Last Updated Jan 2020 – If you’ve spent any amount of time researching cookware, you’ve probably heard of All-Clad. The American cookware manufacturer has some die-hard fans that will sing the brand’s praises at every opportunity. While this is certainly a sign of something, it’s not necessarily an accurate representation of All-Clad products.
So how does All-Clad actually measure up? We’ll examine both All-Clad and Tramontina in an attempt to get to the bottom of things. We’ll delve right into the specifics of the best cookware sets from both brands in order to help you decide what kind of cookware you should have in your kitchen.
All-Clad’s rise to fame began when it helped pioneer the concept of multi-clad cookware. While it might seem obvious today, the idea of layering different types of metals to combine the low cost, light weight, and great heat distribution of aluminum with the durability of stainless steel was a pretty novel idea not too long ago.
All-Clad produced high-quality multi-clad cookware at its United States-based manufacturing facility and quickly rose to prominence. While it’s branched out a little bit, the soul of the company still sticks to these roots. All-Clad is still best known for its US-produced multi-clad cookware.
This 10-piece cookware set is an excellent demonstration of the brand. It’s constructed from 5 layers of metal, giving it a unique blend of strength, durability, weight, and heat conduction. It’s induction capable, too, due to the presence of a magnetic steel alloy used in the base.
The all-metal construction gives this cookware set exceptional longevity. Unlike non-stick cookware, which is virtually guaranteed to fail after several years of use, this cookware set can easily last for decades with proper care. All-Clad has a fantastic track record when it comes to manufacturing products to last. It’s not terribly difficult to track down a happy All-Clad owner who purchased his or cookware over 30 years ago.
You can use this cookware set for pretty much any dish. The 10 pieces include 6 pots and pans and 4 metal lids. The whole set is oven safe to 600 F and is technically dishwasher safe, although All-Clad suggests that it’s best to clean your pots and pans by hand.
Like any stainless steel cookware, cleaning is usually easy but occasionally awkward. Without a non-stick coating, food will occasionally stick to your pots and pans if you’re not diligent. That said, with a bit of practice you can definitely cook eggs, steak, and messy sauces in these pots and pans without anything sticking. It just takes fat, careful temperature control, and a bit of practice.
The performance of this cookware set is excellent. Heat quickly radiates throughout the aluminum cores of these pans and transfers seamlessly to your food. The stainless steel cooking surface is non-reactive, meaning you’re safe to cook acidic foods like tomatoes and wine sauces without any issues. The lids fit great, too, which is a welcome relief to anyone who’s used a cheap department store cookware set for more than a few weeks.
The downside to this set, of course, is the cost. All-Clad is not cheap. This cost exists for a reason: All-Clad employs American craftsmen in the manufacture of their pans and has fairly comprehensive lifetime warranties on most of its cookware. This means that each piece of cookware is expensive to produce and carries a fairly hefty liability for the manufacturer. With this in mind, it’s pretty easy to understand the price you see as a consumer.
Whether that price is too steep is ultimately up to you and your budget. Personally, I think that All-Clad makes some pretty good cookware, but it’s not hugely better performance-wise than other top brands. If you think you’ll take advantage of the lifetime warranty, you want to support American workers, or you think you’ll impress your guests with the prestigious All-Clad branding, this set is probably worth it. If your budget is tight, however, don’t feel bad about picking up a cheaper Tramontina set.
At first glance, the pots and pans in this Tramontina cookware set seem quite similar to the All-Clad set above. It’s not an exact replica, for sure, but it’s got the same mirror-polished exterior. On the inside, it’s got more similarities than differences. While All-Clad uses a 5-ply construction in the cookware set above, this Tramontina uses 3 layers of stainless steel and aluminum. In practice, it delivers a similar blend of low weight, good heat distribution, and low cost.
The inclusion of magnetic steel makes this set induction compatible, just like the All-Clad set. It’s dishwasher safe, too, and totally fine to cook acidic foods in. One important practical difference exists, however: this Tramontina set is only oven safe to 350 F. This is quite a bit lower than the 600 F of the All-Clad set.
So what’s the reason for this?
While this design choice might seem like it only impacts the visuals of your cookware, glass doesn’t do so hot in the oven. It’s fantastic for keeping track of your food while you simmer, saute, and boil things, however, so this cookware set might be a bit easier to use for some cooks.
Speaking of easy use, it’s important to note that this is not a non-stick cookware set. Careless use will result in a few minutes scrubbing your cookware with a stiff pad. That said, just like with the All-Clad set, you can cook anything you want with this Tramontina cookware with a bit of practice.
Performance wise, this set is practically identical to the All-Clad set on the range. It’s a lot cheaper, too. Tramontina is not an American company, however (they’re located in Brazil). That said, this set IS covered by a limited lifetime warranty. With careful handling and proper cleaning, it’s not unlikely at all that you’ll enjoy this cookware for several decades.
Tramontina’s tri-ply stainless steel line is quite comparable to All-Clad in most of the ways that matter. The lack of full oven safety is slightly annoying, especially if you plan on using lids in the oven. Other than that, however, it’s extremely comparable and quite a bit cheaper. If you’re not after the All-Clad name and you don’t mind cookware that’s not made in America, this Tramontina set is an excellent alternative to All-Clad.
Tramontina vs All-Clad: The Final Verdict
When comparing Tramontina tri-ply vs All-Clad’s 5-ply lines, there’s no easy right answer. All-Clad is more expensive, sure, but it’s a well-respected brand with a long tradition of quality cookware. Tramontina makes excellent cookware, too, but it doesn’t have the same level of support for American manufacturing or quite as long of a legacy in the multi-clad market.
At the end of the day, the real decision likely comes down to the budget. If you can afford All-Clad it’s pretty easy to justify your decision. If you’re on a tighter budget, however, Tramontina’s tri-ply cookware does a great job on the stove. Either way, you won’t regret your choice.