If you're a serious home chef, you need to have the proper tools. With the possible exception of knives, the most important tools in your kitchen are your pots and pans. All-Clad and Demeyere are two of the best options.
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Cookware can be tricky to buy. Even if you can afford the best, how do you determine what that is? Just throwing money at the problem doesn't guarantee you'll get a set you'll be happy with. Everyone's cooking style is different, and there's no one "best" cookware for everyone. If you read cooking forums, you'll find this to be the case over and over.
A better strategy is to learn about your options first, then choose the option that best fits your cooking style.
Do you cook with gas, electric, or induction? Which pans get the heaviest use in your kitchen? How much do you want to spend? Is dishwasher-safe important to you? (We hope not.) Do you want cookware made in the USA?
In the U.S., the All-Clad name is synonymous with high-end cookware. It's expensive, it's well made, and it comes with a lifetime warranty. Yet All-Clad is far from the only high-end cookware brand. There are other options.
Here, we're going to examine All-Clad and another top-of-the-line brand, Demeyere (pronounced de-MY-ruh), a Belgian cookware line less well known in the US but arguably even higher end than All-Clad. The comparison will give you an excellent idea about which brand will best serve your needs.
After all, if you're going to spend the money, you should get cookware you can love.
All-Clad Vs. Demeyere at a Glance
If you don't want to read the whole article, here's a quick comparison table:
Quality stainless is one of the least reactive cookware materials.
Silvinox coating slightly edges out AC.
All stainless is very durable.
All stainless is very durable.
Ease of Care
Stickiness is one of stainless' main drawbacks.
Silvinox coating and rivetless design superior to AC.
Good amount of cooking surface, grippable handle design, stainless lids. Some people dislike the grooved handle, but it is meant to help you steady the pan (we like it).
Good amount of cooking surface, Silvinox coating and rivetless design superior to AC. However, heavier than AC and has shorter handles that make it hard to manage the larger pans.
30 year warranty.
Expensive. Cuisinart's MC Pro similar heating properties make it a better buy.
More expensive! But the superior heating properties and design are worth it to some cooks.
First: What Makes Cookware Great?
In order to compare any cookware brands, you first have to know a little bit about what makes cookware great. Aside from how great it's going to look in your kitchen, what do you actually need to know about how cookware performs?
It turns out these are the qualities that matter the most:
- Heating properties: how evenly and quickly does the cookware heat?
- Reactivity: Does the cooking surface react with food? Is it harmful if ingested?
- Durability: How well does the cookware stand up to use?
- Ease of care: Is it easy to take care of? Is it easy to clean?
- Induction compatibility: If induction compatible, how well does the cookware work with induction? (Only important, of course, if you have an induction cooktop.)
This table summarizes these points for the most commonly used cookware metals (you can read the details in the sections below):
Ease of Care
Yes. Not dangerous to ingest but can create off flavors
Mediocre. Wears fairly quickly, esp. if lined w/tin, which is a soft metal
Hard. Must be polished to retain shine
Yes. Possibly dangerous to ingest and can create off flavors
Mediocre. Scratches easily and wears fairly quickly.
Mediocre. Requires scrubbing to keep clean
Poor cnductivity, good heat capacity, uneven heating
Yes. Not dangerous to ingest but can create off flavors
Easy if properly seasoned
Yes, but uneven heating makes it a poor choice
Almost none. Very stable.*
Most clad stainless has an outer layer that is induction compatible
* Non-magnetic stainless steel has nickel in it, and over time, minute amounts can leech into food. This shouldn't be a problem unless you have a nickel sensitivity, and even then, it's so small you may not notice it. However, this is another reason to buy high-quality clad cookware; many Chinese knockoffs are made from inferior steel, which will be more prone to corrosion and break down more easily.
Both All-Clad and Demeyere have excellent heating properties, low reactivity with food, and excellent durability. Demeyere edges out All-Clad on ease of care, and also has superior heating properties.
The function of cookware is to transfer heat from the heat source into your food in order to cook it. Since heating sources (i.e., burners) usually have a smaller diameter than the pots and pans you put on them, the job of dispersing heat evenly falls mostly to the cookware.
The ability of a pan to spread heat evenly is its thermal conductivity. Thermal conductivity is a measure of the type of metal the pan is made from: aluminum, copper, cast iron, and stainless steel all have different thermal conductivity ratings.
If a material does a great job at transferring heat, the pan heats evenly and rapidly (this is its thermal conductivity rating), and holds heat well (this is its heat capacity). Examples of metals with excellent thermal conductivity are silver, copper, and aluminum; since silver cookware is a luxury reserved for only the very wealthy, it won't be included in our discussion.
If a material does a not-so-great job at transferring heat, the pan will take a long time to heat and it will heat unevenly, creating hot and cold spots: in one part of the pan food may still be lukewarm while in another part of the pan it's already burning. Examples of materials with poor thermal conductivity are cast iron, carbon steel, stainless steel, and glass/ceramic (which are actually considered insulators because they conduct heat so badly).
Yes, uneven heat distribution can also be a function of the heat source (a cheap induction burner, for example, with uneven pulsing). And, even the best cookware still requires stirring and monitoring regardless of the heat source. Nevertheless, good quality cookware goes a long way toward evening out an uneven heat source.
Heat Capacity and Mass
The ability of a pan to hang onto heat after the heat source has been removed--or, more importantly, when cold food is introduced to the pan--is its heat capacity. Different metals have unique heat capacity ratings. However, the heat capacity is also dependent on a pan's mass. That is, the heavier the pan, the higher its heat capacity is, regardless of what it's made of.
