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Feb 9, 2008 06:00 AM

Cooking on electric, need copper/core skillet recommendations

I've been wanting a new large fry pan/skillet and thought I'd try stainless steel.
Whoa, lots of styles, grades, types, doing lots of research. I came upon a review on Amazon where someone mentioned that their large aluminum core all-clad did not heat well
on their electric stove but a copper core one did.
So that got me on the holy grail search for a copper core fry pan/skillet since I cook on electric.
I wasn't thrilled with the style of all-clad's or emeril's but can't find much else. Before
I ran into the copper vs. aluminum core issue I was considering an Atlantis
by Demeyre as the super smooth silvonex finish sounded like a plus. Unfortunately Demeyre doesn't seem to make copper core skillets. only other types of pans.
I want one that I (hope) to use forever (I'm 51 so who knows how long that will be :)
I found some all copper (Mauviel, Falk Culinair) that are stainless lined but have no idea what the issues are or what to look for quality wise. Basically I'm sort of floundering here. I am typically practical and look for things like ease of use, handling, durability, vs. looks.
Anyone have any experiences? recommendations?



P.S. I should add that I hate cleaning more than I don't like cooking on electric.
so yes, I will be cooking on an electric smoothtop, if given a choice, always. Also
weight is getting to be a bit of a consideration.

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  1. Don't buy heavy copper if you dislike cleaning by hand. (and by "heavy copper" I mean Falk, Mauviel, Bourgeat, etc.) You will irreversibly oxidize the surface if you toss them in the dishwasher. And they're very heavy in the thickness that you would want.

    You should reconsider the Demeyere if you can afford it. It's no lightweight either, but there are no rivets and among the interior layers are allegedly copper and silver (the only metal practical for cooking that conducts heat better than copper). If you want maximum conduction, responsiveness, and thermal mass, you are looking at heavy copper. But the associated hassles and weight sound like a deal breaker.

    Given your indicated preferences, I would suggest that you look at Sitram Catering and also reconsider Demeyere (if price is no object). But seeing as to how Sitram Catering is half the price, I'd look at that first, if I were you.

    5 Replies
    1. re: ttriche

      Ttriche - I do hate cleaning but since I'm single I tend to wash dishes, pots etc. by hand anyway. Grew up without a dishwasher, never got into the habit. Occasionally if I have guests I use one but washing a copper fry pan would be a non issue for me. Heavy I can do without. I recently returned a medium size pot with a wooden handle to LC and received one of their sauciers with a metal handle in return. It was a bit disconcerting how much heavier it was than the original though the bottom seems thinner oddly. I seem to get a burn ring from the electric burner and when boiling water I can see where the ring is by the bubbles. Really odd. Prefer my older pots for sure.

      Can you confirm that Demeyere's fry pans are more than just plain aluminum core? Because from what I've been told by someone who did a lot of research, and from what I can find myself, that despite the rest of the pans in the line having other metals in the core - the fry pans do not, they are alum only.

      My only copper possible that I've seen so far is the new Cuprinox by Mauviel with stainless steel handles. 2mm copper. Pricey at 284.00 and they don't give a weight.
      I appreciate the Sitram recommendation. Looks interesting.

      1. re: marys1000

        Demeyere's Atlantis fry pans are an encapsulated-base design with a 2mm copper plate, or so they claim, and when I looked at one in a store, they felt heavy enough that I wouldn't dismiss the claim offhand. I found it a little distressing (given the price) that the pan was not fully clad, but it was far beyond my budget regardless of such caveats.

        $284 for the Mauviel 2mm pan is absurd. You can get a stainless-lined 2.5mm copper pan for much less if you don't mind a cast iron handle. Neither will be lightweight (which is the fundamental problem with thermal mass). Either one will distribute heat as evenly as is practical for a pan.

        Copper is heavy and expensive; with the dollar weakening and the world supply of copper in heavy demand from developing nations (China, India, etc), it's not getting any cheaper. If you mostly use your frying pan(s) to saute rather than using every square inch to sear, you might well be better served by ThreeGigs' suggestion to get a thich disk-bottomed saute pan and be done with it. Otherwise you will need to evaluate the handling and (if possible) the heat distribution of the pans you are considering and find a balance that works for you.

