Buyers Guide: Choosing The Best Set For Your Kitchen
Before you delve into expensive cookware such as All-Clad, it’s important to find the truth beneath their claims. We combed all the All-Clad owner reviews we could find for honest facts about their performance.
Who Makes All-Clad?
In 1967, Clad Metals was founded by a metallurgist named John Ulam. Ulam had a brilliant mind for metals, and while formulating bonded metals for a variety of industries, he realized that combining different metals produced composites which generated exceptional results. Ulam was essential to the United States’ conversion from silver coins to the bonded layer metal coins we use today.
In 1971, Ulam took his newfound knowledge and established All-Clad Metalcrafters, where they began manufacturing top-quality bonded cookware for both avid home cooks and professional chefs. Their cookware quickly surged with popularity as consumers realized the exceptional cooking performance and unique properties of these pots and pans.
What is All-Clad Cookware today?
Today, All-Clad cookware is still produced the same way it was almost fifty years ago in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. They make every piece of their stainless steel cookware through cladding (bonding) exterior layers of steel with an aluminum or copper core. As a result, the steel exterior produces unmatched durability, while the aluminum core conducts heat quickly and evenly.
They have a real dedication to quality and sustainability; all of their materials are placed at the highest standard, and any unused materials are recovered and recycled after production. They formulate their metals for optimal cooking performance and not for easy manufacturing.
What We Like
All-Clad puts in the work to make their cookware one of the best on the market.
We like that their pans are made here in the United States. Their tri-ply cookware has excellent conduction at a lower price, but for a bit more, you can get their five-ply cookware, which includes the upgraded copper core.
They have a wide variety of pans that you can buy individually before committing to the entire set. This not only helps your wallet but enables you to determine which addition will provide the most utility for your kitchen.
The high-quality lasts if it’s taken care of properly, too. Since All-Clad has been around for nearly fifty years, many customers have had their cookware for years, even passing sets down in between family generations.
What We Don’t Like
The most common owner complaint we discovered is that non-clad components of this collection, including the stainless steel lids and utensils, are both imported and poorly made. Some owners experienced rattling from ill-fitting lids, which can be an annoyance. A poor fit can contribute to heat and moisture loss during cooking. The price is also significantly higher than most competitors.
Is There a Difference Between Tri-Ply and Five-Ply?
All-Clad offers both tri-ply and five-ply cookware. The “ply” refers to the number of different metal layers contained in a pan’s cladding.
All-Clad’s tri-ply cookware includes an upper layer of stainless steel, a core of aluminum, and a bottom layer of induction stainless steel. Their five-ply cookware or copper pan set, commonly known as their Copper Core line, includes two additional interior layers; two aluminum layers flank a copper center.
The copper center is integrated to allow for faster heat conductivity and responsiveness, which we find great for meals where you’re continually changing the heat, like rice or a roux.
The All-Clad D3 Tri-Ply cookware set is still expensive, but generally priced lower than the Five-Ply copper core collection. We recently selected the D3 set as our best induction cookware – upgrade pick, given that it is a luxury product but still more attainable for most budgets than copper core.
What to Look For with Clad Ware?
When deciding which clad cookware you’d like to purchase, look at these key features:
- The number of layers.
- The thickness of materials.
- The proportion of critical heat-conducting materials (aluminum, copper).
All-Clad’s tri-ply (layer) cookware does not include any copper, and without the additional layers, they are thinner than their improved counterparts. Their five-ply cookware has a core of copper sandwiched by aluminum, distributed through the entire pan, and evenly up the sides for even heating.
If you treat your cookware with care, you shouldn’t experience any pitting or warping, but the additional thickness on their five-ply products provides extra protection through extended use.
Is Clad Cookware Nonstick?
All-Clad does offer non-stick cookware, but their Copper Core line is not explicitly designed with a non-stick coating. Cooking with stainless steel is much different than cooking with materials like cast-iron, and uses a much lower heat. Following the proper care instructions listed below will teach you how to produce non-stick results using stainless steel surfaces.
