June 11, 2018

Last Updated: November 10, 2023

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  • All-Clad Copper Core: Is It Worth It?

All-Clad Copper Core: Is It Worth It?

By trk

Last Updated: November 10, 2023

Copper Core cookware is one of All-Clad's most popular lines. It's beautiful, durable, and performs well--but it's also expensive. Is it worth it?

In this Copper Core review, you'll find out:

  • How Copper Core compares to other All-Clad lines,
  • How Copper Core compares to other clad cookware, 
  • How Copper Core compares to other copper cookware. 
  • How to shop for clad cookware (the important features),
  • Tips for buying cookware online and getting the best deal

and the best Copper Core buying options.

All-Clad Copper Core 14pc set

About All-Clad

All-Clad Cookware was founded in 1971 by John Ulam, the metallurgist who invented the cladding process. He discovered that bonding stainless steel to aluminum created durable cookware with excellent heating properties. One of his earliest designs was tri-ply cladding, officially called D3, the stainless-aluminum-stainless cookware for which All-Clad is best known.

All-Clad Cookware has always been known for top quality clad cookware made in the United States. Clad stainless cookware is considered to be the best all-around cookware by most serious cooks and professional chefs. To this day, All-Clad's D3 (stainless-aluminum-stainless) sets the standard that all other clad stainless cookware makers are competing against.

All-Clad Cookware still makes all of its clad cookware in the USA. They make their aluminum nonstick cookware, lids, utensils, and electronics in China. 

To learn more about all the lines of All-Clad cookware, see our Ultimate All-Clad Cookware Review.

About All Clad Copper Core

To stay ahead of their competition, All-Clad has introduced several different configurations of clad cookware over the years. Copper Core cookware was one of those, and has been one of All-Clad's most successful and best-selling lines. Its stainless-aluminum-copper-aluminum-stainless design is lightweight, responsive, and durable--as well as being one of the few copper cookware lines compatible with induction cooktops.

Here's a diagram of All-Clad Copper Core cookware construction:

All-Clad Copper Core Diagram

Though Copper Core cookware has both aluminum and copper, the primary heat conductor is the copper. The aluminum layers are very thin--like paper--and are mainly there to help the metals bond securely. Copper bonds poorly to stainless steel and is notorious for bubbling and separating without the aluminum to help it stay put.

What to Know About Multi-Ply Cookware

Notice that in the All-Clad diagram above, there are no actual dimensions given for the layers. All-Clad doesn't share specifics. This is unfortunate, because you are paying for those internal layers--the more copper or aluminum, the better the cookware will perform. 

To know how cookware will perform, you have to know the thickness of the layers. Copper is only better than aluminum if the layer is thick enough to provide better heating. 

For people who want to comparison shop, it's frustrating that most clad stainless brands do not supply this information. This is not the case with copper cookware, which is actually priced by the millimeter--so you know exactly what you're paying for and what kind of performance you're going to get.

But clad stainless cookware is, by and large, not sold that way. We don't know why, because it's every bit as important to clad cookware's performance as it is for copper cookware. Perhaps it's the difference selling to professional chefs versus selling to home cooks: it's assumed that home cooks don't want or need this data.

But if you want to buy wisely, you do need it. 

Luckily, there are websites like ours that have this information. We actually cut the cookware open and measure the layers--so our readers can know exactly what they're paying for.

For details about Copper Core heating properties--and how it compares to other cookware--see the Copper Core Cookware Heating Properties section below.

Clad Cookware: The Bottom Line

Cladding is the process of bonding different metals together to maximize benefits and minimize drawbacks. Durable stainless is on the exterior, protecting the even heating aluminum and/or copper on the inside. 

Knowing how thick the internal layers are is crucial to knowing how well clad cookware will perform. Few manufacturers supply this information (including All-Clad), so you have to rely on sites like ours to do this research.

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What to Look for in Clad Stainless Cookware (A Buying Guide)

Now that you know a little about cladding, you can look at the other properties that are important in clad cookware. These are what makes clad stainless cookware good, average, or awful.

Here are the things that matter:

  • Stainless steel quality
  • Heating properties, which are largely determined by thickness of internal metals used (as discussed above)
  • Design and aesthetics: lids, handles, rims, etc. (and: is the cookware pretty?)

We'll look at each of these factors and find out how Copper Core cookware stacks up.

Stainless Steel Quality

While nearly all clad cookware is "18/10" or comparable stainless steel, this means very little, because 18/10 stainless is not all created equally.

Yes, 18/10 stainless steel has to be at least 18% chromium and 10% nickel.

But what about the other 72%? 

Or, in the case of 18/0 (magnetic) stainless steel, what about the other 82%?

Using inferior stainless steel is one way that manufacturers cut costs. Steel in overseas-made products tends to be inferior to steel used in the United States and Western Europe. Inferior stainless steel can contain impurities that make it less durable and corrosion resistant than higher quality stainless. 

You can read more about stainless steel in The Best Cookware for Every Budget.

