Is All-Clad Cookware Worth the High Price? An In-Depth Review

Is All-Clad Worth It_All-Clad Cookware Review

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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 used to make it and the process in which it’s made result in superior cooking performance and durability.

Food tastes better when cooked in All-Clad cookware.
All-Clad has superior cooking performance due to the unique way it is constructed with bonded (i.e. ‘cladded’) layers of steel (exterior for durability) and aluminum (center for optimal heat conduction).

All-Clad cookware will last a lifetime.
It’s made in the U.S.A. with high-grade materials that will last a lifetime. They even guarantee it with a lifetime warranty on every stainless steel cookware product.

Even though All-Clad is more expensive than other brands, you can usually find a good deal on Amazon.

If you’re still not convinced All-Clad is worth it, 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

Back in 1967, steel was a hot commodity with tons of new, expanding applications. Innovations in the 19th and 20th centuries had continuously improved steel’s 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 up rapidly, and the lower price of its extraction and production in comparison to copper.

Although steel was a heartier material that wouldn’t leave your food tasting like loose change, it just couldn’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, and although it is now owned by the French conglomerate named Groupe SEB, All-Clad cookware is still produced with American steel in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.

Over the past several decades, All-Clad has established themselves 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

In 2013, they created the All-Clad Chef Ambassador Program—a partnership with some of the top chefs in the world. These chefs play a pivotal role in All-Clad’s product development. They test out new All-Clad products, provide feedback, and, in some cases, co-create new brand new product lines

All-Clad Chef Ambassador Program
All-Clad Chef Ambassador Program. (screenshot from AllCladChefs.com)

You can find All-Clad cookware on the shelves at stores like Williams Sonoma, Crate and Barrel, Macy’s, and on Amazon 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.

Core Products

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).

The focus of this article will be on their most well-known product line which is their stainless steel cookware. Before we get into the details of what makes this cookware different and whether the high prices are justified, let’s first look at the products themselves and the different options you have.

All-Clad D3 vs. D5 Cookware

All-Clad has a total of 10 Stainless Steel collections but their three most popular collections are Tri-ply (also known as D3), D5, and Copper Core.

Get a complete break down of all 10 All-Clad stainless steel collections in our recent article: All-Clad vs. Calphalon.

The main difference between the three collections is the type of metals and the number of bonded layers used to construct them. All three are high quality, durable and made with layers of bonded (or “cladded”) metal.

All Clad Stainless Steel Collections

The Tri-ply (D3) product line (link to Amazon) has (you guessed it) three layers. Two layers of stainless steel on the exterior and one layer of aluminum at the core.

  • The classic and most popular line, also the least expensive – check Amazon for latest pricing
  • Cooks food quickly and evenly
  • Good for all types of food
  • Handles are made of out stainless steel
All-Clad D3 Stainless Steel
All-Clad D3 Stainless Steel

The D5 product line (link to Amazon) is made of five alternating layers of stainless steel and aluminum bonded together with a stainless steel core.

  • The D5 is a step up in quality and price from the Tri-ply and is designed for “advanced” users – check Amazon for latest pricing
  • Due to the additional layers of metal, it is slightly heavier than the tri-ply collection
  • Considered more durable than Tri-ply
  • Cooks food quickly and evenly
  • Good for all types of food but better at searing and browning meats than the Tri-ply
  • Handles are made of out stainless steel with bolsters for better grip
  • 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 D5 Stainless Steel
All-Clad D5 Stainless Steel

The Copper Core product line (link to Amazon) is also made of 5 layers. Two layers of stainless steel on the exterior, two layers of aluminum and, as the name says, copper at the core.

  • The Copper Core line is All-Clad’s premium and most expensive collection, designed for professional use – check Amazon for latest pricing
  • Similar to the D5 line, it is heavier than the tri-ply collection
  • Considered more durable than Tri-ply
  • Cooks food quickly and evenly
  • Good for all types of food is especially great at precisely controlling temperature
  • Stainless steel handles that are long and stay cool
  • Get an in-depth review of All-Clad Copper Core cookware and see how it stacks up against the D5 collection in our recent article: All-Clad D5 vs. Copper Core: How Do They Compare?.
All-Clad Copper Core
All-Clad Copper Core

The science behind the different layers and materials is centered around durability and heat conduction. Without going into all the boring details, stainless steel is ultra durable so they last a lifetime and the aluminum and/or copper layers are the ideal metals to evenly distribute heat throughout the pot or pan so your food cooks perfectly even. 

