I've read a lot about copper cookware and how it's useful for heat management and its non-stick qualities, as long as it is tinned.

But after watching this video showing a Korean restaurant preparing pancakes on a copper griddle, it occurred to me to ask, is it safe to cook this way? It looks like the original coating is gone, and the pancake is cooking on bare copper.

My further research said that it'll be fine as long as the thing I cook on copper is not acidic; is this true?

I've always wanted a pancake griddle but the cost is way out of my allowance, so I thought it might be better to just buy a copper plate and try it out.

  • 1
    Copper cookware is always tin coated or stainless clad . I suspect routine use of bare copper could cause ingestion of an unhealthy amount as copper is generally toxic depending on the amount. You could try tin coating a copper griddle yourself. I have re-tinned an old copper pan ; My one time effort was adequate but not as smooth and uniform as a professionally coating. Feb 27, 2021 at 15:51
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    I'm not sure what kind of "copper plate" you would go out and buy that would perform as an acceptable griddle. If you mean that raw copper sheet, as in a building material, you'll find this a much more expensive approach than just buying an affordable griddle. A cast iron griddle or thrift store find would be the cheapest, but even dedicated electric griddles are not particularly expensive these days. Copper, meanwhile, is a highly sought after material for commercial and industrial uses. Its price has increased tenfold over the past fifty years.
    – Air
    Feb 27, 2021 at 16:44
  • 2
    What Air said; have you actually priced copper? It's not cheap.
    – FuzzyChef
    Feb 28, 2021 at 6:55

1 Answer 1


Yes, copper is safe to cook on. The darker area around the edge of that plate is not an "original coating," it's just the area where the copper has tarnished over time.

screen capture from pancake video with red arrow pointing to tarnish along edge of griddle

The reason the copper has a "bare" look in the center is most likely because the cooktop has been maintained with a cleaning product specially intended to remove the tarnish. This is the appropriate way to maintain and use copper cookware. While copper work surfaces can be kept bare and allowed to tarnish, or intentionally colored through the application of e.g. particular acids and then sealed with a clear epoxy, copper cookware should be maintained with appropriate cleansers to keep the surface bright.

(NOTE: When I say "work surface" I'm talking about something that is not heated and usually doesn't come into direct contact with food. Commonly called a kitchen counter (AmE), countertop (AmE), worktop (BrE), or bench (AuE/NZE). When I say "cooktop" I'm referring to an appliance that produces heat for cooking, and when I say "cookware" I'm referring to the pots, pans, etc. that actually come into contact with the food.)

Natural and chemical weathering of copper surfaces can create a variety of different compounds, some of them dangerous. The only significant risk I'm aware of with naturally-weathered copper cookware is verdigris, the distinctive green patina seen on e.g. the Statue of Liberty. I manufactured my own copper countertops about ten years ago and did some research on safety to decide whether to seal the surface with an epoxy or let it weather naturally; I found only one notable incident of deadly verdigris poisoning, related to industrial cooking vats that were not cleaned and which developed a heavy patina that then leached into the food.

It's not difficult to remove patina from copper; anything acidic will usually do the trick, even ketchup. (Of course, you would wipe the ketchup away and dispose of it after using it to dissolve potentially toxic copper compounds. Better just to use a cleaner specifically designed for copper cookware. I do not recommend the readily available Bar Keeper's Friend products as they're designed more for SS and will produce a black byproduct on copper.)

All this said, I wouldn't recommend cooking on bare copper surfaces. They're a lot of work to maintain, we have better solutions in modern cookware that use copper as a conductive layer married with other metals for the cooking surface, and there is always the chance of an adverse reaction to the small amount of copper that does end up in the food.

  • I'd consider that marriage a happily ever after (copper married with other metals).
    – Gigili
    Mar 2, 2021 at 11:51
  • Now I can't help but want to see what it would look like if it rained ketchup on Lady Liberty...
    – BThompson
    Mar 2, 2021 at 14:20
  • 1
    @Gigili rose gold is a pretty popular alloy for wedding bands right now!
    – Air
    Mar 2, 2021 at 18:42

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