Is All-Clad cookware worth it? Why is it so expensive? What makes All-Clad better than other brands?
If you’re in the market for new cookware and are considering All-Clad, these are totally normal questions to be asking yourself, especially when there are alternatives for half the price.
When it comes to stainless steel cookware, All-Clad is the gold standard, but premium products come with premium price tags. So, is All-Clad worth it? The short answer is, yes. All-Clad cookware is worth it because the materials and processes they use to make it result in superior cooking performance and durability.
Let me explain.
All-Clad makes every piece of its stainless steel cookware by bonding (i.e., cladding) exterior layers of steel together with a core layer of aluminum (or, in some cases, copper). The steel exterior enhances durability, while the aluminum core conducts heat fast and evenly. This type of multi-clad construction, which All-Clad invented in the 1970s, results in unmatched cooking performance.
In addition to its multi-clad construction, All-Clad makes all of their cookware in the U.S.A. with high-grade materials. Their strict manufacturing standards and meticulous quality control processes guarantee superior quality and durability.
Even though the upfront cost of All-Clad is higher than other brands, its value is incredible when you consider you’ll own it for life—every piece comes with a lifetime warranty. Also, if you look hard enough, you can usually find great deals for All-Clad on Amazon.
If you’re still not convinced that All-Clad is worth the higher price, keep reading. In this article, I provide all the facts about All-Clad cookware that you’ll need to decide for yourself.
Click the links below to navigate straight to a section.
- History of All-Clad
- Cookware Collections
- Brushed vs. Polished/Regular Stainless Steel
- Where It Is Made
- Manufacturing Process
- How to Properly Cook With All-Clad
- How to Clean and Care for All-Clad Cookware
- Downsides of All-Clad Cookware
- How Much Does Each All-Clad Collection Cost?
- Final Verdict: Is All-Clad Cookware Worth It?
History of All-Clad
Back in 1967, steel was a hot commodity with tons of new, expanding applications. Innovations in the 19th and 20th centuries continuously improved steel production, shifting from Bessemer converters, open-hearth furnaces, and oxygen steelmaking processes to electrical steelmaking.
Thanks to that, world steel production was up to 770 million tons per year in 1989.
At the same time, aluminum cookware was receiving backlash about how it made food taste metallic.
The advantage of using aluminum is its fantastic thermal conductivity, a property that allows a pan to heat rapidly.
Although steel is a heartier material that doesn’t leave your food tasting like loose change, it just can’t beat aluminum in conductivity.
Enter John Ulam – an American metallurgist who had been working with U.S. Mint to produce dimes, quarters, and half-dollars, until he discovered a fix for ineffective aluminum cookware.
Ulam was a master of the bonding or “cladding” process, which occurs when you place two metals together under intense pressure and heat until they bond together into a single sheet.
Recognizing the potential in pairing stainless steel’s sturdiness with aluminum’s thermal conductivity, Ulam forever changed the world of cookware. He established All-Clad Metalcrafters in 1971, selling new and improved cookware to professional chefs and home cooks alike.
The company has changed hands several times since its founder passed away in 1989. Although the French conglomerate, Groupe SEB, now owns All-Clad, they still use American steel and manufacture it in the All-Clad factories in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.
Over the past several decades, All-Clad has established itself as one of the top cookware brands in the world with a reputation for superior performance, elegant design, and unmatched durability.
They’ve also expanded into other products such as indoor grills, slow cookers, waffle makers, and toasters.
You can find All-Clad cookware on the shelves at stores like Crate and Barrel, Macy’s, and online on Amazon and Williams-Sonoma.com, and it’s often the top cookware choice of brides and grooms for their wedding registry.
All-Clad’s success is no fluke. Their commitment to innovation and meeting the needs of professional and home chefs is why All-Clad will continue to be a force in the cookware market for years to come.
All-Clad makes many different products, including cookware (pots and pans), small appliances (toasters, slow cookers, waffle makers), ovenware (roasting sheets, bakers), and kitchen tools (tongs, whisks, serving utensils, spatulas).
But, the focus of this review will be on their most popular product line: cookware.
Before I get into the details of what makes All-Clad cookware different and whether the high prices are justified, let’s first examine the products and the various options available.
In 2020, All-Clad overhauled its cookware collections. They discontinued the C4 Copper, Master Chef, LTD, and Thomas Keller collections while introducing a new ceramic collection, FusionTec, and a revamped version of its best-selling D3 cookware, D3 Everyday.
In this section, I’ll walk through each collection available today and briefly highly what makes it unique.
You can get a complete breakdown of the top All-Clad stainless steel collections in our All-Clad Buyer’s Guide: Which All-Clad Cookware Collection Is the Best for You?