This is only logical, if you think about it. A thick slab of any material takes longer to heat up or cool down than a thin slab simply because there's more mass that has to heat and cool. The type of metal certainly affects the rate of heating and cooling, but when comparing relatively similar materials (like cookware metals), the mass is usually the more important spec.
For example, a skillet with a 2mm layer of aluminum is going to have a lower heat capacity than a clad skillet with a 3mm internal layer of aluminum--that is, the thicker one is going to hang onto heat longer. And a heavy cast iron pan is going to hang onto heat longer than a thinner carbon steel pan, even though their heating properties are nearly identical.
Makes sense, right?
Thermal conductivity and heat capacity aren't dependent on each other. A pan can have excellent thermal conductivity and not be great at holding onto heat (such as thin-walled copper). Or, a pan can have poor thermal conductivity and excellent heat capacity (such as cast iron). Cast iron heats up slowly and unevenly (i.e., it has poor thermal conductivity), but once hot, it hangs onto heat like a champion. This is why it's great for tasks like frying chicken and searing steaks--tasks where it's important to hang onto heat well even when food is introduced to the pan.
If you want to learn more about thermal conductivity and heat capacity and how these relate to cookware, you can do so here. However, unless you're an engineer or scientist, the ratings won't really tell you all that much.
Of the two ratings, thermal conductivity is the more important one. Heat capacity is less important because most modern cookware is going to provide decent heat capacity for general purpose cooking. That is, unless you're looking for something with specific properties for a specific purpose--a thin copper pan for super-fast responsiveness, or a super heavy pan for searing steaks, for example.
Summary: The Best Metals for Cookware, Rated
When you pay top dollar for cookware, you're generally paying for even, consistent heat distribution. The best metals used in cookware, in order from best to worst, are: 1) copper, 2) aluminum, 3) cast iron/carbon steel, and 4) stainless steel.
Silver is also seen in some cookware (rumor has it that the Saudi royal family uses only silver cookware), and it has the best thermal conductivity known to exist. But because it's so expensive, it's not commonly used. The Demeyere Atlantis and John Pawson bottom-clad pieces (those with straight walls, as explained in the Demeyere section below) has 2 thin layers of silver, along with copper.
Tin is also used, usually as the traditional surface in copper cookware, but it's got a number of drawbacks (it's soft, wears down easily, and has a melting point of 449.5F). It is not used in any of the All-Clad or Demeyere lines that we know of.
If you want copper cookware, we recommend you buy copper with a stainless cooking surface rather than a tin surface; this combo offers the most durability with excellent heating properties.
Both All-Clad and Demeyere have excellent heating properties, low reactivity with food, and excellent durability. Demeyere edges out All-Clad on ease of care, and also has superior heating properties.
Aluminum, copper, and cast iron all react with food, especially acidic food (tomato sauce, for example). The small amounts of iron and copper that get in food from copper and cast iron cookware is considered generally safe, as human bodies need both of these elements in trace amounts.
This is not the case with aluminum. The human body does not need aluminum, and while the evidence that it's dangerous is sketchy, it's still best to avoid ingesting too much of it.
The more important reason to avoid cookware with copper, aluminum, or cast iron cooking surfaces is that they can impart an off, metallic taste to your food. In particular, you should avoid cooking anything acidic in cast iron, aluminum, or copper.
Stainless steel is the most stable metal to cook with. However, stainless has small amounts of nickel and chromium, and over time as pans get a lot of use, minute amounts can leech into foods. It's not enough to affect food's flavor, but if you have a nickel allergy--the most common metal sensitivity--you may want to use nickel-free stainless cookware.
Most "green" sites will recommend glass or ceramic cookware for people with nickel allergies, but we don't because of their terrible heating properties (as well as being bulky and fragile). Also, the glass/ceramic composites in cookware is not recyclable.
Instead, we recommend nickel-free stainless cookware.
To our knowledge, neither All-Clad nor Demeyere have a nickel-free stainless line.
If you're wondering "Why isn't all stainless nickel-free?", it's because nickel-free stainless is less corrosion resistant than standard 18/10 stainless (the "10" refers to the nickel content of 10%).
This also explains why nickel-free stainless is usually less expensive.
Stainless is an extremely stable metal, so you can expect low reactivity with both All-Clad and Demeyere cookware.
Durability is another important factor in selecting cookware. In other words, how long will the cookware last, and how much use will it stand up to?
Cast iron cookware is the reigning king of durability, with clad stainless coming in a close second. Cast iron will last for literally hundreds of years. Enamel-coated cast iron is also very durable, although the enamel coating will eventually chip off (this can take years or decades, depending on the pan quality--and why high-end products like Le Creuset are so expensive).
Unfortunately, cast iron has a number of drawbacks. It's heavy and bulky, and it has pretty dismal heating properties. It's molecular structure is "rough," with a lot of microscopic breaks and pits, which cause it to heat unevenly. This can be particularly irritating when used with induction, because it kind of makes induction's lightning-fast responsiveness a minus rather than a plus.
Clad stainless cookware is nearly as durable as cast iron; at least, high quality clad stainless is. Many brands of clad stainless come with lifetime guarantees, including All-Clad and most Demeyere lines. Since clad cookware has been around since the 1960s, it's impossible to compare to cast iron, but it may well have a lifespan similar to that of cast iron.
