stainless steel cookware vs copper cookware

Stainless Steel Vs Copper Cookware: The Pros & Cons

Cookware materials affect cooking performance, durability, and maintenance. Both professional and home cooks need cookware that suits their cooking style and preferences. Stainless steel and copper are two popular choices.

In this article, we will compare stainless steel and copper cookware based on a variety of factors. We aim to help you make an informed decision on which material best suits your needs.

Stainless Steel Cookware Review

Stainless steel cookware exterior with silver interior can be polished or matte. Versatile and durable, it is a favorite in professional and home kitchens. Stainless steel cookware often has a multi-layer construction that enhances heat distribution and insulation, so common uses include sautéing, boiling, and frying.

Related read: 316 vs 316L Stainless Steel

Cookware made of this material usually contains a mixture of iron, chromium, and nickel. The most common types used in cookware are 18/10 and 18/8 stainless steel. The first number indicates the percentage of chromium and the second number indicates the percentage of nickel. Chromium provides corrosion resistance, while nickel adds luster and durability.

The manufacture of stainless steel cookware involves several key processes. Stamping molds the metal into desired shapes, such as pots and pans. Machining refines these shapes to ensure precise dimensions and a smooth surface. Welding joins the different parts, such as handles and lids, together securely. Finally, polishing makes the cookware shiny and beautiful.

stainless steel cookware


  1. Durability: Stainless steel is incredibly durable. It resists dents, scratches, and corrosion, making it perfect for everyday use.
  2. Non-Reactive Surface: Unlike some metals, stainless steel doesn’t react with acidic or alkaline foods. This means you can cook a variety of dishes without worrying about the cookware affecting the flavor or color of the food.
  3. Easy Maintenance: Stainless steel is easy to clean. Most pieces are dishwasher safe, and they don’t require special care. A bit of regular cleaning keeps them looking new.
  4. Heat Distribution: High-quality stainless steel cookware often includes an aluminum or copper core, which enhances heat distribution and retention. This ensures even cooking and reduces the chances of hot spots.
  5. Versatility: Stainless steel cookware is compatible with all cooktops, including induction. It’s also oven-safe, allowing for a wide range of cooking techniques.


  1. Weight: Stainless steel cookware can be heavy, especially if it has multiple layers or an added core. This might make handling and maneuvering difficult, particularly for larger pots and pans.
  2. Cost: High-quality stainless steel cookware tends to be more expensive than other materials. The initial investment can be significant, although its durability often justifies the cost over time.
  3. Food Sticking: Stainless steel doesn’t have a non-stick surface. Without proper preheating and the use of oil or butter, food can stick to the pan. This requires learning some cooking techniques to avoid sticking.
  4. Thermal Conductivity: Pure stainless steel doesn’t conduct heat as well as other materials like copper or aluminum. This is why high-end stainless steel cookware often includes a core made of these metals to improve performance. However, lower-end models without this feature can have poor heat distribution.
  5. Appearance: While many appreciate the sleek look of stainless steel, it can show water spots and fingerprints easily. Regular cleaning and polishing might be needed to maintain its appearance.

Copper Cookware Review

Copper cookware is generally reddish brown on the outside and silver on the inside. It is known for its excellent heat conductivity and classic, elegant appearance. It is the preferred choice for cooks who need precise temperature control and professional kitchen performance. Copper cookware is generally made from the following materials.

Pure Copper: The main component of this type of cookware is copper, which is known for its excellent thermal conductivity. Pure copper cookware must be lined with other materials such as tin or stainless steel to prevent the copper from reacting with food.

Copper Alloys: Some copper cookware is made from alloys that contain small amounts of other metals to improve durability and workability. However, the primary material remains copper to maintain its excellent thermal conductivity.

The manufacturing of copper cookware involves several detailed processes:

  • Lining: Copper cookware is lined with either tin or stainless steel. Tin liners are naturally non-stick, but will wear out over time and need to be re-tinned. Stainless steel liners are more durable but are not non-stick.
  • Stamping: Copper sheets are stamped into the shapes needed for pots, pans, and other cookware. This process helps achieve the precise shapes needed for efficient cooking.
  • Machining: This process ensures that cookware has precise dimensions and a smooth surface, which is beneficial for even heat distribution and proper fitting of lids.
  • Polishing: The final process is to polish the copperware to obtain a shiny surface that enhances its aesthetic appeal.