All-Clad D3 (view on Amazon):
The D3 collection is made with 3-ply construction, including a polished steel exterior, aluminum core, and stainless steel cooking surface.
It’s, by far, the company’s best-selling cookware due to its classic design, quick, even heating, and affordable price tag (relative to All-Clad’s higher-end collections).
D3 cookware is made in the USA, oven-safe up to 600°F, and lighter than All-Clad’s 5-ply collections (D5 and Copper Core).
All-Clad D3 Everyday (view on All-Clad.com):
One of the most common complaints about D3 cookware is that the handles are uncomfortable.
All-Clad addressed that feedback with the D3 Everyday collection by replacing the straight handles with more comfortable, contoured handles.
They also added flared pouring rims, interchangeable lids, and extended the skillet’s cooking surface by 30%.
Like the D3 collection, D3 Everyday is made in the USA, oven-safe up to 600°F, and features 3-ply construction.
The one downside is that this collection is only available on All-Clad.com, so you can’t hold it before buying.
All-Clad D5 (view on Amazon):
The D5 collection is a step up in quality and price from D3.
It’s made with five alternating layers of stainless steel and aluminum bonded together. The two outside layers are stainless steel, then two layers of aluminum, then one steel layer at the core.
The steel core slows heat transfer, reducing hot spots and ensuring completely even heat distribution.
Due to the additional layers of metal, it is slightly heavier, more durable, and more expensive than the D3 collection.
All pieces feature flared rims for smooth pouring, and the handles have bolsters to prevent your hand from getting too close to the pan.
D5 cookware comes with a brushed or polished exterior (more on this in the next section).
It’s made in the USA and oven-safe up to 600°F.
Get an in-depth review of All-Clad D5 cookware and see how it stacks up against the D3 collection in our recent article: All-Clad D3 vs. D5: Which Stainless Steel Cookware Is Better?
All-Clad Copper Core (view on Amazon):
Copper Core is All-Clad’s premium and most expensive collection, designed for professional use.
Like D5, Copper Core cookware features 5-ply construction: two layers of stainless steel on the exterior, two layers of aluminum, and, as the name suggests, copper at the core.
The star of this cookware is the copper core layer, which also appears as an elegant ring around the exterior.
Since copper has high thermal conductivity, this cookware heats faster and responds to temperature changes more quickly than any other All-Clad collection.
This cookware is ideal for meals that require precise temperature control, such as delicate sauces, fish, caramel, and chocolate, but it works exceptionally well with any ingredients.
The main downside is its cost — expect to pay much more than you would for D3 or D5.
All-Clad HA1 Non-Stick (view on Amazon):
The HA1 collection is All-Clad’s most popular non-stick collection. It’s made with a thick hard-anodized aluminum base, triple-layer non-stick coating, and a steel induction plate bonded to the bottom.
It has sturdy stainless steel handles, tempered glass lids, and is compatible with all cooktops.
Unlike All-Clad stainless steel cookware, the HA1 collection is made in China and only oven-safe up to 500°F.
See how the HA1 collection compares to D3 in this in-depth comparison.
All-Clad Essentials Non-Stick (view on Amazon):
Essentials is a step down in features and price from the HA1 collection.
It features the same hard-anodized base and triple-layer non-stick coating but lacks the steel induction plate. The steel plate not only makes HA1 cookware compatible with induction cooktops but also makes it more warp-resistant.
Without the plate, Essentials cookware doesn’t work on induction cooktops and is more prone to warping (although it’s unlikely to warp if used correctly).
The Essentials collection is made in China and oven-safe up to 500°F.
All-Clad FusionTec (view on All-Clad.com):
FusionTec is All-Clad’s newest cookware collection, launching in 2020. This cookware is made in Germany and features a thick steel core, coated in natural ceramic non-stick on the interior and exterior.
FusionTec is All-Clad’s only collection featuring a colored exterior (rose and platinum blue); the others are either steel or dark anodized aluminum.
While the initial reviews of this collection are overwhelmingly positive, don’t expect the non-stick properties to last as long as the HA1 and Essentials collections.
To sum it up…
All-Clad makes their cookware with different layers and materials to achieve the ideal balance between durability and heat conduction.
All-Clad’s stainless steel exterior layers are ultra-durable and non-reactive, which means your cooking surface will never scratch or leach metals into your food.
The aluminum or copper (depending on the collection) core layers provide excellent heat conduction and retention properties, so your food cooks even and consistently.
If you are looking to equip yourself with a new set of pots and pans, you can save money by purchasing a set.