        Good luck...

        1. re: ttriche

          ttriche - Demeyere does not use copper in fry pans. See below from the Demeyere website. Actually if you read carefully out of 7 layers only one is for conductivity and that is alumuminum - the other 6 layers are SS!
          Cast iron handles add too much weight to an already heavy pan.
          Cuprinox, copper lined with ss is the only one so far with ss handles (I wonder if that will change in the future) and since no one seems to have it much less used it on electric I have no way of knowing whether its worth the outrageous price.
          People seem very divided on the clad copper or enscapulated copper disks since many don't seem to include much copper.
          Most think it is not enough to be of any use but that doesn't seem to be backed up by any tests or hands on reviews.
          This would seem to be my best option, but again no one seems to be able to tell me whether a small amount of copper helps distribute heat all over the bottom of the pan if you have to use it on a electric range smaller burner.
          I suppose I could just save money through my indecision:)

          I'm a little confused by the sear vs. saute comment?
          Demeyere’s multilayer products (frying pans/skillets, conic sauté pans, simmering pans and woks) use 7-Ply, a unique technology consisting of 7 alloys including stainless steel and an aluminium core. The layers are formed over the bottom and the side of the pans. This technology guarantees that the heat is spread evenly over the whole surface of the pan right up to the rim. Hence, complying with the specific requirements and features needed for frying, making sauces, stir-frying in a wok, slow-cooking, simmering etc.

          Details of the 7-ply

          stainless steel, inside the pot (1)
          A thin coating of pure aluminium for perfect adhesion (2)
          A layer of aluminium alloy for heat conduction (3)
          A thin coating of pure aluminium for perfect adhesion (4)
          A combination of three special alloys (TriplInduc) with magnetic properties for optimal use in combination with induction cooking (5-6-7)

          The total thickness of the 7 layers is designed with the cooking process in mind and the necessity to control or regulate the temperature:

          2,3 mm for woks: 230°C at the bottom - 140°C at the sides
          3 to 3,3 mm for conic sauté pans, simmering pans and certain frying pans (skillets)
          4,8 mm for all professional Proline and Selectline frying pans (skillets).

          1. re: marys1000

            The simple physical fact regarding copper vs. aluminum is that copper conducts heat about twice as fast as aluminum. Cast iron handles are marginally heavier than stainless, to be sure, but cast stainless handles are quite expensive; on an already-expensive pan they push the total price into the realm of the ridiculous. Consider that the Cuprinox 2mm pan with a stainless handle costs more than the professional grade 2.5mm pan with an iron handle, yet has 25% less thermal mass. If you're going to be flipping a full 30cm pan one-handed, neither will do you any favors.

            Demeyere seems to change their story on a yearly basis; Sur La Table has carried their Atlantis line for some time and, if you look on the retailer's website, they claim that the frypan contains a copper base. Demeyere's website disagrees. The only way to be certain would involve a hacksaw :-)

            The saute vs. sear/fry comment was simply in regards to cooking style. If you mostly agitate the contents after getting a good sear, primarily in the flat part of the pan, then a fully clad design where the thickness and conduction are uniform all the way to the edge is both more expensive and heavier, to no significant advantage. With that style of cooking, a thick aluminum base would be just as good as fully clad construction, and a lot cheaper, too.

            If on the other hand you use every square inch of your pan's surface area, then something like a clad copper or thick aluminum is preferable.

            I do not know if you've come across the following link before, but in case you haven't, here is slkinsey's ''course'' on materials and shapes in pans used for stovetop cooking:


            If you've not seen it before, it might help resolve some of your questions. There are certain physical truths that no amount of marketing flimflam can overcome; once you have matched the necessary physical characteristics to your style of cooking and your heat source, the rest boils down to how you like the handle ;-


            Hope this helps, and let me know if you take a hacksaw to any Demeyere -- now I'm curious what's inside the damn things!