The point is that you will more than get your money's worth out of good quality clad cookware. Although it is expensive, if you average its cost over your lifetime (and perhaps your children's lifetimes), the cost-per-year of use is very low.
If you average the cost of clad stainless cookware over its lifetime of use, it's actually very reasonably priced.
Durability is a primary feature of stainless cookware, so you can expect excellent durability and longevity from both All-Clad and Demeyere.
Ease of Care
The gold standard for "ease of care" is nonstick cookware--since nothing sticks to it, it's by far the easiest cookware to wash.
However, nonstick cookware has serious limitations preventing it from being a good choice for daily cookware. The nonstick coating is delicate and typically lasts only a couple of years before losing its nonstick properties, scratching, or breaking down and leeching particles of teflon or ceramic into your food.
You also can't use high heat, metal utensils, or put it in a dishwasher--at least not if you want the cookware to last more than a year or two. (Even if the manufacturer claims you can, we strongly recommend that you don't.)
Cast iron has an almost nonstick surface and is easy to wash if it's properly seasoned, which has to be done at least a few times a year. Seasoning is an easy process, but because of cast iron's other drawbacks, it is not an ideal choice for your primary cookware (e.g., uneven heating and bulkiness).
That leaves everything else, all of which fall into about the same category as far as ease of care. Food sticks to copper, aluminum, and stainless steel, all of which require about the same amount of cleaning.
Copper has the additional burden of requiring polishing if you want it to keep its beautiful metallic luster--otherwise it oxidizes to a dull, unappetizing greenish brown color. (It's fine to use in this state, but why spend the money on it if you're not going to keep it looking beautiful?)
So once again, we're back to clad stainless: not the easiest to care for, but its other properties make it superior cookware.
A tip on making stainless pots and pans easier to wash:
Heat a thin layer of oil in the pan before adding any food. The oil creates a barrier between the food and the cooking surface that makes cleanup easier.
Caring for Clad Stainless Cookware
These guidelines will help your clad cookware last as long as possible without warping, pitting, or rusting:
- Don't put stainless cookware in the dishwasher. Even if "dishwasher safe," it will corrode faster from the abrasive compounds in dishwasher detergent. (This is also true for nonstick, enameled cookware, anodized aluminum, and knives.)
- Don't use high heat with your stainless pans. High heat degrades pans over time, cause more leaching of nickel and chromium, and cause food to stick more. In fact, some manufacturers (like All-Clad) specifically instruct you to never use high heat.
- Always let pans cool before rinsing or washing. This prevents warping and helps food wipe off more easily.
- Use a gentle cleanser like Barkeeper's Friend to remove stains and keep pans shiny.
- Avoid soaking pans for too long a time. This can degrade the surface and perhaps cause the layers of cladding to separate.
- Try to avoid getting salt on the surface of pans because it can cause pitting. Instead, salt food before putting it in the pan, or wait until the pan surface is coated with oil before salting.
- Don't store food in pans. This can degrade the steel. Use designated food storage containers.
All stainless will show some wear and tear after a few years of regular use. Unless it's rusting or pitting, this is normal. Consider it the patina that comes years of hard work. And, much of the wear can be fixed with Barkeeper's Friend.
AC: Standard stainless can be sticky, making it not the easiest to care for (especially if you come from a nonstick background).
Demeyere: The proprietary Silvinox coating make it less "sticky" than other stainless cookwares, but don't expect it to be as easy to wash as nonstick pans.
If you have an induction cooktop or are thinking about getting one, you probably already know that induction requires induction-compatible cookware.
Induction works by using the pan to complete a magnetic circuit, so all this means is that the cookware has to have a magnetic bottom surface.
(Although not popular in the USA yet, induction is the fastest and most responsive type of cooking known to man. If you are in the market for a new cooktop and/or doing a kitchen remodel, you might want to consider induction. As of 2018 only about 7% of Americans use it, but that number is increasing as the price comes down.)
You may be surprised to learn that not all stainless steel is magnetic. In fact, magnetic stainless has to be nickel free (18/0). You may remember from above that nickel-free stainless is less corrosion resistant than the 18/10 used for most clad cookware. So most induction compatible stainless has 18/0 stainless on the outside surface and 18/10 stainless on the cooking surface.
(By the way, this also means that nickel-free stainless will almost certainly be induction compatible.)
Most modern clad stainless, made in the last 20 years or so, is induction compatible. However, not all of it--so be sure to verify induction compatibility before buying if you use induction.
Cast iron and carbon steel are also naturally induction compatible, although because of their poor thermal conductivity, they aren't the ideal choice for use with induction. The speed of induction heating can create terrible hot/cold spots in cast iron before evening out; this problem will repeat every time you adjust the temperature.
Neither copper nor aluminum are induction compatible, however, if clad to magnetic stainless, they can make excellent induction cookware (e.g., All-Clad Copper Core).
In addition to being magnetic, ideal induction cookware should have excellent thermal conductivity and flat, warp-resistant bottoms (the fast, intense heat of induction can warp a thin pan pretty badly). Thermal conductivity matters because induction heating is SO fast and responsive, while flat bottoms matter because pans need to make maximum contact with the induction burner for best results.
In fact, the Demeyere Atlantis line is specifically designed to work well with induction, having special layers of magnetic stainless and extremely flat, heavy bottoms which create an excellent magnetic connection to the induction hob and are almost impossible to warp.