Differences in steel quality can account for differences in pricing among brands of clad cookware. If you buy inexpensive clad stainless, you may get lucky and get decent pans that last and don't rust. You might also get unlucky and get pans that rust, pit, and corrode in a frustratingly short time. 

All-Clad cookware isn't the only option for good quality steel, but the easiest way to be sure you're getting good stainless steel is to buy a known brand. Any American or European brand is a safe bet, as well as a handful of Chinese brands. 

Heating Properties

The two most important heating properties are thermal conductivity--how fast and evenly a pan heats--and heat retention--how long a pan hangs onto heat (or, put another way, how responsive it is). Both aluminum and copper have high thermal conductivity, which means they heat quickly and evenly. Conversely, cast iron has high heat retention: it heats slowly and unevenly, but it hangs onto heat very well.

(This is partly due to its mass, as well: heat retention increases with mass, regardless of the material. For example, a 2mm layer of copper is going to have better heat retention than a 1mm layer of copper, even though both are copper.) 

If you need cookware responsive to temperature changes--such as for delicate sauces and heat-sensitive dishes--then copper is the best option, and aluminum is quite good, too. If you need extreme heat retention--such as for searing a steak or deep frying--then cast iron is the best option.

Clad stainless is great for everything in-between, and will work in a pinch for other tasks, as well. It's right in the middle of the pack, with quick, even heating and fairly good heat retention.

These properties, along with durability and stability (safety), make good quality clad stainless the best cookware you can buy. 

All-Clad Copper Core cookware, as you might guess, is more on the responsive end of the scale. But it's designed for all-around kitchen tasks, so like most good quality clad stainless cookware, it will work reasonably well for any cooking task.

How Much Aluminum and/or Copper Is Enough?

Now we start getting into specifics.

This goes back to the cladding discussion (above): To have good heating performance, clad cookware has to have a thick enough heating core (i.e., the aluminum and/or copper thickness). For example, a half-millimeter layer of aluminum isn't going to heat as evenly as a full millimeter layer.

Low-cost brands of clad cookware tend to have thin heating cores. The difference can be significant. Some pans have such a thin layer of aluminum that they barely conduct heat better than stainless alone. This is one of the big differences between a brand like All-Clad and an unknown brand that sells for much less.

These thinner pans--because they're thinner--are also more prone to warping.

How thick is thick enough? The aluminum layer in All-Clad D3 tri-ply cookware--remember: the clad cookware against which all other clad cookware is measured--is 1.7mm thick. This is enough aluminum to conduct heat rapidly and evenly, and it provides enough mass for a decent amount of heat retention, as well as resistance to warping.

Anything thicker than this can start to get bulky--though if that doesn't bother you, there are clad stainless options that out-perform All-Clad (Demeyere Proline). Mass is also partly why cast iron is the traditional go-to for high heat searing: the thick, heavy iron hangs onto heat superbly, putting a crust on a steak like nothing else can.

Steak in cast iron pan

Cast iron is great for searing because its mass allows it to hang onto heat well.

Copper Core Cookware Heating Properties

Copper heats up roughly twice as fast as aluminum, so you need about half as much to get results similar to aluminum.

This is almost exactly what Copper Core cookware provides. It has a 0.9mm layer of copper sandwiched between two thin layers of aluminum, equaling slightly over half of the 1.7mm of aluminum in D3.

This provides excellent heating properties: fast and even, in a pan light and thin enough that it's easy to handle. 

You may be wondering, doesn't this make Copper Core cookware about the same in performance to D3?

The answer is yes--sort of. 

Copper Core's heating properties are similar to D3, but because it's copper rather than aluminum, it's slightly more responsive than D3, thus has slightly lower heat retention. It's also slightly lighter, making it slightly easier to handle.

In fact, All-Clad tends to make most of their clad cookware in a narrow performance window. So whether you buy D3, Copper Core, D5, you won't notice much difference in performance. They are all versatile, all-purpose lines of cookware that perform very similarly.


All-Clad Copper Core sauce pan with callouts

Design is a personal preference, but there are some objective standards for what makes cookware both functional and beautiful.

Copper Core has several features that make it great cookware. Here are the considerations we think are the most important.


The best cookware has stainless, not glass, lids. Stainless lids are more durable, easier to store, and can withstand higher oven temperatures. 

Copper Core, like all All-Clad clad cookware, has stainless lids.

Vented lids are gimmicky, and largely unnecessary for any cooking. A lid should fit snugly, yet lift off easily. The handle should be comfortable and easy to grasp. 

If you want a lid that "vacuum" seals, like those found on waterless cookware, you won't find that here. However, this, too is gimmicky, and you can achieve similar results with any snugly fitting lid.


Good cookware should have handles made of a durable material like stainless steel. Plastic and silicone handles are comfortable, but they wear out long before the pans themselves. So we recommend buying cookware with steel handles; all All-Clad cookware has stainless steel handles. 

Helper handles on the heavier pieces are nice, too:

All Clad sauce pan with helper handle callout

Copper Core cookware handles have the traditional All-Clad cookware handles: U-shaped, with a grooved top so you can stabilize a pan with your thumb (or your arm). They have a "stop" on the bottom which helps to prevent slipping (especially if you don't use the thumb-in-groove technique). 

