All-Clad D5 vs. Copper Core: How Do They Compare?

All-Clad D5 vs. Copper Core
Image Credit: All-Clad.com

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If you’re in the market for a new set of stainless cookware and you’re trying to decide between All-Clad’s D5 and Copper Core collections, this article is for you.

In the following sections, I provide an in-depth comparison of All-Clad D5 vs. All-Clad Copper Core cookware and explain all of their similarities, differences, pros, and cons.

I break down their construction, design, heat conductance and responsiveness, aesthetics and much more.

By the end, you’ll have all the information you need to decide which premium All-Clad collection is best for you.

If you’re just looking to quickly compare the price of All-Clad D5 and Copper Core cookware, both are available on Amazon at these links: All-Clad D5, All-Clad Copper Core.

Click the links below to navigate this article:

All-Clad D5 vs. Copper Core: 1-Minute Summary

If you only have a minute, here’s what you need to know about All-Clad D5 and Copper Core cookware.

Similarities

All-Clad’s D5 and Copper Core collections are more alike than they are different.

Construction: They’re both considered 5-ply cookware which means they’re constructed with 5 bonded layers of metal. Each layer serves a specific purpose. The outside steel layers provide durability and an ideal cooking surface while the core aluminum or copper layers conduct heat evenly throughout the piece (more on this in a minute).

Warranty: They both feature a limited lifetime warranty that covers any defects in material or craftsmanship for as long as you own the cookware.

Oven and Dishwasher Safe: Both are oven and broiler safe up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. Although both are technically dishwasher safe, All-Clad highly recommends hand washing D5 and Copper Core cookware by hand. The high temperatures and harsh chemicals in the dishwasher can tarnish the cookware’s exterior, especially the copper ring on the Cooper Core collection.

Differences

Core Layer Materials: The primary difference between All-Clad’s D5 and Copper Core cookware is metal used for the core 3 layers. The core of D5 cookware is made up of stainless steel wrapped in two layers of aluminum while, as its name suggests, copper wrapped in two layers of aluminum is the middle layer of Copper Core cookware.

All-Clad D5 vs. Copper Core Layers
D5 (left) and Copper Core (right). Image Credit: cookswarehouse.com

Both aluminum and copper improve heat conduction and responsiveness. This means that the cooking surface will quickly respond to increases in temperature from the heating source and spread it evenly. The difference is that copper has even greater heat responsiveness than aluminum, so when you’re cooking with Copper Core cookware and you adjust the heat, the temperature of the cooking surface changes in an instant.

Appearance: Both collections have a stainless steel exterior. The D5 collection comes in both polished (shiny) or brushed (matte) finishes. The Copper Core collection is only available in a polished finish and it features an elegant copper ring around the sides of each piece.

Price: Due to the use of copper, the Copper Core collection is about 20% more expensive than the D5 collection. Both are pricey, but when you consider that they’ll last your entire life, it’s definitely worth the splurge. To compare the current prices, check them both out on Amazon: link to D5, link to Copper Core.

Who It’s Designed For: The All-Clad Copper Core collection is designed for professional chefs that require an agile response in cooking surface temperature and embrace a hands-on cooking approach. The higher heat responsiveness with Copper Core cookware requires skill and direct attention.

The Copper Core is also for the chef or advanced home cook that wants to impress his or her mastery in a very visual way; someone that likes to make their cooking a show. If you are frequently cooking to impress guests with dramatic dishes and grand presentation, the Copper Core is for you.

If you are a culinary enthusiast, but are more often cooking for yourself, a family, or prefer more practicality, the D5 is a better option. If heat responsiveness is not essential to your cooking, or if you plan to use the dishwasher often, D5 cookware is for you.

Bottom Line

I want to stress that the D5 and Copper Core collections aren’t dramatically different, in fact, heat response, aesthetics, and price are their only real differences. Your cooking style, design preferences, and budget will be the deciding factors between these two remarkable cookware collections.

Now that you know the basics, let’s dive deeper into the similarities and differences between these two cookware collections.

Quick Comparison Chart

 All-Clad D5All-Clad Copper Core
Where They Are MadeCanonsburg, PennsylvaniaCanonsburg, Pennsylvania
Bonded Layers55
Exterior MaterialStainless SteelStainless Steel
Cooking Surface18/10 Stainless Steel 18/10 Stainless Steel
Core LayersStainless steel wrapped in 2 layers of aluminumCopper wrapped in 2 layers of aluminum
LidsStainless SteelStainless Steel
HandlesStainless SteelStainless Steel
Oven Safe TemperatureUp to 600 degreesUp to 600 degrees
Induction CompatibleYesYes
CleaningDishwasher safe, hand wash recommendedDishwasher safe, hand wash recommended
AppearanceAvailable in polished and brushed finishesOnly available in polished finish, copper ring around the bottom
Lid HandlesSquaredRounded
Flared RimsYesYes
Cooking PerformanceGradual temperature responseQuick temperature response
WarrantyLimited LifetimeLimited Lifetime
PriceLess expensive on average Check Current Price on AmazonMore expensive on average Check Current Price on Amazon

Similarities Between All-Clad D5 and Copper Core Cookware

The truth is, All-Clad D5 and Copper Core cookware are more similar than they are different. In this section, I cover all their similarities in detail, starting with the way they’re constructed.

