For serious home cooks and professionals alike, few names command more reverence than Ruffoni. This heritage Italian brand has been handcrafting extraordinary copper pots and pans since the 1920s, beloved for their unparalleled heat conductivity and timeless beauty.
But is Ruffoni’s premium copper cookware really worth the steep investment? Or are you better off with a more affordable option?
After extensive testing and research, our verdict is that while certainly an indulgence, Ruffoni’s cookware delivers where it matters – with responsive, precise heating and cooking performance that makes creating incredible meals a joy. However, the special care these pieces require make them best suited for copper devotees.
In this detailed review, we’ll cover everything potential buyers need to know, including:
- An in-depth look at Ruffoni’s most popular copper cookware lines
- Hands-on tests assessing heating abilities, cooking experience, and ease of use
- How Ruffoni pans compare to other high-end copper brands like Mauviel
- Key pros and cons of cooking with Ruffoni copper pots and pans
- Care and maintenance requirements for Ruffoni cookware
- Whether or not the price tag is justified for most home cooks
Equipped with this comprehensive review, you’ll be able to decide if investing in these Italian copper masterpieces is the right choice your kitchen.
An Introduction to Ruffoni Copper Cookware
Before diving into specific products, let’s start with an overview of the Ruffoni company and what makes their copper cookware so revered.
Ruffoni: A Brief History
Ruffoni was founded in Northern Italy in 1931 by Fernando Ruffoni, who began hand-hammering and spinning artisanal copper pots by hand. Today, the Ruffoni family carries on his legacy from their factory in Omegna, manufacturing premium cookware using traditional techniques.
The Art of Ruffoni’s Copper Pans
Ruffoni’s copper pans feature stunning hand-hammered exteriors that no machine could ever precisely recreate. The hammering compresses and hardens the metal, enhancing heat conductivity. The interior is coated in tin or stainless steel, depending on the collection, which allows for the fastest heating without risk of reaction with acid foods.
Popularity Among Gourmet Cooks and Michelin Starred Restaurants
While especially popular amongst gourmet home cooks, Ruffoni’s cookware is found in many Michelin starred restaurants. Celebrity chefs like Thomas Keller and Julia Child have also sung their praises.
Over the decades, legions of fans have attested to Ruffoni’s almost mystical cooking abilities. As home cook Marci R. shared:
“These pans are the absolute best I’ve ever cooked with. The copper heats so evenly, I can cook with lower heat and everything turns out perfectly. Food just slides off the tin lining. Worth every penny for how they improve my cooking.”
However, such expert craftsmanship does come at a price – expect to invest $200 to $600+ for just one Ruffoni pan.
So what do you get for such a premium cost, besides beautiful aesthetics? Let’s find out by reviewing some of Ruffoni’s most popular product lines.
Ruffoni Copper Cookware Lines and Reviews
Ruffoni produces three main cookware lines, each with their own style and characteristics. We tested pans from each extensively to assess their performance.
L’Incontro Line: Hand Hammered Copper Perfection
The L’Incontro line represents the pinnacle of Ruffoni’s copper craft. Every inch of the exterior is hammered by hand, creating a striking, undulating pattern. The pans feel like functional art.
This line comes in three main product categories:
- Frying Pans: Available in 8″, 10″, 11″, and 12″ diameters, with helper handles. Prices range from $295 for 8″ to $490 for 12″.
- Sauce Pans with Lids: Offered in 1.5 qt, 2 qt, and 3 qt capacities. Prices span from $345 for 1.5 qt to $595 for 3 qt.
- Stock Pots: Ranging from 5 qt ($575) to 11 qt ($895+) sizes, with lid included. Ideal for making large batches and stocks.
In all cases, the thickness of 2.5mm copper ensures highly responsive, even heating – perfect for finicky sauces or confit. The tin lining maintains slickness and won’t react to acidic ingredients.
In our testing, we found the performance lived up to the stunning looks. Searing steaks and whipping up pan sauces was almost effortless. The pans heat and cool down rapidly as you adjust stovetop temperature or move between burner zones.
True to Ruffoni’s heritage, the L’Incontro line requires the most care and commitment. The tin lining can discolor or erode over time with improper cleaning. And the soft exterior copper demands gentle polishing to retain its brilliance.
So while certainly an investment, we found the L’Incontro line to be an absolute pleasure to cook with for those willing to embrace the extra maintenance required.
“My Ruffoni pan is my most prized kitchen possession. I adore the old-world craftsmanship and cooking with it is magical. A family heirloom I hope to pass down for generations.” – James S., Home Cook
Opus Prima Line: Machine-Hammered Value Option
For those seeking superior performance without the premium hand-hammered price, Ruffoni’s Opus Prima line offers a more affordable alternative.
Rather than hand hammering, the exterior is pressed by machine for efficiency. But the cooking benefits of 2.5mm copper remain the same.
This line comes in two main styles:
- Frying Pans: 8″, 10″, and 12″ sizes from $165 to $265. No helper handles.
- Sauce Pans: 1.5qt, 2qt, and 3qt capacities ranging $185 to $335. Lids included.
We found the overall cooking experience comparable to the hand hammered L’Incontro line, with fantastic responsiveness, evenness, and control.
The machine hammered exterior lacks a bit of the handmade panache but still retains a handsome, rustic look. The edges are finished more smoothly than the bumpy hand hammering.
