Last Updated Jan 2020 – Modern things aren’t always built to last. If you’ve read a lot of electronics reviews, there’s a concept called “planned obsolescence” that you’ve probably come across. This phrase describes a practice in which the manufacturer deliberately makes a product that will fail after a certain amount of time. This ensures that you’ll have to buy a new gadget in a few months or years when the old one fails.
The trend of building things to fail doesn’t stop at phones and other electronic gizmos. A surprisingly large number of modern appliances, tools, and other household items simply aren’t built to last. If your dryer or refrigerator fails after two years, you might call the manufacturer to find out that their products aren’t designed to last that long.
After all, if your things lasted forever, why would you buy new ones?
All-Clad is a cookware manufacturer that’s trying to defy this trend. While their non-stick pans have a finite lifespan, most of the rest of their high-quality cookware can last in your kitchen for decades. This means that when you buy an All-Clad cookware set, you can be sure that it’ll be around in five or ten years — or longer.
You can find many happy All-Clad customers that picked up their cookware set literal decades ago. These old pots and pans aren’t just decorative pieces, either. Instead, they’ve put in lots of hard hours of kitchen work and survived to tell the tale.
While All-Clad products last a long time, they’re also pretty pricey. Let’s go over a few specific pots, pans, and cookware sets in order to examine whether or not the increased cost of All-Clad products is worth it.
All-Clad Pots and Pans Review: The Basics
Like most modern cookware manufacturers, All-Clad makes a pretty wide range of cookware. This includes a couple varieties of non-stick pans, hard anodized cookware, and even a fairly unique line of pots and pans with a textured stainless steel cooking surface that’s designed to prevent food from sticking. What it’s most known for, however, is the high quality, innovative multi-ply lines.
The Copper Core line is a great example of this cookware. While it’s expensive, even by All-Clad standards, its’ also one of the finest cookware sets available on the market, period. All-Clad has of experience designing and manufacturing multi-ply cookware, and this experience has been put to good use with the Copper Core line. It’s got some of the absolute best performance of any cookware set, anywhere, when it comes to the most important thing of all: cooking.
To understand why, let’s talk about what “multi-ply” or “multi-clad” means. The material that something is made out of has a huge impact on how that thing can be used. A heavy steel hammer, for example, is handy for driving nails or breaking rocks. That same
hammer wouldn’t be useless if it was made out of wood, but it would serve a very different purpose.
So what does this mean for cookware?
Different materials provide different attributes to your pots and pans. Stainless steel is strong, easy to clean, and somewhat heavy, but it doesn’t conduct heat amazingly. Aluminum is light, cheap, and conducts heat pretty well. In order to give customers the best of both worlds, cookware manufacturers often layer these materials together. This means that you get tough, durable stainless steel on both the outside edge and the cooking surface of your pot and pan. Sandwiched between these two layers of steel, an aluminum core keeps weight down and helps spread heat out evenly and quickly.
This is all well and good if you’re content with how well aluminum conducts heat. If you want an even better thermal conductor, however, you’ll choose copper instead. Copper is a lot more expensive than aluminum and is a fair bit heavier, but it’s a significantly better conductor of heat. All-Clad has added it to its copper core line as an additional layer. While it’s still paired with aluminum to keep both weight and costs down, the copper core of these pots and pans helps give you incredibly precise temperature control on any sort of stovetop.
Will you notice a difference?
It really depends.
I’ve spent a lot of time in a lot of kitchens and I can honestly say that many of my fellow chefs don’t pay that much attention to how well their pots and pans perform. The science says that this cookware set should heat up and cool off up to 50% faster than a multi-clad set with just steel and aluminum. Bear in mind that this will affect your cooking times a little bit, but it won’t make your pasta cook 50% faster. Instead, it’ll help you control the temperature of the water a bit better.
