A Guide To Picking The Best Copper Saucepan
Copper cookware’s reputation in the kitchen is unparalleled—that’s why you’ll find heritage copper cookware in countries as far apart as France to India to Mexico. It doesn’t need much heat (or time) to get food to brown, simmer, braise, or cook anything you’d like to perfection. But the only way to truly believe that copper makes a difference is cooking in it.
So if you’re curious about copper and want to see what the hype is about, start your journey with a copper saucepan.
Why? Because that’s how you can best see copper’s supremely quick responses to heat in action. For example, Copywriter Nikkitha tested a copper saucepan by cooking a sauce that included miso, sake, mirin and sugar—a combination of ingredients that could easily burn and go bitter if left on the hob too long. Just as the sauce was starting to smoke, she took it off the heat and, immediately, the smoke dissipated and her sauce was saved. She’s also used it in the oven to bake souffles, cheese and onion dip, and more.
Copper also spreads heat evenly from base to rim, which means that if you want to heat a sauce, porridge, or water, every inch will cook at the exact same time and temperature. This is especially helpful when cooking large pots of chilli, stock, and more, but since copper is an investment, it’s better to experience copper’s alchemy—and decide whether it’s a game-changer for you—in a smaller saucepan first.
We’ve pulled together a list of points to consider when buying a copper pan. Once you’ve considered them, head to our copper cookware page here and start your journey.
The more copper a pan has, the better it will be at responding to heat. The following pans are constructed of 90% copper, with a lining of stainless steel (10%). The reason copper needs to be lined with a different material is because it is a reactive metal, meaning it will impart a metallic flavour onto acidic foods(tomatoes and other fruit, citrus, and wine-based sauces, for example). But a stainless steel lining ensures that’s not the case.
Sometimes you’ll see copper pans lined with tin, which serves a similar purpose—however, because tin is not as durable as stainless steel, it needs to be re-tinned every few years. So while we love tin-lined for specialist pieces, it’s not our top choice for a saucepan that’s meant to be used often.
This traditional construction of a copper pan has one major downside: It is not compatible with induction hobs. Luckily, heritage companies like Mauviel and DeBuyer applied their experience from nearly 200 years of crafting copper cookware to engineer copper pans for induction hobs (more on that below).
Cleaning & Care
Copper is a soft metal that tarnishes easily, which means they are absolutely not safe for the dishwasher. Many cooks love the burnished, vintage look copper pans take on over time, while others like to keep them polished and neat. To do so, we recommend using a copper cleaner like Mauviel’s Copperbrill Cleaner (shop here). For more on how to clean and care for copper, read our guide.
Traditional copper pans have cast iron or brass handles. Cast iron is granite-coloured and has a thicker, stone-like feel, while brass looks like gold. This makes them gorgeous, but because these materials retain heat, they get very hot. (That’s why you always see chefs on TV shows using tea towels when picking up pans!) Pans with stainless steel handles retain less heat in comparison.
- 12cm: Holds a little less than 1 litre (0.8 litres). Great for individual portions and serving sauces at the table
- 14cm: Holds a little more than 1 litre (1.1 litres). Great for small portions, sauces, browning butter, and more
- 16cm: A very versatile size, and our top choice for a saucepan. Holds 1.8 litres of liquid. Great for all of the above, as well as two-person servings of noodles, rice, and more
- 18cm: Holds 2.5 litres. Holds all of the above, with a little extra leeway for larger portion sizes
- 20cm: Holds 3.4 litres. Great for cooking pasta (up to 4 portions), tomato sauce, curries, and more
Mauviel's M'150S and M'6S copper saucepan sets‚ which we believe are the best copper saucepan sets, include 16cm, 18cm, and 20cm saucepans with lids. Shop here.
Traditional Copper Pans
So if you have a non-induction hob and want a traditionally designed copper pan, these are our favourites.
Mauviel M’Heritage M’150S
Made from 1.5mm thick French copper (90%), we consider this the best copper saucepan. It maximises the unparalleled heat responsiveness of copper while being light enough to manoeuvre easily. Not only does the stainless steel handle stay comparatively cool, it’s got a small recess in the handle that makes it very comfortable to hold. The straight-sided rim stays true to traditional French copper design. Buy it individually or as part of a copper saucepan set (here).
Because we are so confident you’ll love Mauviel’s M’150S range, we worked with Mauviel to offer our customers an exclusive introductory offer of 30% off on the 16cm saucepan (here). That way, you can Cook Before You Leap.
De Buyer Inocuivre
This copper saucepan from De Buyer’s Inocuivre range is 2mm thick, with 90% copper and 10% stainless steel. The cast iron handle gives it a vintage look, as does the straight sides. Like the copper saucepan above, it comes with a lid. Shop here.
Copper for Induction
If you want to experience copper's heat responsiveness on your induction hob, consider the following.
This saucepan is clad, from base to edge, with two layers of stainless steel for durability and easy clean-up; three layers of aluminium for excellent heat-responsiveness; and an outer layer of copper for perfect performance. A flared rim allows drip-free pouring and a stainless steel handle stays cool as you cook. As part of our exclusive Cook Before You Leap offer, you can purchase the 16cm M’6S saucepan for 30% less than normal (here). We also offer this group, because we believe it is the best copper pan set for induction hobs (here).
De Buyer Prima Matera
In their induction-compatible copper range, De Buyer has stayed as true as possible to the traditional construction of a copper pan: 90% copper and 10% of a non-reactive metal interior, in this case stainless steel. This stainless steel base is what lets it bond to induction hobs. It has also stayed true to traditional French copper design with straight sides and a cast iron handle. Shop here.
All-Clad Copper Core
A truly unique range, Copper Core is constructed with five layers of metal—18/10 stainless steel on the outside, two supportive layers of heat-responsive aluminium in the middle, and a core of copper. It looks like a stainless steel pan, but a thin band of exposed copper shows its true nature. A curved rim provides mess-free pouring, and the comfortable recessed handle is vented to stay extra cool as you cook. We especially love the deep, 2-litre saucepan size for its extra leeway when cooking. Shop here.