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 cookware are two of the best options around. Here, we're going to examine and compare All-Clad and Demeyere clad stainless cookware. This comparison should give you an excellent idea about which brand will best serve your needs (if either).
Find out here how they compare to each other.
Buying Cookware: An Introduction
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 cookware 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 or product reviews, you'll find this to be the case over and over. No cookware brand is universally loved.
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 low maintenance a priority? Do you want cookware made in the USA? Do you have concerns about weight, handle design, or other ergonomic issues?
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 not the only high-end clad stainless cookware brand on the market. There are other options.
Enter Demeyere cookware (pronounced de-MY-ruh), one of our favorite All-Clad alternatives. If you're in the market for top notch clad stainless cookware, All-Clad is a great option--but Demeyere deserves your attention, too.
After all, if you're going to spend the money, you should get cookware you can love.
FYI: This is a Clad Stainless Cookware Review:
Both All-Clad and Demeyere cookware are clad stainless cookware. We like clad stainless for its durability, heating properties, and low maintenance compared to other high-end cookware like copper. If you're looking for reviews of other kinds of cookware (e.g., copper, nonstick, anodized aluminum, cast iron), this review won't have the info you need.
All Clad Vs. Demeyere at a Glance
If you don't want to read the whole article, here's a quick comparison table of the two most popular lines from All-Clad and Demeyere:
All-Clad Vs. Demeyere
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, grooved handle design, stainless lids. Some people dislike the grooved handle, but it is meant to help you stabilize the pan (we like it).
Good amount of cooking surface, Silvinox coating and rivetless design superior to AC. However, heavier than AC and shorter handles that can 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 cookware in general, and what makes it great. Aside from how it's going to look in your kitchen, what do you actually need to know?
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 great heating properties, low reactivity with food, and excellent durability. Demeyere edges out All Clad on ease of care, and also has better heating properties.
The function of cookware is to transfer heat from the 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). Furthermore, 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 (or small) 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, just as they have thermal conductivity ratings. However, the heat capacity is also dependent on a pan's mass. That is, the thicker and 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 frying pan with a 2mm layer of aluminum is going to have a lower heat capacity than a frying pan with a 3mm 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 Vs. Heat Capacity: Which Matters More?
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 champ. This is why it's such a great choice for tasks like frying chicken and searing steaks--tasks where it's important to hang onto heat well 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--thermal conductivity is what you're paying for in good quality cookware.
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 a copper layer (yes: you should be impressed by that!).
Tin is also used, usually as the traditional surface in copper cookware, but it's got a number of drawbacks: it wears easily and has a low melting point (449.5F). It is not used in any of the All-Clad or Demeyere lines that we know of, but you can still find it on the cooking surface of copper cookware.
(However, 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 without sacrificing copper's excellent heating properties.)
Both All-Clad and Demeyere cookware have good thermal conductivity, meaning they heat evenly and rapidly. Demeyere cookware has more aluminum, so it edges out All-Clad in both thermal conductivity and heat capacity. However, this greater mass also means that Demeyere is heavier cookware (in some cases, considerably heavier). This could be good or bad, depending on what you're looking for. But it is certainly an important consideration.
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 probably 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. (NOTE: Titanium is also a stable cooking surface, but neither All Clad or Demeyere make titanium cookware, so we don't include it here.) 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.
Neither All-Clad nor Demeyere offer 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 thermal conductivity (meaning it heats slowly and unevenly). 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 some Demeyere lines. Since clad cookware has only been around since the 1960s, it's impossible to compare its longevity 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 cookware.
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 flakes 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 copper cookware 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.
Demeyere pans have a couple of features that All Clad pans don't have that make them easier to care for. Demeyere cookware finishes their cookware with a proprietary finish called Silvinox which makes the cookware especially lustrous and easier to clean. It's not nonstick by a longshot, but most users find Demeyere easier to wash than other brands of clad stainless cookware.
Demeyere cookware also has welded handles, meaning that the cooking surface is completely smooth: no rivets. If you've ever had to clean around rivets, you know what a pain this can be.