(All-Clad D5 is their induction line, but the added layers of stainless do little to improve how it functions with induction, as far as we can tell--we don't recommend it. Go with the tri-ply, D7, or Copper Core instead.)
AC: Tri-ply, D5, D7, and Copper Core are all induction compatible. MC2 and LTD are not.
Demeyere: All Demeyere cookware is induction compatible. Demeyere has many features that make it the superior induction cookware, including its TripleInduc technology, it's greater mass, and its extremely flat, wide pan bottoms that provide greater contact with the burner.
Cladding: What You Need to Know
Cladding is the process of bonding different metals together under extreme pressure. The process was invented around 1960 by American John Ulam, who went on to found the All-Clad company. Cladding allowed the use of multiple metals to be used as one, maximizing the best properties of each and resulting in superior cookware.
For example, aluminum is an excellent heat conductor, but it is soft, prone to warping and scratching, and reactive with certain foods. Stainless steel is a terrible heat conductor, but very stable (non-reactive), warp resistant, and durable. Thus, cookware with an aluminum interior and a stainless exterior has the best of both worlds: excellent heating properties and extreme durability.
Clad stainless cookware caught on fast, and today it is the most popular type of cookware in the United States. The cladding process, however, is expensive and rather difficult to do well and produce a quality product. When the All-Clad patent expired in the 1980s, the market quickly flooded with several knock-offs mostly made overseas; some of them are good quality, but many of are not. For more details on why this is the case, see The Best Cookware for Every Budget.
How Many Layers Are Enough?
The original clad stainless was 2 or 3 layers: aluminum exterior with a stainless cooking surface, or stainless-aluminum-stainless. Since then, manufacturers have come up with different configurations (which we discuss more in the sections on All-Clad and Demeyere). Some has an internal layer of copper between layers of aluminum and stainless (5-ply), and some just has alternating layers of aluminum and stainless with up to 7 layers.
Both the Demeyere Proline skillet and All-Clad D7 have 7 layers of cladding. Demeyere Atlantis has 3 layers of stainless on the bottom (the more corrosion-prone magnetic layer protected by layers of rust resistant 18/10), 3 internal layers of different aluminum alloys (some alloys bond to the stainless better, some have better heating properties), and an 18/10 stainless cooking surface. D7 has alternating layers of aluminum alloys and stainless steel, primarily to increase mass.
While it's questionable whether all of these layers add to performance (why not just one super thick layer of aluminum?), they do add to mass, which (as we discussed above) increases a pan's capacity to hold onto heat. Multiple layers have become a bit of a fad, though, and the most important thing to look at is the thickness of the heat-capacity materials (i.e., the aluminum and/or copper), and the overall mass of the pan.
In other words, a 2-ply pan with 3mm of aluminum is going to heat faster and more evenly than a 3-ply pan with a 2mm layer of aluminum. Make sense?
How Thick Should the Cladding Be?
The more aluminum or copper a pan has, the better its heating properties are going to be. So what's a good number?
These are all estimations, largely because different manufacturers use different alloys of aluminum and copper with slightly differing properties. But in general, copper is twice as efficient as aluminum in spreading heat. Therefore, a 1mm layer of copper is going to offer about the same heating properties as a 2mm layer of aluminum.
With that in mind, what's a good number? Well, All-Clad D3 (tri-ply) has about 1.8mm of aluminum total, and this has become the standard by which other clad cookware is judged. This is enough aluminum to create fast, even heating but not so much that the pans are overly heavy.
(All-Clad MC2, their most reasonably priced line, also happens to have more aluminum in it, too--about 3mm of it, with a stainless cooking surface. If you don't care about induction compatibility, this is your best option by far, both price-wise and performance-wise.)
As for copper, one of the kings of copper cookware, Mauviel, offers two options: their cheaper line has a 1.5mm layer of copper, while their top-end line has a 2.5mm layer. Both of these provide excellent heating properties; it's some of the best cookware made. In comparison, All-Clad Copper Core has about 1mm of copper (or just slightly less) and two thin layers of aluminum--this provides heating properties slightly better than the 1.8mm of aluminum in the D3; so slight, in fact, that the higher cost isn't really justifiable unless you've fallen love with the cookware.
In contrast, the Demeyere Proline skillet has about 3.8mm of aluminum--almost twice as much as the All-Clad D3! It's Industry 5 line, the one most comparable to All-Clad's D3, has about 2mm of aluminum, which is approximately 25% more than the D3. In fact, all of Demeyere's lines offer thicker layers of aluminum--not to mention the copper and silver in the bottom-clad pieces.
Thus, there's no question that Demeyere is the better-performing cookware. However, the price for this superior performance is that it's heavy: the Proline skillet is almost as heavy as cast iron, so for all-around, everyday cookware, you may prefer the All-Clad D3 or the Demeyere Industry 5.
The thickness of the aluminum and/or copper is what gives a pan great heating properties, not the number of layers. A good number for copper starts at about 1mm; a good number for aluminum starts at about 1.5mm.
Full Cladding vs. Bottom Cladding
Cookware can be fully clad or clad on the bottom only. Most bottom-clad cookware is less expensive, with the exception of the Demeyere Atlantis line: their Proline skillet is fully clad, but their saute pans and sauce pans have an amazing 7 mm of cladding on the bottom surface, with stainless-only sides. (See the Atlantis saute pan photo above.)
All-Clad, on the other hand, makes only fully clad cookware. Fully clad cookware is what Americans are accustomed to and prefer. However, full cladding is really only a necessity on skillets, where the sloped sides are actually part of the cooking surface. The sides of straight-sided saute pans (sides at a 90 degree angle to the cooking surface) are not part of the cooking surface, so arguably don't require cladding.