Does Clad Cookware Require Seasoning, Special Cleaning or Maintenance?
All-Clad cookware should never be seasoned as you would do with cast-iron. To ensure you’re achieving the stainless steel’s non-stick qualities, you should start by placing your All-Clad at a low temperature. Since their products are built specifically to carry heat and distribute it efficiently, you may find that a low temperature will feel the same as a medium to high temperature with other cookware.
After the pan has preheated, add cold oil or butter and swirl it around to cover the bottom and sides of the cooking vessel. When you add your food for sautéing or frying, let it sit for about a minute before moving it around the pan.
This is why many people complain about stuck food after cooking because they used both high heat and adjusted their food too quickly, resulting in tearing and sticking. Avoid non-stick sprays, as this can cause discoloration.
All Clad Copper Core cookware should be hand-washed, or you risk tarnishing the external copper rim, while all stainless steel is entirely dishwasher safe. You should not use any harsh cleaners or materials such as steel wool. Don’t expect the copper core 5-ply set to be as easy to clean as a new non-stick pan, but with application of cooking oil and attention to cooking temperature you shouldn’t have too much trouble during a post-meal clean-up.
You can use any material utensils with their cookware, including wood, nylon, plastic, and metal.
Is Clad Cookware Oven Safe?
All of the All-Clad collections are oven and broiler safe up to 600°F. Their stainless steel lids are not oven safe at all, while the tempered glass ones that you can buy separately are oven safe up to 350°F.
Their handles are cast stainless steel, which conducts heat poorly, so they remain relatively cool while over direct heat or after being in the oven. But the cooking definition of “cool” is still quite warm, so make sure you’re using potholders or oven mitts when transferring pans.
How Does Clad Cookware Compare With Other Types?
Many kitchens consider clad cookware to be superior to other types of pans such as non-stick and cast-iron. In our view, it depends on how you intend to use them.
Cast-iron pans take longer to heat up and cool down, but if you prefer to follow a heavy seasoning regime, it would be a better choice for your kitchen. Clad cookware does not require any seasoning and is highly conductive and reactive to heat changes.
Much generic non-stick cookware is cheaper, but there are many concerns about chemical coatings to produce the non-stick coating; high heat can easily cause flaking or chipping. All-Clad’s does produce one non-stick cookware collection, which features a PTFE coating for excellent food release. We previously owned this set, and it lasted about 5 years of heavy use before the non-stick was no longer functional. It worked great up until the day it didn’t any more.
Is Clad Copper Core Cookware Safe to Use?
None of All-Clad’s “clad” cookware lines, including the Copper Core models, are created using PTFE or PFOA materials. All of their stainless steel adheres to national standards and is certified food-grade quality.
We’ve written an article about PTFE which discusses it in more detail, including health and environmental controversies about the material here.
How Does Copper Core Cookware Compare to Other Copper Cookware?
Calphalon has been one of All-Clad’s fiercest competitors for decades. They’ve matched their cookware qualities almost exactly for both their tri and five-ply products. Between All-Clad and Calphalon, though, there are also noteworthy differences.
All-Clad is significantly more expensive upfront than their counterparts. Calphalon sports a lower price because a majority of their products are manufactured in China. It can be hard to decipher what is made in America and what isn’t, but they’ll inform you if you give them a call. Since China offers a lower cost on materials, the conduction may not be as effective as All-Clad’s.
The main reason All-Clad costs more, though, is simply because they’re made better. They also offer a lifetime warranty with all of their cookware, which isn’t a common find anymore. All-Clad’s cookware is also designed with a flared edge for drip-free pouring while Calphalon’s cookware is not.
A competitor in a similar price range to All-Clad is Matfer Bourgeat. Their copper cookware is made only from two materials, avoiding the tri or five-ply design altogether. They use 2.5mm of pure copper and line the cooking interior with 18/10 stainless steel.
Matfer Bourgeat’s cooking handles are solid cast-iron while All-Clad’s are stainless steel. Their products are manufactured entirely in France. There isn’t a tremendous difference in performance between these two; the most significant contrast is the price, as Mafter Bourgeat’s pieces tend to be more expensive.