Creative and Innovative Construction

As I talked about in a recent article (Is All-Clad Cookware Worth the High Price?), All-Clad manufactures all of their stainless cookware through a special process of diffusion bonding, or “roll bonding”, to create alternating layers of different metals which are adhered using the properties of the metals themselves.

Their current manufacturing practice continues a proud legacy of inventive progress. All-Clad continually develops patents related to these solid-state bonding techniques, multi-layer cookware architecture, and engineering which improves the usability of their products.

All-Clad uses high temperature and pressure to strongly adhere the metals in a pattern which not only accommodates remarkably even heating across the entire heating surface but also reduces heat conductance of the side walls for example, in a frying pan. This reduces oil-splatter burning and food adherence to the walls of the cookware.

These innovations make cooking with All-Clad not only more enjoyable but also more predictable and easier to clean.

To learn more about All-Clad’s innovative manufacturing process, check on the video below or read more about it on All-Clad.com.

Where They’re Made

With beautiful aesthetics and intelligent production procedures, every All-Clad piece is entirely manufactured in the United States, utilizing patented methods and designs.

Cooking Surface

Both D5 and the Copper Core cookware feature a 304 series 18/10 stainless steel interior cooking surface. This is both beautiful, but also non-reactive. It is resistant to sticking, staining, and corrosion.

All-Clad offers individual pieces with non-stick cooking surfaces in both the D5 and Copper Core collections, however, these pieces are not included in many of their sets including the popular 10 and 14 piece sets.

Bonded Layers

Both the D5 and the Copper Core feature 5 layers of alternating metals from the exterior of the base to the cooking surface, producing profoundly even heat distribution.

Both the D5 and Copper Core feature All-Clad patented design which distributes heat evenly across the cooking surface while reducing heat transmission along walls of pans, which reduces the significance of burned-on grease splatter along the walls.

Oven-Safe and Induction Compatible 

Both the D5 and Copper Core are oven and broiler safe up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit which is great for steaks and other meats that require the brown and braise method of cooking.

Both feature ferromagnetic 400 series stainless steel exteriors, which makes them compatible with induction cooktops.

Care and Cleaning

The Copper Core and D5 collections are dishware safe, however, All-Clad suggests washing with soap and water by hand since dishwasher detergents may tarnish the exterior copper ring or exterior stainless steel.

If using a dishwasher, avoid detergents that contain acidic ingredients (lemon/lime) and chlorine.

If your cookware becomes tarnished, it can usually be removed by cleaning and polishing with powdered cleaning products such as Bar-Keepers Friend.

Bar Keepers Friend

All-Clad has manuals and instructions on their website, but instead of trying to navigate through it all, here are the key things to know when using both D5 and Copper Core cookware:

  • Since All-Clad cookware conducts heat so well, they recommend using low to medium heat for 90% of dishes. Overheating can stain the cookware. Only use high heat for boiling.
  • Before adding oil or butter, preheat the pan.
  • Make sure to clean the cookware well. Food residue or film can cause discoloration if present on the pan when reheated.
  • To prevent pitting, wait until the food has started to cook to add salt.
  • Be warned that high-iron content in your water may contribute to discoloration or the appearance of rust. This can be removed by cleaners such as Bar-Keepers Friend.
  • Allow pans to fully cool before cleaning. Do not place a hot pan under cold water, this may cause warping.
  • Do not use steel wool, scouring pads, or detergents containing bleach to clean this cookware.
  • Drying immediately after washing will prevent water spots.

Functional Features

The D5 and Copper Core collections both come with the following functional features.

  • Stainless Steel Handles: Both have large, riveted stainless steel handles which are comfortable, durable, and oven safe.
  • Stainless Steel Lids: Both come with stainless steel lids with riveted handles that are oven safe which is ideal for braised meats.
  • Capacity Etching: The cookware capacity is etched into the base of the piece in both collections so you can easily identify the pot or pan you need.
  • Warp-Resistant: Both are remarkably resistant to warping thanks to the 5 layer design.
  • Flared Rims: Both have flared pouring rims for easy transfer of liquids and sauces.
    All-Clad D5 Flared Rim
    All-Clad D5 Flared Rim. Image Credit: All-Clad.com

Warranty

Both collections come with a limited lifetime warranty which states that All-Clad will repair or replace any item “defective in material, construction or workmanship under normal use, and following care instructions.

The warranty does not cover damage from using high heat, heating empty cookware for extended periods of time, or damage from scouring pads, steel wool, abrasive cleaners, and bleach. Read all the fine print here: All-Clad’s Warranty.