All Clad handle closeup

The long All-Clad handles get a lot of hate for being uncomfortable, but we're in the minority of people who think they're great--probably the safest handle design in the cookware industry. That groove makes them easy to hang onto and stabilize, even if uncomfortable at times. 


Curved vs. straight rims may be a minor concern for most people, but a curved rim is nice for pouring because it helps to eliminate drips. All Copper Core cookware pieces have curved rims to facilitate pouring without drips. 


see all-clad copper core cookware at williams-sonoma

Sauce Pan Shape

The shape of a sauce pan is probably the most important factor in whether you love a pan or hate it, and if you find it easy to use or a huge pain.

Some sauce pans are narrower at the top than the bottom or have curved sides with flared tops. These designs can be pretty, but they're not practical. Pans with wider bottoms than tops are harder to scrape out and harder to wash. 

Some sauce pans are narrow and deep, which is almost as bad as curved sides.

Copper Core sauce pans are wide and shallow (but not too shallow), with vertical sides for easy stirring, scraping, and washing. This is the most practical shape for a sauce pan. 

For more info, see our article on How to Pick Out the Best Sauce Pan for your kitchen.

All-Clad Copper sauce pan

Skillet Shape

Skillets of the same size can have a surprisingly different amount of flat cooking surface, depending on how sloped the sides are. A 10-inch skillet can have anywhere from less than 7 to almost 10 full inches of cooking surface.

The Copper Core skillet has fairly straight sides, providing a good amount of flat cooking surface: 

All-Clad Copper Core skillet

There's no right or wrong shape, although the amount of flat cooking surface is one of the main considerations when choosing a skillet.  

We talk more about pan size, and how to get the right sizes in our article How to Choose the Right Cookware.


Heavier cookware heats better and is also more resistant to warping, so we like to recommend that people buy the heaviest cookware that they can comfortably handle.

All-Clad cookware has long provided excellent middle ground between heavy and light. Their pans aren't the best-performing out there, but they provide excellent results while still being easy to handle. 

Copper Core is one of All-Clad's lightest, nimblest lines. 

Overall Design

Overall cookware design should be a marriage of what's functional and what's beautiful. You may think beauty doesn't matter in cookware, but beauty enhances everyday use, making cooking less of a chore and more of a pleasure. 

Copper Core cookware is one of the prettiest lines of cookware on the market:

All-Clad Copper Core sauce pan

What to Look for in Clad Cookware: The Bottom Line

The important properties to look for in clad cookware are 1) the quality of stainless steel, 2) a heating core thick enough to heat well, and 3) design that's practical as well as beautiful.


see all-clad copper core cookware at williams-sonoma

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How Does Clad Stainless Cookware Compare to Other Types of Cookware?

NOTE: If you know you want clad stainless cookware, you can skip this section. If you're not sure, you should read it to find out why we like it so much.

Cookware preferences are subjective. Some people love cast iron, others won't cook without nonstick, and others use glass and ceramic. 

Our favorite cookware is clad stainless steel, based on these attributes:

  • Durability--corrosion and rust resistant
  • Great heating performance if the heating core is thick enough
  • Light and easy to handle (compared to cast iron, glass, and ceramic)
  • Stable, nonreactive surface won't leach toxins or break down
  • Easy to clean when a few simple rules are followed
  • Most has a lifetime warranty

Like any cookware, clad stainless also has some drawbacks:

  • More expensive than most other types of cookware, except copper
  • Some brands can be thin and poor quality (caveat emptor!)
  • Not as easy to clean as nonstick (but easier than a lot of people think).

A good set of clad stainless is excellent, versatile cookware that will last a lifetime; maybe even get passed down to your children. All Clad Copper Core cookware is certainly in this category.

All-Clad Copper Core 10pc set

All-Clad Copper Core cookware is so durable, you will probably pass it on to your children.

Clad Stainless Cookware Vs. Other Types of Cookware: The Bottom Line

Many cooks prefer clad stainless for its durability, stability, great heating properties, and ease of maintenance. However, not all clad stainless cookware is created equally, so you have to do your research before buying.


see all-clad copper core cookware at williams-sonoma

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How Does Copper Core Cookware Compare to Other Brands of Clad Cookware?

There aren't a lot of products similar to Copper Core cookware, but there are a few around. Legend cookware is close in configuration to Copper Core, but we haven't tested it. It is made in China, so could be close to Copper Core design even at its lower price point, 

One copper core brand we recommend is Falk Copper Core. It's made by an established copper cookware company and sold like copper cookware--so you know exactly what you're paying for. Falk Copper core contains an internal layer of copper almost 2mm thick--about twice that of All-Clad Copper Core. You'll pay a premium for it, but if you want to get close to true copper performance in a stainless and/or induction compatible configuration, Falk is the way to go. 

Another potential issue is that any brand not charging a premium price is not likely to contain enough copper to affect heating performance. Several brands of clad copper-stainless cookware are just aluminum cookware with enough external copper to provide color but not enough to give true copper performance (it can still be decent cookware, just don't pay too much for it thinking you're getting "real" copper cookware). 

