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All-Clad D3 vs. Copper Core: What’s the Difference?

Are you shopping for cookware but can’t decide between All-Clad D3 and All-Clad Copper Core?

Both collections are high-performing, durable, and made-in-America. So what’s the difference?

In this comparison of All-Clad D3 vs. Copper Core, you’ll learn how these cookware collections stack up in terms of construction, performance, design, price, and more.

By the end, you’ll have all the essential information to decide which cookware is best for you.


Use the links below to navigate this comparison:


All-Clad D3 vs. Copper Core: Comparison Chart

If you’re in a hurry, use the chart below to quickly compare All-Clad D3 vs. Copper Core cookware.

All-Clad D3All-Clad Copper Core
Where Its MadeCanonsburg, PennsylvaniaCanonsburg, Pennsylvania
Bonded Layers35
Exterior Material18/0 Stainless Steel18/0 Stainless Steel
Cooking Surface18/10 Stainless Steel18/10 Stainless Steel
Core Layer(s)AluminumCopper wrapped in 2 layers of aluminum
LidsStainless SteelStainless Steel
HandlesStainless SteelStainless Steel
Cooking PerformanceFast and even heatingReacts quickly to temperature changes for precise control.
Oven-Safe TemperatureUp to 600°FUp to 600°F
Induction-CompatibleYesYes
CleaningHand wash recommendedHand wash recommended
AppearanceUniform polished finishPolished finish with a copper ring around the lower half of the exterior wall
Flared RimsYes, besides saucepansYes, on all pans
WarrantyLimited LifetimeLimited Lifetime
Price$$$ (view on Amazon)$$$$$ (view on Amazon)

Similarities Between All-Clad D3 and Copper Core

Before reviewing the differences between All-Clad D3 and Copper Core cookware, let’s quickly examine the similarities.

Fully-Clad

The D3 and Copper Core collections are both fully-clad,  meaning they’re made by bonding durable exterior layers of steel together with conductive core layers of aluminum or copper.

All-Clad D3 Cookware Bonded Layers
All-Clad D3 Three Bonded Layers

With this type of cookware, the heat conductive layers extend throughout the pan, from the base to the rim, which encourages fast and even heat distribution.

The cheaper alternative to fully-clad cookware is cookware with an impact-bonded base. With this production technique, the heat conductive metals are bonded to the bottom only, not up the sides (leading to uneven heating and cold spots).

All-Clad’s founder invented fully-clad stainless steel cookware in the 1970s. Although almost every mid- to high-end cookware brand has adopted the process, All-Clad remains the industry leader, utilizing it across all its stainless steel products. 

Materials

Both collections utilize high-quality, American-sourced metals, including 18/0 stainless steel for the cookware’s exterior and 18/10 stainless steel for the cooking surface.

18/0 stainless steel consists of 18% chromium and 0% nickel, making it magnetic (thus, induction-compatible). 18/10 stainless steel consists of 18% chromium and 10% nickel and is the ideal cooking surface. The chromium and nickel make the alloy non-reactive, corrosion-resistant, and ultra-durable.

Made in the USA

D3 and Copper Core cookware is made in the USA, so if you’re after American-sourced and made cookware, both check that box.

Oven-Safe

The D3 and Copper Core collections are oven-safe up to 600°F and broiler-safe, except for the non-stick pans within the D3 collection. Those pieces are oven-safe up to 500°F, and they’re not broiler-safe.

The lids within both collections are not oven-safe.

Induction Compatible

Due to the 18/0 magnetic steel exteriors, both collections are compatible with all cooktops, including induction.

Hand-wash Recommended

All-Clad recommends hand-wash its cookware. That is especially important for the Copper Core collection since the dishwasher could tarnish the copper ring.

Durability

Like every All-Clad stainless steel cookware, the D3 and Copper Core collections are built to last a lifetime.

Although the surface may dull or get small scratches over the years, you can polish it with products such as Bar Keeper’s Friend to restore the original shiny condition.

Although All-Clad is a significant upfront investment, it’s the type of cookware that you can pass from generation to generation, making the total cost of ownership very reasonable.

Lifetime Warranty

Both collections come with a lifetime warranty covering defects in materials, construction, and craftsmanship. If you have any issues, All-Clad will repair or replace the product free of charge.

It’s important to note that the warranty doesn’t cover damage due to misuse, thermal shock (warping), normal wear-and-tear, or damage to the non-stick coatings. To get all the details, check out the full warranty on All-Clad.com.

Now that you understand the similarities between All-Clad D3 and Copper Core cookware, let’s examine the differences.

Difference 1: Materials and Construction

The most significant difference between All-Clad D3 and Copper Core cookware is their materials and construction. 

The D3 collection is made with three bonded layers (3-ply), whereas the Copper Collection is made with five bonded layers (5-ply).

The bonded layers that make up D3 cookware include: 

  • 18/10 stainless steel cooking surface
  • Aluminum core
  • 18/0 stainless steel exterior
All-Clad D3 Cookware Bonded Layers
All-Clad D3 Cookware Bonded Layers

Copper Core, on the other hand, is made of five bonded layers, including:

  • 18/10 stainless steel cooking surface
  • Aluminum mid-layer
  • Copper core
  • Aluminum mid-layer
  • 18/0 stainless steel exterior
All-Clad Copper Core Layering
All-Clad Copper Core Cookware Bonded Layers

The materials used in the construction impact the cookware’s performance. More on this next.

Difference 2: Performance

As mentioned, the cookware’s materials impact its cooking performance.

