieces dates back to 8700 B.C. in Northern Iraq.

The iconic Julia Child used copper pots and for good reason.

This material is a good conductor of heat, meaning it allows for quick and even cooking.

Because it has high thermal conductivity, it doesn’t develop hot spots on the bottom.

This helps keep the copper material smooth and free from burns that could affect the overall cooking time.

This also ensures that it retains heat throughout cooking.

When to Use Copper Cookware

Copper Cookware

As mentioned, the strength of copper cookware lies in its superior thermal conductivity.

With its ability to diffuse heat quickly and evenly, and its capacity to easily adapt thanks to its reactivity, this material is great for making jams, sautéing food, searing, and making sauces.

However, to ensure the success of cooking using copper pots and pans, it is essential that they are lined with stainless steel or tin.

This prevents the food, particularly acidic ingredients such as lemons, tomatoes, or vinegar, from leaching the copper material of the pan and into the food.

Characteristics of Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel Cookware

Stainless steel cookware is an all-around workhorse, making it a versatile and vital tool in just about any kitchen.

It is made of a combination of iron and a variety of metals such as chromium and nickel.

Once set, however, the alloy creates a strong bond, making for a strong and durable type of cookware.

This ensures that leaching will not happen and, therefore, you will not ingest chemicals.

Because of its formidable craftsmanship and durability, stainless steel produces a great result called the Maillard reaction.

More commonly known as the browning of food that remains in the pan, this makes way for a more flavorful and appetizing dish.

Stainless steel also has superb heat retention properties.

It also conducts heat well making it ideal for temperature control.

Additionally, stainless steel can work in a variety of contexts, including the stovetop and the oven.

Using Stainless Steel Cookware

Copper vs Stainless Steel

Because it can retain heat and provide even heating and cooking, stainless steel cookware can handle different types of cooking.

These include searing meats, sautéing, simmering, and even braising.

You no longer have to fear cooking stews and even adding vinegar, tomatoes, and wine to your dishes as this will not corrode.

Bear in mind, however, that since stainless steel does not come coated, food can stick to this type of pots and pans.

While this may add flavor and depth to dishes, it can make it challenging to clean.

To counter this, you may want to ‘season’ the pan and evenly coat it with oil or another type of fat.

This ensures that the stainless steel material maintains a smooth surface even after it is preheated.

The Bottom Line

Both copper and stainless steel cookware present their advantages and disadvantages.

Now that you know what these types of materials have to offer, you can choose the perfect cookware for your cooking needs.

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