You can read more about copper cookware in our Copper Cookware Review and see the brands we recommend. 

The upshot: Don't be fooled by low cost "copper" clad cookware. Copper is an expensive metal, so you're only going to find it in useful amounts in premium brands. 

Copper Core Cookware Vs. Other Clad Stainless Cookware: The Bottom Line

In general, you should avoid cheap clad copper cookware because copper is harder to bond to stainless steel than aluminum, and can be prone to bubbling and separating. It can also have a thin heating core that won't heat well.

How Does All-Clad Copper Core Compare to Other Copper Cookware?

Mauviel copper cookware set

Copper cookware is beautiful and responsive, but it's also expensive and hard to maintain.

Copper is the cookware of choice for professional chefs. Julia Child insisted not only on cooking with copper, but also that the cookware be 3mm thick. 

Professional chefs like copper because it is super responsive: it reacts to changes in temperature faster than any other cookware material. It also heats incredibly evenly. And it's beautiful. 

However, copper cookware is expensive--the most expensive cookware on the market. And it requires maintenance that stainless cookware doesn't: you have to polish it a few times a year if you want it to keep its gorgeous luster (though it performs just as well whether you polish it or not). 

Reputable copper cookware brands state how much copper content is in their cookware. Pro chefs and serious cooks buy copper cookware by the millimeter so they know exactly what performance they're going to get. 

Clad stainless cookware is marketed to a different buyer, so it rarely contains heating core thickness (although this is changing as buyers get more savvy and the market gets more competitive).

While most clad stainless will provide passable performance, it's not going to be anything like the real, heavy duty copper cookware used by professional chefs. 

Copper Core cookware is marketed to the clad stainless audience. Thus, All-Clad doesn't provide information on how thick the copper and aluminum layers are, and buyers don't expect it. To find out how much copper Copper Core cookware actually contained, we had to cut a pan open and measure it. 

The copper layer in Copper Core cookware is 0.9mm, which is thinner than any "real" copper brand. More importantly, the amount of copper in Copper Core isn't a selling point as it is with higher end copper brands. 

Even though Copper Core doesn't provide a "real" copper cookware experience, it's top notch cookware. It has traits that in some ways make it better than traditional copper cookware: Copper Core is dishwasher safe, induction compatible, and does not require polishing because of its stainless exterior. 

Copper Core Cookware Vs Other Copper Cookware: The Bottom Line

All-Clad Copper Core cookware has enough copper to provide fast, even, responsive heating, but it is not comparable to high-end copper brands. It has some features that copper cookware doesn't have, like being dishwasher safe, induction compatible, and low maintenance. It performs slightly better than All-Clad tri-ply, and much better than copper core knockoffs priced too good to be true. 

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How Does Copper Core Cookware Compare to Other All-Clad Lines?

Here we start to really get into the meat of it, because if you're reading this, you probably want All-Clad and you're just wondering which All-Clad you want. (You can see and compare the All-Clad lines in our All-Clad Review.) 

Here's a summary of the All-Clad lines:

D3: Copper Core is closest in performance to D3. Copper Core's 0.9mm layer of copper plus the two thin layers of aluminum are approximately equivalent to the 1.7mm layer of aluminum in D3, with the copper making it more responsive, slightly more even heating, and a little lighter. 

D5: Copper Core is better than D5. Like Copper Core, D5 is 5-ply cookware, but instead of even and responsive copper and aluminum, D5 has 2 layers of aluminum and a stainless steel core. All-Clad markets D5 as their induction line. But the steel core slows heating down, which makes the pan heat slightly more evenly (but nothing like copper). 

Fusiontec: This is a new, enameled stainless steel line. It's going to have very different performance than All-Clad's clad stainless lines.

G5: This is super light cookware that has a graphite heating core. The graphite is only in the bottom of the pan, so Copper Core will likely provide better overall heating.

Enameled Cast Iron: This line is meant to compete with Le Creuset and Staub, and is not comparable to Coper Core.

Copper Core Cookware Vs. Other All-Clad Cookware: The Bottom Line

Copper Core heats slightly more evenly and is slightly more responsive than other All-Clad clad cookware, but the differences are small. Copper Core is excellent cookware, but if you're on a tight budget, D3 will provide heating performance good enough that you are unlikely to notice the difference.

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Sets Vs. Individual Pieces

Whatever you're in the market for, it's smart to weigh the advantages of buying sets vs. individual pieces.

All-Clad Copper Core 7 pc set

Buy a set if:

  • You're just starting out and need everything 
  • You want matching cookware
  • You want to save money
  • You're sure you'll use all the pieces in the set.
All-Clad Copper Core saucier
All-Clad Copper Core saute pan
All-Clad Copper Core skillet

Buy individual pieces if:

  • You already have a lot of cookware and are looking to augment with a specific piece or two
  • You have specific needs that you can fill with just one or two specialty pieces
  • You don't care if you have a matching set
  • You can't find the pieces you want in a set.