Ease of Care
All Clad: The stainless can be sticky and has rivets on the cooking surface to clean around.
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. The welded handles make for a rivetless cooking surface, which adds greatly to ease of care.
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" as opposed to 18/10 or 18/8). 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, to some degree, 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.
The Demeyere Atlantis line is specifically designed to work 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. Demeyere claims that their cookware can be up to 30% more efficient on induction than other clad stainless brands (though we're not sure if this translates to faster cooking times or lower electric bills).
All-Clad's D5 is their induction line, but the added layer of internal stainless does little to improve how it functions with induction, as far as we can tell, so it's not our favorite All Clad line. We recommend the D3 (tri-ply), D7, or Copper Core instead.
AC: Tri-ply, D5, D7, and Copper Core are all induction compatible. MC2 and LTD2 are not.
Demeyere: All Demeyere pans are induction compatible. Demeyere has many features that make it the superior induction cookware, including its TripleInduc technology (more on this below), it's greater mass, and its extremely flat, wide pan bottoms that provide greater contact with the burner.
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 cookware, enameled cookware, anodized aluminum cookware, 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.
Tips 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.
-Allow food to cook undisturbed for a few minutes. It will form a crust and release from the pan on its own.
-Avoid using high heat when pan frying, as it will cause oil to polymerize and "bond" to the pan.
-Use Barkeeper's Friend to remove stains and keep your stainless looking shiny and new.
Cladding: What You Need to Know
Cladding is the process of bonding different metals together under extreme pressure. The process was invented in the 1960s by American John Ulam, who went on to found the All-Clad company in 1971. Cladding allowed the use of multiple metals to be used as one, maximizing the best properties of each and minimizing the drawbacks, resulting in durable cookware with excellent heating properties.
Here's how it works: 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 extremely popular cookware here in the United States. The cladding process, however, is expensive and rather difficult to do well. 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 exterior-aluminum interior-stainless cooking surface. 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/Atlantis saucier pans 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--this is their patented TriplInduc® design); layers of different aluminum alloys (some alloys bond to the stainless better, some have better heating properties); and an 18/10 stainless cooking surface.
All-Clad D7 has alternating layers of aluminum alloys and stainless steel, primarily to increase mass, as stainless doesn't add a lot to the heating properties. All-Clad D5 has an internal layer of stainless between the aluminum layers, which is supposed to improve lateral heat movement--but all stainless steel can do is slow down heat movement, so we're not sure how that benefits functionality, particularly with induction (and All-Clad hasn't explained it very well, either).
Multiple layers can be functional, as in the case of Demeyere's TriplInduc® and aluminum alloys that serve a specific purpose. However, multiple layers have become a bit of a fad, and don't always improve cookware performance (All Clad D5, we're looking at you).
The more important factor to consider is the thickness of the aluminum and/or copper layer(s), and the overall mass of the pan.
AC: All-Clad D3 and D5 has about 1.7mm of aluminum, 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, giving it a performance edge, but also quite a bump up in cost.
Demeyere cookware: 3.7mm of aluminum on the Proline and other fully clad Atlantis pieces. Bottom-clad only pieces have a 7mm base, with a 2mm layer of aluminum, copper, and silver. Industry 5 contains about 3mm of aluminum.
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, 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 1.7mm 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, All Clad's most reasonably priced line, has even more aluminum in it--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.)
In contrast, the Demeyere Proline skillet has about 3.8mm of aluminum--almost twice as much as the All-Clad D3! Demeyere'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 Atlantis 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 significantly lighter All-Clad D3 or the Demeyere Industry 5. Both are great options.
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 it can have a clad disc bonded to the bottom surface of the cookware; this is called bottom-, disc-, or impact-bonded cookware.
You can spot bottom cladding easily by the seam where the disc is bonded to the rest of the pan:
Most bottom-clad cookware is less expensive because it's cheaper to make and tends to of lower quality. This is especially true in the US, where bottom-clad cookware is considered inferior to the fully clad American brand All Clad.