Home and Cook Sales is a second sales site which offers All-Clad products at reduced prices, but everything is sold on an as-is basis and does not include a warranty. The site is stocked with “factory seconds” a few times each year, and most products include small cosmetic defects.
Frequently Asked Questions
The All-Clad Copper Core line has benefits of its own, such as design and improved features, that set it apart from their other collections and competitors.
Design Features of the All-Clad Copper Core Line
The overall look of the All-Clad Copper Core line is sleek and professional.
The exterior is 18/10 polished stainless steel with a starburst finish. All pieces in their Copper Core line have an elegant skive line on the exterior to accentuate the copper interior.
Their skillets and saucepans are expertly shaped for the best cooking experience. Their skillets have a large, flat, cooking surface with tall sides, while their saucepans have tall, straight sides. All of their cookware has a flared edge for drip-free pouring, a well-liked feature by many.
Depending on the piece you buy, their lids come in a flat or dome style. The lids included with their cookware are solid stainless steel, but you can purchase glass lids separately. All of the handles are polished cast stainless steel.
How Does All-Clad Copper Core Compare With the Brand’s Other Lines?
All-Clad still produces and sells its clad stainless tri-ply cookware. Many owners claim that they don’t experience much of a change when upgrading their older All-Clad cookware to the new Copper Core set. The additional materials do add extra weight, which makes the Copper Core more durable and the added copper prevents warping from extended use.
Does All-Clad Offer a Warranty on Copper Core Cookware?
All-Clad offers a limited lifetime warranty on all of their cookware. As soon as you receive your purchase, you’ll also receive instructions to head to their website and register your product, which activates the warranty.
The warranty won’t be useful for most buyers, as it doesn’t cover damage from drops, thermal shocks, improper use, discoloration, stains, and practically anything that isn’t a manufacturer’s defect. The included warranty is useful if you receive a defective product right out of the box. It also doesn’t cover any products purchased from unauthorized sellers—Amazon is fine.
They do perform their own repairs, though. During the warranty period, you receive a prepaid shipping label to send in your product but will have to pay if it isn’t a defective product.
A Look At Every Dish In The Line
Here we dive into each individual piece that makes up the Copper Core set, including recommended uses.
Diving into an entire set can be expensive, especially if you don’t know which each pan is used for. We recommend building your collection piece-by-piece and deciding what each pan will be used to cook before purchasing.
Their multi-use frying pan comes in an 8″, 10″, or 12″ size and has a flared edge, which reduces liquid or food running down the sides if you pour directly out of the pan. It’s ideal for tossing foods and cooking with high heat. It uses a five-ply design.
Many reviewers recommend starting with one of All-Clad’s fry pans if you’re not familiar with cooking on stainless steel, and it makes a great multi-use addition to a collection.
You can choose from a 3, 4, 5, or 6-quart capacity sauté pan. It comes with a stainless steel lid for simmering, and also features their five-ply copper core design. Customers have struggled with the awkward handle design, but you have to adjust your grip according to the grooves for optimal control.
Their saucepans come with a volume of 1.5, 2, 3, or 4-quarts, and include a stainless steel lid for simmering or boiling. It uses a five-ply design, holds heat well, and limits evaporation when using the lid. The longer handle can be a bit heavy but is counteracted by a smaller handle on the opposite side of the pan.
The 2-quart saucier pan is designed with shallow sides and a wide mouth, ideal for making sauces or risottos. It uses the five-ply design and has flared edges for drip-free pouring. It comes with a stainless steel lid. A whisk can easily reach all areas of this pan, so no more burned sauce in hard-to-reach corners!
Sauteuses are not a common addition in most kitchens, but All-Clad still makes it an option. This 3-quart pan has a large, round bottom, with tall sides and a stainless steel domed lid. It’s a five-ply product. It’s recommended for all-in-one meals.
Their five-ply, 5.5-quart dutch oven (or cocotte) is vast and deep, with tall walls, making it an excellent choice for soups or any large cooking quantity. It comes with a stainless steel domed lid. The dutch oven can be used in the range or on the stove and is commonly used for slow cooking.
