March 27

The Best Stainless Cookware Reviewed: The Top 5 Brands

By trk

Last Updated: April 18, 2021

First Published: March 27, 2019


Buying good quality stainless cookware can be tricky!

This 8 minute video from America's Test Kitchen is an excellent introduction to clad stainless cookware (we agree with almost all of it): 

The clad stainless cookware market is big. On Amazon alone, there are hundreds of brands to choose from. If you include other websites--from Williams-Sonoma to Wal-Mart, and everything in between--the number of brands out there is probably in the thousands. 

How to choose the best stainless cookware? How to buy with confidence that you're getting a good product at a good price?

We're here to help. 

In this review, we share our top 5 favorite clad stainless products--and we tell you how we picked them and why they're our favorites.

Our top 5 picks should fit just about every need and budget. The best clad stainless cookware for you is out there, and we're going to help you find it.

Top 5 Best Stainless Steel Cookware Brands at a Glance

Here are our favorite clad stainless cookware brands, with links to purchase from multiple sites so you can compare prices (or check other sites if one site is out of stock). Scroll down to the Reviews section for in-depth reviews of our picks for the 5 best stainless steel cookware brands.

Top 5 Clad Stainless Steel Cookware Brands at a Glance

Brand

Features

Price

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

-Also called Industry and 5 Plus

-Made in Belgium

-5-ply w/3 layer aluminum core

-11" skillet incl. in set (big!)

-Flared rim

-Welded handles/rivetless cooking surface (Demeyere only)

-Silvinox coating

Demeyere: $$$$

Zwilling: $$

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

-Made in USA

-Tri-ply w/aluminum core

-Lifetime warranty

-Flared rims on some pieces

$$$$

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

-Made in China

-Tri-ply w/aluminum core

-Lifetime warranty

-Flared rim

-Close to A/C D3 performance

$$

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

-Made in China or Brazil

-10"/12" skillets, 12qt stock pot

-Tri-ply w/aluminum core

-Lifetime warranty

-Flared rims

-Close to A/C D3 in performance

$$

(The 12 pc. Chinese set has the best pieces, Wal-Mart has the best price.)

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

-Made in Belgium

-7- and 5-ply construction

-Flared rim

-Rivetless

-Superb quality

$$$$$

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Why is Clad Stainless Steel the Best Cookware?

If you don't want to read all of our criteria for choosing (it's a long article), this section offers a brief explanation.

Clad stainless is the best all-around cookware on the market. It is the choice of many, if not most, professional chefs for two main reasons: 1) excellent heating properties, and 2) durability. 

Copper cookware has better heating properties, but it's more expensive and harder to maintain. 

Aluminum cookware is inexpensive and has terrific heating properties, but it is a soft metal that wears down easily and reacts with food. There is some evidence that aluminum isn't safe, and it can impart off flavors to food. However, aluminum cookware is usually coated with a nonstick coating, either PTFE (Teflon) or ceramic, so the potential dangers of aluminum aren't applicable. Most bare aluminum cookware is found in restaurant supply stores and is extremely reasonably priced. You can read more about possibly dangerous chemicals in nonstick cookware in this article.

Cast iron cookware is inexpensive and extremely durable, but it's heavy, slow to heat evenly, and can react with food, imparting off flavors. It also must be seasoned or it will rust. Seasoning is not difficult, but it does somewhat limit the versatility of the cookware. And, though a cast iron skillet is a must-have for many kitchens, you may not want cast iron sauce pans or stock pots because of both the weight and the fact that liquids eat away at seasoning. Thus, bare cast iron is best suited to skillets, but not a good choice for entire sets.

Enameled cast iron cookware eliminates the problem of the iron reacting with food, but it's heavy and heats slowly and unevenly, so is not the first choice for a lot of people, particularly for skillets and sauce pans. Enameled cast iron Dutch ovens are ideal for braising and baking bread (and we believe every kitchen should have one), but again, not the best choice for entire cookware sets.

Nonstick cookware--most often found in the form of a coating applied to aluminum cookware--is mostly inexpensive, but it is fragile, requires special handling, and is usually short-lived. Many cooks have one nonstick skillet they use for sticky foods like eggs, but it's not a good choice for entire sets. (We know, we know: a lot of people disagree with us. But unless you don't mind replacing entire sets every few years, we recommend sticking to nonstick for skillets only.) 