However, bottom-clad cookware is more popular in Europe, and some European brands of bottom-clad cookware are extremely high quality. This includes some pieces of Demeyere Atlantis. The Atlantis line has fully clad and disc clad pieces. This configuration has evolved from Demeyere's cooking philosophy, which is that when you use curved-sided pieces (like a skillet), the sides are part of the cooking surface; when you use straight-sided pieces (like the sauté pan shown above) only the bottom is cooking surface.
(In other words, the cladding configuration has nothing to do with cost cutting, and everything to do with performance.)
All-Clad, on the other hand, makes only fully clad cookware. Fully clad cookware is what Americans are accustomed to and prefer. Whether it is the "better" design, though, is really a matter of opinion.
Having said that, we believe there's truth to Demeyere's philosophy. For example, pans used for liquids, such as sauce pans and stock pots, really don't require full cladding because the natural convection in liquid distributes heat evenly throughout the pot. And in any straight-sided pan, it's difficult to use the sides for cooking as you can in a frying pan or a wok. So is full cladding necessary? Maybe not.
Even so, there are other reasons to prefer full cladding. One big one is balance: bottom clad pans can feel unbalanced, especially if you're accustomed to full cladding. Another is that with full cladding, you don't have to stop and consider "which pan should I use?" Since all pans are fully clad, you'll get similar results whether you grab a frying pan or a sauté pan, a sauce pan or a saucier.
As we said: it's largely a matter of preference.
If you do want to consider bottom-clad cookware, we recommend that you avoid cheap Chinese brands. High quality bottom cladding is thick enough to compensate for the lack of side cladding, while lower quality bottom cladding has roughly the same thickness as a fully clad pan, only just on the bottom.
While Americans tend to prefer full cladding, there are good arguments to be made for some bottom clad pieces, especially if they are high quality (like the Demeyere Atlantis).
We recommend that you avoid inexpensive bottom-clad cookware. which is offered by many major cookware manufacturers. So if you buy on the low end, make sure you're getting fully clad cookware.
Design: Cookware You Can Love (and Use)
Cookware design has two important aspects:
1) It should be functional enough that it gives you pleasure to use it.
2) It should be beautiful enough that it gives you pleasure to look at 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 appeal.
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 along the top side of the handle (see image below). 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 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 larger pieces of Demeyere cookware has helper handles.
- Silicone-coated handles: Some lines of cookware have silicone-coated handles. These can 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 rather than riveted on--this means there are no rivets on the cooking surface. If you've ever tried to scrub gunk around rivets, you know how cool 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. "Pretty" may seem like a poor scale for something as functional as cookware, but hear us out: the truth is that, like most things, beautiful cookware is 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.
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 the sets below: which would you rather have? (If you picked the one on the right, you're on the wrong website.) 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 at least 3 times over before you even start to notice wear on the stainless set.
Good design is somewhat subjective, but both All Clad and Demeyere cookware are great to use and look at.
All Clad: Some people dislike the D3 handles, but overall it is lightweight, easy to use, and pretty. However, the lightness also makes its heating properties not as good as Demeyere.
Demeyere: While beautiful, it's heaviness and somewhat short handles may be drawbacks for some people, especially the larger pieces. But its heating properties are nearly unbeatable, and its welded handles eliminate the issue of gunk collecting around rivets on the cooking surface.
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 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. In response, All-Clad introduced several new lines to stay ahead of this competition.
The All-Clad Lines
3 ply (s-a-s). 2.6mm thick w/1.7mm al. Most popular and familiar AC line. Dishwasher safe.
Great all around cookware.
D3 with "bonded matrix" surface meant to reduce sticking. Skillets and saute pans only.
We do not recommend this cookware.
5 ply (s-a-s-a-s). 2.6mm thick, thus less al. than D3. Dishwasher safe.
We recommend the D3 or CC over D5.
7 ply (s-a-s-a-s-a-s). 3.8mm thick w/2.2mm aluminum. Domed lids and shorter handles than D3. Dishwasher safe.
Discontinued, but still available.
Frying pans are great (but spendy) alt. to cast iron, but this amount of mass isn't really needed for daily use.
