Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
Apr 29, 2009 03:07 PM

Copper vs. Copper Core

Copper/Tin combo versus Copper Core (with stainless)

Which is better?

I've seen this topic touched on in other posts, or raised tangentially, but haven't seen a formulated opinion. Anyone have one?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. There's a range of products there under both descriptions. I have heavy and light tin lined copper, heavy stainless lined copper and Sitram Catering, which is stainless with a heavy copper disk on the bottom (and a few other things).

    Tin lined copper reacts very quickly to changes in heat, but you've got to be careful not to let it get too hot, and you shouldn't use metal utensils with it. With normal household use, it will require retinning every 15 years or so. 2.5 mm or heavier copper will give you very even heat for sauteeing, and it maintains a nice even slow simmer when you need it. Tin lining is a bit less prone to sticking than stainless.

    Stainless lined copper, copper core stainless, and Sitram Catering require less maintenance, stand up to metal utensils, and can take higher temperatures. For sheer ruggedness and solidity, I'd recommend Sitram Catering over All Clad Copper Core. Stainless lined copper (as opposed to tin) is particularly useful for high temperatures.

    24 Replies
    1. re: David A. Goldfarb

      Thanks so much for your reply. Very helpful.

      Here's a direct question for you: Which would you recommend higher? All-Clad Copper Core or Falk? (and why?)



      1. re: DMB

        What will you be cooking? (and why?)
        Will you be cooking on the stovetop or the oven or both? (and why?)
        What type of cooktop do you have - gas, electric, induction? (and why?)
        Which do you value higher? The responsiveness of copper with a tin lining, or the easy care of stainless steel lining and exterior with a core of aluminum and a tiny bit of copper? (and why?)

        Seriously, what you are cooking and how much you value easy care make a big difference to which would be recommended for your use.

        Have you ever read Understanding Stovetop Cookware on eGCI?
        The author explains things in a way that should help you really pick good cookware for your own use.

        1. re: BruceMcK

          thanks for your reply.

          i will be using primarily fry pans and saute pans - i.e. few if any pots. i will be frying meat, making sauces, stir-frying vegetables, etc.

          i will be cooking on the stove-top primarily. i have two dutch ovens, so don't necessarily need something that can go in the oven, too.

          i have a gas stove.

          the responsiveness of tin is nice, but not a must-have. also, ease of cleaning is nice, but i'd take on more laborious cleaning if it was worth it.

          i don't care what the pans look like - i care about how well, how predictably, and how reliably they cook food. if i got a copper pan, i may or may not polish it religiously - pretty much know one will see it, other than me.

          heavy pots/pans can be a pain (especially for a small petite woman), but i adjusted to that a long time ago. :o)

          i will be cooking for myself/boyfriend - and sometimes guests. i.e. not catering or professional cooking, if that's what you're getting at.

          i will read the link you suggested on eGCI.

          thanks for your input!

          1. re: DMB

            Look at the cross section of an All-Clad Copper core pan sometime -- there is more aluminum than copper, and I think almost as much SS and copper too.

        2. re: DMB

          Personally, I mostly like heavy Mauviel tin lined copper, but between All-Clad Copper Core and Falk, I'd prefer Falk, which is serious, heavy, copperware with only a thin inner layer of stainless. The main disadvantages of solid copper are price and weight. If you're not comfortable with a 2-1/2 quart saucepan that weighs 5-6 lbs. empty, then you might not like solid 2.5mm+ copper.

          I'm not that enthusiastic in general by All-Clad, though they have an impressive marketing campaign. For the money, there are many more solid products out there.

          I just had a look over at, since they sell All-Clad and Mauviel stainless lined copper (Cuprinox). Mauviel is on sale, so they have, say, a 10.25" frypan for just $20 more than a All-Clad copper core. In that comparison, Mauviel strikes me as a much better deal.

          1. re: DMB

            Definetly Falk! All-Clad is nice but the high price does not go with the quality. Think of Falk as a Lexus and All-Clad as a Camry with a Lexus price.

            You should buy Falk's Try Me piece (sauciere) for $125, then go to a local Williams Sonoma and buy an All-Clad copper Core sauciere (keep your receipt). Cook with both of them for about 3 weeks. Once you see how much you prefer the Falk then take your All-Clad back to WS for a refund.

          2. re: David A. Goldfarb

            You don't have to polish the copper with copper core. Well, actually, you don't have to polish copper either. Since my copper no longer hangs from a pot hanger in the middle of my kitchen (there is no room in this house), I have found that it cooks just as well unpolished. Personally, I prefer stainless line copper to tinned copper. I have both, but I'v e never ever had to have the stainless lined copper relined. I had one lovely copper saute pan pretty much hosed when the guys that re-tinned it did a truly lousy job. Since then I've been reticent about having things done where I haven't actually inspected their work, and there just aren't that many places within reasonable inspection distance.

