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All-Clad Copper Core Review: Is It Worth the High Price?

Copper Core is All-Clad’s most premium collection. It features long handles, a gorgeous polished finish, and, as the name suggests, a fast-heating copper core.

But is it worth the high price for typical home cooks? What are the pros and cons?

I’ve been testing the All-Clad Copper Core collection for several years. In this review, I break down its construction, design, performance, durability, and more. 

I also reveal its downsides so you understand the whole picture before buying.


Use the links below to navigate the review:


All-Clad Copper Core Review: Key Takeaways

Here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of All-Clad Copper Core. Read the full review for in-depth analysis, up-close pictures, and results from my extensive testing. 

All-Clad Copper Core 12 Inch Fry Pan
All-Clad Copper Core

Pros of All-Clad Copper Core

  • Luxurious Design: The cookware features a polished stainless steel exterior accented by a copper ring. The handles have an oval cutout to disperse heat and make them stand out from other All-Clad collections.
  • Long, Functional Handles: The fry pan handle is 9.5 inches long. For comparison, the All-Clad D3 handle is 8 inches, and the D5 handle is 9 inches. 
  • Quality Materials: This cookware is made in the USA and features 5-ply fully-clad construction. The thick copper core is bonded to the interior and exterior steel layers by two thin layers of aluminum.
  • Even Heat Distribution and Responsiveness: Based on my testing, All-Clad Copper Core is one of the fastest-heating collections in the cookware industry. Since copper has a higher thermal conductivity than aluminum, this cookware heats and cools faster than traditional aluminum-core stainless steel cookware. Its superior responsiveness gives you more control.

Cons of All-Clad Copper Core

  • Expensive: Due to the inclusion of copper, it’s one of the most expensive stainless steel cookware collections on the market. Its price is comparable to brands like Hestan NanoBond and Demeyere Atlantis.
  • Heavy: The density of copper makes these pans heavy. For example, the 12-inch frying pan weighs 3.7 pounds (the average 12-inch frying pan weighs 3 pounds).
  • Copper Ring Tarnishes: The exposed copper ring tarnishes and requires regular cleaning and polishing to maintain its appearance.
  • Prone to Fingerprints: Fingerprints and marks are noticeable on the polished exterior finish.
  • Not Beginner-Friendly: If you’re a beginner cook, its high responsiveness can quickly lead to overcooking or burning. This cookware is not forgiving; you need to pay close attention when cooking. 
  • Heat Retention: While it heats quickly, it also cools down fast, which is not ideal for stews, braises, and soups.

Is All-Clad Copper Core Worth the High Price?

All-Clad Copper Core is one of the best cookware collections you can buy. But for most home cooks, its upgrades (longer handles and superior responsiveness) are nice-to-haves, not necessities. Other cookware, like All-Clad D3, Made In, and Heritage Steel, offers similar performance for a much lower price. If you’re looking for the best value, avoid Copper Core. But if performance is your top priority and budget is no concern, Copper Core is an excellent long-term investment.

All-Clad Copper Core is available on All-Clad.com and Amazon, where you can read more reviews and check the current prices.  

Design

The first thing you’ll notice when you look at All-Clad Copper Core cookware is its luxurious polished stainless steel exterior, accented by a copper ring. The ring is a subtle nod to the copper core within.

Bottom of All-Clad Copper Core pan
All-Clad Copper Core pan

This cookware features All-Clad’s signature cup-shaped handles, which are concave on top and rounded underneath. All-Clad created this design with professional chefs in mind, putting function ahead of comfort. 

All-Clad Copper Core holding the handle
All-Clad Copper Core handle

Rounded handles are prone to rotate, but All-Clad’s cup-shaped handles stay locked in your hand. Let’s say you’re pouring a large pot of pasta into a strainer. The groove on the handle won’t allow the pot to rotate or slip in your hand — you have complete control, even when wearing an oven mitt.

The handles also have a small bump on the bottom, a clever feature to remind you when your hand is sliding too close to the heat.

Small bump under All-Clad Copper Core handle
Small bump under All-Clad Copper Core handle

Copper Core handles are different from All-Clad’s other collections in two ways. First, they’re slightly longer so you can keep your hand further away from the heat. The handle on the Copper Core 12-inch frying pan is just shy of 9.5 inches long. For comparison, the All-Clad D3 handle is 8 inches, and the All-Clad D5 handle is 9 inches.

Measuring All-Clad Copper Core handles
Measuring All-Clad Copper Core handles

The handles also feature a subtle cutout to disperse heat.

