Copper conducts heat fast, so it is used in electrical cables, circuits, motors, heat exchangers, and cookware. But are copper pans oven-safe since they get hot very quickly? Read on to discover if you can use copper pans in oven cooking and everything you need to know, including precautions and care tips.
Origin of Copper Pans
Copper cookware is estimated to have originated in the Neolithic era, circa 9000 BCE! It quickly replaced stone cookware and has been in the kitchen since then.
Our ancestors first made copper pans by hand. Years later, the vast bulk of copper pans was machine-pressed from flat copper disks.
The lining stage is one of the most crucial parts of the copper cookware-making process, as copper’s reactivity with certain foods can lead to contamination and potential poisoning if improperly lined.
Tin was originally used to line copper cookware since it’s a non-reactive metal that sticks to copper well. However, it is not very durable.
So, historically, when the lining of copper pots wore out, particularly noted in the 1800s, they often had to be shipped back for re-tinning.
Now, manufacturers commonly coat copper pans with super-thin stainless steel to avoid interfering with thermal conductivity. It is also inexpensive.
While pure copper pans are usually somewhat costly, there are numerous less-priced alternatives.
Some pans have a copper bottom to take advantage of thermal conductivity, but the rest is composed of a less expensive metal.
Other pans, referred to as tri-layer pans, have an external copper layer combined with an interior aluminum lining and finishing stainless steel.
By glancing at the pricing, you can tell whether a pan is genuine copper or just copper-colored. Since copper is a costly metal, copper pans generally cost $100 or higher. If a pan has the word “copper” on its label but costs less than $100, it’s probably not made with genuine copper. [8 Benefits of Using a Copper Pan]
Are copper pans safe in the oven?
If you are still wondering whether copper pans are safe for oven cooking, the answer is yes! However, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Oven Safety of Copper Pans: Brand Matters
Some brands are more durable than others. Made In can withstand temperatures up to 800°F, while All-Clad can last up to 600°F.
Many other more popular brands, including Viking, Williams Sonoma, and Cuisinart, can withstand 450 to 550°F.
Red Copper also isn’t as durable as the others since it can only withstand about 500°F.
As you’ve noticed, each brand differs slightly and may contain different materials, so double-check that what you have is oven-safe.
Read the manufacturer’s directions in the manual or on the company’s website. If you can’t find any information, stick to temperatures below 450°F, which is the least oven-safe setting among dozens of brands.
Coatings on Copper Pans: Varieties and Implications
There are four varieties of copper cookware: tin-coated, without coating, with ceramic coating, and with a stainless-steel layer. Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Coatings on copper pans can refer to a variety of things. First, it could indicate that the pan contains a tin coating. It would not be efficient for baking in this instance, especially at high temperatures. This is due to tin’s inability to withstand extremely high temperatures.
Another sense could be its coating is a non-reactive substance, such as stainless steel. It makes cooking more varied and protects against copper leaching with acidic ingredients.
Furthermore, such non-reactive linings are usually high-heat-resistant, so you can safely use them in the oven. However, don’t forget to double-check the label.
Copper-colored pans aren’t necessarily composed of copper. You should know what material your pan is made of because it affects how you use it.
Copper-colored pans are often composed of metal coated to resemble copper. They usually have a Teflon ceramic cooking surface.
As previously stated, copper pans have stainless steel coating, which is vexingly sticky. Therefore, genuine copper pans are not non-stick.
Though the material used to construct the copper pan is almost always oven-safe to a specific temperature, the handle is one feature that may render it not oven-safe. So, before you cook, make sure the handle is something safe.
If you buy high-end copper pans, the products will probably come with a copper handle that is safe to use in the oven.
Other metals, such as aluminum or stainless steel, are other popular handle materials safe in the oven.
However, do not use plastic-handled or rubber-handled pans. If the temperature is too high, they are liable to melt.