Each of the collections is available to purchase in a set. If you are looking for a couple of everyday pans, you can buy each item individually; however, the cost per piece is much lower when you buy a set.
All-Clad offers dozens of sets ranging from 2 pieces to 14 pieces. When you’re shopping, keep in mind that the lids count as a piece.
All-Clad Brushed vs. Polished/Regular Stainless Steel
In researching All-Clad cookware, you’ll notice that they describe some of the products as having “brushed” stainless steel or “polished/regular” stainless steel. So what is the difference?
The difference is simply the look on the surface of the pans. Brushed cookware has a dull, matte finish while polished cookware is shiny. They achieve the surface on brushed cookware through a process in which the metal is lightly sanded and then finished with a non-abrasive pad.
Some customers say that brushed All-Clad cookware doesn’t show their wear as much. I’ve been using the polished cookware for a year, and, as long as you clean them right (jump to Cleaning and Caring section), they will look nice and new for a long time.
Here’s a side-by-side look at brushed and polished All-Clad cookware so you can see the difference.
Brushed and polished cookware performs the same, so it comes down to your personal preference from a design standpoint.
Where It Is Made
One of the most appealing aspects of All-Clad cookware is the fact that they source all of their metals directly from US suppliers and manufacture all of their bonded stainless steel cookware in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.
The only products they don’t produce in the US are some tools, accessories, and electric appliances that don’t require bonding. The HA1 and Essentials collections are made in China, and the FusionTec collection is made in Germany.
The stainless steel cookware covered in this article is 100% made in the USA.
All-Clad makes their cookware with high-grade stainless steel. For the surface, they use 18/10 stainless steel, which is a form of 304-grade stainless steel made specifically to meet All-Clad’s extremely high standards.
For the exterior layer, All-Clad uses 18/0 magnetic stainless steel, allowing you to use the cookware on induction cooktops safely.
The core layer(s) vary by collection but are typically pure aluminum or copper. These materials conduct heat much faster and more evenly than steel—more on this in the next section.
Their materials are all tested and guaranteed to meet National Standard ISO 9000 and ASTM 240 (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards. All-Clad’s cookware is non-toxic and free of PFOA (polytetrafluoroethylene acid).
Aluminum will tarnish and leave a metallic taste in food. Cast iron will rust with if soaked in water. Stainless steel is non-reactive, which makes for a superior cooking surface. The exterior layer is made of magnetic stainless steel, which is compatible with all types of cooktops, including induction. With stainless steel, you taste the food, not the metals of the pan.
All-Clad uses a process of bonding (or “cladding”) several layers of stainless steel, pure aluminum, and, in the case of the Copper Core Collection, copper.
This innovative process of bonding layers of metal together for even heating and precise temperature control was created by All-Clad in the 1970s. Since then, competitors have copied this method; however, there are two critical differences between All-Clad and other cookware brands.
First, All-Clad has the highest standard for the materials they use.
Secondly, All-Clad extends their bonded construction from the base up through the sides to ensure completely even distribution of heat with no cold spots. Other cookware brands typically only have bonded construction on the bottom cooking surface.
Take a behind the scenes look at their process in this video.
All-Clad has the highest standard for quality materials, all sourced from US suppliers. Combine that with their unique bonding process that comes to life in their US facility, and you get a premium product that will stand the test of time.
When you pick up an All-Clad pot or pan, you can feel the durability.
They are built to last a lifetime, and that is not just a sales pitch. All-Clad guarantees that with a limited lifetime warranty for all of their cookware products.
The warranty covers almost everything as long as you properly use the products. For more details, view the warranty on All-Clad.com.
How to Properly Cook With All-Clad
All-Clad cookware distributes and holds heat so well that you rarely need to cook on high heat.
Whether you are searing meat, sauteing vegetables, and everything in between, low or medium heat will work best. The one exception is when you are boiling water. In that case, high heat is necessary, but in most cases, low/medium heat is optimal.
Most problems, like sticking or burning, occur when the temperature is too hot. If you use low and medium heat settings, your food will cook fast, even and perfect.
For delicate foods like eggs, fish, and pancakes, use extra caution, and keep the temperature low. If you don’t allow enough time for the crust to form and the natural release from the pan’s surface to occur, they will stick.
My favorite part of cooking with All-Clad is the fantastic sear you can put on meats. Others don’t even come close, especially pans with non-stick surfaces.
To get the perfect sear, heat your pan slightly above medium heat. When the pan is warm, add oil and heat for another minute.
When the pan and oil are hot, place the meat carefully in the center of the pan. Be patient.
Do not touch the meat for at least 2 minutes, likely longer depending on the type of meat. If you try to move it right away, it will stick.
