Last Updated Feb 2020 – When All-Clad was founded, cookware was made a little bit differently. We knew that different metals had different properties — aluminum is great at conducting heat, for example, while stainless steel is very tough and won’t tarnish, rust, or react to pretty much any ingredient you cook with.
Cookware manufacturers started making pots and pans with a combination of these materials in order to give consumers the best of both worlds by pairing aluminum bases with stainless steel cooking surfaces and walls.
All-Clad was one of the first companies to clad all of their pots and pans, not just the base. The MC2 line is their classic style of cookware. It uses a core of pure aluminum, a stainless steel cooking surface, and a brushed aluminum exterior.
This means that you can cook any food at all in these pots and pans without worrying about tarnishing your cookware. It’s also pretty easy to clean these pots and pans, even if you burn on lots of sticky food.
Want to know more about how the MC2 line compares to All-Clad’s other options?
Here’s a quick rundown of the important features of the MC2 line and the things that set it apart from All-Clad’s other cookware sets.
Available as both a 7, 10, and 14-piece set as well as piece-by-piece, the MC2 line is my personal favorite All-Clad offering. The reason is simple: it’s the best blend of cooking performance and cost.
The Big Difference
First off: the MC2 line does have one big downside. The thing that differentiates this set from other All-Clad lines is the exterior, which is made of a fairly soft brushed aluminum. The downside of this is that these pots and pans will get visually dinged up pretty easily. While this cookware will last you for many years, it won’t look particularly new after you’ve had it in your kitchen for a few months.
The upside, however, is that this cookware has astoundingly good heat transfer. It’s very thermally transparent due to how well aluminum conducts heat. All-Clad’s other pots and pans (including both D5 and Copper Core) have outer layers of stainless steel, which is harder and doesn’t get dinged up as easily. Stainless steel conducts heat far worse than aluminum does, however, so the other pans have worse heat conduction.
Does this matter? To me, yes. I like it when my pots and pans respond very quickly to small changes in burner temperature. The MC2 collection won’t beat out an all-copper cookware set, but it’s much cheaper than most copper options (including All-Clad’s impressive Copper Core line).
I don’t mind the fact that the pots and pans look a little beat up, either. In fact, I think it helps convey the idea that I’m a more serious cook. After all, if my cookware just sat in my cupboard looking pretty, it wouldn’t get scratched or nicked.
All-Clad has a pretty standard MO for their cookware, and the MC2 set follows all of the usual parameters. It’s got metal handles (including helper handles on the larger lidded skillets) and metal lids. With no glass, silicone, or plastic, these pots and pans can go in the oven at very high temperatures, up to 600 F.
The stainless steel cooking surface of these pans is suitable for cooking just about every type of dish you can think of. You’ll need to use a bit of care and an appropriate amount of cooking oil (or butter or other fat) to keep foods from sticking, but cleanup is easy enough with some hot water and soap. One of the upsides of the aluminum outside is that it’s easier to control your cooking temperature, which is one of the keys to keep food from sticking. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to make over-easy eggs and other tricky dishes in these pans without any problems.
The biggest complaint that customers have about these pots and pans (other than their cost) is that the area around the riveted handles is a bit tricky to clean. To me, this is another minor downside to a wonderful set. Some people might prefer to have screwed-on handles that can be removed occasionally so you can clean any food that gets stuck between the handle and the base.
It’s worth noting that the MC2 line is NOT dishwasher safe. It’s easy enough to clean it in the sink, of course, but if you want the option to throw your pots and pans in the dishwasher occasionally, you’ll want to choose another line. Both Tri-Ply and D5 are dishwasher safe due to their rugged stainless exteriors. They’ll look a little bit nicer, too, although they’ll conduct heat slightly worse.
The Best All-Clad Set?
For me, MC2 is one of the best All-Clad collections due to it’s (relatively) low cost (compared to Copper Core, anyway) and its slightly improved heat transfer. I’m not too perturbed by the idea of my cookware getting a few scuffs and scratches over the years.
Not everyone has the same set of wants as me, however. If you’d prefer to have cookware that looks stunning even after you’ve had it for five, ten, or twenty years, you’ll want to choose a different All-Clad set. Tri-Ply is the most similar to the MC2 line: the only difference is that the outer layer of aluminum is substituted with stainless steel.
D5 sacrifices a little bit more thermal conductivity with a layer of stainless steel bisecting the aluminum core of the pan. This helps slow down the heat just enough to ensure that the pan heats up totally evenly.
Finally, if you don’t want to give up the excellent performance of the MC2 line, consider Copper Core. This ultra-premium cookware collection has a copper layer that speeds up heat transfer even more. While it’s got a durable stainless steel exterior, the copper helps to offset this and deliver the best combination of durability and performance.