            The only precaution I would add is to consider whether you may be interested in converting to induction cooking in the future. It's truly phenomenal, and a great energy saver, but it requires ferrous metal pots and pans. Copper doesn't qualify.

            1. re: Caroline1

              Mauviel do a "converter" - a plate that you put under the copper pan. Don't know how well it works.

              as to TC, there's a great post on cooking for engineers:

              1. re: Soop

                When I was wrestling with the lose-the-copper-or-give-up-on-induction alligator a year or so ago, some very nice guy on these very boards tried the "trivet method" for me and said it was less than satisfactory. With time and occasional mis-use, copper (and aluminum, for that matter, not that I use aluminum pans) warp, making contact with the trivet somewhat irregular and inefficient. While neither copper nor aluminum will work on an induction burner, warped bottoms (of appropriate metals) work with absolute efficiency, since it is the pan itself that is heated, not the burner's surface.

                I've perused the Cooking for Engineers website before, but hadn't seen the article on materials used for cookware. What he states all applies to gas and standard electric cook tops, but I would expect some variation when it comes to cooking with induction. And there is one metal with exceptional thermal qualities he does not deal with: silver. I had a friend in Turkey who had a few custom made sterling silver cooking vessels. To this day I envy her omelette pan!

                Oh, and I checked out his beef Stroganoff recipe. NOT authentic!

                1. re: Caroline1

                  You know what, I was thinking about silver cookware this very morning. I'm going to have to investigate further, but I honestly thought the cost would be absolutely prohibitive. Was it a thin coating?
                  But it should be absolutely perfect, shouldn't it? Not that I believe in god, but silver is almost made for cookware/cutlery.

                  and yeah, I heard that beef stroganoff is often completely mis-interpreted. I can forgive him that though, he's an engineer rather than a chef, and I'm sure it was delicious!

                  1. re: Soop

                    No, the Turkish friend with the sterling cookware (albeit not a huge collection) had it custom made and it was quite heavy. Nothing plated I'm no scientist, but there seems to be a stribg correlation between how well a metal conducts electricity and how well it conducts heat, eg copper and aluminum. So I suspect Id be quite pleased if someone pawned off a golden frying pan on me. While I'd prefer 24k, I would settle for 18K in the interest of durability.

                    Authentic Russian Stroganoff should only have seven ingredients: butter for sauteeing meat, onions, mushrooms, then sour cream, salt and pepper. Nutmeg is optional. It's a traditional Russian farmer's dish composed of thingsthe farmer's wife always had on hand. I was taught to make it by an elderly Russian lady who had escaped the Bolsheviks in Moscow by walking, with her husband, from there to Istanbul. She was a great cook.

                    1. re: Caroline1

                      AH, I think gold, although one of the most electrically conductive, is actually an insulator. I seem to remember it being used as a lining in the engine bay of the Maclaren F1 supercar.

                      I found another old CH thread, and there does seem to have been a number of places doing either silver clad or lined copper. Checked ebay, and there was a pan that went recently for $180 which is fairly good.

                      *edit* just checked, and gold does seem to have pretty good heat conductivity. maybe it would make a good pan? I'm sure there's a reason... Let's see, it's really unreactive, doesn't oxidise... it's very maleable though. Could that be the reason?

                      *Edit 2* Gold is man's best friend

                    2. re: Soop

                      Soop, the good news is that the better the (heat) conductor, the less thick the layer must (should) be. Demeyere has some information its site about that, explaining why the bottom disk on the Apollo line of Demeyere (aluminum disk) is so much thicker than the bottom disk on the Sirocco and Atlantis lines of Demeyere (copper disks). The Inductoseal bottom of the Atlantis/Sirocco lines also has a thin layer of silver above and below the copper, though the purpose appears to be less for the heat conduction of silver than for making a transition from the copper disk to the stainless layers.

                      1. re: Politeness

                        Thanks Politeness.
                        You know I'm really getting into this cooking physics. I used my cast iron for the first time the other day, and it retains the heat marvelously, and honestly doesn't take long to heat up real hot :)

                        1. re: Soop

                          Soop, the thermal conductivity of candidates for disks in pot bottoms (or entire pots) , stated in the units (W/m)/ °K, is:

                          Stainless steel: 16 (almost an insulator)

                          Aluminum: 250

                          Copper: 401

                          Silver: 429

                          Unalloyed (24k) gold comes in at 310, better than aluminum, but short of copper, but 24k gold is very soft, and would not be useful as a pot.

                          1. re: Politeness

                            Apparantly though, it's not measured by volume, but rather mass. Since gold is extremely heavy, it would be even better at a similar thickness to copper.

                            Seems to me that a SS clad gold pan would be amazing. I doubt anyone's going to make one though. Imagine that!