Pans used primarily for liquids (sauce pans and stock pots) benefit even less from side cladding because of the natural convection that occurs when heating liquids. Bottom cladding helps distribute heat across the vessel, eliminating hotspots, but the convection currents do the rest.
AC: All-Clad tri-ply has about 1.7mm of aluminum. The D5 and D7 lines have slightly more, while the 2-ply lines (MC2 and LTD) have almost 3mm of aluminum (the most of all the AC lines). Copper Core has 1.7mm of aluminum plus 0.9mm of copper.
Demeyere: Far superior, with 3.7mm of aluminum on the Proline and other fully clad pieces. Bottom-clad only pieces have a 7mm base, with a 2mm layer of aluminum, copper, and silver. The price for this superior heating is added bulk.
Design: Cookware You Can Love (and Use)
Cookware design has two important aspects:
1) it should be beautiful enough that it gives you pleasure to look at.
2) it should be functional enough that it gives you pleasure to use it.
Fortunately, there are no sacrifices to be made on either front: the most functional cookware is often also the most beautiful.
Thus, you just have to focus on the design features most important to you. In our estimation, the most important ones are lids, handles, and overall design.
Often, the biggest difference between expensive clad cookware and middle-of-the-road clad cookware is the lids: expensive clad cookware is going to have stainless lids, while middle-of-the-road clad cookware is going to have glass lids.
Cheap clad cookware is always going to have glass lids.
Here's why stainless lids are better:
- They're lighter weight
- They're more durable
- They're less bulky
- They're 100% oven proof (glass may or may not be).
Some people prefer glass because they like to see what's happening inside a pan. But really, the only reason stainless cookware would come with glass lids is because they're cheaper to make.
No high-end clad cookware is going to have glass lids. If you want them, you're going to have to spend significantly less money to get them. 🙂
Handles alone aren't enough to make or break a good cookware design. Nevertheless, there are a few important considerations:
- Overall Design: You'll grow accustomed to whatever handles your cookware has, but even so, there are a number of design considerations. Most All-Clad handles are half-circle shaped, with a groove all along the top side of the handle. Some people hate this, saying it's uncomfortable to hold and can cut into your hand. We actually like this handle design, though, because it makes it easy to use the handle to stabilize the pot; flatter handles or round handles without a groove slide around more. Demeyere handles are shorter and fuller (no groove), with a little indentation where your thumb or finger would go to steady the pan.
- Short or long: Traditionally, skillets and saucepans have one long handle, but some instead have two short ones. A long handle makes a pot easier to grab, while short handles can make it easier to pop in the oven and to store.
- Helper handles: Helper handles are short handles on the opposite side of a long handle. They're called helper handles because they make it easier to maneuver heavy pots. On any skillet larger than 10 inches, helper handles are extremely useful. We recommend helper handles wherever you can get them! All-Clad makes cookware with both options; most Demeyere cookware has helper handles.
- Silicone-coated handles: Some lines of cookware have silicone-coated handles. These wear out fast, especially when used over gas flames or put in ovens. Like glass lids, these are often the mark of cheaper cookware. No All-Clad or Demeyere cookware has silicone-coated handles.
- Rivetless handles: A few brands of cookware, including Demeyere, offer handles that are welded onto the pans--this means there are no rivets on the cooking surface. If you've ever tried to scrub gunk around rivets, you know how exciting this is! Rivets aren't a deal breaker, but welded handles do make cookware easier to wash and keep clean.
Other than that, don't buy cookware with handles which you find ugly, because it will make the cookware unpleasant to use. We find this to be the case with the Demeyere John Pawson line, which, while top notch cookware in every respect, has big, square, unsightly handles.
This is primarily about if you find the cookware pretty. This may seem like a poor scale for something as functional as cookware, but let's be honest: beautiful cookware is just more pleasurable to use than ugly cookware.
The thing is, "pretty" isn't just about looks. Most cookware is pretty because it is also functional: it has a nice heft, heats well, and is easy to handle and maintain (copper being the exception here, but hey, we would never fault anyone for going with copper).
When cookware is cheap and tinny, it's simply not a pleasure to use, either functionally or aesthetically. And since cooking is one of those life chores which has to be done whether you're in the mood for it or not (most of the time, anyway), do yourself a favor and get cookware you can love. It makes your kitchen time So. Much. Better!
Take a look at these sets: which would you rather have? (If you picked the one on the right, you're reading the wrong article.) The stainless set is not only more beautiful, it's also so much more functional, with its stainless lids, stainless handles, and stainless cooking surface. Yes, it costs hundreds more, but it's going to last about 50 times longer than the nonstick set with the plastic handles and glass lids.
You'll have replaced the nonstick set about 3 times over before you even start to notice wear on the stainless set.
Good design is somewhat subjective, but both AC tri-ply and Demeyere Atlantis/Industry 5 are great to use and look at.
AC: Some people dislike the handles, but overall it is lightweight and easy to use. The lightness also makes its heating properties not as good as Demeyere.
Demeyere: While beautiful, it's heaviness and somewhat short handles may be a drawback for some people, especially the larger pieces. But its heating properties are nearly unbeatable.