By giving it a few minutes, it develops a crust and naturally releases from the surface of the pan.
When you sear meats, there will be some bits and pieces stuck to the pan, but that is okay. They will quickly come off with soap and water.
If you’re feeling fancy, instead of washing the pan, use wine to deglaze it and make a sauce for your meal.
Common Questions About Cooking With All-Clad:
Question: Can you use All-Clad cookware on ceramic/glass/induction cooktops?
Yes, they work well on any cooktop.
Question: Are they safe to put into a hot oven?
Yes, their stainless steel cookware is oven-safe up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit and their non-stick cookware is oven-safe up to 500. Perfect for searing a steak and finishing it off in a warm oven.
Question: Do All-Clad handles get hot?
All-Clad handles are designed to stay cool on the stove but will certainly get hot in the oven. To be safe, use a cooking mitt or towel when handling.
Question: What should I do if the food is sticking?
Food could be sticking for a few reasons. Likely the heat is too high. If that’s not it, you may need more oil or butter to grease the pan. Make sure that the oil is hot before you add the food.
Be sure to let the food cook for a few minutes before trying to move or stir it. Doing so will allow the food to cook and create a crust that will naturally release it from the surface.
Question: Will salt damage All-Clad cookware?
Yes, salt can cause white dots or pits on your cookware. Be sure to bring liquids to a boil first, then add salt. The dots/pit will only impact the cookware cosmetically, but won’t hurt performance.
Question: Do I need to use wood or nylon utensils when I cook with All-Clad?
No, you can use metal, wood, or plastic.
How to Clean and Care for All-Clad Cookware
If you follow the cooking instructions with All-Clad, cleaning is simple: soap and water.
If you have a minimal amount of leftover debris sticking to the pan, give it a short soak in soap and water and then scrub it off with a regular sponge. Never use steel wool; it will scratch and cause damage.
Be sure to rinse and dry the cookware entirely before putting it away. If water sits in the pan for days, it can cause spotting.
The stainless steel collections are dishwasher safe; however, if you have the Copper Core cookware, the heat and harsh detergents can tarnish the exterior copper band. I typically avoid washing cookware in the dishwasher because it takes up too much space, but that is just me.
Do not run cold water on them immediately after cooking. The rapid change in temperature can cause warping. I’ve made this mistake a few times and got away with it, but the best practice is to take the pan off the heat and let it cool down naturally before rinsing with water.
What to Do If You Scorch Your All-Clad Cookware?
So, you decide to dismiss our advice, and you cook on high heat or crank the oven above 600 degrees. All of a sudden, your pan looks like it has been scorched in a fire.
Can’t say I didn’t warn you! Overheating will result in burnt food, a smoky kitchen, and discoloration of your beautiful cookware.
The good news is that you can fix this with the help of a magical product called Bar Keepers Friend which you can buy on Amazon:
Bar Keepers Friend is a special cleaning powder that has been sold since 1882, so you know it works.
It is less abrasive than brands like Comet, and the active ingredient is oxalic acid. It is the perfect cleaning agent for stainless steel because it not only removes rust and discoloration; it makes stainless steel resistant to oxidation.
Essentially, it creates a non-toxic layer on the steel to keep it resistant to damaging chemical reactions in the future.
To use it, combine a small amount of water with Bar Keeper’s Friend powder in your pan and mix it to create a paste. Rub that paste into the pan for about a minute and then scrub it off with more water.
Bar Keeper’s Friend will remove debris, discoloration, and stubborn residues.
Bottom line, if you buy All-Clad cookware, invest the few dollars in Bar Keepers Friend, it will make cleaning easy. You can purchase it on Amazon from this link.
If you’re having trouble removing stubborn stains, try the techniques in this in-depth guide on how to clean All-Clad.
Downsides of All-Clad Cookware
I touched on these throughout this article, but I want to reiterate a few things that you should know before you buy All-Clad cookware.
Number one, these are premium products; therefore, they are pricey. You can view the current prices on Amazon below:
I understand that not everyone can afford to splurge on a big 14-piece set. However, when you consider the quality and the fact that they will last a lifetime, the pricing, in my opinion, is justified.
Also, as I cover in the next section, All-Clad offers a range of collections, some are less expensive than others. So, if you’re looking to spend less but still get incredible quality, you might be able to find a collection that fits your budget.
Another common complaint about All-Clad is that the handles are uncomfortable. It’s true; the handles in the D3, D5, and HA1 collections are straight and cup-shaped and undeniably less enjoyable to hold compared to brands that have rounded handles.