            1. re: ttriche

              ttriche - thanks for your patience and replies. I had skimmed the egullet article and one called cooking for engineers that is a bit derivative, as well as a bit here and there and that's how I came to believe, along with some other reviews and comments, that I would benefit from some copper in a fry pan somewhere:) Some of the comments have been a bit confusing. I agree with you on the sear/saute thing but have seen others comment just the opposite. I have also seen it said that copper only makes sense for a gas range which seems somewhat backward to me - electric is less responsive heat so I would think you would want your pan to be more responsive in order to help cope with that.
              I hear you on the Demeyere thing - I want to call and ask but there is no number. I also wonder why? Apparently the responsiveness and evenness of copper doesn't seem necessary to them in a fry pan.
              At any rate, I don't think I'll be buying one to hacksaw it! I'm half tempted to buy an old reverware off ebay as an experiment though.

    2. If you'll be cooking only on smooth-top electrics, then your first consideration for a pan should be the flatness of the bottom. Whatever pans you buy should be absolutely, perfectly flat, and be built to stay that way forever. The smallest bit of warping (1/64th of an inch, or half a millimeter) will degrade performance horribly. Hotspots, poor effeciency and increased wear on the stovetop from smaller, higher-pressure contact areas are all typical of warpage.

      Forget copper core. Copper spreads the heat through the pan, which you don't need to do since the stovetop already does that. The exception would be sauciers, where you'd definitely want some copper running up the sides.

      I'd suggest any cookware with a heavy disc bottom. Aluminum discs are probably your best bet, as the benefits of copper are mostly negated by an electric stove. The good news is, stainless with aluminum disc-bottom pans are everywhere, and not terribly expensive even for good quality ones.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ThreeGigs

        ThreeGigs - hopefully at well over 100.00 a pan for all the ones I'm considering flatness shouldn't be an issue.
        The stovetop only spreads the heat across the pan if the fry pan and burner size match exactly or the burner size is bigger - which isn't always the case and why I've been struggling with the copper thing. (Btw I recently moved to a different state and am in an apt with a standard coil stove but that won't always be the case. However I do move for work every 4-5 years and tend to rent for awhile).
        FWIW I have used LC pots for years, a small Analon Titanium frying pan and a large "teflon" frying pan. This large frying pan would probably be my only stainless steel. For at least quite awhile anyway.

      2. Just in case anyone was wondering about the original comments that set me off - read through this. One of the only reviews/comments about all over heating on electric I can find.
        My All Clad LTD 13" French skillet pan will now get more use now that I converted from an electric range to a (natural) gas range. I tried using the 13" French skillet on my 8" electric element and was disappointed with the uneven heating: the outer portion of the bottom did not get hot enough to cook the food (in my case, omelets). That was not a problem with my All Clad 12" fry pans (Copper Core and LTD). Now that I have a natural gas range, the French skillet's entire bottom heats evenly and my omelets turn out great. The handle length works for this largest of All Clad's French skillets. I decided to buy this pan over the All Clad 14" fry pan while both pan bottoms are the same diameter, the French skillet's pan top has a smaller diameter than the 14" fry pan due to the steeper slope. If I need to cover the French skillet when cooking, I can use the lid from my All Clad 6 quart sauté pan (which fits)! There is no All Clad lid I know that I can cover the 14" fry pan, not even if you buy it separately. And the 13" French skillet feels lighter than the 14" fry pan (LTD or stainless). If All Clad made the French skillet in Copper Core, I may get it depending on the weight. Copper is heavy.

        Weights less than the All Clad 14" stainless or LTD fry pan but with the same bottom cooking area.
        Can be covered if you have the lid for the stainless or LTD 6 quart sauté pans

        CONS: Does not heat evenly when used on an electric (coil) range.

        One last note. If you have a gas range (mine is a Wolf) I really noticed just how quickly the Copper Core pans heats up when compared with the stainless and LTD lines. When I was using an electric range, I appreciated how quickly the Copper Cores heat up. My suggestion is to hold each pan and determine whether you can comfortably handle the weight of each pan and whether the pan's handles are comfortable to you. I like the longer length handles on the All Clad Copper Core pans. All Clad uses a different length and style handle for their LTD and stainless series than the Copper Core series. That standard length handle does not work for the larger sauté (6 Qt), sauce (4 quart), and fry (14") pans: it's just too short. It's all right for their other pans.