                            "This pan's heavy"
                            "It's solid gold inside"

                            1. re: Soop

                              well, 24k gold is common for jewelry in the Middle East. In some regions, tribal women wear the family's wealth in lots of heavy 24k jewelry, mostly necklaces, bracelets and earrings as they aren't subjected to as much friction as rings. When we lived in Turkey, my then-husband had a 24k gold wedding band cast for me. About 1/3 inch wide and a full hemisphere profile. After wearing it for a year, it was getting a bit flat on top, so I put it in my jewelry box for a couple of decades or so. Then when gold was at a peak, I took it to a jewelry store to have a value set on it. The jeweler had never seen 24k jewelry before and offered me a Cartier tank watch if I would trade. I did. Then my dog ate my watch. <sigh> Easy come, easy go.

                              But I don't think a solid gold pan would wear as quickly, but I suppose it depends on what you cook in it. I wouldn't refuse a 24k gold tea kettle! Got one handy? I'm sure it would make such a lovely pot of tea! I wonder what spring water boiled in gold would do for you? At the very least it would have to lift your spirits. Hey, toss in a gold tea pot too!

                                1. re: Soop

                                  Yeah, but you couldn't say he didn't have good taste! I just don't know if it tasted good. He was a teething puppy.

                              1. re: Soop

                                Yeah, yeah. I know. I'm about four days late with this but hey, where else do you get the chance to share your taxi cab remarks with the people you wish you'd said them to the first time around?

                                Okay, on gold food related containers: Go to this website:
                                Then, in the left had menu, click on "Imperial Treasury," then scroll down and click on the fourteenth (14) picture (or 15th, they're the same) and dazzle your eyes with 24K gold ice cream dishes. Well, it says ice cream dishes at the website, but I was told by the friend who took me there (and served on the board of directors for the museum) that they were used for serving sweet candied-in-syrup fruits and preserves.

                                While you're there, go ahead and look over the other goodies. If you ever want to have your senses totally satiated and your grasp of gold's value pummeled into dust, do go to Topkapi Palace, in Istanbul, and plan to spend at least a day in the Imperial Treasury getting mentally drunk trying to imagine what it would be like to live with all of that at your fingertips! It is mind boggling.

                                But I don't remember any solid gold pots and pans. But they do have a set of heavy solid gold candlesticks taller than many two year olds, and each one weighs 48 kilos and is studded with 6,666 diamonds. How'd you like to have those puppies sitting on your dining table for Thanksgiving dinner!

                                1. re: Caroline1

                                  A bit gaudy for my liking. Must cost a fortune!

                      2. re: Caroline1

                        Caroline1, I can confirm that the often-seen caution -- made from ignorance of how induction works -- that cookware to be used on an induction cooktop must have a perfectly flat bottom is pure bunk. As you point out, because the energy transmission from the cooktop to the pot is not accomplished by heat conduction, there is no need for intimate physical contact between the top of the induction cooktop and the bottom of the pan -- magnetic fields propagate very well through the air, thank you. In fact, the magnetic fields generated in an induction cooktop already have passed through one non-magnetic medium, the Schott Ceran top of the cooktop itself, so even a perfectly flat pot could never achieve intimate physical contact with the energy source.

                        We have two Nambu tetsu nabe (Japanese cast iron cooking pots) that are designed to be brought to the table after cooking; they have nub feet on the bottom to hold the bottom of the pot a bit (a very small bit) above the top of the table, and to stabilize the rounded bottom of the nabe, so it does not tip over on the diners. The spacing caused by those feet, when the pot is cooking atop our induction cooktop, is insignificant; we cook in those pots on an induction cooktop exclusively, even though they make physical contact with the cooktop only where those tiny nub feet touch the surface.

                        For your interest, I attach two photos of one of the nabe: one showing how the feet contact the cooktop (those specks on the cooktop are specular highlights from the flash reflection off the pot -- the cooktop is not as dirty as it looks), and a second photo showing the pot inverted to give a clearer picture of the feet.

                        1. re: Politeness

                          I suspect I could even whip up some vittles on this baby on an induction cook top! '-)

                          1. re: Caroline1

                            Their chili recipe isn't bad either.

                2. I've used every type of pan out there, Just plain physics, tin lined copper is the most efficient, thus the most responsive to application of heat, and to any changes in heat. The most reactive metal to heat is SILVER, then copper, Gold is actually less. Heat conductivity is measured in units with letter label of 'k'; Silver is 4.29, copper is 4.01, gold is 3.17, aluminum is 2.3, iron is way down there at 0.8 There's a zillion recipes for steel using a dozen elements, a typical conductivity for steel would be just under 2.0 I have several copper pieces lined with sterling silver and very much enjoy using them. Tin melts at 450 F, making that temp the upper limit for tin-lined copper. One CAN in fact use metal utensils with tin lined copper, just respectfully. Tin is NOT reactive to food ingredients -- unless you're cooking with full strength nitric acid -- so tin only needs re-lining if you somehow scrape it off through mis-use, or irresponsibly apply scorching heat to a dry pan. I have copper-tin pans 100+ years old with original tin intact. Just plain facts.