5 ply with copper center (s-a-c-a-s). 1.7mm total thickness w/1mm layer of copper--thinner than D3, but the copper makes it more responsive. Dishwasher safe.
Lightweight, thinner, and slightly more responsive than D3, CC is great all-around cookware, and it's beautiful, but performance doesn't quite match higher price.
TK (Thomas Keller)
A mix of D3, D5, and Copper Core pieces, depending on type of pan, with different handles and shapes. Williams-Sonoma exclusive. Dishwasher safe.
The mix of different lines is meant to "bring Chef Keller's preferences to the home cook." We hate the universal lids.
"3" ply: anodized aluminum exterior, aluminum interior, stainless cooking surface w/3mm of aluminum. The LTD2 has rounder handles. Not dishwasher safe.
Not Induction compatible.
Excellent all around cookware. High aluminum content makes it better heating than the more popular D3, D5, and CC. Anodized surface very tough.
2 ply: aluminum bonded to stainless cooking surface. App. 3mm of aluminum. AC's lowest cost line, with better heating properties than the D3. Not dishwasher safe.
Not Induction compatible.
Great all around cookware. High aluminum content makes it better heating than D3, D5, and CC.
Anodized, cast aluminum with nonstick (PTFE) cooking surface. Small differences in pan shape among the lines. Technically dishwasher safe. Made in China.
Cast aluminum gives great heating properties but the nonstick surface should be reserved for special tasks; don't buy a whole set.
stainless cooking surface, not dishwasher safe. Est. about 1-1.5mm copper total.
Not Induction compatible.
Go with Mauviel or Falk for a true copper experience.
All About Demeyere Cookware
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, with Zwilling having designs on the high-end American cookware market.)
The Demeyere designers have a different philosophy about cookware than All-Clad, which has resulted in pans with very different designs. In their original line, Atlantis, the sloped-sided pans (e.g., skillets and sauciers) are fully clad, while the straight-sided pans (e.g., sauté and sauce pans) are bottom-clad. (See the Full Cladding Vs. Bottom Cladding discussion above for more details.)
Here's a 4 minute video from Demeyere which explains their reasoning (and pan construction):
As valid as this reasoning is (and it is), the American market has always preferred fully cladded cookware, probably largely due to 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 all the same cookware--and the Aurora line, which is a cheaper Zwilling version of Industry 5; the build is identical, but it has riveted handles and no Silvinox finish.
Demeyere also makes a line of nonstick skillets and sauté pans ("AluPro"), but no full set of nonstick cookware (how great is that?!). AluPro can be hard to find in the US.
All Demeyere cookware is made in Belgium except their Resto line of specialty products, which is made in Indonesia.
Note: All of these lines are summarized in the table below.
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 around, 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 less impressive.
The Demeyere Atlantis Proline skillet is a true kitchen masterpiece, offering almost 4 millimeters of aluminum for fast, even heat distribution (compare to 1.7mm in All-Clad's D3 line). The result is better heating properties than even a lot of copper cookware.
Here are some of the Demeyere pan features. (Most of this info is taken from the Demeyere website.)
Silvinox® (All Demeyere Cookware Except Zwilling Aurora)
From the website: 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 higher resistance to fingerprints, harsh detergents and strong acidic foods. The products retain their silvery-white colour even after years of use.
TriplInduc® (Atlantis, John Pawson)
From the website: TriplInduc® is a 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, or the extremely flat, wide bottoms that provide better contact with the induction hob.
InductoSeal® Base (Atlantis/John Pawson Straight-Sided Pieces)
From the website: 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.
TRK Note: This diagram, from the embedded video above, shows the 7-layer configuration of the InductoSeal® base (including the TriplInduc® layer):
7-PlyMaterial® (Atlantis/John Pawson Curve-Sided Pieces)
From the website: 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)
From the website: 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.
TRK Note: The "different alloys" are 3 alloy of aluminum, the two outer alloys for bonding to the stainless layers and the internal alloy for its thermal conductivity.
All Demeyere cookware is induction compatible.