All-Clad Copper Core handle cutout
All-Clad Copper Core handle cutout

I tested this feature by boiling water for 20 minutes in a Copper Core pan and an All-Clad D5 pan without the cutout.

Testing All-Clad D5 vs Copper Core to see which handle stays cooler
Testing All-Clad D5 vs Copper Core to see which handle stays cooler

Both handles stayed completely cool up to the small bump, with some warmth in between the bump and pan base. So, while this cutout makes Copper Core handles stand out from All-Clad’s other collections, it doesn’t add any noticeable performance value.

Finally, every Copper Core pan has flared rims that make it easy to slide food onto a plate and pour liquids without dripping.

All-Clad Copper Core pan on electric stove
All-Clad Copper Core flared rims

Materials and Construction

All-Clad Copper Core’s unique 5-ply construction is what makes it so special.

The interior cooking surface is 18/10 stainless steel interior, the exterior is polished ferromagnetic steel, and the core is a thick layer of copper sandwiched between two thin layers of aluminum that help bond the copper to the steel.

All-Clad Copper Core Cookware Bonded Layers Labeled
All-Clad Copper Core Cookware Bonded Layers

What sets Copper Core apart from most stainless steel cookware, like All-Clad’s D3 collection, and other popular brands, such as Made In and Heritage Steel, is this copper core. 

All-Clad Copper Core bonded layers
All-Clad Copper Core bonded layers

Since copper has a high thermal conductivity, this cookware heats up faster and responds more quickly to temperature changes than aluminum-core cookware. This responsiveness gives you more control over the pan’s temperature and, therefore, the results of your cooking (more on performance in the next section).

The walls of All-Clad Copper Core pans are relatively thin at 2 mm.

Measuring the thickness of All-Clad Copper Core pans with a micrometer
Measuring the thickness of All-Clad Copper Core pans with a micrometer

In most cases, this is a negative because thin cookware doesn’t retain heat as well as thicker cookware. But the Copper Core collection is thinner for a reason. Copper is denser and heavier than aluminum, so if Copper Core pans were 3 mm thick like All-Clad D3 and D5, they would be too heavy for most people.

Thickness of All-Clad D3 vs Copper Core
Thickness of All-Clad D3 (left) vs. Copper Core (right)

For context, the All-Clad Copper Core 12-inch frying pan weighs 3.7 pounds. The 12-inch D3 pan weighs 2.8 pounds, and D5 weighs 3.2 pounds.

Weighing the All-Clad Copper Core 12-inch frying pan
Weighing the All-Clad Copper Core 12-inch frying pan

Performance

I’ve been using All-Clad Copper Core cookware for several years. I’ve used it to cook everything from steak, shrimp, chicken, eggs, vegetables, sauces, and much more. 

Chicken cutlets cooked in an All-Clad Copper Core pan
Chicken cutlets cooked in an All-Clad Copper Core pan

During this time, I’ve developed an in-depth understanding of how it performs.

The key takeaway is that it responds to temperature changes noticeably faster than stainless steel cookware with an aluminum core.

In other words, when you turn the heat up, the pan gets hot fast. When you turn the dial down, it quickly cools. If you’re used to cooking with a thick-bottom cast iron skillet that heats slowly and retains heat long after you turn the heat off, know that Copper Core pans perform the opposite. 

The primary benefit of All-Clad Copper Core is control. You don’t need to lift the pan off the heat when food starts to burn; turn the heat down, and the temperature of the cooking surface will quickly cool. And unless you’re boiling water, you never need to crank the heat too high. You’ll notice the increase in temperature quickly when you go from heat setting 3 to 5 and from 5 to 7. 

These pans are ideal for meals that require frequent temperature adjustments, like caramelized onions, garlic, fish, steak, sauces, caramel, and chocolate. It also boils liquids quickly. 

Sautéing onions in an All-Clad Copper Core pan
Sautéing onions in an All-Clad Copper Core pan

The downside of highly responsive cookware is that it can quickly burn or overcook food if you’re not paying attention. You need to stay focused when cooking and always start with a lower temperature than you think. 

I recently tested the All-Clad Copper Core 12-inch frying pan against a standard aluminum-core stainless steel pan from the brand Goldilocks. I shallow fried chicken cutlets in both pans on medium heat.

Cooking chicken cutlets in an All-Clad Copper Core pan and Goldilocks pan
Cooking chicken cutlets in an All-Clad Copper Core pan (left) and Goldilocks pan (right)

Both pans browned the chicken evenly, but after a few minutes, I had to lower the heat on All-Clad’s burner to prevent the breadcrumbs on the chicken from burning. 

