Last Updated Feb 2024 – With cookware, layers give you more. All-Clad’s normal paradigm of layering steel and aluminum is cranked up to 11 with the 5-layer D5 and Copper Core lines. But how do they stack up with each other? Learn the important differences between these two cookware lines here so you can decide which set is best for your kitchen.
First, let’s go over the basics.
Available as a 7, 10, and 14-piece set, All-Clad’s Copper Core line has a stainless steel exterior and cooking surface. It comes with metal handles and flat metal lids. It’s got the classic All-Clad look, meaning your family and guests will be able to immediately recognize the quality of your cookware.
One thing that’s different between this set and other All-Clad sets is the inclusion of a layer of copper in these pots and pans. While All-Clad normally covers the outside of their cookware with a smooth, unbroken layer of stainless steel, the Copper Core breaks this mold with a visible copper ring that circles the side of each pot and pan. It’s a very visual reminder that you’ve got an extra special set of cookware. It looks cool, too.
Like other All-Clad options, this set is oven safe to 600 F and totally fine to go in the dishwasher. Since it’s got a stainless cooking surface, you’ll need to manage your heat and use a bit of fat to prevent food from sticking. If you think you’ll need an egg pan to complement this set, check out the All-Clad B1 and HA1 lines for matching non-stick options.
This set is admittedly pretty pricey. The copper gives it extremely good cooking performance, however, since it’s one of the best conductors of heat around. Like other All-Clad sets, the Copper Core set can easily last you for decades as long as you’re careful with how you use and handle it. Whether it’s worth buying over a T-Fal or Farberware set is up to you, but this is definitely one of the best looking and best-performing cookware sets you can find.
All-Clad’s D5 set is available as a 5, 7, 10, or 14-piece set. It’s pretty similar to the MC2 and Tri-Ply lines. Unlike those collections, however, the D5 set has a total of 5 bonded layers that make up each pot and pan.
Unlike the Copper Core set above, these layers are just steel and aluminum. It’s got steel on the outside, then aluminum, then a steel core, aluminum again, and finally a steel cooking surface. This extra steel layer in the middle actually slows down heat as it passes through the pan. This helps ensure that the pan heats up evenly and prevents you from burning your food by mistake.
Don’t get me wrong: the D5 line doesn’t cook food slowly because of this. All that it means is that it’ll take you about thirty seconds longer to boil a pot of water. The upsides of having extremely even heat to all parts of your pan and a little bit of an extra buffer to work with before your food burns more than makeup for this small delay.
The D5 line shares many similarities with All-Clad’s other stainless steel lines. It’s got flat metal lids, metal handles, and is induction ready. All of the pots and pans in this cookware set are oven safe to 600 F and can go in the dishwasher without worry.
Just like the Copper Core set, the stainless steel cooking surface of these pots and pans will adhere to food if you’re not careful. With a bit of practice, fat, and a watchful eye, you can still cook pretty much any food you want in these pans. It’s not hard to clean up a mistake, either: even if your food does stick, a little bit of scrubbing with hot soapy water will leave your pots and pans looking good as new. If you do want an egg pan, however, I’d again recommend the All-Clad B1 or HA1 lines if you want to match, or simply using one of your favorite non-stick Farberware pans.
As an experienced cook, I’d personally prefer All-Clad’s MC2 line over the 5-layer D5. If you’d like a bit of a buffer to make cooking food more forgiving, however, the D5 line is a great choice. It’s an excellent way to get used to the intricacies of cooking on stainless steel.
How Does Copper Help?
Conducts heat very well. This is one of the primary tasks that cookware performs: it holds your food off of the flame, takes heat from the burner, and transfers it to your heat. All-Clad (and other cookware manufacturers) normally use aluminum to form the backbone of their pots and pans to help with this. This is because aluminum is a fairly good conductor of heat, is quite light, and is fairly cheap.
While copper is heavy and expensive, it’s an even better conductor of heat than aluminum. Your Copper Core All-Clad cookware will conduct heat something like 30% faster than a set of aluminum T-Fal pots. The addition of copper to the core of your pan helps ensure that any changes you make in burner temperature are transferred to your food more quickly, ensuring you have the most control possible.
Pans that are made entirely of copper are often used for candy making and other special purposes. They’re very heavy and expensive, however. Worse, copper will react with some common cooking ingredients. This means that if you cook with acidic foods (like tomatoes, wine, vinegar, and more) you’ll not only discolor your pot, your food will come out tasting funny.
The Copper Core products from All-Clad avoid this issue by having a stainless steel cooking surface. Since stainless steel is non-reactive, you’re safe to cook pretty much anything you want in these pots and pans. The addition of aluminum in the core layers of the pots and pans helps to keep weight down without sacrificing much thermal conductivity.
D5 vs Copper Core: The Definitive Advantage
All-Clad’s D5 and Copper Core lines use 5 layers to cater to a specific audience. The D5 line uses a layer of stainless to slow down heat and make cooking a bit more forgiving and beginner-friendly, while the Copper Core line uses a layer of copper to speed up heat transfer and give expert cooks more control.
Both of these high-quality cookware sets can easily last you for the rest of your life with proper care, making them solid investments in your future.