However, this design serves an essential purpose; it locks the handle in your hand, so you have complete control when tilting and pouring. Pots and pans with smooth rounded handles can easily rotate in your hand, which is a major safety hazard when pouring hot liquids.
If you browse negative reviews of All-Clad, the complaint you’ll see most often is: food sticks to the stainless steel pans. Yes, this happens. These are not non-stick. There’s a time and place for non-stick pans, so I am not bashing them, they are great. But if you are cooking food that needs a good sear or crispy exterior, you can’t achieve that with non-stick.
If you are a beginner in the kitchen, you need to understand how to use All-Clad cookware properly. If you don’t, your food will stick.
Difficult to Clean:
This brings me to the final downside, All-Clad cookware is difficult to clean, and it’s hard to remove all the brown spots and discoloration.
Even if you use the cookware properly, keep the heat low, and grease the pan perfectly, you will inevitably run into some brown spots and discoloration. It happens to the best of us.
My answer to that, again, is Bar Keeper’s Friend. If soaking in soap and water doesn’t work, Bar Keeper’s Friend will. It is a little extra work, but your cookware will look as good as new.
How Much Does Each All-Clad Collection Cost?
All-Clad cookware is expensive, but how much does it actually cost?
Some All-Clad collections are more expensive than others; the price depends on the materials, construction, and design.
For example, D3 is All-Clad’s least expensive collection since they make it with only three bonded layers (steel, aluminum, steel). Conversely, Copper Core is one of the pricier collections due to its 5-ply construction and unique copper core.
To help you get a better sense of how much All-Clad really costs, check out the table below where I compare the current prices of each collection.
Note: These prices are pulled in real-time from Amazon. You can click on the image or the price to check out more details and read dozens of reviews on Amazon.
|All-Clad Collection||Current Price||View Details|
|All-Clad D3 10-Piece Set||Amazon|
|All-Clad D5 10-Piece Set||Amazon|
|All-Clad Copper Core 10-Piece Set||Amazon|
|All-Clad HA1 10-Piece Set||Amazon|
|All-Clad D3 12-Inch Fry Pan||Amazon|
|All-Clad D5 12-Inch Fry Pan||Amazon|
|All-Clad Copper Core 12-Inch Fry Pan||Amazon|
Final Verdict: Is All-Clad Cookware Worth It?
Throughout my life I’ve bought many expensive, premium items like electronics, cars, appliances, jewelry, you name it. Very few of those items will last my lifetime, and even fewer will provide the value that All-Clad cookware does every day, meal after meal.
Premium products like this are an investment. With All-Clad, you never have to worry about purchasing cookware ever again, and they guarantee that with their lifetime warranty.
So, in my opinion, the answer is, yes, All-Clad is absolutely worth it.
If you are still not sure, I would highly suggest purchasing one or two items, like the 12-inch Fry Pan, and try them out yourself.
If you are ready to dive in and equip your kitchen with all sorts of fantastic cookware, you can purchase any of these sets on Amazon at the links below:
Most All-Clad sets and individual pots and pans are also available on Williams-Sonoma.com, so compare prices before you buy.
If you love everything you’re hearing about All-Clad, but you can’t get over the price, you have two options.
Option one is to buy cookware from another brand (these are the best affordable All-Clad alternatives).
Option two is to buy All-Clad Factory Seconds for up to 80% off the regular price.
All-Clad Factory Seconds are pots and pans that have minor cosmetic imperfections, but, otherwise, they’re the same as regular All-Clad cookware.
Throughout the year, All-Clad runs promotions on its retail outlet website HomeAndCookSales.com offering up to 80% off its most popular cookware—an unbelievable deal!
These sales come and go, but if you catch it at the right time, you can save hundreds on All-Clad. Check out the current deals on All-Clad Factory Seconds to learn more.
Tell us your thoughts on All-Clad
Have you had a different experience with All-Clad cookware?
Do you agree or disagree with our review?
Are there any other cookware brands that you think are better than All-Clad?
Please let us know in the comments section or contact us directly; we would love to hear your feedback.
In cooking mode? Check out these articles about popular cooking products:
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- All-Clad D3 vs. D5: Which Stainless Steel Cookware Is Better?
- All-Clad HA1 vs. B1: Which All-Clad Non-Stick Collection Is Better?
- All-Clad vs. Calphalon: Non-Stick and Stainless Cookware Compared
- Demeyere vs. All-Clad: How Does Their Cookware Compare?
- Misen vs. All-Clad Cookware: 11 Key Differences
- All-Clad D5 vs. Copper Core: How Do They Compare?
- Is All-Clad Cookware Oven Safe? (Quick Guide)
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