The Demeyere Cookware Lines
Here's a table with all the Demeyere cookware 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
Curved pcs fully clad, straight pcs bottom clad. 7 layers cladding. Proline skillet 4.8mm thick w/3.7mm al; saucier pans 3mm. InductoSeal base. Rivetless, Silvinox finish.
Proline skillet probably best non-copper performer on the market, about 75% more aluminum than AC D3.
Slight differences in design but the same build: 3mm thick w/2.1mm aluminum layer. Rivetless, Silvinox finish.
Excellent all-around cookware. About 25% more aluminum than AC D3.
Re-designed Atlantis line with double-wall lids for better insulation.
Excellent all-around cookware. Handles a bit too squarish.
Zwilling's version of Industry 5, but with rivets and without the Silvinox finish.
Great all-around cookware. Almost identical to Industry 5 for a lower cost.
5mm thick forged aluminum with PTFE nonstick coating. TripleInduc base provides even more mass.
Durable nonstick pan for use with 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 and get the latest notices 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.
No, unless you fall in love: gorgeous pans, but expensive for slightly improved performance.
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 fabulous cookware.
Anodized aluminum w/aluminum alloy interior and stainless cooking surface (app. 3mm aluminum). Very tough, but NOT induction compatible. Compare to AC MC2.
Yes, IF you don't care about induction. MC2 usually 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.
$60/118/500 (7 pc)
Identical to Ind. 5 but no Silvinox and welded handles (rivets).
YES! Unless you really want rivetless cookware, this is the bargain of the century.
*You can sometimes find the AC D3 pan on Amazon for as low as $70/120.
Which Is Better? Our Recommendations
If you're looking for top-end clad stainless cookware, All-Clad and Demeyere are both 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.
Where Is the Best Place to Buy?
The Internet has equalized a lot of prices, and nowhere is this more true than with cookware. You can shop around, but you'll be surprised to find that the prices are the same everywhere. Whether you buy from Amazon, a fancy retailer like Williams-Sonoma or Sur la Table, or a discount shop like Bed, Bath & Beyond, the prices are going to be the same.
Of course, you might hit a sale, so you should shop around anyway. Or if one shop offers cheaper shipping, that's a consideration. But in lieu of these, don't worry too much about getting the best price. They're generally the same everywhere.
Overall quality and best heating properties: Demeyere Atlantis set/Proline skillet.
You may not want to go with the whole set, as the sauté and sauce pans are bottom-clad (and pretty heavy), but the Proline skillet is unsurpassed in quality.
click here to buy the demeyere proline skillet on amazon/Slt:
click here to see the demeyere atlantis 6 pc. set on amazon/slt:
Induction compatibility, good performance, and light weight: All-Clad D3 or Demeyere Industry 5
The Industry 5 is going to be heavier than the D3, but lighter than anything in the Atlantis line.
The All Clad D3 frying pan with lid is one of the best deals on the Internet!
click here to see the All-Clad d3 skillet on amazon/W-S:
click here to see the All-Clad d3 skillet w/lid on amazon/W-S:
click here to see the All-Clad d3 5 pc. set on amazon/7 pc. set at W-S:
click here to see the demeyere industry 5 skillet on amazon/w-s (no rivets!):
click here to see the demeyere industry 5 10 pc. set on amazon/w-s:
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 sauté pan on amazon/w-s:
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. It can be hard to find, but that's okay because Amazon will have the best price (don't buy it at the allclad.com website).
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:
Final Thoughts: All Clad Vs Demeyere
There you have it: overall, Demeyere is heavier cookware, which gives it better heating properties. All-Clad is lighter weight, while still providing great heating and durability.
All cookware is a trade off. If heating properties are your number one concern, go with the Demeyere pans (either Atlantis or Industry 5 is great cookware, with Atlantis being their premium line and also the heaviest). If lighter weight and maneuverability are important to you, any All-Clad line except D7 is a good choice, with our favorite being D3 (for induction) or MC2 (for non-induction).
Thoughts, questions, or ideas? Please share in the comments below. And thanks for reading!