Chicken cutlets cooked in All-Clad and Goldilocks pans
Chicken cutlets cooked in All-Clad (left) and Goldilocks (right) pans

Copper conducts heat faster than aluminum. So, despite identical heat settings, the Copper Core pan got significantly hotter. This test shows how the high responsiveness of copper can lead to burning if you aren’t paying close attention. 

People often complain about the cup-shaped handle, and I’ll admit, I’ve tested more comfortable handles. However, I’ve learned to appreciate its functionality and safety. You never have to worry about the handle rotating in your hand when you tilt the pan to pour liquids or transfer food to a plate. These handles stay put even if your hands are soaking wet or greasy.

All-Clad Copper Core handle design
All-Clad Copper Core handle design

Overall, All-Clad Copper Core is a pleasure to use in the kitchen. It heats fast and evenly, the cooking surface is wide, and the long handles make it easy to maneuver.

Does it immediately transform you into a pro chef? No.

Does every home cook need stainless steel cookware with a copper core to cook delicious meals? Not necessarily.

You can prepare the same dishes effectively in an aluminum-core stainless steel pan. However, the copper in Copper Core pans gives you more heat control for precise and predictable results. 

All-Clad Copper Core vs. the Competition

I just talked about how fast and evenly All-Clad Copper Core cookware heats. But how does its heat conduction compare to All-Clad’s other collections and, more broadly, to the cookware industry?

To find out, I conducted a simple test. I poured two cups of 55°F water into the Copper Core 12-inch frying pan and set it on the burner on high heat. 

After 1 minute and 21 seconds, the water started to bubble evenly across the cooking surface, indicating that the pan distributes heat uniformly. The water reached a full boil after 2 minutes and 18 seconds.

All-Clad Copper Core pan heating evenly
All-Clad Copper Core pan heating evenly

I conduct this test with every cookware brand I review, and as you can see in the results below, Copper Core is the third fastest pan to boil the water.

Copper Core heated faster than highly popular pans like All-Clad D3 and D5, Made In, Hestan NanoBond, Viking Professional, and many more. All-Clad G5, made with a highly conductive graphite core, was the only fully-clad stainless steel pan to heat up faster.

PanTime to First BubblesTime to Boil
Farberware1 minute and 2 seconds1 minute and 29 seconds
All-Clad G5 fry pan1 minute and 17 seconds2 minutes and 4 seconds
All-Clad Copper Core fry pan1 minute and 21 seconds2 minutes and 18 seconds
Made In stainless steel fry pan1 minute and 40 seconds2 minutes and 21 seconds
Anolon X pan1 minute and 35 seconds2 minutes and 22 seconds
Misen fry pan1 minute and 50 seconds2 minutes and 25 seconds
Caraway1 minute and 53 seconds2 minutes and 26 seconds
Anolon Advanced fry pan1 minute and 55 seconds2 minutes and 27 seconds
HexClad fry pan1 minute and 40 seconds2 minutes and 30 seconds
Made In non-stick fry pan1 minute and 53 seconds2 minutes and 31 seconds
Zwilling fry pan1 minute and 45 seconds2 minutes and 31 seconds
T-fal fry pan1 minute and 50 seconds2 minutes and 32 seconds
Gotham Steel fry pan1 minute and 58 seconds2 minutes and 32 seconds
Rachael Ray fry pan1 minute and 47 seconds2 minutes and 36 seconds
Viking fry pan1 minute and 42 seconds2 minutes and 39 seconds
Calphalon fry pan1 minute and 45 seconds2 minutes and 40 seconds
Sardel fry pan1 minute and 41 seconds2 minutes and 46 seconds
Pioneer Woman fry pan2 minutes and 2 seconds2 minutes and 46 seconds
Hestan fry pan1 minute and 52 seconds2 minutes and 47 seconds
GreenLife pan2 minutes and 11 seconds2 minutes and 47 seconds
Our Place Always Pan2 minutes and 2 seconds2 minutes and 48 seconds
Ninja NeverStick Pan2 minutes and 7 seconds2 minutes and 49 seconds
Tramontina fry pan1 minute and 53 seconds2 minutes and 52 seconds
Circulon fry pan2 minutes and 7 seconds2 minutes and 55 seconds
All-Clad D3 fry pan1 minute and 55 seconds2 minutes and 55 seconds
All-Clad HA1 fry pan2 minutes and 12 seconds2 minutes and 58 seconds
All-Clad D5 fry pan1 minutes and 58 seconds3 minutes and 4 seconds
Goldilocks fry pan2 minutes and 17 seconds3 minutes and 5 seconds
Demeyere Industry fry pan2 minutes and 3 seconds3 minutes and 10 seconds
Ballarini fry pan2 minutes and 15 seconds3 minutes and 12 seconds
Heritage Steel fry pan1 minute and 59 seconds3 minutes and 15 seconds
Demeyere Atlantis fry pan2 minutes and 11 seconds3 minutes and 25 seconds
Xtrema fry pan3 minutes and 41 seconds6 minutes and 7 seconds

