A series of Mn1-xCuxFe2O4 (x = 0, 0.15, 0.30, 0.45, 0.60 and 1) particles were prepared using chemical co-precipitation method with metal nitrates as precursor materials. Samples were synthesized under various annealing temperatures and 800 °C was found to be the optimal temperature for phase formation. Powder XRD analyses confirm the formation of spinel manganese ferrites along with the α-Fe2O3 phase which got reduced with increase in copper concentration. Samples were characterized using spectroscopic and microscopic techniques. UV-Diffuse reflectance spectroscopy was employed to calculate the band gap which varied between 1.51 eV and 1.83 eV. HR-SEM images reveal the spherical nature of the particles. Ferromagnetic nature of these materials was confirmed from vibrating sample magnetometer (VSM) measurements. Z-scan technique was employed to measure the non-linear optical properties. The non-linear refraction, non-linear absorption and non-linear susceptibility are found to be of the order of 10−8 cm2/W, 10−4 cm/W and 10−6 esu respectively. The samples showed a defocusing effect which was utilized to explain the optical limiting behavior at the same wavelength using the continuous-wave laser beam. The results show that these materials have potential for exploitation towards device applications like optical limiting and switching. © 2017 Elsevier B.V.