If you’re an avid cook then you’re probably very familiar with copper pans and the hype that surrounds them, which is quite deserved. Not only do copper pots and pans look beautiful, but they’re also great at cooking food evenly and have excellent heat conductivity that allows you to cook with less energy. Additionally, copper is antibacterial and hygienic as well as long-lasting. So, it’s no wonder why experience home cooks or even professional chefs choose to opt for a copper cookware set if they can.
Since copper was first used over 9,000 years ago, how it’s used has changed drastically. Just when it comes to various copper pots and pans, there are different types of copper cookware.
The four main types of copper cookware are tin-coated cookware, copper cookware without coating, copper cookware with ceramic coating, and lastly, copper cookware with a stainless steel interior. Each of which has its own pros and cons.
This is important because you may be wondering, are copper pans oven-safe? And, the answer is mostly yes. But, it depends on the type of copper cookware.
Are Copper Pots and Pans Oven Safe?
Generally, yes, copper pots and pans are oven-safe. But, it depends on the type of copper cookware it is. As I will describe shortly, there are some aspects that may make it less desirable to put a copper pot or skillet in the oven. These include the coating of the cooking surface, the handle material, and the lid material.
You will find that there are some brands of copper cookware that are nearly always fine to put into the oven.
Copper Cookware Brands and Oven Safety
Some of these brands include Mauviel, Lagostina, Copper Chef, and Red Copper. However, Red Copper cookware isn’t quite as durable as they are safe in the oven only until about 500 degrees Fahrenheit and their lids aren’t oven-safe at all. But, this is actually within the average range.
Some of the most durable copper pans for oven use are Made In Copper, which can endure up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven, and the All-Clad Copper Core Frying Pan, which can endure up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven. For many of the other brands, they can endure about 450 to 550 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven. This is just for the most popular brands like Viking, Cuisinart, and Williams Sonoma, you may find others that can also endure hotter temperatures.
As you can see, since there are differences between the various brands of copper pots and pans, it’s important to make sure that the brand that you bought is oven safe.
Because, while averages are good, each brand of copper pots and pans will be made slightly different and potentially have a different composition. So, it’s important that you double-check with the manufacturer that it’s in fact oven-safe.
You can usually find this information on the box or in the manual (if it comes with one). Otherwise, you can likely find the information on the company website.
How to Tell if Your Copper Pan is Oven Safe
Cast iron, ceramic, stainless steel, and aluminum are the most popular materials used to make oven-safe cookware. If the pan is manufactured from one of these materials or a mix of several, it should be safe to use in the oven.
As I mentioned before, it’s wisest to check the user handbook to ensure that the pan is oven safe. Look for the material of the handles and lids as well, since they may not be oven safe even if the pan itself is!
There are some pans that are usually not oven-safe at all, or only to be used at low temperatures. And these are pans featuring Teflon to create a nonstick coating. This is because Teflon usually has a lower heat tolerance than other materials, making it unsuitable for high-temperature baking. Again, you should check with the manufacturer, though, to make sure you don’t surpass the maximum temperature.
Coated vs Uncoated
The coating on copper pans can mean a few different things. First, it can mean that the pan has a tin lining. In this case, it would not likely be suitable for baking, particularly at high temperatures. This is because tin usually can’t handle extremely high heat.
Another meaning is that it’s lined with a non-reactive material like stainless steel. And this is usually the case for most copper cookware, which is a good thing. It allows for more versatile cooking and helps against copper leaching when you cook with acidic foods (more on that later). Additionally, these non-reactive coatings are usually also resistant to high heat, which means that you can safely put them in the oven. But make sure to check the label beforehand.
While the material that makes up the pan itself will nearly always be oven-safe (up to a certain temperature, that is) the handle is one thing that could easily make the copper pan not suitable for use in the oven. So, before you put any copper pots or pans in the oven, you need to check what material the handle is made of. Sometimes it’s easier to notice than others. Like if the handle is plastic for example.
So, which handles are safe to be put into the oven? If you bought a high-end copper pan then it’s very likely that the pan will also have a copper handle, which is completely safe for oven use. Also, other metal materials like aluminum or stainless steel are also common handle materials that are safe to be put into the oven. However, you should avoid placing pans with plastic handles in the oven. It’s likely that they would melt if the temperature is too high.
Similar to the handle material, the lid material is also important when it comes to putting the copper cookware in the oven. However, it’s less important because you can easily forgo using the lid in the oven, whereas you can’t really do that with the handle.