I conducted another test to measure heat retention. After the water began to boil, I removed the pan from the heat and set it aside to cool. 

After 5 minutes, the water in the Copper Core pan was 117.7°F.

All-Clad Copper Core heat retention results after 5 minutes
All-Clad Copper Core heat retention results after 5 minutes

After 10 minutes, the water was 95.5°F.

All-Clad Copper Core heat retention results after 10 minutes
All-Clad Copper Core heat retention results after 10 minutes

As the results below show, Copper Core’s heat retention is inferior to most cookware brands and is the worst performer in All-Clad’s entire lineup. 

PanTemperature After 5 MinutesTemperature After 10 Minutes
Xtrema fry pan142°F113°F
Made In stainless steel fry pan121.1°F106.6°F
Demeyere Atlantis fry pan122.0°F106.3°F
Made In non-stick fry pan120.2°F105.8°F
Ninja NeverStick Pan130.5°F104.8°F
Misen fry pan118.6°F103.4°F
Zwilling fry pan121.1°F103.0°F
Rachael Ray fry pan126.3°F102.7°F
Goldilocks fry pan122.0°F102.5°F
HexClad fry pan120.7°F102.4°F
Circulon fry pan133.3°F102.0°F
Tramontina fry pan118.5°F101.3°F
Calphalon fry pan112.8°F101.1°F
All-Clad D3 skillet111.6°F100.9°F
Ballarini fry pan120°F99.9°F
Heritage Steel120.1°F98.2°F
All-Clad HA1 fry pan117.9°F98.1°F
Hestan fry pan114.4°F98.0°F
Sardel fry pan114.0°F97.8°F
All-Clad D5 fry pan112.7°F97.3°F
Demeyere Industry fry pan115.2°F96.6°F
All-Clad G5 fry pan115.3°F96.6°F
Our Place Always Pan118.0°F96.7°F
Caraway fry pan116.6°F96.4°F
Anolon X pan114.1°F96.0°F
Viking fry pan106.6°F95.9°F
All-Clad Copper Core fry pan117.7°F95.5°F
Farberware fry pan112.0°F95.4°F
GreenLife fry pan119.0°F95.0°F
Gotham Steel fry pan113.0°F95.0°F
Anolon Advanced fry pan112.7°F90.9°F
Pioneer Woman fry pan104.3°F90.9°F
T-fal fry pan108.7°F88.0°F

These results were expected. Cookware that responds quickly to temperature changes heats AND cools fast by nature. 

You might think this characteristic would hinder the Copper Core’s ability to sear meat effectively, as cold ingredients could cause a quick temperature drop. However, the pan’s rapid heat recovery overwhelmingly offsets its lower heat retention.

That said, stews, braises, and other low-and-slow meals are better suited for thicker, slower-heating pots with better heat retention.

Price

The All-Clad Copper Core collection is made in America from high-quality ingredients. 

Due to its 5-ply construction and unique copper core, Copper Core is the brand’s most expensive collection. Expect to pay well over $100 for every pot and pan, regardless of size. 

It’s priced similarly to high-end stainless steel cookware collections, including Demeyere Atlantis and Hestan NanoBond. But it’s less expensive than super premium copper cookware, like Mauviel and Made In Copper. 

Check the current prices on All-Clad.com and Amazon.  

Downsides

While the All-Clad Copper Core has many strengths, it’s essential to understand its downsides before buying.

Expensive: As I mentioned, All-Clad Copper Core pans are expensive. But why? Copper is a more costly raw material than aluminum (which is the core of most stainless steel cookware). Also, the longer handles and design (handle cutout and copper ring) add to the labor and tooling costs. 

Heavy: Another consideration is the weight — copper’s density results in notably heavier pans. If you have weak wrists or lack upper body strength, these pans, especially larger pieces, might be challenging to maneuver.