When it comes to putting copper pans in the oven, the lid is as crucial as the handle. It’s less significant, though, because you can easily forgo with it, but not with the handle.
Copper pans usually come with lids constructed of glass or metal.
The glass lid should be shatterproof and heat-resistant, so double-check the glass’s heat resistance. Make no assumptions; instead, check the label!
You can use metal lids in the oven, but make sure they’re heat-resistant.
However, if your pans contain plastic grips, do not bake with them because the plastic will melt, much like the plastic handles.
Care Tips for Copper Pans
Copper pans are not only attractive, but they are also antimicrobial, hygienic, and long-lasting. It’s no surprise that experienced house cooks and professional chefs prefer to use them over other cookware.
Genuine copper pans are expensive, so take the right measures when using, cleaning, and maintaining them. Apply the following tips to make your copper pans last long.
Manufacturers specify “Handwash Only” on every piece of copper cookware to avoid discoloring. Copper is a delicate metal that cannot endure abuse.
Even if you’re cleaning it by hand, you should use the least amount of force possible as it quickly picks up scratches. This will destroy the appearance of the cookware, which you do not want at all.
Do not mistreat a copper pan by using a steel brush. Wash the cookware with a sponge and mild dish soap, not harsh detergents.
If any food got stuck to the pan’s surface, pour hot water into it and set it aside for a while. The residue will loosen, allowing you to clean it without the need for force or a sharp brush.
After cleaning your copper pans, make sure they are dry. Any remaining water could cause the pan to discolor more quickly.
Always wash copper pans before using them
Before you use your pans, make sure they’re clean to aid in the removal of dirt and germs.
Water, soap, and a non-abrasive sponge are all you’ll need to clean your copper pan properly. With these, you can thoroughly clean your copper pan, ready for oven-cooking.
Cleaning copper pans is similar to cleaning any other pan; however, you must be careful not to deform the pan.
Because copper is such a malleable metal, you might damage copper pans by rapidly changing the temperature. The pan will be hot when you remove it from the oven.
It’s never a good idea to put a hot copper pan in cold water. Wait until it has completely cooled before rinsing it. If you soak the pan in water and immediately rinse it, it will warp.
Avoid using sharp objects
Do not use sharp instruments to check or turn your food at all costs because they can mar the copper pans’ surface. Food may start to stick to the scarred surface and burn quickly.
It would be best to use wooden or silicone utensils if your pan has a tin coating. Metal or abrasive scrub brushes will scrape it and cause damage.
Clean your copper pan with white vinegar or acid-like salt after each use to avoid scratching it and maintain it in good shape.
Don’t store foods in copper pans
You can certainly cook with your copper pan but never store food in it because it is not a storage container. Use a copper pan to prepare your food, serve it, and clean it up.
Furthermore, some acidic foods can damage the copper pan if left in the pan for too long.
Before storing your copper pan, let it dry for a few minutes. You can also wipe out the extra water with a paper towel.
Season your copper pans
While many individuals use their copper pans without seasoning them, as it is not typically required like with cast iron or certain non-stick pans, some choose to season their copper pans occasionally to enhance their non-stick properties.
Seasoning will aid in preventing food from sticking to it and extend the life of your copper pan.
All you have to do is sprinkle a few drops of oil into the pan and distribute it over the interior with your paper towel. Then, leave it for forty minutes in the oven set between 300°F and 400°F.
When the timer goes off, allow the copper pan to cool for about an hour before removing it. Wipe the surplus oil using paper towels.
Are copper pans oven-safe? Yes, you can use copper pans for oven cooking, depending on their brand and composition. Your cherished copper pans are not only lovely but also costly, so you should take some precautions and care tips to ensure that you may enjoy them for a long time.
Michael Johnson is the founder of The Pan Handler, Inspired by his blacksmith grandfather’s legacy has a deep appreciation for hand-crafted pots and pans, he provides invaluable guides, reviews, and recipes to enhance your culinary journey.