Forget the days of old when cast iron and stainless steel pots and pans ruled the kitchen. Even Teflon pans were once the best thing since sliced bread, but not anymore. There are plenty of new, ultra-durable, scratch-resistant non-stick pans out there to choose from that beat them all hands down these days.
Red copper pans are one such contender…
These pans claim to be lightweight, strong, scratch-resistant, and non-stick. But are they? And to what degree? How do they hold up to the beating they get from rough daily use in a busy kitchen?
We’re about to find out.
- What is Red Copper Cookware?
- Red Copper Pans – Top 3 Cookwares In-Depth Reviews
- A Buyer’s Guide for Red Copper Pans
- Need more help?
- The Verdict: Our Favorite of these Red Copper Pans
What is Red Copper Cookware?
Red copper pans, red copper cookware – you’ve probably heard these buzzwords by now. But just what are they? Are they the same as those expensive-looking, copper-bottomed pots hanging in the most classic of European kitchens?
No, they’re something new and different.
Let’s take a look…
Red copper cookware is a new form of coated cookware used for making pots, pans, and more. Thanks to constant advances in material technology, these pans can now be had for unbelievably low prices. They’re normally lightweight, strong, and durable. But their real claim to fame is connected to the cooking surface.
Red copper pots and pans are coated with between 1-3 layers of ceramic glaze. This is what’s found on most pottery, also known as stoneware or china. Ceramic glaze is essentially a thin coating of glass covering the pot or pan’s cooking surface. It’s made from the same stuff and is just as scratch-resistant and durable.
There’s very little that can scratch a ceramic coating. Only quartz or harder minerals can, and those include only diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and the like. So, unless you’re throwing a handful of gems in with your food, you can feel pretty confident that your red copper pan will hold up to any culinary challenge.
What about the copper?
Copper pans get their reputation from their use by top chefs. They’re terrifically responsive to heat and cook very evenly. However, we’re looking at non-stick copper pans here. These are basically only copper in color, with a little bit of copper mixed into the ceramic glaze. This has little effect on the heat conduction of the pan or non-stick properties.
But hey, they look nice!
So ‘red copper’ pans are essentially steel or aluminum cored pans covered in very durable copper-colored ceramic coatings. Now you know!
Now it’s time to look at some of the top contenders for affordable red copper cooking pans. We have a handful of inexpensive pots and pans to look at.
Red Copper Pans – Top 3 Cookwares In-Depth Reviews
1 Bulb Head: Red Copper 12 Inch Pan – Best Red Copper Frying Pan
Pieces: 12-inch fry pan (1)
Let’s start off with the main product from Bulb Head’s Red Copper brand. This product has been heavily advertised all over, so it may already be very familiar to you.
The product is simple…
It’s just a single 12-inch frying pan that’s coated with copper-infused ceramic. Like all red copper cookware, this one boasts being scratch resistant and non-stick without the potentially unhealthy chemicals found in Teflon pans.
This surface is rated up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, which means you can cook with it on most gas and electric stovetops but also pop it into the oven to finish off a dish by baking it.
Easy to handle…
This pan is light at just a smidge over 2 pounds, but it has a great extra feature even still. In addition to an easy-to-grip “keep cool” hollow stainless steel handle, it also has a helper handle directly across from it.
At 2 inches deep, this big pan can get heavy when full, so that extra handle is handy. Don’t forget to use oven mitts or wrap cloths around the handles when taking it out of the oven, though.
What do we like most?
We found that this pan is genuinely non-stick, especially after seasoning it as the manufacturer suggests. Eggs, burnt cheese, everything slides right off, easily. The aluminum core helps diffuse the heat, so things like omelets cook nice and evenly and don’t burn in the middle.
On the other hand, this pan would be much improved if it came with a matching lid. Also, sorry to all induction stove users; this pan is aluminum and cannot be used with induction systems.
- Sturdy, durable non-stick pan.
- Reasonable price.
- Helper handle great for lifting when full.
- No lid.
- Not induction compatible.
2 Bulb Head: Red Copper Cookware 10 Piece Set – Best Red Copper Pan Set
Pieces: 8-inch fry pan (1), 10-inch fry pan (2) and lid (3), 1.5-quart sauce pot (4) and lid (5), 2.5-quart sauce pot (6) and lid (7), 6-quart saucepot (8) and lid (9), and aluminum steamer insert (10)
From the same Red Copper brand, this time, we’re looking at a whole cooking set. Or at least the main items you’d want in the average kitchen. It comes with an 8-inch and a 10-inch pan, three lidded sauce pots, and a steamer insert. Although you’re not getting a big 12-inch pan here, you’re paying less than double the price of that pan to get a 10-piece set.