WIth a set this expensive, the most important factor is durability. All-Clad has this angle covered very well. They offer a fairly comprehensive lifetime warranty, meaning that you’re covered against manufacturer defects for the foreseeable future. Since the whole set is made out of solid metals and has a stainless steel exterior, you don’t have to worry about this set breaking or decaying over time. The stainless steel cooking surfaces will continue to work for quite a while.
This cookware set features metal lids and handles. This helps ensure that it’s safe in the oven to a higher temperature. It also means you don’t have to worry about your rubber handles wearing out or your glass lids shattering. In other words, the whole cookware set is built to last.
This set is available in a few sizes. I think that the 10-piece set is a pretty happy medium, personally. Since this is NOT a non-stick set, you may have to spend some time learning how to properly cook on a stainless steel surface. Once you’ve done that, however, you’ll have no problems cooking most recipes while keeping cleanup easy.
Overall, the All-Clad Copper Core line is one of the finest cookware sets on the market. While it’s pricey, the great temperature response, good looks, and incredible durability make it a luxury choice for anyone who wants an incredible cookware set.
If you’d like an even closer look, check out our more comprehensive All-Clad Copper Core review here.
For our saucepan, let’s take a step back and focus on a more traditional multi-ply All-Clad line. The Master Chef 2 line is crafted in All-Clad’s original, signature style. It’s got a simple tri-ply construction that still delivers both excellent durability and great thermal handling. Again, for more information, check out our detailed All-Clad MC2 reviews here.
I recommend the MC2 line over competitors like Cuisinart for one simple reason: it’s got a lot of history. MC2 is made with the same manufacturing techniques that revolutionized the cooking industry when All-Clad pioneered them in the 1970’s. This means that you don’t have to guess what these pots and pans will look like in a few decades — you can find someone who bought a nearly identical set twenty or thirty years ago and see how their pots and pans have held up! In many cases, you’ll find that the owners of traditional All-Clad cookware still use these pots and pans today.
The Master Chef 2 line is simple and elegant. It’s got a core of pure aluminum, a stainless steel cooking surface, and an exterior layer of brushed aluminum Like I mentioned earlier, aluminum is both lighter and a better conductor of heat than steel. This means that the Master Chef 2 line has excellent heat distribution, even beating tri-ply sets with a stainless exterior. If you want the best thermal conduction, however, be sure to check out the Copper Core line above and here.
This saucepan comes with a metal handle and lid. You’ll want to use a potholder (or a towel) if you shift it around after simmering things for a while. It’s available in three sizes, all of which are covered by All-Clad’s standard lifetime warranty.
The All-Clad products reviewed above are from the traditional, multi-ply lines that feature stainless-steel cooking surfaces. In order to mix things up a bit, let’s look at one of the aluminum non-stick lines for this skillet review. Bear in mind that this product is available as both a skillet and a full cookware set. For more information, check out the All-Clad B1 and HA1 reviews on this page.
I’m usually on the fence about whether or not All-Clad products are worth it. The high cost is usually offset by genuine American construction and pretty spectacular durability. These non-stick pans are somewhat harder to justify. The reason is simple: non-stick coatings wear out over time.
To be clear, the particular type of PFOA used in these pans is both scratch resistant and safe to 500 F. It’s still PFOA, however, which means it will eventually start to flake off of your pan. The way you handle and clean your pans and the temperatures you cook with will modify the exact lifespan of this coating, but you can reasonably expect it to last between two and five years.
So why do I recommend this set?
Simple: it’s pretty affordable, especially as far as All-Clad is concerned. This two-piece frying pan set is less than the cost of a single high-end frying pan from some other luxury cookware brands. Even if you don’t plan on using the second frying pan immediately, it can serve as a useful backup for when your primary pan gives out.
These pans are made of hard anodized aluminum. This material is nearly as hard and durable as stainless steel on the outside and is both light and an incredible conductor of heat. The handles are made of metal, but they’re long enough that you should be able to move these pans around on your stovetop without a potholder most of the time.