Glass and ceramic cookware are poor heat conductors, heavy, breakable, and really all-around not great cookware (because glass and ceramic are insulators, not conductors of heat). People who use this cookware are primarily concerned with avoiding toxins, not with premium performance. Glass and ceramic bakeware can be great (again, because of their insulating properties), but for cookware, they're a poor choice.


This leaves clad stainless steel, which is cookware with a stainless steel exterior fused with internal layers of aluminum and/or copper (usually aluminum). Clad stainless steel cookware is durable, nonreactive, and provides excellent heating properties. Since it first went to market around 1970 (All-Clad was the first company to produce and sell clad cookware), clad stainless has become the cookware of choice for most serious chefs.

Since All-Clad's patent expired in the early 2000s, the clad stainless cookware market has exploded with competitors. Some are good; many are not so good. If money is no object, it's not a difficult choice: few people are ever disappointed in All-Clad. But which All-Clad line is best? And are there better options out there? (The answer is yes.)

More importantly, if money is an object, and you want to buy as wisely and economically as possible, you need to do your research. 

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About Stainless Steel: A Short Primer

Stainless steel is a complex topic. Here's a short summary, as it pertains to cookware. 

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

What Is Stainless Steel?

First of all a definition: "Stainless steel, also known as inox steel or inox from French inoxydable, is a steel alloy, with highest percentage contents of iron, chromium, and nickel, with a minimum of 10.5% chromium content by mass and a maximum of 1.2% carbon by mass." (from Wikipedia).

It's called "stainless" because unlike iron alone (e.g., cast iron cookware), stainless steel is resistant to corrosion and rust. Both the chromium and nickel help to retard corrosion--so it follows that the higher the percentage of chromium and/or nickel, the more corrosion resistant the steel will be. 

Other elements can be used in place of nickel--as in the case of 200 Series stainless, described below--but in order to be classified as stainless, it has to have at least 10.5% chromium.

There are hundreds of different types of stainless steel used in endless manufacturing applications, from surgical tools to kitchen sinks. For clad stainless cookware manufacturing, the types of stainless most often used are 200 Series, 300 Series, and 400 Series, defined as follows:

200 Series: 200 series stainless contains manganese rather than nickel for a corrosion inhibitor. Manganese is cheaper and its corrosion-resistant properties are not as good as nickel. Thus, 200-Series stainless is cheaper and more prone to rust. It is usually seen only in inexpensive clad stainless cookware, or that advertised as "nickel-free."

300 Series: 300 Series is the most common form of stainless in the world. It is also known by its chromium/nickel composition: 18/10 and 18/8 (which translates to 18% chromium and either 10% or 8% nickel). You may also see it referred to as "304" stainless and "316" stainless. 304 is just another term for 18/10 or 18/8 stainless, both of which make excellent pots and pans. 316 stainless is a marine grade of 300 Series stainless which contains molybdenum and is even more corrosion resistant than 304 stainless (and also more expensive). There is also a 316 stainless steel used for cookware that contains titanium, called 316Ti.

All 300 Series stainless is durable and nonreactive. The best stainless cookware has 300 Series steel for the cooking surface. Note, however, that many grades of 300 Series stainless exist, and the quality used will affect both the price and durability of the cookware.

400 Series stainless: 400 Series is Ferritic stainless, which means it is magnetic. It's also known as 18/0, for its chromium/nickel composition (i.e., it contains no nickel). 400 Series stainless is typically used on the exterior of clad stainless cookware to make it induction compatible.

Unfortunately, its lack of nickel makes 400 Series stainless less corrosion resistant than 300-Series stainless, but the magnetism is necessary for induction compatibility.

Note that not all cookware manufacturers are clear that their cookware is made of both 300 Series and 400 Series stainless. But if the cookware is induction compatible, it almost certainly has 400 Series stainless for its exterior layer. This All-Clad D3 diagram shows this:

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

(If you want to learn more about stainless steel, click here to read the Wikipedia entry.)

Quality Issues with Stainless Steel in Tri-Ply Cookware (and Multi-Ply)

There is a huge variety of quality in stainless steel. If you've ever wondered about the huge price variance in stainless steel cookware, this can begin to explain things.

We'll use 300 Series stainless as an example: it is, by definition, composed of 18% chromium and 8% or 10% nickel. That comprises, at most, 28% of the steel.

What's the rest of it made of???

Mostly iron. But the quality of that iron can vary immensely, and is one of the main reasons you should buy a reputable brand of clad stainless cookware. For example, recycled iron is cheaper to use in stainless steel production, but can also be more prone to rusting. 