Keep in mind that no set is going to have every piece you need. For example, no set we know of comes with a roasting pan (although sometimes sellers like Williams-Sonoma will throw one in with the purchase of a qualifying set).

Our recommendation is to buy a small set with pieces you know you'll use (5-7 pieces), and augment with individual pieces as you know you need them.

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Avoid Sets with Filler Pieces

If you do buy a set, pay attention to the sizes of the pieces in the set, and avoid sets with filler pieces. Filler pieces are those used to round out a set and make it seem like the set has more usable pieces than it actually has. For example, if a set has two small sauce pans, such as a 1.5 qt. and a 2 qt., consider one of these a filler piece because they are so close in size (and both small) that they're only good for similar tasks. 

Instead, a large set should have one smallish sauce pan (1.5-2qt) and one good-sized sauce pan (3qt).

Size preferences are certainly personal, so you have to decide for yourself if a set has the pieces you want. Just be aware that many sets can include small filler pieces--including All-Clad sets.

We talk about piece sizes of the Copper Core cookware sets in detail below.

Sets Vs. Individual Pieces: The Bottom Line

There's no right or wrong answer here and you should buy based on your individual needs. Sets can be an economical way to get a lot of pieces at once, but buying individual pieces ensures you get exactly what you want. 

If you choose to buy a set, make sure it has the pieces you want in the sizes you want. Avoid sets with filler pieces, and know that no set is going to have everything you want, so you'll probably have to augment with individual purchases at some point (e.g., a roasting pan).

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How to Buy Cookware Online (And the Best Places to Find It)

A reader recently asked if we thought the All-Clad available on Amazon was "fake" because there were a few one-star reviews. Our answer is, absolutely not.

Some people are disappointed in clad stainless cookware. If they're used to nonstick cookware, there's a learning curve with using stainless, and some reviewers haven't figured it out yet. Or if their stainless cookware discolors with use, they might think something's wrong with it (there isn't). 

It's true that stainless is harder to clean than nonstick cookware (although if you use the right technique, this becomes less of an issue). And discolorations are going to happen with daily use. Some people may have had a bad experience for reasons unrelated to the quality of the cookware.

So if you read the one-star reviews on Amazon and elsewhere, don't pay a lot of attention to one-star reviews that talk about sticking. 

Amazon is a great place to buy All-Clad cookware. And should you get unlucky and get a knockoff piece (we've never heard of this happening), or if you decide All-Clad cookware isn't for you, Amazon has a 30-day return policy on anything you buy from them; if you have Amazon Prime, returns are completely free. So you're covered. 

Amazon isn't the only place to buy cookware, though. We include other buying options, too, because you should check more than one online source to compare prices. You may be surprised to learn that Sur la Table and Williams-Sonoma tend to have the same prices you'll find on Amazon. If you run into a sale, you can get some amazing deals. 

To keep up with sales and special deals on kitchen products, like and follow The Rational Kitchen on Facebook.

Buying cookware online is smart because you can compare prices, find the best deals, and take advantage of the global competition. You should always check a few different places because you never know where you'll run into a sale or a great deal.

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Buying Options: Copper Core Individual Pieces 

In addition to the pieces included in sets, the All-Clad Copper Core cookware line has a huge variety of open stock available. 

All-Clad does a great job of understanding their customers and giving them a lot of options. If you want all your cookware to match, it will cost you a small fortune, but the options are certainly there. 

Not every site has all the pieces, or all the available sizes--this is another reason to shop around. We've found that Amazon actually has the largest variety of open stock, but availability can vary. If there's a piece you want that you can't find anywhere else, check out the All-Clad website. Prices will be higher, but they should have the best selection.

Skillets and Sauté Pans: How to Size Them

Skillets are measured by the top diameter (inches or centimeters). Sauté pans are measured by volume (quarts or liters). 

For reference, the sauté pan equivalent to a 10-inch skillet is 3- or 4-quarts. The sauté pan equivalent to a 12-inch skillet is 5- or 6-quarts. 

This also means the lid to a 5- or 6-quart sauté pan can usually double for a 12-inch skillet and the lid to a 3- or 4-quart sauté pan can double for a 10-inch skillet. Before you buy a separate lid for your skillet (which rarely come with lids), see if you have a sauté pan lid that fits it.

Skillet/Frying Pan (8-, 10-, and 12-inch)

All-Clad Copper Core skillet

See it on Amazon

See it at Williams-Sonoma

About $150-$230-$280

You can get the All-Clad Copper Core skillet/frying pan in 8-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch size. The 12-inch size has a helper handle. 

You'll appreciate Copper Core performance in a frying pan or sauté pan. It's a light pan with great heating properties--fast, even, and responsive--and hits all the notes as a great, all-around kitchen workhorse. 

This responsiveness is a pleasure for most cooking tasks, but save the high-heat searing for your cast iron or Demeyere Proline

The skillets don't come with a lid, which is typical for skillets. If you have a comparably sized sauté pan, the lid will probably fit (e.g., 3-qt sauté lid fits 10-inch frying pan; 5-qt sauté lid fits 12-inch frying pan). 