Both collections heat up quickly and evenly due to their fully-clad construction and the use of aluminum, a heat conductive metal.

However, the key difference in performance is how quickly they heat (heat distribution) and respond to temperature changes (responsiveness).

Since copper has a higher thermal conductivity than aluminum, Copper Core cookware heats faster and responds to temperature changes quicker than D3. In other words, it’s more agile and precise; you get more control over your cooking with the Copper Core collection.

While that sounds great, copper’s superior responsiveness can be a disadvantage in the hands of a less skilled home cook. For instance, you have to pay closer attention while cooking with Copper Core pans because they’re not as forgiving as D3.

If you turn the heat too high or walk away from the stove for a minute, you can quickly burn your food. That comes into play with delicate ingredients like garlic or ginger.

With D3 and its aluminum core, it heats up and responds to temperature changes quickly, too, but it’s a bit more forgiving. So if you turn the heat too high, you won’t immediately scorch your food.

Although it may take an extra minute to heat a D3 pan compared to Copper Core, you get more leeway and can relax a bit more while you cook.

Difference 3: Design

All-Clad D3 and Copper Core cookware are classy, elegant, and functional — but there are some noticeable design differences.

The D3 collection has a uniform polished stainless steel finish.

All-Clad 4203 Sauce Pan with Lid, 3-Quart, Silver

Copper Core has a polished finish too, but it also features an elegant copper ring cut out around the bottom half of the cookware’s exterior, a nod to the copper core interior.

All-Clad 6203 SS Copper Core 5-Ply Bonded Dishwasher Safe Saucepan with Lid / Cookware, 3-Quart, Silver

Some people prefer the simplicity of D3’s uniform shiny exterior, while others appreciate this subtle detail that you get with Copper Core.

The handles are designed differently, too.

Copper Core’s handles have a small bump on the bottom side, which serves as a warning to not move your hand any closer to the hot base.

All-Clad Copper Core Design
All-Clad Copper Core Design

It also features a small cutout to disperse heat and keep the handles cool, making your cooking experience safer.

D3 handles don’t have a small bump or cutout — they are straight and solid throughout.

All-Clad D3 Design
All-Clad D3 Design

Finally, Copper Core cookware has flared rims, which makes pouring easy. D3 does, too, except for the saucepans, which have straight rims, which help keep food contained.

Difference 4: Options

D3 is All-Clad’s most popular and most extensive collection boasting over 50 items, including individual pieces and sets.

The D3 collection also includes a Compact set designed so that you can safely nest the pieces on top of each other, saving storage space.

All-Clad D3 Compact Stainless Steel Dishwasher Safe Cookware Set, 5-Piece, Silver

The D3 collection is mostly stainless steel, but it also includes fry pans with a non-stick cooking surface for easy food release and cleaning.

Copper Core’s collection is more limited with less than 20 items, but it includes all the essentials, such as frying pans, saute pans, saucepans, and more. Unlike D3, the Copper Core collection doesn’t include any stackable sets or non-stick pans.

Difference 5: Price

Besides the construction, the most significant difference between All-Clad D3 and Copper Core cookware is the price.

Copper Core cookware is significantly more expensive than D3.

The main reason for this is that copper is more expensive than aluminum, and the Copper Core collection is made with five bonded layers (vs. three).

Additionally, the extra details, such as the copper ring, add to the cost.

To give you a better idea of how D3 and Copper Core prices compare, refer to the chart below.

Note: These prices are pulled in real-time from Amazon. Click the chart to view more details.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Bottom Line: Should You Buy All-Clad D3 or Copper Core?

Now that you know all the details about All-Clad D3 and Copper Core cookware, it’s time to make a decision.

The truth is, these collections have a lot in common.

  • Both are full-clad
  • Both are made in the USA with high-quality steel.
  • Both are induction-compatible and oven-safe up to 600°F.
  • Both are ultra-durable and come with a lifetime warranty.

However, they also have some significant differences:

Construction: D3 is made with three layers: stainless steel, aluminum, and stainless steel. Copper Core is produced with five layers: stainless steel, aluminum, copper, aluminum, and stainless steel. D3 also has some non-stick options; Copper Core does not.

Performance: Copper Core heats faster and responds to temperature changes more quickly since copper has a higher thermal conductivity than aluminum.

Design: Copper Core and D3 both have a shiny polished exterior, but Copper Core features a signature copper ring that makes it stand out. Copper Core also has safer handles due to the warning bump and the hollowed section to disperse heat.

Options: D3 is All-Clad’s most extensive collection with over 50 pieces. Copper Core has less than 20 pieces, but it includes all the essentials.

Price: Copper Core is significantly more expensive than D3 due to its materials, construction, performance, and design.

The bottom line is D3 is All-Clad’s best-selling collection with the most options. It is one of the best stainless steel cookware collections on the market and performs exceptionally well. With this collection, you won’t be disappointed.

Copper Core is All-Clad’s most premium collection. It has superior responsiveness and heat conduction, giving you ultimate control over your cooking.

For most home cooks, I recommend D3 because it can do everything and costs much less.

However, for more serious chefs and professionals, the responsiveness of copper is helpful for meals that require precise heat control. Is it necessary for most cooks? No. Is it nice to have in some situations? Absolutely.

Ultimately, the right collection comes down to your cooking needs and your budget.

Check out both collections on Amazon to learn more and read dozens of other reviews.

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He’s been studying consumer buying behavior for over a decade and has managed marketing campaigns for over a dozen Fortune 500 brands. When he’s not testing the latest home products, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn or via email.

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