All About All-Clad
All-Clad is an American company founded in the 1960s by metallurgist John Ulam, who developed the process of bonding aluminum to stainless steel. All-Clad has been a consistently profitable company and has gone through a few changes of ownership. Today, they are owned by the French kitchenware conglomerate Groupe SEB, which also owns many other well-known brands such as T-fal, Wearever, Mirro, and Krups.
Despite being owned by an overseas company, all of All-Clad's clad cookware is still made in the USA. Other products, such as lids, electronics, and perhaps their cast aluminum nonstick cookware, are made in China.
When people hear "All-Clad," they usually associate it with the D3 (tri-ply) cookware, one of the first bonded cookwares ever made and still AC's most popular line. When All-Clad's original patent expired in 2004, hundreds of All-Clad tri-ply knockoffs entered the market. Most are thinner, with poorer heating properties, but a few are of similar quality yet cost quite a bit less. (Cuisinart MC Pro and Tramontina are both very close to All-Clad in performance.) Most of these knockoffs are made in China, so beyond these known brands, the quality can vary considerably. We don't recommend buying Chinese-made clad cookware if you're not certain of the quality.
All-Clad makes several other lines, too.
Comparing different lines can be tricky. Some are almost identical, such as the 3 lines of All-Clad nonstick (NS1, HA1, and B1), which have small differences in pan or handle shape (and maybe where you can buy them; we don't know). You can also get some of the D3 and D5 pieces in nonstick or a hybrid of nonstick and stainless (not sure what that's good for).
The Thomas Keller line is exclusive to Williams-Sonoma, and contains a mix of D3, D5, and Copper Core pans, depending (supposedly) on what Chef Keller's preferences are for particular pieces.
The D3 also now comes in D3 Armor, which is basically a bumpy pan surface that is supposed to create a more nonstick surface.
And so on.
So please consider this table a good approximation of what's available and not an exact list. It's almost impossible to keep up with the fast-paced cookware market, but this gives a good idea.
The All-Clad Lines
3 ply (s-a-s). App. 2.6mm thick w/1.7mm aluminum. The most popular and familiar AC line. Dishwasher safe (though we recommend hand washing).
Great all around cookware
D3 with "bonded matrix" surface meant to reduce sticking. Skillets and saute pans only. Dishwasher safe (though we recommend hand washing).
We do not recommend this cookware.
5 ply (s-a-s-a-s). App. 2.6mm thick, thus actually less aluminum than in the D3. Dishwasher safe (though we recommend hand washing).
We recommend the D3 over D5 for general cooking, and there are also better choices for responsiveness (Copper Core) and heat retention (D7 or good ol' cast iron).
Yes. In fact, AC calls this their "optimal" induction line, though it doesn't explain why.
7 ply (s-a-s-a-s-a-s). App. 3.8mm thick w/about 2.2mm aluminum; more than the D3, and much more mass. Domed lids and shorter handles than D3 (great design). Dishwasher safe (though we recommend hand washing).
The skillet or saute pan is a great (but spendy) alternative to cast iron, but this amount of mass isn't really needed for other pans.
5 ply with copper center (s-a-c-a-s). 1.7mm total thickness with 1mm layer of copper--thinner than D3, but the copper makes it more responsive. Dishwasher safe (though we recommend hand washing).
Lightweight, thinner, and slightly more responsive than D3, copper core is great all-around cookware, and it's beautiful, but its performance doesn't quite match its considerably higher price tag.
TK (Thomas Keller)
A mix of D3, D5, and Copper Core pieces, depending on type of pan, with different handles and shapes. Lids are universal, meaning they're flat disks that can sit atop any cookware. A Williams-Sonoma exclusive. Dishwasher safe (though we recommend hand washing).
The mix of different lines is meant to "bring Chef Keller's preferences to the home cook." We hate the universal lids.
Technically 3 ply: anodized aluminum exterior, aluminum interior, stainless cooking surface w/app. 3mm of aluminum. The LTD2 has newly designed with rounder handles. Not dishwasher safe.
Excellent all around cookware (except for induction). The high aluminum content gives it better heat conduction than the more popular D3. The anodized surface isn't all that pretty but it's indestructible.
2 ply: aluminum bonded to stainless cooking surface. App. 3mm of aluminum. AC's most inexpensive, line, with better heating properties than the D3. Not dishwasher safe.
Great all around cookware. High aluminum content gives it better heating properties than D3, D5, and Copper Core.
Anodized, cast aluminum with nonstick (PTFE) cooking surface. Small differences in pan shape among the lines. Technically dishwasher safe, but hand-wash to prolong life.
The cast aluminum gives great heating properties but the nonstick surface should be reserved for special tasks; buy one or two skillets for eggs and fish; don't buy a whole set.
Some: IF it has the magnetic bottom surface (check individual pieces).
All About Demeyere
Demeyere (pronounced de-MY-ruh), is a Belgian cookware manufacturer that's been around for more than 100 years. They were a small, family-owned business until the mid-2000s, when they were purchased by Zwilling J. A. Henckels, a German conglomerate that owns several cookware lines and are probably best known in the US for their knives. (Quite possibly, the timing of this acquisition was related to All-Clad's patent on clad cookware expiring.)
Demeyere has a different philosophy about cookware than All-Clad, which resulted in pans with very different heating properties. In their original line, Atlantis, the sloped-sided pans (e.g., skillets and sauciers) were fully clad, while the straight-sided pans (e.g., saute and sauce pans) were bottom-clad. The reasoning is that sloped-sided pans used the entire cooking surface, while straight-sided pans were for use primarily for liquids; since liquids create naturally even heating with convection currents, side-cladding is less important.