We don't recommend the nonstick skillet because the coating will wear out decades before the rest of the pan, and it's expensive. But we included it for those people who are interested.

All-Clad Copper Core Frying Pan

All-Clad Copper Core skillet

Sauté Pan (3-, 5-, and 6-Qt.)

All-Clad Copper Core saute pan

See it on Amazon

See it at Williams-Sonoma

About $300-$250-$380

A sauté pan is a straight-sided skillet/frying pan. Technically the two pans have different uses, but for many people, a skillet and a sauté pan are interchangeable. If you're frying meat, a skillet's sloped sides make it easier to slip a turner in there, and if you're doing a braise or other cooking method that uses liquid, the straight sides of the sauté pan make it the right choice. Unless doing a wet heat method, which pan you use is largely personal preference.

One appeal of sauté pans is that they usually include a lid with the purchase price, while the skillet/frying pan does not. (You can find D3 skillets with a lid, but we haven't yet found a Copper Core skillet with a lid.)

In any case, depending on your cooking style and your budget, you may want both a frying pan and a sauté pan. Either way, the Copper Core sauté pan is a great addition to your collection. As you already know, it's an expensive pan, and there are cheaper alternatives, like All-Clad tri-ply (D3) and Cuisinart MC Pro, that are pretty good. But if you want a lightweight, responsive pan with a great aesthetic, Copper Core is the way to go.

All-Clad Copper Core Saute Pan:

All-Clad Copper Core saute pan

Sauce Pan (2-, 3, and 4-Qt.)

All-Clad Copper Core sauce pan

See it on Amazon

See it at Williams-Sonoma

About $280-$200-$325

Every kitchen needs at least a couple of sauce pans: a small, 1.5-2 quart size for heating leftovers and small batches of soup, sauce, etc., and a 3-4 quart size for making pasta, rice, beans, and hundreds of other kitchen tasks. The Copper Core sauce pan is a great choice. It's lightweight and easy to handle, and it provides fast, even, responsive heating--everything you need in a sauce pan.

All-Clad Copper Core Sauce Pan:

All-Clad Copper Core sauce pan

Stock Pot (8 Quarts)

All-Clad Copper Core stock pot

See it on Amazon

See it at Williams-Sonoma

About $425 on Amazon/$500 at Williams-Sonoma

You don't need Copper Core performance in a stock pot, so a less expensive brand with disc cladding is perfectly fine. But it's a great pot, and at 8 quarts, it's large enough for most batches of stock.

All-Clad Copper Core 8 Qt. Stock Pot:

All-Clad Copper Core stock pot

Chef's Pan (12-Inch)

All-Clad Copper Core chef pan

See chef's pan on Amazon

About $460

Chef's pans are more popular in Europe than in the US, but they're a large, versatile piece of cookware. You can use them as skillets, sauté pans, sauciers, Dutch ovens, and even woks. They're called chef's pans because their versatility makes them the favorite choice for many professional chefs. 

Chef's pans are big, and the Copper Core model is no exception. Its 12-inch diameter and deep sides give you a lot of room to work in. 

If you routinely cook for crowds or like to do weekly meal prepping, you will get a ton of use out of a chef's pan. If you're looking for just one or two investment pieces for your Copper Core budget, this pan is a great choice.

All-Clad Copper Core Chef's Pan:

All-Clad Copper Core chef pan

Double Boiler (2-Qt Sauce Pan plus 1.5 Qt Insert)

All-Clad Copper Core double boiler

See it on Amazon

About $270

The ceramic insert provides superb heat protection, so if you like to whip up batches of hollandaise sauce, candy, or other foods that require gentle and precise heating, you'll love this pot. At only 1.5 quarts, this insert is small, so keep that in mind before you buy: a non-insulated double boiler will have more room.

All-Clad Copper Core double boiler insert

The price includes a 2-quart sauce pan, a lid, and the ceramic insert. Can you buy the insert separately? Can you find it in a larger size? We couldn't find either option, so probably not. 

If you can't find this or want to save a little money, check out the All-Clad D3 double boiler instead. 

All-Clad Copper Core 2 Qt. Sauce pan w/1.5 Qt. Ceramic Insert:

All-Clad Copper Core double boiler

Pasta Pot/Pentola (7-Quart)

All-Clad Copper Core pasta pot

See it on Amazon

About $240

Pentola means pot in Italian, so this is a 7-quart stock pot with a colander insert for draining pasta. The price includes the pot, the colander insert, and the lid. If you cook a lot of pasta, this is a great choice, because you get the insert as well as a nice-sized stock pot you can use for other things. 

This is not the All-Clad Copper Core, but the insert looks and works like this:

All-Clad Copper Core pasta pot draining

(You may be wondering why the water is draining out only the bottom holes. It's because the picture wasn't snapped until the pot was nearly done draining. If you haven't used one of these before, be careful that first time you lift it out of the pot--water comes out of ALL the holes!)

At 7 quarts, it's one quart smaller than the standard Copper core stock pot (above). You may prefer its taller, narrower shape, which is good for soups, stocks, and boiling water (because: less evaporation). However, you can use the shallower pot for a Dutch oven; you can't do that with this one.