Differences Between All-Clad D5 and Copper Core Cookware

Despite their long list of similarities, All-Clad’s D5 and Copper Core collections have important differences you need to know before buying.

Core Layer

While the All-Clad D5 and All-Clad Copper Core both incorporate a 5-layers of metals bonded using their patented production methods for remarkably even heat distribution, they differ in the central-most layer of their 5-layer design.

The core layer of D5 cookware is stainless steel, a metal with relatively low heat conductance. In Copper Core cookware, the core layer is copper which is a very efficient conductor of heat.

Here’s how both of these collections are constructed starting from the exterior layer and ending at the interior layer (cooking surface):

D5 Layers:

  • Layer 1 (Exterior): Ferromagnetic stainless steel.
  • Layer 2: Aluminum.
  • Layer 3 (Core Layer): Stainless steel.
  • Layer 4: Aluminum.
  • Layer 5 (Interior/Cooking Surface): 18/10 stainless steel.
All-Clad D5 Cookware Layers
All-Clad D5 Cookware Layers. Image Credit: cookswarehouse.com

Copper Core Layers:

  • Layer 1 (Exterior): Ferromagnetic stainless steel.
  • Layer 2: Aluminum.
  • Layer 3 (Core Layer): Copper.
  • Layer 4: Aluminum.
  • Layer 5 (Interior/Cooking Surface): 18/10 stainless steel.
All-Clad Copper Core Cookware Layers
All-Clad Copper Core Cookware Layers. Image Credit: cookswarehouse.com

Cooking Performance

The key difference between D5 and Copper Core cookware in terms of cooking performance is in their heat responsiveness and conduction.

The D5, because of the stainless steel core layer, does not conduct heat as quickly. Therefore, the heat response will be more forgiving; an increase in stovetop temperature will cause a more gradual ramp in the cooking surface temperature.

Copper Core’s more conductive interior layer of copper results in a quicker temperature response on the cooking surface. Skilled chefs and serious home cooks usually prefer the rapid heat response, since it provides more control. The downside is that, if the heat is set too high, there will be little time to realize and adjust accordingly. The Copper Core demands a more present, observant, and experienced cook.

Here’s a quick look at how each material stacks up in terms of heat conduction:

Heat conduction by metal
Heat conduction by metal.

Appearance

The D5 and Copper Core collections are gorgeous and tasteful in their appearance but have important differences to note.

All-Clad D5 Polished vs. D5 Brushed vs. Copper Core
All-Clad D5 Polished vs. D5 Brushed vs. Copper Core. Image Credit: All-Clad.com.

D5 cookware is available in polished (shiny) or brushed (matte) stainless steel finishes. The Copper Core exterior is only available in a polished finish but it features an elegant yet subtle copper ring that adorns the bottom section of the cookware. As you can see below, the copper ring is the most distinguishable feature of Copper Core’s appearance.

Besides their exteriors, the handles on Copper Core cookware lids are more rounded compared to D5 handles which are more square.

All-Clad D5 vs. Copper Core Lid Handles
All-Clad D5 vs. Copper Core Lid Handles. Image Credit: All-Clad.com.

Price

Regardless of which collection you buy, All-Clad cookware is expensive. It’s a premium product and therefore demands a premium price.

The Copper Core collection tends to run about 20% more expensive than D5. It’s more expensive because copper is significantly more expensive than steel. There’s some variation in the difference in price between sets and individual pieces, but you can expect Copper Core cookware to be significantly more expensive than D5.

Use the chart below to compare the prices of comparable sets across each collection (links send you to Amazon).

 All-Clad D5All-Clad Copper Core
7-Piece SetCheck Current PriceCheck Current Price
10-Piece SetCheck Current PriceCheck Current Price
14 Piece SetCheck Current PriceCheck Current Price

Bottom Line: Which All-Clad Collection Is Right for You, D5 or Copper Core?

Are you a hands-on, apron-wearing professional chef or advanced home cook? Or, are you a more passive cook looking for a high quality set with great performance?

If you’re serious about cooking and need precise heat conduction and instant responsiveness, Copper Core is the cookware for you. It’s one of the best, if not the best, cookware collections you can buy and it’s no surprise that some of the top chefs in the world swear by it.

If you prefer cookware that’s luxurious and superbly functional yet low-maintenance, All-Clad D5 cookware might be the better option for you. D5 cookware is not only beautiful, but it also provides better heat conduction and responsiveness than just about every other brand that makes stainless cookware.

If you’re ready to purchase a set or need some more opinions, check out All-Clad D5 and Copper Core cookware on Amazon where you can compare prices and read hundreds of customer reviews.

We Want to Hear from You!

Have you ever cooked with All-Clad? If so, which collection and what did you like/dislike? Do you agree with our comparison of the D5 and Copper Core collections?

Let us know in the comments below!

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