Here's a 4 minute video from Demeyere which explains their reasoning (and pot construction):
As valid as this reasoning is (and it is), the American market has always preferred fully cladded cookware, largely because of All-Clad's marketing strategies. So after Demeyere was bought by Zwilling, they introduced a few more Demeyere lines that offer full cladding: the Industry 5/5 Plus/Sensation line--Zwilling has re-branded this line a few times but other than a few design changes, it's the same cookware, and the Aurora line, which is a cheaper Zwilling version of Industry 5 and not as high quality.
Demeyere also makes a line of nonstick skillets and saute pans ("AluPro"), but no full set of nonstick cookware (how great is that?!--these folks are all about maximizing kitchen performance!).
All Demeyere cookware is made in Belgium except the Resto line of specialty products, which is made in Indonesia.
Demeyere makes truly fabulous cookware. All the lines have thicker aluminum layers than All-Clad's offerings, with better heating properties. Their welded handles mean no rivets to clean on the cooking surface, and their Silvinox finish makes the stainless exteriors easier to clean (less sticky) than other brands of stainless. The only drawback is the substantial heft that all this quality adds: if you don't want heavy pans, the All-Clad tri-ply is your better option--but the performance is substantially less impressive.
The Demeyere Atlantis Proline skillet is a true kitchen masterpiece, offering almost 4 millimeters of aluminum for fast, even heat distribution. The result is better heating properties than even most copper cookware.
Here are some of the Demeyere cookware features. Most of this info is taken right from the Demeyere website.
Silvinox® (All Demeyere Cookware Except Aurora)
Silvinox® is a unique electrochemical surface treatment system that enriches the material by removing any iron and impurities from the surface. This makes the stainless steel easy to clean, and provides a higher resistance to fingerprints, harsh detergents or strong acidic foods. The products retain their silvery-white colour, even after years of use (from the Demeyere website).
TriplInduc® is a unique combination of three alloys that provides up to 30% more efficiency on induction than other brands of induction compatible clad stainless cookware. Furthermore, it ensures that the base remains flat, allowing you to switch from one heat source to another at any time.
TRK Note: TriplInduc® is really just 3 layers of stainless: exterior layers of 18/10 that protect an internal magnetic layer of 18/0. We're not sure why this results in greater efficiency on induction, but it does seem to in most applications. Maybe it's just the increased mass of stainless steel, or the extremely flat, wide bottoms that provide better contact with the induction surface.
InductoSeal® Base (Atlantis/John Pawson Saute and Sauce Pans--the Bottom-Clad Pieces)
The InductoSeal® base consists of seven layers. A copper disk, hermetically embedded in the base, ensures optimum heat distribution and provides a heat-conducting surface which is 33% larger than a traditional base. InductoSeal® allows for controlled cooking on a low heat, and is energy-saving. The capsule is hermetically welded to the side of the product and provides extra hygiene as water, fat or dirt cannot penetrate into the base.
This diagram, from the embedded video above, shows the configuration of the InductoSeal® base (including the TriplInduc® layer):
7-PlyMaterial® (Atlantis/John Pawson)
7-PlyMaterial® is a unique technology consisting of 7 alloys, including stainless steel and an aluminium core. This technology is used for both the product's base and sides and ensures optimum heat distribution up to the top edge of the product, allowing for perfect control over the cooking process. The 7-PlyMaterial reaches up to 30% more efficiency on induction due to TriplInduc®. The total thickness of the 7 layers is designed with the necessity in mind to obtain the right temperature for the typical cooking process for which the product is used.
5-Ply Material (Industry 5/5 Plus/Sensation)
This special combination of different alloys, including aluminum, ensures that the heat is not concentrated in one place, but is evenly distributed over the entire surface of the pan. A magnetic stainless steel exterior makes these products suitable for all cookers, including induction.
The InductoBase® base consists of seven layers with a heat-conducting core of pure aluminum. This aluminium layer, with a thickness of 5 mm, ensures there is an even heat transfer through the base, to provide optimum cooking performance, even on a low heat.
All Demeyere cookware is induction compatible.
The Demeyere Lines
Here's a table with all the Demeyere lines. You may have trouble finding a few of these, such as the nonstick and the Aurora, as they are not popular in the US.
Many of these lines are also available with nonstick surfaces; Amazon seems to have the largest selection that we've found.
The Demeyere Lines
Skillet and sauciers are fully clad, straight-sided pans are bottom clad. 7 layers of cladding. Proline skillet is 4.8mm thick w/3.7mm aluminum layer; saucier pans have 3mm; saute/sauce pans have InductoSeal base (see above).
The Atlantis Proline skillet is probably the best non-copper performer on the market, with about 75% more aluminum than AC D3. Top notch pans, but close to cast iron in weight. Rivetless, Silvinox finish.
Yes. Demeyere's "Triple Induc" stainless layers and extremely flat bottoms are designed to be optimal with induction.
Each line has slight differences in design but the same build: 3mm thick w/2.1mm aluminum layer.
Excellent all-around cookware, rivetless, Silvinox finish, about 25% more aluminum than AC D3.
Re-designed Atlantis line with double-steel lids for better insulation.
Even though the double lids are nice, we prefer the Atlantis line.
Zwilling's version of Industry 5, but with rivets and without the Silvinox finish.
The skillet or saute pan is a great (but spendy) alternative to cast iron, but this amount of mass isn't really needed for other pans.
