What’s the Deal with Copper Nonstick Pans?

published Aug 28, 2018
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(Image credit: The Kitchn)

You’ve probably seen copper nonstick cookware on late-night infomercials and thought it looks too good to be true! On TV, food glides out and even burnt-on cheese doesn’t stick. You’re led to believe there’s absolutely nothing like it. So what’s the deal?

It’s Riding on the Reputation of Copper

It’s a well-established fact that copper is the best conductor of heat. However, copper cookware, while amazingly beautiful, is prohibitively expensive for most home cooks. In order to be effective, you need a substantial layer of copper (the more copper, the more it costs). In addition, it needs to be relined occasionally if its inner layer is tin, and copper is hard to keep looking shiny and pristine.

Don’t, for a minute, equate the copper-colored nonstick cookware we’re talking about here with the kind of copper cookware used by Michelin-starred chefs. This stuff is totally different.

(Image credit: Macy’s)

So What Is Copper Nonstick?

Copper nonstick pans are aluminum pans coated with a copper-toned ceramic nonstick finish. Copper-colored pigments added to the finish give it its hue. Some brands have real copper dust mixed into the nonstick formula, but not enough to have any impact other than color.

Does It Work?

Like other ceramic nonstick finishes, copper nonstick releases well when it’s first purchased. That’s why it operates so miraculously on television. But as time goes on, its release properties will wear off and you’ll need to add more and more pressure with a spatula to get foods out of the pan and work harder when cleaning your cookware.

In other words, there’s nothing to distinguish this copper stuff from other ceramic nonsticks on the market, other than its color. If you’ve decided that you want ceramic nonstick (read: Here’s What You Need to Know About Ceramic Nonstick Pans), like the look, and the price is right, there’s no reason not to buy it as long as you have realistic expectations.

(Image credit: Macy’s)

The Bottom Line on Copper Nonstick Cookware

Basically, these products are relatively inexpensive nonstick cookware, the kind we might recommend for a college student, first apartment, or summer home. If you decide you want it, our advice is not to “call now” on an infomercial product but look for a name brand. We suggest Farberware Glide since it comes from a reputable supplier.

Buy the Pieces Above

Do you have any copper nonstick at home? What do you think of it?