While the non-stick in these pans won’t last forever, it’s incredible while it lasts. You don’t have to season these pans or follow complicated instructions about burner temperature or how much fat or oil you should use. Instead, you can throw an egg (or whatever you want to cook) on the pan and go to town. Everything slides around like butter without any additional lubrication at all.
If you’re a big fan of the All-Clad name and you want a pair of affordable, high-quality nonstick pans for eggs and other tricky foods, this set of two non-stick frying pans is a great purchase. You’ll appreciate the excellent performance, great handling, and easy cleanup.
For more info, be sure to check out our more detailed reviews of All-Clad’s non-stick lines.
For our final review here, let’s talk about the extremely popular Tri-Ply D3 line. This cookware line differs from the MC2 collection in one important way: the outside of the cookware is made of polished stainless steel, not aluminum. While this slightly degrades the thermal conductivity, it has the upside of making the cookware slightly more durable and arguably better looking.
The tri-ply D3 line is just a little bit different from All-Clad’s 5-ply D5 line. If you’d like to learn more about these differences and find out how the D5 cookware stacks up, be sure to check out our All-Clad D5 reviews here.
This particular cookware set has both metal handles and lids, giving it excellent oven safety (600 F) and helping to keep it visually consistent. The shiny steel sides will impress your family and dinner guests alike, while the authentic All-Clad branding serves as the icing on the cake.
WIthout a non-stick coating, this durable All-Clad set has the potential to last for decades in your kitchen. The D3 line doesn’t have quite the same storied history as the MC2 collection, but you can still find plenty of people who have had similar All-Clad tri-ply cookware in their kitchen for a very long time. They’ve got lots of positive stories to tell about how well their pots and pans have handled throughout the years.
Most importantly, however, this is one of the cheaper All-Clad sets. If you’d like a way to get a full set of genuine All-Clad cookware in your kitchen, the stainless steel D3 set is a great way to start your collection.
What Is All-Clad?
All-Clad is an American cookware manufacturer headquartered in Pennsylvania. They were founded in 1971 and have produced high-quality, multi-ply cookware ever since. Not only are All-Clad products made in America, they try to source their metals from local US suppliers as well. This means that each purchase of All-Clad products supports US workers all across the country.
What Does All-Clad Mean?
In metal-crafting terms, “cladding” refers to coating one metal with a layer of another metal. Cookware is often “clad” with a tough metal to protect the lighter, softer aluminum on the inside. All-Clad was one of the first companies to market pans that were “clad” all over, not just on the bottom. In other words, since the sides of their pots and pans were covered in stainless steel, their pans were “All-Clad.”
Are All-Clad Products Worth It?
All-Clad pots and pans are pretty pricey. While there’s something to be said for getting both the name brand and the original product, you can find multi-clad stainless steel pots and pans from Cuisinart, Calphalon, and other brands.
So should you get All-Clad?
The answer to this question is primarily one of budget. If you can’t afford All-Clad, get a cheaper option! There’s not a lot of difference in cooking performance between the Cuisinart Multi-Clad Pro line and your favorite All-Clad line. Even the All-Clad Copper Core pans and pots aren’t that much better than other multi-ply pans made with copper from other brands.
If you CAN afford All-Clad, however, the decision gets a lot muddier. All-Clad’s brand is worth quite a bit when it comes to impressing the people in your kitchen, and that includes you. If you’d prefer to get the “real thing,” there’s no substitute for buying a set of All-Clad cookware. You’ll enjoy yourself in the kitchen a little bit more knowing that you’re cooking with the genuine product instead of a cheaper alternative.
Is that worth it?
It’s up to you to decide. All-Clad pots and pans will last you a very long time, so you’ll be making an investment in your future. If you want to support American workers and get an extremely durable set with a great lifetime warranty, All-Clad is definitely the way to go. If you’d like to save money, pick up a different set instead.