Cleaning and care remains important for maintaining the tin lining over years of use but is comparable to other lined copper.
For buyers prioritizing performance over artistry, the Opus Prima line delivers excellent bang for buck. Ruffoni quality at just a notch below their top-tier offerings.
“A great entry point into Ruffoni if you don’t want to splurge for hand hammered. It’ll still make you a better cook!” – Daniel T., Home Chef
ACCESSORI Line: Creative Touches
Beyond core frying pans and sauce pots, Ruffoni produces a line of specialty ACCESSORI pieces to round out collections. Some highlights:
Sauté Pans: Available in 2.5qt and 4.5qt sizes from $335 to $395. Wide, sloping curved sides.
Sauciers: 1.5qt, 2.5qt, and 3.5qt capacities ranging $310 – $365. Gentle curved sides optimal for sauces.
Double Boiler: 9.5″ diameter, $345. Water bath base with supple top pan.
Jams and Preserves Pots: Starting at $129 for 4.75″ size up to $275 for 7.5″ wide.
The accessories display all the same heat mastery and craftsmanship as the core line. The sauciers in particular excel at gently reducing sauces without scorching.
One downside is the bright exterior copper requires more careful cleaning by hand. So while gorgeous in appearance, we’d recommend these primarily for committed copper collectors.
“I love my Ruffoni saucier – the shape just makes silky sauces a dream! A fun accent piece in addition to my everyday pans.” – Madeline C., Home Chef
Key Pros and Cons of Ruffoni Cookware
Before deciding if Ruffoni is right for your kitchen, let’s summarize the main benefits and downsides uncovered in our testing:
- Beautiful, handcrafted pieces combining artistry and function
- Unparalleled heat responsiveness and temperature control
- Can be passed down for generations if properly cared for
- Tin lining provides slick nonstick release and won’t react with foods
- Versatile for a wide range of cooking techniques
- Made ethically in Italy using traditional methods
- Significantly more expensive than other cookware options
- Requires frequent polishing/buffing to maintain exterior shine
- Hand washing and careful use needed to avoid tin lining damage
- Heavy weight, especially larger stock pots
- Not induction compatible
- Not dishwasher safe
- Limited nonstick abilities compared to ceramic coatings
For the right buyer, the pros easily justify the investment, while the cons can be considered “care instructions” required of a luxury product. But let’s see how Ruffoni stacks up to competitors.
How Does Ruffoni Compare to Other High-End Copper Cookware?
Ruffoni is far from the only premium copper cookware game in town. Let’s see how it compares to two top rivals:
Mauviel Copper Cookware
Fellow French brand Mauviel is renowned for polishing and hand-finishing copper pans since 1830.
- Mauviel uses stainless steel rather than tin lining. More durable but slightly less conductive.
- Prices are comparable pan to pan.
- Mauviel offers nonstick copper options while Ruffoni only has tin.
- Both excel in cooking ability – comes down to tin vs. stainless lining priorities.
For the traditionalists, we find Ruffoni’s tin-lined copper edges out Mauviel, but it’s close. And Mauviel’s stainless makes it lower maintenance.
All-Clad Copper Core
As an American copper option, All-Clad’s Copper Core series fuses copper and stainless steel in a 5-ply construction.
- Bonded metal layers vs. Ruffoni’s solid copper cooking surface.
- Significantly lower price point, around $200-300 per pan.
- Stainless interior more durable than tin.
- Ruffoni still edges out in heating responsiveness.
- All-Clad better suited for induction; Ruffoni works on gas and electric only.
For the budget-conscious buyer, All-Clad Copper Core provides an acceptable trade-off sacrificing some purity of copper for usability and price.
Ruffoni Cookware Care and Maintenance
As alluded to already, owning Ruffoni copper requires accepting some extra care and upkeep responsibilities. Here are some key tips for keeping your investment in peak condition:
- Hand washing is required. The tin lining can erode over time in the dishwasher.
- Avoid abrasive scouring pads when cleaning. Stick to soft sponges.
- For cooked-on residue, soak in hot water or try baking soda and salt mixture. Avoid anything too harsh.
- Re-tinning will eventually be needed if lining wears thin, costs around $100 per pan.
- To restore exterior shine, hand polish gently with copper cleaner and soft cloth.
- Avoid overheating empty cookware, which can damage the tin.
The good news is a well-loved Ruffoni pan can last 50+ years if properly maintained. A handy guide is included with each piece outlining best practices.
Is Ruffoni Worth the Investment for Home Cooks?
After testing Ruffoni extensively and comparing to competitors, let’s return to our original question – are these copper masterworks worth the price tag?
For the keen home cook committed to advancing their skills and those seeking a family heirloom, Ruffoni absolutely justifies its premium cost. No other cookware provides such beauty married with cooking prowess. Properly maintained, it will elevate your cooking for generations.
However, more casual cooks may find the maintenance a burden that outweighs the benefits. And the traditional tin lining won’t suit those wanting maximum nonstick abilities. In those cases, a brand like All-Clad may make more sense.
But if you seek the absolute pinnacle of copper craftsmanship and cooking performance, accept no substitutes – Ruffoni is worth the investment. Just be sure to embrace the required care to keep it looking and cooking like new for decades to come.