The five-ply stockpot is only available in the 8-quart capacity. It has a wide bottom and high walls and comes with a flat stainless steel lid (as opposed to domed). It uses a five-ply design and has flared edges for drip-free pouring, essential if you’re cooking soups or stews.
Their 12″, 4-quart capacity chef’s pan is a popular choice for customers looking for a wok-style pan more on the traditional side to add to their collection. It, too, uses a five-ply design with flared edges and comes with a dome lid.
Double Boiler Insert
The bottom of their double boiler is 2-quarts, while the insert is 1.5-quart. The five-ply design distributes heat evenly and is excellent for melting chocolate, warming gravy, or making sauces. It can be quite heavy when stacked.
All-Clad’s 7-quart capacity pasta pentola is a stock pot designed with a colander insert, which allows for easy lifting and straining of cooked pasta. It uses a five-ply design and comes with a stainless steel lid. The integrated colander design can also be useful for making stocks, steaming, and blanching foods.
Open Stir Fry Pan
The 14″ open stir fry pan is a five-ply bonded wok. It’s a popular choice for frequent wok users because the materials used allow for even conduction throughout the pan, including the deep, sloped sides. It’s ideal for noodle dishes or vegetables.
Their 6-quart round roaster features a five-ply, copper core design that pairs well with induction cooktops. The stainless steel domed lid is designed to lock in heat and circulate moisture. It has flared edges for easy pouring, and many customers use it for braising meat, boiling pasta, and attest that the shorter height makes for easier draining.
All-Clad’s Essential Pan is a 4-quart capacity version of their 2-quart saucier. It can be used for anything from eggs to meats with a flat bottom, flared sides, and an easy-pour edge. It uses a five-ply design and comes with a stainless steel lid.
There are three All-Clad cookware sets offered with a choice of 7, 10, or 14 pieces. Each pan and lid counts as one piece. Everything included in these bundles uses the same five-ply technology featured in the individual pieces listed above.
All-Clad’s 7-piece set includes:
- One 10″ fry pan
- One 2-quart saucepan with lid
- One 3-quart sauté pan with lid
- One 8-quart stockpot with lid
The 10-piece set includes everything from the 7-piece set, plus:
- One 8″ fry pan
- One 3-quart saucepan with lid
The 14-piece set includes, in total:
- Two fry pans, 10″ and 12″
- Two saucepans with lids, 2 and 3-quart
- Two sauté pans with lids, 3 and 6-quart
- One 8-quart stockpot with lid
- One 12″ chef’s pan with lid
What Owners Say
We scoured the internet for anything and everything we could find out about people’s personal experiences through All-Clad reviews. Many professional and at-home chefs have at least one piece of All-Clad in their collections, and they swear by it.
Most people can’t tell the difference between their regular All-Clad cookware and Copper Core pieces. In contrast, others recommend investing in a few Copper Core pieces for delicate sauces or candy making because of its reactivity to temperature changes.
Either way, it was scarce to find reviewers who splurged and bought an entire set; gradually buying separate pans is much more common.
Weigh your options heavily before diving into a full All-Clad Copper Core collection. The addition of copper in their five-ply designs provides more durability, extra weight, and, more importantly, increased conduction and heat distribution. The added copper skive for aesthetics paired with the polished stainless steel is pleasing to look at.
Most customer reviews we read didn’t see much of a difference between the Copper Core line and other All-Clad stainless steel collections unless they were cooking delicate foods like sauces or melting chocolate.
If you’re interested in any All-Clad pots and pans or the Copper Core set specifically, do your research and figure out which piece would be the most useful for you and purchase one. After cooking with it for a while, decide if you’d like to move forward with additional pots and pans or go all-in with an entire set.
They also offer a limited lifetime warranty against any defects, but All-Clad cookware is known to last a lifetime and then some. As long as you treat your pans well, you can expect to pass it down through your next generation.
You can learn more about other options for the best copper cookware here.