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Along with copper and cast iron, All-Clad is a variety of cookware professional chefs and avid home cooks alike swear by.
The company was founded by John Ulam in the late 1960s, originally as a general manufacturer of bonded metals. In fact, their metal bonding techniques helped change the way coins are produced for the U.S. Treasury!
Several years in, John thought he’d try his hand at cookware and started by making himself a pan to use at home. It was a success; John had made an awesome piece of clad cookware and, not long after, he developed a whole line to sell to the public.
There are several reasons All-Clad has gained such popularity: the company produces all but two lines of its pots and pans in the U.S., with metal from only U.S. suppliers; their products features superior stainless steel cooking interiors that won’t impart anything into the food, are incredibly durable, and feature clad construction.
What’s clad construction?
It’s simply layers of aluminum and/or copper sandwiched between two layers of stainless steel. Steel is a rather poor conductor by itself – at least when compared to the properties of copper (excellent) and aluminum (decent).
In the better cookware lines this heat-conducting core runs all through the cookware instead of just the base, allowing for more evenly cooked food.
This clad sandwich wraps all the way to the top of the pan in contrast to the “disk” construction found on cheaper lines where a disks of aluminum (and sometimes stainless steel in induction ready examples) are bonded – either by wielding or adhesives – to the stainless steel bottom of a pan.
Although All-Clad makes some of the most expensive cooking products available, all of their pots, pans, and other cooking vessels come with a lifetime warranty, offering much needed peace of mind when making such an important purchase.
Copper Core Line
All-Clad’s top line of cookware is called Copper Core. These products have a bonded five-ply clad construction: magnetic stainless steel exterior, aluminum layer, copper core, aluminum layer, and 18/10 stainless steel interior cooking surface, from outside in.
All-Clad Copper Core 14-Piece Set, available from Sur La Table
This line does the best job of distributing heat evenly throughout the pan due to the copper core, with no worries of hot spots. It has some of the heat distribution benefits of copper cookware but is far more durable and easier to care for since it’s lined on both sides with steel.
Though it is dishwasher safe, the line isn’t available in nonstick. But that’s a small price to pay for such a great tool. The big price you’ll pay is the one on the sticker; this line is the brand’s most expensive by far.
This is a great choice if you’re looking for the incredible cooking capabilities of copper but want something that isn’t quite as fragile.
D3 Stainless Steel Line
A popular collection from All-Clad is its D3 Stainless Steel line, available in a 5-piece set from Sur La Table. This line has a bonded three-ply construction: induction stainless steel exterior, aluminum core, and 18/10 stainless steel interior cooking surface, from outside in.
All-Clad D3 Stainless Steel 5-Piece Set, available from Sur La Table
The aluminium is more affordable than its copper brethren but still provides great All-Clad quality.
I really like this line because it’s a great product for cooks with any skill set, from beginners to seasoned chefs. The aluminum core, although not quite as conductive as copper, distributes heat very well.
Not only is this line oven-safe and compatible with the any type of range, including induction, it’s dishwasher safe as well and some of the pieces are available in nonstick.
D5 Brushed Line
There’s another stainless steel collection, All-Clad’s D5 Brushed Stainless Steel 10-Piece Set. This option is different from the other, because it features a five-ply construction: brushed, magnetic stainless steel exterior; aluminum; stainless steel core; aluminum; and 18/10 stainless steel interior cooking surface.
All-Clad D5 Brushed Stainless Steel 10-Piece Set, available from Sur La Table
This particular line is more energy efficient than the others and is optimized for induction and other flat top stoves, although safe for all hob surfaces.
Some users of the D5 have said the replacement of the aluminum core with the stainless steel makes for poorer heat distribution, but it still does well when compared to your run of the mill $40 fry pan. Like its fellows, it has a lip for easy pouring and large handles for more control.
It’s also dishwasher safe, making cleanup just a little easier. If you have an induction range, this line is definitely worth trying since it was created with induction in mind.