If you are looking equip yourself with a totally new set of pots and pans, you can save money by purchasing a set.

Each of the collections (Tri-ply, D5 and Copper Core) are available to purchase in a set. If you are just looking for a couple everyday pans, you can buy each item individually. They will cost more per item if you buy them individually, but that is your best option if you don’t need the whole set.

All-Clad offers the following cookware sets:

All Clad cookware

5-piece set includes:

  • 10-inch fry pan
  • 3-quart saucepan with lid
  • 3-quart saute pan with lid

7-piece set includes:

  • 10-inch fry pan
  • 1.5-quart saucepan with lid
  • 3-quart saute pan with lid
  • 8-quart stockpot with lid

10-piece set includes:

  • 10-inch fry pan
  • 8-inch fry pan
  • 2-quart saucepan with lid
  • 3-quart saucepan with lid
  • 3-quart saute pan with lid
  • 8-quart stockpot with lid

14-piece set includes:

  • 10-inch fry pan
  • 12-inch fry pan
  • 2-quart saucepan with lid
  • 3-quart saucepan with lid
  • 3-quart saute pan with lid
  • 6-quart saute pan with lid
  • 12-inch chef’s pan with lid
  • 8-quart stockpot with lid

All-Clad Brushed vs. Polished/Regular Stainless Steel

In researching All-Clad cookware, you’ll notice that some of the products are described 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. The surface on brushed cookware is achieved 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 vs Polished All Clad Cookware
Brushed (left) vs Polished (right)

Brushed and polished cookware performs exactly the same so it comes down to your personal preference from a design standpoint.

Where It Is Made

All-Clad sources all of their metals directly from US suppliers and bonds all of the cookware in their manufacturing facilities in Canonsburg Pennsylvania. The only products they don’t make in the US are some tools, accessories and electric appliances that don’t require bonding. The cookware covered in this article is 100% made in the USA.

Materials

All-Clad makes their cookware with high-grade stainless steel. The surface is made of 18/10 stainless steel which is a form of 304-grade stainless steel made specifically to meet All-Clad’s extremely high standards.

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 designed to work on all types of cooktops. With stainless steel, you taste the food, not the metals of the pan.

Manufacturing Process

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. It has since been copied, however, there are two key 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 all the way to the base of 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.

Durability

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 1-page policy.

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 or frying 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.

All-Clad Gives Meat the Perfect Sear.

My favorite part of cooking with All-Clad is the amazing 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 easily 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:

Can you use them on ceramic/glass/induction cooktops?

Yes, they work well on any type of cooktop.

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.

Do the 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.

What should I do if the food is sticking?

This could be happening 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 it or stir. This will allow the food to cook and create a crust which will naturally release it from the surface.

Will salt cause damage?

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.

Do I need to use wood or nylon utensils?

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 completely 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 cool water on them immediately after cooking. This 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 and/or crank the oven above 600 degrees and, 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

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 uses oxalic acid as the active ingredient. 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, simply combine a small amount of water with Bar Keeper’s Friend powder in your pan and mix it together 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.

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 here:

I totally understand that not everyone can afford to splurge on a big set of 14. However, when you consider the quality and the fact that they will last a lifetime, the pricing, in my opinion, is justified.

Secondly, food sticks to them. Yes, this happens. These are not non-stick. There is 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 really need to understand how to properly use All-Clad and follow the directions. If you don’t, your food will stick.

This brings me to the final downside, they are 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.

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 9-inch French Skillet, or the 12-inch Fry Pan, and try them out yourself.  

If you are ready to dive in and totally equip your kitchen with all sorts of amazing cookware, you can purchase any of these sets on Amazon at the links below:

Thank You for Reading Our Review of the Amazing All-Clad Stainless Steel Cookware!

We hope you enjoyed the review and provided you will helpful information about this superior premium cookware.

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.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you for your article, it totally makes sense now. I thought my All-Clad was defective but I’m pretty new to the kitchen so it is a user error. I had a friend cooking at my house last night and she loved how the food cooked, she went to cooking classes and she is good so I searched for an article on the brand to send it to her. I’m happy I found this full article. I will follow the instructions from now on.

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