Copper Tarnishes: The aesthetic appeal of the copper ring, a hallmark of this collection, comes with maintenance requirements. The copper can tarnish and lose its lustrous appearance without regular cleaning and polishing.

All-Clad Copper Core tarnished copper ring
All-Clad Copper Core tarnished copper ring

Fingerprints: The polished finish of the cookware, while sleek and modern out of the box, is prone to showing fingerprints and marks. You need to polish it frequently to maintain its pristine look.

Not Beginner-Friendly: From a performance standpoint, the Copper Core collection is not the most beginner-friendly. While a bonus for experienced cooks, its responsiveness can lead to overcooking or burning ingredients if you’re not accustomed to it.

Poor Heat Retention: Heat retention is another aspect to consider. Though the copper core allows the cookware to heat rapidly, it also cools down quickly. This fast cooling can be a disadvantage, depending on what you’re cooking. It’s great for sauteing shrimp, searing salmon, and reducing sauces, but it’s not ideal for braised short ribs, beef stew, and chili. 

FAQs About All-Clad Copper Core

Do you still have questions about All-Clad Copper Core? Here are answers to the topics people ask about the most.

Is All-Clad Copper Core oven-safe?

Yes, All-Clad Copper Core cookware is oven-safe without the lids up to 600°F. Learn more in this guide to All-Clad oven safety.

Is All-Clad Copper Core induction-compatible?

Absolutely. All-Clad Copper Core cookware is designed with a ferromagnetic stainless steel exterior, making it compatible with all cooktops, including induction.

Is All-Clad Copper Core dishwasher safe?

In the past, every All-Clad stainless steel collection was advertised as dishwasher safe. However, since settling a recent class action lawsuit claiming dishwasher use could cause the rim of the cookware to become sharp, All-Clad has revised its guidelines and now recommends hand washing its stainless steel cookware (including Copper Core). It’s worth noting that the lawsuit didn’t specifically name the Copper Core collection, as there were no widespread issues or complaints about it. 

How do I clean All-Clad Copper Core?

Use warm, soapy water and a sponge for daily cleaning, Bar Keepers Friend for discoloration and stubborn stains, and a specialized copper cleaner for maintaining the copper ring. Read my guide to cleaning All-Clad for more tips.

How is All-Clad Copper Core different than All-Clad D5?

The main difference is in the construction. Copper Core has a copper middle layer for rapid heating, while D5 has a five-layer design with alternating layers of stainless steel and aluminum, offering slower, more even heating. Read my comparison of All-Clad D5 vs. Copper Core to learn more.

How is All-Clad Copper Core different than All-Clad G5 Graphite Core?

The core material is the primary difference. G5 Graphite Core features a graphite core disc. Graphite heats faster and is lighter than Copper. I recently named All-Clad G5 the best lightweight cookware.

Where is All-Clad Copper Core made?

All-Clad Copper Core cookware is made in All-Clad’s Canonsburg, Pennsylvania factory. However, the handles and lids are made in China and attached in the US.

Does All-Clad cookware ever go on sale?

Not frequently, but we track All-Clad prices (along with dozens of other brands) and will email you when it goes on sale. Sign up for our free newsletter to get notified.

Bottom Line: Is All-Clad Copper Core Worth It?

All-Clad Copper Core is one of the best cookware collections you can buy. It features a gorgeous polished exterior accented by a copper ring, long handles with a secure and functional design, flared rims for drip-free pouring, and a wide cooking surface to prevent overcrowding.

It heats up fast and evenly and responds to temperature changes quickly, giving you the ultimate control over your cooking. 

But are all these benefits worth the high price? 

The truth is, you can cook the same meals with cookware that costs significantly less. Copper Core’s added benefits are nice to have, but certainly not essential. For home cooks, aluminum-core stainless steel pans like All-Clad D3, Made In, and Heritage Steel are a better value.

However, if you’re an avid home cook, appreciate the extra design elements and performance benefits, and have the budget, Copper Core is an excellent long-term investment. Stainless steel cookware can last forever, so it’s with spending more upfront to get pots and pans you’ll truly love.

Ultimately, only you can decide if All-Clad Copper Core is the right cookware for you. But price, design, and performance, are the key factors to consider.

All-Clad Copper Core is available on All-Clad.com and Amazon, where you can read more reviews and check the current prices.

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He began his career in marketing, managing campaigns for dozens of Fortune 500 brands. In 2018, Andrew founded Prudent Reviews and has since reviewed 600+ products. When he’s not testing the latest cookware, kitchen knives, and appliances, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew via emailLinkedIn, or the Prudent Reviews YouTube channel.

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