Copper cookware is highly prized in both professional and domestic kitchens for its performance and beauty. It is particularly suitable for: 

  • Sauces and delicate dishes: Copper cookware has precise heat control and is ideal for sauces, caramels, and other delicate dishes that require careful temperature control.
  • Sautéing: Even and fast heat distribution is ideal for sautéing vegetables and browning meats.
  • Display Cooking: Copper cookware is often used for display cooking because of its attractive appearance and can be brought to the table directly from the stovetop.
copper cookware


  1. Superior Heat Conductivity: Copper offers unparalleled heat distribution and precise temperature control, which is crucial for cooking delicate dishes.
  2. Aesthetic Appeal: Copper cookware is visually stunning and adds a classic, sophisticated look to any kitchen.
  3. Quick Responsiveness: Copper reacts quickly to changes in temperature, providing chefs with immediate control over the cooking process.
  4. Enhanced Cooking Performance: The superior heat control of copper can enhance the cooking process, resulting in better culinary outcomes.


  1. High Maintenance: Copper cookware requires regular polishing to maintain its luster and prevent tarnishing, which can be time-consuming.
  2. Reactivity with Food: Unlined copper can react with acidic foods, leading to a metallic taste and potential health risks. This makes it necessary to use lined copper cookware.
  3. Cost: Copper cookware is generally more expensive than other types of cookware due to the cost of the material and the intricate manufacturing processes involved.
  4. Weight: Copper cookware can be quite heavy, making it harder to handle, especially when filled with food.
  5. Wear Over Time: The tin lining in copper cookware can wear out and may need to be reapplied periodically, adding to the maintenance and long-term costs.

Copper And Stainless Steel Cookware: How to Choose?

There are several factors to consider when choosing between copper or stainless steel cookware for your kitchen, including what kind of dishes you plan to cook, maintenance needs, and your budget.

stainless steel cookware vs copper cookware

Thermal Conductivity

Copper has excellent thermal conductivity. This means it heats and cools quickly and evenly, giving you excellent control over cooking temperatures. This property is particularly suited to dishes that require precise temperature control, such as sauces and sweets. It is also ideal for rapid frying or boiling water. 

Compared to metals such as copper and aluminum, stainless steel has a lower thermal conductivity of around 15 watts per meter per kelvin. It is therefore common to add aluminum or copper to the bottom sandwich of a pan to improve its thermal conductivity. Nevertheless, its durability, corrosion resistance, and versatility make it a popular choice for cookware and other applications where thermal conductivity is not the sole determining factor.

Materials with lower thermal conductivity may be more appropriate when slow cooking or simmering.

Easy to Use

Copper cookware responds quickly to temperature changes, making cooking more precise. However, it may be less convenient for some users due to its weight and the need for regular polishing. In addition, unlined copper cannot be used with acidic foods.

The natural non-stick properties and durability of copper cookware make it easy and enjoyable to use in the kitchen.

Stainless steel cookware is extremely durable and scratch-resistant, making it suitable for a variety of cooking tasks. They are usually dishwasher, oven, and induction safe.

Stainless steel does not react with food and is suitable for all types of ingredients. Its smooth, non-porous surface does not stick, making it easy to clean and remove food with ease.

In addition, stainless steel’s durability and resistance to heat, stains, and corrosion make it easy to use, providing a reliable and long-lasting material for everyday use.

Maintenance and Cleanup

Copper cookware needs to be polished regularly to maintain its shiny appearance. This maintenance can be time-consuming, but it is a worthwhile endeavor for those who enjoy its beauty. The tin or stainless steel lining may need to be replaced periodically. It must be hand-washed and tends to leave fingerprints and smudges.

Stainless steel cookware requires little special maintenance. They are corrosion and scratch-resistant, and most are dishwasher-safe and very easy to clean. Simple routine cleaning will maintain their appearance and functionality.


Copper cookware is generally more expensive than stainless steel, with the highest prices reaching $1,300.00. This is due to the higher cost of copper itself, plus the complexity of the manufacturing process. However, copper cookware is a long-term investment for those seeking superior thermal conductivity and aesthetics.

Stainless steel cookware is relatively affordable, making it a cost-effective option. It ranges in price from $135.00 to $450.00. Stainless steel cookware, especially with aluminum or copper interlayers, can provide performance close to that of copper cookware, but at a more affordable price.

Copper may be the best choice if you fit the following profile:

  • You regularly cook delicate French sauces
  • You keep your copper jewelry looking good with regular maintenance
  • You value copper for its aesthetic value and its functionality as tableware

Stainless steel may be the best choice if:

  • You spend most of your time cooking and need ultra-durable cookware
  • You are looking for copper-grade performance without a large investment
  • You value the convenience of dishwasher cleaning

Our Metal Stamping and Machining Company specializes in professional metal stamping and machining services, processes that are essential to the manufacture of high-quality cookware. Our expertise ensures the precision and durability of each piece of cookware. Whether it’s copper or stainless steel, we offer exceptional products that add value to your kitchen through our precision manufacturing process.