The B3 collection is All-Clad’s first collection of pots and pans to be constructed outside the U.S., in China. Although this change is a disappointment for many All-Clad faithfuls, the new line has received great reviews from its users.
The entire line is nonstick and made from heavy-gauge, three-ply, bonded anodized aluminum. The B3 gives users the benefits of nonstick without several of the drawbacks: it has a heavy stainless steel base, so it shouldn’t warp; it’s induction compatible; and it’s PFOA free.
It’s also compatible with all stove tops, is oven safe up to 500ºF, and is dishwasher safe, qualities you’ll be hard pressed to find in other nonstick cookware.
B3 is a great choice if you’re a beginning cook: since the production is outsourced, the line is a bit more affordable and the nonstick surfaces are a little more forgivable.
MC2 or Master Chef 2 is a makeover of the orginal Master Chef collection, which has fewer pieces than the others, although it’s one of the most affordable. It was originally created for the chef community but is used by home cooks, too.
It’s three-ply: a brushed aluminum exterior, aluminum core, and 18/10 stainless steel interior cooking surface.
The two layers of aluminum means this line heats up very quickly, making jumping from dish to dish or whipping dinners up fast very easy. This line is less compatible with all kitchens: it isn’t dishwasher or induction safe.
It is oven safe, though, and some of the products are available in nonstick. If you don’t spend several hours a day in the kitchen, stick with one of the other lines, like Stainless. If you do spend hours over a stove, either at home or at work, the MC2 line could be the right choice for you.
The Hard Anodized collection features eight pieces made from specialty hard-anodized aluminum. It’s mostly designed to be used on the stove top, but is oven safe up to 450ºF.
Composed of griddles, grills, and Panini pans, All-Clad describes this as an accessory line, these are great, budget-friendly options to consider when building your cookware collection. These pieces are not induction compatible or dishwasher safe, though, so keep that in mind when purchasing.
These do not come in a set but can be purchased individually.
Emeril by All-Clad
All-Clad paired with Emeril Lagasse to create two more lines of cookware: Emerilware Pro-Clad and Emeril by All-Clad. Both lines, like B3, veer from traditional production: they’re made in China.
Pro-Clad is three ply (stainless, aluminum, stainless), has an 18/10 stainless steel interior, and is induction compatible, making it very similar to other All-Clad products.
The Emeril by All-Clad line, however, only has a bonded disc in the base of its cookware, meaning it doesn’t have the aluminum interior all the way up the edges.
This does make it a more affordable product, but you lose the incredible heat conduction All-Clad is so well known for. Both Emeril lines are less expensive than other All-Clad products, in part because they’re made in Asia (where wages and other costs are much cheaper).
The Pro-Clad line could be a great choice for you if you’re looking for the bonded metal construction and heat conductivity of All-Clad but are working with a smaller budget.
If you are looking to get a few high-quality, low-cost pieces, check out Emeril by All-Clad. Even though it’s not fully bonded, it’ll give you a taste of what All-Clad is all about.
Although most of All-Clad’s collections are available in a set, each line has something different to offer and you may find it a good idea to comprise your collection with different pieces of each.
For example, if you know that a fry pan is the piece you’ll use the most, you could get that piece from the Copper Core collection and other, less essential pieces from the Stainless line. I’m picking several pieces from the Stainless line, a few from Copper Core, and one or two things from the Hard Anodized to add to my wedding registry.
Building your All-Clad cookware collection over time is also a little more budget friendly, not to mention you can add pieces to registries and wish lists here and there!
Your friends and family will never be without birthday present ideas. However, a buying a set brings also has its perks and you can save up to the 30-40% over purchasing the pieces separately and you also get the satisfaction of having an instant collection.
About Chelsea Miller
Chelsea Miller, born and raised in Portland, Oregon, graduated from the University of Oregon where she discovered both her love of football and cooking great food. She's the founder of the food blog "A Duck's Oven" and began writing for Foodal in 2014.