The Reason Julia Child Always Used Copper Pots And Pans

When it comes to following advice around the art of cooking, we look no further than the culinary queen herself, Julia Child. From bestselling cookbooks to the popular new HBO Max inspired-series titled "Julia," it's no wonder her words of wisdom in the kitchen are so heavily respected. Along with tips and tricks revolving around recipes and food preparations, many look at Julia Child's cookware for cooking inspiration. Like quality ingredients, food can be elevated when sourcing proper kitchen tools — like pots and pans.

One of the most notable kitchen staples for Julia Child was her copper pots and pans, per the Copper Development Association. Dressing the set for her TV shows, viewers could see the beautifully marvelous copper reflections staring back at them. While many think the copper was an aesthetic decision to make her cooking look elegant — there was a much more important reason why Julia Child chose to fry, sauté, and boil in copper.

Copper, the superior cooking material

Known as nobility cookware (via the Copper Development Association), records of copper as a cooking tool date back almost 3,000 years — and for a good reason. "Copper is great for its rapid heat conductivity and even distribution throughout the whole pan, which leads to faster and more efficient cooking," says Sylvie Giret, managing director at de Buyer North America. "Since copper offers the best heat conduction of any material, it is a must-have for delicate dishes requiring controlled temperatures. It responds quickly to any changes and maintains thermal consistency."

However, before you rush to put any copper cookware in your shopping cart — look at the material quality of the cookware and the necessary upkeep. In her cookbook "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," Julia Child advises shoppers to look for authentic copper pots and beware of those that attempt to pass off as the real deal. She wrote, "A great many tourist or decorative types are currently sold; these are thin and glittering, and have shiny brass handles." 

Once you've gotten your hands on a quality copper pot or pan, it's essential to combat discoloration and tarnish. Architectural Digest recommends cleaning your pots and pans with a copper cleaner every six months. Natural cleaners include lemon juice and baking soda, ketchup, lemon and salt, and vinegar and salt, though the magazine cautions against using salt and a scouring pad, as this could lead to pitting if any salt residue is left behind.

Now that you're aware of the benefits of cooking with copper pots and pans, what to look for when shopping, and how to properly clean the cookware, perhaps it's time to up your cooking game and invest in your own set of shiny copper pots and pans, too, just like Julia Child.