All-Clad Copper Core 7 Qt. Pasta Pentola w/Colander Insert:

All-Clad Copper Core pasta pot

Stir Fry Pan/Wok (14-In.)

All-Clad Copper Core stir fry pan 14in.

This is a beautiful wok. If you do a lot of stir frying, a wok is a must-have piece of equipment. You can find cheaper carbon steel woks that will perform very well, but none as pretty as this one. 

See more about woks in our article How to Choose the Best Wok.

All-Clad Copper Core 14-in. Stir Fry/Wok:

All-Clad Copper Core stir fry pan 14in.

Essential Pan (4 Qt-6 Qt.)

All-Clad Copper Core essential pan

See it on Amazon

See it at Williams-Sonoma

About $300-$400

This 4-quart Essential pan is similar to a chef's pan but with curved rather than angled, sides. It's large and it has high sides to add versatility. From boiling pasta to making bechamel to sautéing meat or veggies, this pan can do just about everything. 

If you've already got sauce pans and sauté pans in all the sizes you want, you probably don't need an essential pan. However, if you want to add to your collection and want something bigger and more versatile, this pan is a great addition. 

NOTE: We've seen prices all over the map for this piece. Be sure you shop around before buying or you might pay too much--it's usually cheaper at W-S than on Amazon.

All-Clad Copper Core 4 Qt. Essential Pan:

All-Clad Copper Core essential pan

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All Clad Copper Core Cookware Sets Buying Options

Here are the set options for All-Clad Copper Core cookware. 

Once again: Be sure to note in particular the sizes of the skillets and sauce pans. All-Clad sets can be a mix of great pieces and filler pieces. Be sure you're getting what you want, and don't be afraid to buy larger pieces individually (rather than get a larger set). 

7 Piece Copper Core Set

See it on Amazon

See it at Williams-Sonoma

About $900

The 8 qt. stock pot is great for stock making, although too large to double as a Dutch oven or roaster. Also, the skillet and sauté pan are roughly the same size, and the 2-quart sauce pan is on the small side.

The good news is that the sauté pan lid will fit your skillet, and they are all versatile pieces if you're not cooking for a crowd.

All-Clad Copper Core 7 pc set

The 7 piece set includes:

  • 10 inch fry pan
  • 2 quart sauce pan, with lid
  • 3 quart sauté pan, with lid
  • 8 quart stockpot, with lid.

10 Piece Copper Core Set

See it on Amazon

See it at Williams-Sonoma

About $1400

The 10-piece set has the same pieces as the 7-piece, plus one smaller skillet and one bigger sauce pan. This is a nice starter set for the cook who needs everything. The 3-quart sauce pan lid fits the 8-inch skillet, so that's handy. The smaller skillet can be handy for certain things (cooking for yourself, or browning small amounts of onions or other veg for garnishes, dips, etc.). This set has almost everything you'll need, except you'll probably want to augment with a 12-inch skillet--and of course, you'll need a roasting pan of some sort. 

All-Clad Copper Core 10 pc set

The 10 piece set includes:

  • 8 inch skillet
  • 10 inch skillet
  • 2 quart sauce pan, with lid 
  • 3 quart sauce pan, with lid 
  • 3 quart sauté pan, with lid
  • 8 quart stockpot, with lid.

14 Piece Copper Core Set/15 Piece W-S Copper Core Set

See it at Amazon

See 15 piece set at Williams-Sonoma

About $1400-$1500

The size of this set is a little crazy--and the price is even crazier. But it has a lot of great pieces, which vary depending on where you buy the set--so check both places to make sure you get what you want.

If you go with the Williams-Sonoma set, you get the tall stock pot with the pasta insert and the Dutch oven, plus a larger (4-quart) sauce pan instead of the chef's pan:

All-Clad Copper Core WS 15 pc set

If you're investing in this much cookware, we prefer the W-S set because you might never buy a pasta insert otherwise, and it's a nice thing to have (can double as a colander in a pinch). It also comes with a 5qt Dutch oven, which is a very versatile piece--although maybe not as versatile as the Chef's Pan, depending on your cooking style and preferences.

We love that both of these sets come with two large skillets (10-inch/12-inch). But it's too bad you have to buy such a huge set to get that option. (If anyone at All-Clad is reading this, please, please include the 12-inch skillet in a smaller set!)

All-Clad Copper Core 14 pc set

The 14 piece set includes:

  • 10 inch skillet
  • 12 inch skillet
  • 2 quart sauce pan, with lid
  • 3 quart sauce pan, with lid
  • 3 quart sauté pan, with cover
  • 6 quart sauté pan, with lid
  • 12 inch chef’s pan, with lid
  • 8 quart stockpot, with lid.

Williams-Sonoma offers a slightly different configuration: a 15 piece set for a little bit more. It includes:

  • 10 inch skillet 
  • 12 inch skillet
  • 2 quart sauce pan, with lid 
  • 4 quart sauce pan, with lid
  • 3 quart sauté pan, with lid  
  • 6 quart sauté pan, with lid 
  • 5 1/2 quart Dutch oven. with lid
  • 7 quart stockpot with pasta insert and lid.