5mm thick forged aluminum with PTFE nonstick coating. TripleInduc base provides even more mass and induction compatibility.
A durable, well-made nonstick pan you should use for eggs, fish, and other "sticky" foods.
Specialty cookware. The only Demeyere line made in Indonesia.
Great if you have the need for a Maslin pan, mussel pot, mini Dutch oven, egg poacher, etc.
Price Comparisons: Which Costs More?
To compare prices, we're looking at the 10-inch frying pan, the 12-inch frying pan, and the smallest set. These aren't exact apples-to-apples comparisons because sizes aren't always the same and sets will have different pieces. Also, these prices will vary over time and from website to website. Thus, these prices are approximations; they are meant to provide a guideline only.
You will find sales occasionally, too, when you may find an unbelievable close-out price, such as when a retailer stops carrying a line. These aren't always advertised, but they happen more often than you might think.
To stay up-to-date about sale prices, like and follow The Rational Kitchen on Facebook.
App. Cost (10"/12"/
3 ply, 1.7mm aluminum, induction. Compare to Demeyere Industry 5
Yes. Good all-around cookware.
5 ply, alum/stainless, same thickness as D3 but with less aluminum due to layers of stainless steel. Compare to Demeyere Industry 5.
No. The extra stainless does nothing to improve heating or induction compatibility--just increases the price.
7 ply, alum/stainless, app. 2.2mm aluminum in an almost 4mm thick pan. Domed lids. Compare to Demeyere Proline (or le Creuset enameled cast iron).
Yes. Better than le Creuset, not as good as Demeyere Proline.
AC Copper Core
5 ply w/1mm copper core + 2 uber thin layers of aluminum. Lightweight and somewhat more responsive than D3. Compare to Mauviel 1.5mm skillet.
No, unless you fall in love with them: beautiful pans, but heat properties are only slightly better than D3, but costing is much more.
3mm aluminum w/stainless cooking surface. Great heating properties but NOT induction compatible. Compare to AC LTD.
Yes, if you don't care about induction, this is the best-priced, best-performing high-end cookware on the market.
Anodized aluminum w/aluminum alloy interior and stainless cooking surface (app. 3mm aluminum). Very tough, but NOT induction compatible. Compare to AC MC2.
Great stuff, but the MC2 is a better buy.
Demeyere Atlantis (Proline), 9.4"/11"
$120/250/ 750 (6pc)
7 layers with TriplInduc steel layers plus almost 4mm of aluminum. Excellent pans but heavy. Compare to AC D7 or cast iron. Note that the other Atlantis pans have different construction (see above for details), but all have more aluminum than any AC line.
Yes. Possibly the best non-copper pan on the market, worth every penny if you can afford it.
Demeyere Industry 5, 9.5"/12.5"
5 layers of stainless and aluminum w/2mm of aluminum. Compare to AC D3, D5.
Yes. Thicker aluminum than all AC's lines. Cheaper than AC D5 and better.
Demeyere John Pawson (essentially a Proline), 9.5"/11"
$200/305/ 500 (3 pc)
Same configuration as the Atlantis line with different design. Double steel lids for better insulation. Compare to AC D7.
No--get the Atlantis: better design, less expensive.
*You can sometimes find this pan on Amazon for as low as $70/120.
Conclusion: Which Is Better? Recommendations
If you're looking for top-end clad stainless cookware, All-Clad and Demeyere are two excellent options.
As for which is better, the answer is that it depends. You really can't go wrong with any of these lines, but here are our favorites. These offer the most bang for your buck.
Overall quality and best heating properties: Demeyere Atlantis/Proline skillet.
You may not want to go with the whole set, as the saute and sauce pans are bottom-clad only, but the Proline skillet is unsurpassed in quality.
click here to buy the demeyere proline skillet on amazon:
click here to see the demeyere 6 pc. set on amazon:
Induction compatibility, good performance, and light weight: All-Clad D3 or Demeyere Industry 5
click here to see the All-Clad d3 skillet on amazon:
click here to see the All-Clad d3 skillet w/lid on amazon:
click here to see the All-Clad d3 5 pc. set on amazon:
click here to see the demeyere industry 5 skillet on amazon:
click here to see the demeyere industry 5 10 pc. set on amazon:
Induction compatibility, superb performance, and heavy: Demeyere Atlantis
If you're willing to try bottom-clad cookware and don't mind the weight, Atlantis is the best choice.
click here to buy the demeyere Atlantis saute pan on amazon:
NOT induction compatible, great performance: All-Clad MC2
The All-Clad MC2 is the best deal out there for excellent performance (3mm of aluminum!). If you don't need induction compatibility, you will love this cookware.
click here to see the All-Clad MC2 skillet on amazon:
click here to see the All-clad Mc2 10 pc. set on amazon:
Nonstick: The All-Clad HA1/NS1/B1 wins with its comparable performance and lower price.
Everyone needs at least one nonstick skillet for eggs and such. The cast aluminum All-Clad offers better heating properties than better known nonstick brands, at a better price than the Demeyere AluPro.
click here to buy the all-clad ha1/ns1/b1 skillets on amazon:
There you have it: overall, Demeyere is better quality cookware with significantly better heating properties. But it's heavy, so if you're looking for great performance in cookware that's easier to handle, the All-Clad D3 (for induction) or MC2 (for non-induction) are also very good options.
Thoughts, questions, or ideas? Please share in the comments below. And thanks for reading!
This article, All-Clad Vs. Demeyere: Which Is Better? was last updated November, 2018.