I’ve always been somewhat skeptical when it comes to pricey cookware and kitchen gadgets. Quality tools are great, but there’s definitely a line somewhere with regards to how much money you should spend. A nice pot or pan is going to be a big upgrade over cheap department store cookware, but once you hit a certain threshold it gets pretty hard to notice any upgrade in quality.
All-Clad’s products are definitely somewhere around that threshold. For many households, they’re in a weird grey area with regards to price and value. Deciding whether All-Clad’s premium pots and pans are worth the cost can be a difficult decision for a number of factors. Their all-metal pots and pans are fantastically durable, very high quality, and made by American workers with plenty of care.
The B1 line, however, is a bit different. These hard anodized pots and pans have a non-stick interior, dramatically reducing their longevity. While a normal set of metal All-Clad cookware could conceivably be passed on to your grandchildren, the PTFE non-stick coating that’s used in the B1 line will probably start to wear out within five years.
Does this mean you shouldn’t buy All-Clad’s B1 cookware? Absolutely not! I’m still a big fan of these hard anodized pots and pans. I simply think you should make an informed decision about the cookware you purchase. Let’s go over the details of the B1 set in depth in order to learn who should purchase B1 pots and pans.
The B1 cookware set isn’t available on Amazon at the time of writing this article. Nevertheless, it’s a wonderful collection of pots and pans for any kitchen in need of high-quality non-stick aluminum cookware. It’s dishwasher safe, induction compatible, and fairly scratch resistant, meaning that the non-stick coating will fare pretty well against occasional brushes with metal utensils.
If you’d like to take advantage of online sales, however, I strongly suggest looking at the HA1 set instead. The difference between the HA1 set and the B1 set isn’t big at all. In fact, the only differences are in the shapes of each piece fo cookware, and there isn’t much variance there at all. Learn more about what separates these two cookware sets here.
As far as the basics go, both the HA1 line and the B1 line are made of hard anodized aluminum. This advanced material takes advantage of the lightweight, low cost, and excellent heat distribution of aluminum. Since aluminum is a bit on the soft and delicate side, it’s treated with a process known as anodization in order to give it a very hard, durable, and non-reactive outer layer. This helps keep your cookware in good working order and has the upside of making it dishwasher safe.
The inside of each pot and pan in these sets is coated with a PTFE-based nonstick material. If you’re familiar with Teflon, you’ll recognize this coating: it’s not a new-fangled ceramic or some fancy hybrid. Instead, All-Clad uses a modern scratch-resistant PTFE that’s also free of harmful chemicals like PFOA.
Like I said earlier, this non-stick coating won’t last forever. This is just a sad fact when it comes to non-stick pots and pans: they don’t last forever. This particular non-stick seems to be on the longer-lived side, but your experience will vary based on how you care for and use your pots and pans. In general, it’s a good idea to avoid high burner heat and carefully wash your pots and pans by hand.
As far as cooking performance goes, these pots and pans are excellent. Not only do they perform extremely well when you test their heat distribution, but they also heat up much more quickly than a cast iron or solid stainless steel pan. The non-stick performs very well with pretty much every food you can think of, including eggs, chicken, meat, cheese, and even sticky sauces. You don’t need to worry about seasoning your pan or using a carefully measured amount of grease.
Unlike All-Clad’s multi-ply lines, this cookware set has glass lids. For me, this is a mild upside, since I like to look at my food when I cook. This means I’m a big fan. That said, it’s not the most useful thing in the world, as you’re usually just staring at a bunch of condensation and steam through foggy glass. You also shouldn’t put the glass lids in the oven, either. I’m not saying it’s a bad feature (I love glass lids), but that you probably shouldn’t weigh this factor very highly in your cookware decisions.
Overall, the only thing that stops me from recommending this set wholeheartedly is the price. You can comfortably pick up a T-Fal or Cuisinart set that’s fairly comparable as far as quality and effectiveness goes for about half the price. Since any non-stick cookware set you purchase is going to get thrown out in a few years, it’s a lot harder to justify the increased cost of All-Clad.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy this set, however. It just means you should take a moment to make sure you can afford to replace your fancy All-Clad non-stick cookware set several years down the line. If you can, the B1 set (and the HA1 set) is an excellent addition to your kitchen. If you think that this is too big of a financial commitment, however, consider a cheaper non-stick set (like this one reviewed HERE).
While I’m hesitant to recommend a full set of pots and pans, picking up a couple of frying pans for eggs is a fairly sensible decision. These pans aren’t that much more expensive than cheaper brands, and you get just enough All-Clad quality in the workmanship and design that it’s probably worth it. I like to get my non-stick frying pans in sets of two since it means I can simply store one in a cupboard somewhere for when my primary pan fails. This effectively doubles the lifespan of your non-stick pans.
I think that this frying pan set is an excellent way to supplement your larger All-Clad D5 or Tri-Ply cookware set. It’s affordable, high-quality, and makes cooking eggs and other dishes incredibly simple. While it’s true that you CAN cook an egg over easy on a stainless steel pan, it takes a lot of practice and careful attention. These non-stick frying pans make the task incredibly simple and effortless.
All-Clad B1: Is It Worth It?
I’m generally on the fence about whether or not All-Clad pots and pans are worth the money. Given the lower lifespan of the non-stick lines, I tend to think that it’s better to pick up a non-stick set from a cheaper brand (like T-Fal) or simply supplant one of the traditional all-metal lines (like MC2 or Copper Core) with a set of non-stick frying pans for eggs and other tricky dishes. If you’ve got money to burn, however, the B1 line (as well as its HA1 counterpart) is one of the best non-stick sets money can buy.