That’s a deal!
The construction of these pots and pans is the same as the 12-inch pan we’ve already seen. That is forged aluminum bodies with copper-ceramic coated cooking surfaces. The lids here are made from tempered glass, aluminum, and steel. The handles are all the hollow stainless steel “keep cool” handles as well.
These pots and pans can all be used up to 500 degrees on gas and electric stoves. Once again, though, induction is out. All the pots and pans can be used in the oven as well; however, the glass lids are disappointingly not oven safe.
The 8-inch pan is relatively small but can be perfect for eggs or a single breakfast fry up. The 10-inch pan will do most of the heavy work in your kitchen, and some users will find it a bit too small. On the other hand, the sauce pots are in really perfect sizes. At 1.5, 2.5, and 6 quarts, these pots are great sizes for small sauces, boiling soups, and steaming veggies. Glass lids are a definite bonus!
- Big set of 5 pots and pans.
- Convenient glass lids.
- Non-stick, scratch-resistant and durable.
- Pans are a bit small.
- Lids are not oven-safe.
3 Michelangelo: 10 Inch Frying Pan with Lid – Best Induction Compatible Red Copper Frying Pan
Pieces: 10-inch frying pan (1) with lid (2)
Our third and final product review is for Michelangelo’s 10-inch frying pan. Also, a red copper pan, this one is copper colored but actually coated with a titanium-infused ceramic glaze that the manufacturer claims is extra durable. We doubt there’s enough titanium to make much difference to the already strong ceramic, but it sounds cool!
The pan has a steel base and a die-cast aluminum body, which is then coated in a triple layer of ceramic. This pan comes with a matching lid made of tempered glass, but as with the Red Copper brand set, this lid is also not oven safe.
The good news is that this pan can withstand temperatures of up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. It can be oven-baked and also used for cooking over gas, electric, and finally induction cookers!
Like its Red Copper cousins, this pan is non-stick, scratch-resistant, and both PFOA and PTFE-free. We found that this pan was not as non-stick as the Red Copper pan at first, but after a good seasoning, they worked exactly the same.
Any other differences?
It’s about the same weight as the bigger Bulb Head Red Copper pan because of its steel bottom but lacks a helper handle. We found that it cooked relatively evenly, dispersing heat all over thanks to its aluminum core.
We did find that the handle gets a lot warmer than the other brand when cooking but still manages to stay below the level of “too hot to handle.”
- Works on induction stoves.
- Very affordable price.
- Durable pan with glass lid.
- Needs a good seasoning for true non-stickiness.
- Matching lid isn’t oven safe.
A Buyer’s Guide for Red Copper Pans
Are you considering the purchase of a red copper pan, or even a whole set? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions to help you with your choice.
Is a red copper pan toxic?
A red copper pan is made with a ceramic coating that is very non-reactive. In this case, copper is added to the ceramic to add durability. Copper is an essential mineral in any human diet in very small quantities. However, even if the coating were to degrade, the amount of copper in a red copper pan is tiny and does not constitute a health risk.
What about the ceramic?
Aside from copper, the ceramic coating is also very safe. Ceramic is made from silica (also known as quartz) and is applied as a glaze to all sorts of ceramics, from bowls to baking dishes. This coating is essentially glass and is known to be easy to clean. It’s exceptionally smooth, so it doesn’t provide a rough surface for bacteria to grow on. It also doesn’t react with food in any way.
Are copper pans worth it?
Copper is an exceptional conductor of heat and helps you to cook food evenly. The copper in ceramic-coated copper pans helps with conduction. They also typically have aluminum cores that also conduct heat very evenly.
Why not buy solid copper?
Solid copper pots and pans can be terribly expensive. On the other hand, ceramic coated red-copper pans are lightweight (because of their aluminum cores) and very affordable. They are durable and strong and should last a long time as long as their non-stick coatings are correctly maintained.
What can you not cook in copper pans?
According to the manufacturers, there is nothing you can’t cook in a red copper pan.
