I am often asked what is the best thickness of copper to cook with 1mm, 2mm, 3mm or more?

The truth is that there is no easy answer. 

1mm pans, especially the sets of five are ideal for domestic culinary use, boiling vegetables, re-heating sauces, tins of beans, stewing apples, making soups any thing that you do on a daily basis in a modern kitchen. 1mm lined copper pans are ideal for this.  They distribute heat evenly, will last a lifetime if looked after, and be a real asset in your kitchen. 

A good frying flipping pan or wok can be 1mm, food is moved around regularly and the high sides enable easy utensil free sauteing. It is extremely reactive to the heat and is ideal for quick cook dishes.

A good copper mould or mold is 1mm some of the older ones are a little thicker - if the copper piece has a rolled rim then that is to reinforce the structure. If it's good enough for Trottier.....

NKC Copper Caneles

If you want a good patisserie pan go for a proper sugar pan or a good jam pan. Most good, vintage or new, jam, sugar or patisserie pans are between 1mm and 2mm.**

1.6mm NKC Copper Sugar Pan

1mm Tin Lined Pans - Fabulous Domestic Pans

Anything over 1mm going onto 1.5mm is great for a busy family kitchen that has heat under them for a prolonged amount of time.

Copper is one of the metals most reactive to heat, should you remove the heat source the heat will dissipate rapidly, so it is easy to stop a pan of milk boiling over!

Most milk pans are 1-1.5mm thick, tall and super reactive!

Copper Milk Pan

NKC Copper Rondeau 289cm with Lid

1.5-2mm thick copper can be easily used in any domestic and commercial restaurant setting, they can be used for sauteing and frying and dont mind prolonged use on a daily basis - always use soft utensils, wood or nylon for instance - you will maximise the length of time between retinning. Good 1.5-2mm pans look good and will last, well beyond any of the modern pans!

Vintage Fish Kettle from Normandy Kitchen

The thicker the copper the more even the distribution of heat.


2mm is bordering on hotel quality use, these pans have the thickness to distibute heat evenly and will 'sing all day'. They will 'take a pasting' in the most pressurised environments and will last a lifetime. Any Fry, Saute, Fish Kettle, Sugar, Casserole, Saucepan, Milk Pan or any Copper Pan with any interior that is 2mm or over is suitable for any type of cooking, in any environment and by anyone.  They are very much the Goldilocks of the copper cooking world - suitable for everyone.

If you like pans that have a real story to tell then go for 3mm plus pans, a good sauté rondeau, faitout, marmite, plat au four and all the other wonderful French copper pieces from the ***

Golden Age of copper between 1860 or so and 1950. These are the pinnacle of copper cooking and are totally commercial kitchen proof. Don't expect to move some of them though! Not easily anyway - they are usually big heavy beasts and are suitable for stoves that are used to mass catering.

That is not to say us mere copper mortals shouldn't aspire to owning some early, thick, commercial copper pieces. They can be difficult to find in good condition but when you have one......

If you are lucky enough to find some of the old Dehillerin, Legry, Jacquotot or Gaillard manufactured or retailed pans of 3-4mm, or a great set of 3mm graduated pans possibly unmarked, guard them and look after them - your great grand children will thank you for it!

Copper Rondeau 3.8mm-4.3mm from Normandy Kitchen Copper

**Be aware though - sets of unlined graduated copper pans are for display only and are usually less than 1mm thick - I have seen them described as patisserie pans as they are pure unlined copper but they are not designed for very high temperatures that are required to make jams, jellies or any sort of sugar craft. 

The handles can buckle away from the body and not be fit for purpose very quickly! 

*** With thanks to VFC


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