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All-Clad Copper Core FAQs

Here are some commonly asked questions about All-Clad Copper Core.

Is Copper Core Worth the High Price?

All-Clad Copper Core is worth the high price if you love it and can afford it. However, other cookware comes very close to Copper Core performance (like All-Clad D3), so buy Copper Core if you have the budget, but go with something less expensive if don't.

Does Food Stick to Copper Core?

Food does tend to stick to stainless steel, so there's a learning curve to using it. But once you learn how to use it, it's great cookware: Heat the pan, then add oil when it's hot, then add food when the oil is hot. Let the food cook until a crust forms on the bottom, at which point the food will release from the pan without sticking. 

Is Copper Core a Safe Choice?

All stainless steel cookware is a safe choice. Stainless steel is a stable, non-reactive cooking surface that doesn't leach any unsafe or toxic chemicals.

Is All-Clad Copper Core Oven Safe?

Yes, Copper Core is oven safe to 600F.

Can Copper Core Go in the Dishwasher?

Yes, Copper Core can go in the dishwasher, but you should wash by hand to keep the cookware looking its best.

What Is the Warranty on All-Clad Copper Core?

Copper Core has a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects.

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Final Thoughts on All-Clad Copper Core Cookware

All-Clad Copper Core cookware is great performing and truly beautiful cookware. It's lightweight and responsive, and is some of the best clad stainless cookware on the market. It's dishwasher safe, induction compatible, durable, and comes with a lifetime warranty. 

If you fall in love with it and can afford it, go for it: you'll love it. Or if you want to augment your collection with a responsive, lightweight pan, Copper Core fills that gap. It's expensive, but it's also the last cookware you'll ever need to buy.

Thanks for reading!

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About the Author

The Rational Kitchen (TRK) is a collaborative effort, but the founder, editor, and writer of most of our articles is Melanie Johnson, an avid cook, kitchenware expert, and technical communications specialist for more than 20 years. Her love of cooking and the frustrating lack of good information about kitchen products led her to create The Rational Kitchen. TRK's mission is to help people make the best decisions they can when buying kitchen gear. 

When not working on product reviews, Melanie enjoys reading, playing with her dog Ruby, vintage video games, and spending time outdoors and with her family.

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  1. Thank you very much for an in-depth review of the brand, copper core qualities, options and performance! This is a great summary!
    Could I please ask you to do the same in-depth review of Cristel brand cookware? They have 3 collections (Mutine (3-ply), Strate and something else (5-ply)). I own several pieces, but since I am expanding my cookware set collection, I am not sure if I should stick to the brand or venture out and explore other brands like All-Clad and Demeyere. Thank you!

    1. Hi Asem, Cristel is on our list, and we’ll get to it as soon as we can. You’ll probably have to buy new cookware before we get to it, unfortunately. 🙁 Thanks for the comment.

  2. Demeyere Atlantis line's thick bottom disc is copper core with 2mm of copper sandwiched between two thin layers of pure silver, mixed with aluminum & SS layers to make it 7ply.

    Certainly worth comparing to All-Clad's Copper Core line, no?

  3. Fantastic article! Your review is perfectly on point and I totally agree. I started my cookware collection in my early 20’s with All Clad LTD, then added 5D and 30 years later, I have All Clad Copper Core (my go to) and 8 pieces of Matfer Bourgeat solid copper with stainless interior and rolled edges- too heavy to use for light cooking but, unpolished, looks glorious with all my other cookware on a 7 ft pot rack. I have an old kitchen in an old house, but as long as I can cook with inspiration, I’m happy!
    Thanks again for this great article!

  4. I would love to buy a All-Clad Copper Core set but I don't have the money for it now.

    I was researching and found out that the only company that actually makes "Copper Core" that's not All Clad is a brand called Legend cookware on amazon it's a lot cheaper and I am not sure if I should try it. The more research I am making the more positive response I am getting.

    Did you ever here about this brand, and do you think it's worth the try?


    1. Hi Lucy, Yes, we know about Legend and have wondered about it ourselves. It does get pretty good reviews, but we haven’t tested it yet, and there is a very limited amount of detailed info about it online, so it’s really hard to say how it compares to All-Clad. There are a few Chinese made brands (which Legend is) that compare well to All-Clad, but we just can’t say for sure until we get our hands on it. I did notice that the sellers answer a lot of the questions, but they did not answer the question about the thickness of the copper core, which I take as not a great sign.

      One other (small) red flag is that the cookware is 18/8, not 18/10 like All-Clad. This is a small difference, and a way to cut costs because 18/8 is cheaper than 18/10, and almost, but not quite, as corrosion resistant.

      Sorry we couldn’t be more help. Legend is on our list to test, but it will take us awhile to get to it.

      But there’s no way to know for sure.

  5. Well now I'm curious since you cut an all-clad copper core in half, what were the thickness of each of the other layers besides the copper? Falk mentions 0.4 mm S.S. exterior, 1.9 mm copper core, and 0.2 mm S.S. interior lining.

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