Because the ceramic coated surface is non-reactive, you don’t have to worry about acids in sour foods (like vinegar, lemon juice, etc.) reacting with your cookware as you might with aluminum or steel pans. Copper pans that aren’t ceramic coated are also reactive and shouldn’t be used with acidic (sour) foods.
What more to know?
Vegetables, meats, breads, and sweets can all be cooked safely in a red copper pan. About the only thing that can scratch a ceramic-coated pan, short of diamonds, is silica or quartz sand.
For this reason, it’s imperative to make sure vegetables are properly washed before cooking them in a red copper pan to ensure no sand is sticking to them. But you likely won’t want to eat a whole lot of dirt anyway?
Why is food sticking to my red copper pan?
Ceramic coating is extremely durable and smooth; however, dirt and certain abrasive cleaners or scrubbers may be able to scratch the surface. This may cause tiny scratches that are too small for the naked eye to see but can affect the smoothness of the pan.
Once micro-scratches occur, food will start to stick in those spots. When food sticks, it can burn on and get even stickier, so you may find sticky patches on your pans that get bigger over time.
What can you do about that?
Seasoning a red copper pan is an excellent way to refresh the non-stick surface. Seasoning involves baking a very thin layer of oil onto the pan. This oil can fill in the microscopic scratches and provide a smooth, non-stick surface.
Although red ceramic pans can be washed in the dishwasher with minimal damage, high-powered jets of water and harsh detergents may scratch the pans over time. It is therefore recommended to hand wash red copper cookware with mild detergents and soft sponges.
Which is better, Red Copper or Copper Chef?
Ceramic coated red-copper pans are now made by a wide range of manufacturers. The Red Copper brand by Bulb Head (reviewed here) and Copper Chef are two such brands. Both produce similar products, which are aluminum core, copper ceramic coated pans.
However, each company has different product lines of varying levels of quality. Construction, durability, and price are similar for both of these brands.
Are copper pans safer than Teflon?
A red copper pan is coated with ceramic, which is very safe and non-reactive. This is the same sort of coating on glazed ceramics, like plates and mugs. The main ingredient in ceramic coatings is silica, also known as quartz.
Teflon is one brand name of the chemical polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE for short. Sometimes non-stick pans also use an extra coating of perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA. Big words.
While both of these coatings are considered safe at lower temperatures, when they get over 500 °F, they can start to break down. This means that the chemical coating can not only begin to come apart but can also get into your food.
How serious is that?
Both PTFE and PFOA have been found to be pollutants that stay in the environment for a long time and affect fish and wildlife. They can also cause flu-like symptoms in humans. In particular, PFOA has been linked with higher rates of certain cancers, high cholesterol, and hypertension.
When Teflon coated surfaces start to break down at high temperatures, they can flake off. This damage begins to make the pan stick and is not reversible. Once a Teflon coating begins to flake, it is highly recommended to stop using the pan at once and replace it with a new pan.
How do I season my red copper pan?
Seasoning a red copper pan is a lot like seasoning a cast iron pan. It’s simple to do and takes only about half an hour. First, pour a bit of oil into the pan, then wipe it around the entire cooking surface using a cloth or paper towel. Give it only a thin coating, and be sure to sop up any excess oil.
After that, put the pan into a hot oven and bake it for about 20 minutes.
Seasoning the pan adds an ultra-thin coating of oil that helps the pan to stay non-stick for continued use. If things ever start to stick to the pan, give it a good wash and re-season following the directions outlined above.
Need more help?
We answer more cookware questions for you in our informative articles: Is Ceramic Titanium Cookware Safe? Ceramic vs Teflon Which One is Best? How to Clean Discolored Enamel Cookware, and How to Care for Your Ceramic Cookware.
You may also wish to compare these copper pans to other popular choices. So, check out our reviews of the Best Ceramic Cookware Sets, the Best Cookware for Gas Stoves, or our Best Granite Cookware Reviews?
Back to the best red copper cookware…
The Verdict: Our Favorite of these Red Copper Pans
Despite a valiant effort from Michelangelo, who really produced a tremendous, affordable little pan, we have to choose another competitor. The…
… is just such an extraordinary deal, with five scratch-resistant and non-stick pots and pans for less than double what you could pay for just one pan. Sure the frying pans are small, and you might want to add a 12-incher to your kitchen, but this is still a great set.
Whichever red copper cookware you decide on, we hope you have a blast cooking with non-stick, durable ceramic, the way of the future!
Enjoy good times in your kitchen.