Copper pan sets are typically offered with lids, which are usually made of metal or glass. If you intend to use the glass in the oven, it should be heat-resistant and shatterproof. Simply double-check if the glass can withstand heat. Don’t make assumptions, read the label!
Metal lids are frequently safe to use in the oven, but be sure they are constructed of heat-resistant materials. However, if the lids have plastic grips, avoid baking with them since the plastic may melt just like with the plastic handles.
Precautions to Take When Using Copper Pans in the Oven
Since copper pots and pans are quite expensive (real copper cookware that is), then it’s important to take the proper precautions when using copper pans in the oven as well as when you clean them and keep them maintained. It’s not nice buying expensive things and just ruining them, right?
When using copper pans in the oven, the high thermal conductivity (it’s one of the most conductive materials) means that copper transfers heat across the cooking surface incredibly fast. This is why it’s so good to cook with because you can quickly adjust the temperature. But, because of this, you should take some precautions to avoid damaging the cookware or injuring yourself.
First, you need to be careful of the hot handles. While most handles on copper cookware are hollow to allow heat to be dispersed and to stay cool while cooking on the stove, this doesn’t work when it’s put into the oven.
The handles will be scorching hot. So, to prevent burning your hands, it’s important to always use oven mitts when taking the pot or pan out of the oven. And it may still remain hot for some moments after it’s taken out of the oven, so be sure to wait until it’s cooled completely before handling it with your bare hands.
Second, you need to worry about not burning your food. Since copper can get very hot, quickly, then you should be extra careful not to raise the temperature too high. Or else you risk burning your food and smoking up your kitchen. And, of course, your meal will be ruined too.
Next, there is the problem of warming. This is actually quite normal when it comes to cooking with copper pots and pans in general. If you use a gas stove then the bulging that may occur won’t cause many difficulties.
However, if you have an electric stove, if the copper pot or pan bulges outward, then you will notice that the pot or pan doesn’t sit flat on the stove.
But, since copper is so malleable, you can easily “punch” it back into place. This warping can be exacerbated when the cookware is exposed to drastic changes in temperature – when a pan heats up or cools down too fast. So, a precaution you can take is by allowing the pan to fully cool down before rinsing it with water.
Lastly is the issue of overheating. This mostly concerns copper pans with a non-stick coating. You should be very careful not to put these types of copper pans in ovens that are too hot.
Even if the manufacturer says that it’s oven-safe, higher temperatures (over 500 degrees Fahrenheit) can slowly break down the pan and ruin the non-stick coating over time.
So, if your pan is from a brand like Red Copper, Copper Chef, or another brand that has a non-stick coating, avoid putting them into the oven at higher temperatures or doing any broiling with them.
Caring for Copper Cookware
You should take some precautions when washing and caring for your copper cookware.
You should avoid putting them in the dishwasher as they’re not dishwasher safe. The high heat, steam, and prolonged exposure to moisture when they’re put in the dishwasher will tarnish the copper.
Also, if you like the unique bright color of copper cookware, then you’ll need to polish it to keep this appearance. However, this is solely a superficial worry, and polishing or not doesn’t have any negative impact on the integrity of the pan.
How Do Copper Pans React to Acidic Foods?
Since copper reacts with the acid, cooking with high-acid foods like tomatoes, wine, vinegar, and lemon juice can cause tiny bits of metal to break off and leach into your food.
While it usually can be harmless and only cause a bit of a metallic taste in your food, ingesting too much copper can be dangerous.
So, if you cook with acidic foods often, it’s best if the copper pan is lined with another non-reactive material. Or, alternatively, when cooking acidic foods, you can instead opt for a non-copper pan or pot.
Are Copper Pans Good for Baking?
Copper pans can occasionally be good for baking, however, this is not always the case. Copper pans are superb heat conductors, which means they bake quickly and evenly. They can go from the stovetop to the oven, which is useful for preparing food such as steak, which may be fried on the stove to produce a great sear and then baked in the oven until done.
The disadvantage of utilizing copper baking pans is that they are costly and, when used in the oven, are not as sturdy for repeated use. So, copper pans are generally useful for baking on occasion, such as when you’re finishing off supper in the oven or need to roast some veggies.
However, it is recommended not to use them indefinitely because this can soon destroy the pan and it would be a waste to damage such an expensive item.
Alternatives to Copper Pans for Oven Cooking
If you’re worried about using copper pans in the oven, you don’t have to worry because there are many common alternatives to choose from. You can easily put pans that are made of enameled cast iron and ceramic in the oven. Stainless steel cookware is also a great oven-safe alternative.