The upshot is that not all 304 or 316 stainless is created equally. And the difference in quality largely accounts for the differences in price among different brands of clad stainless cookware. Manufacturers can lower prices and increase profitability by cutting corners on the stainless steel they use.

This quality difference is most disparate in Chinese-made cookware. Not all Chinese clad stainless cookware is poor quality, but it can be. If you're buying a Chinese brand of clad stainless, be sure to buy a reputable brand (we like both Cuisinart MC Pro and Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad). 

Stainless Steel Summary (What You Need to Know)

 Most clad stainless cookware uses 300 Series stainless on the cooking surface and 400 Series stainless on the exterior. 300 Series is extremely resistant to corrosion, while 400 Series provides induction compatibility. The quality of stainless steel can be poor--that is, more prone to corrosion--on inexpensive clad stainless cookware. You don't have to pay a fortune for good stainless, but more expensive cookware is almost certainly going to be higher quality. There are a few inexpensive Chinese imports that use good quality stainless--if you're on a budget, you should know these brands. 

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Cladding in Tri-Ply Cookware: What You Need to Know

Cladding is the key to why stainless steel cookware is so great: the durable-but-poorly-heating stainless exterior protects the soft-but-excellent-heating aluminum interior.

It was genius on the part of John Ulam, the metallurgist who invented the cladding process (and founder of the All-Clad company). 

Cladding comes in many forms and many levels of quality. Here are a few basics to know before you buy.

Full Cladding Vs. Bottom Cladding (Also Known as Disc- or Impact-bonded Cladding)

Full cladding means that the cookware has cladding all the way around the cookware, from pan edge to pan edge. This is shown in the All-Clad diagram above. In the full cladding process, an entire pot or pan is stamped out of clad metals.

Bottom cladding means just that: only the bottom of the cookware is cladded. In the bottom cladding process, a disc of clad metal is fused to stainless steel sides. A bottom clad pot is easily identified by the seam between the bottom and the sides, as shown on this Demeyere sauté pan:

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

Most Americans prefer fully clad cookware. This is probably because All-Clad is an American company, so it's what most Americans are accustomed to (as far as we know, there are no American companies that produce disc-clad cookware). Also, good quality bottom-clad cookware can feel a little unbalanced if you're new to it because most of the weight is in the bottom rather than spread throughout the pan. 

Bottom clad cookware is cheaper to make, so it's seen in a lot of cheaper brands.

However, it is not true that fully clad cookware is always better. Some top-of-the-line brands, like Demeyere, have some bottom-clad only pieces. The difference is in the thickness of the disc, the materials used, and in how the cladding is configured on the pan: good bottom cladding covers the entire bottom and extends slightly up the sides.

Here's a diagram of an mid-priced bottom-clad pan Anolon Copper Nouvelle:

Here's a diagram of Demeyere's Atlantis sauté pan 7-ply cookware bottom cladding:

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

The main difference, in addition to being much thicker, is that the Demeyere cladding covers the entire bottom surface of the pan and extends slightly up the sidewall. This configuration provides superb heat conduction--many think better than fully clad pans, because there is just so much more heat spreading metal (about 3mm vs. the less than 1.7mm or less found in most fully clad pans).

The upshot: Bottom cladding doesn't automatically mean poor quality. However, for it to be good, it has to be considerably thicker than full cladding and should cover the entire bottom surface and overlap the sidewall slightly. 

Tri-Ply Vs. Multi-Ply Cladding

The original clad cookware, invented by John Ulam for what was eventually to become the All-Clad company, was 2-ply (stainless on aluminum) and 3-ply (stainless-aluminum-stainless). 3-ply, also called tri-ply cookware or tri ply cookware (no hyphen), is still the most popular configuration of clad stainless cookware. 

In recent years, though, multiple plies of cladding have become popular. Many top cookware brands today have 5 or even 7 plies of cladding.

People assume that more plies automatically translates to higher quality cookware with better--more even--heating performance. But does it?

The short answer is no.

The longer answer is that it depends on these factors:

  • What the plies are made of. Extra internal layers of aluminum or copper are good, while extra layers of stainless add little to a pan's performance (actually slowing down the heating). 
  • The thickness of the plies. Multiple layers are sometimes so micro thin that they can hardly be counted as a ply. More important is a pan's overall thickness, and how much of that thickness is aluminum and/or copper.

One popular configuration now is a 5 ply pan comprised of stainless-aluminum-stainless-aluminum-stainless plies. All-Clad has a line like this (D5) and so do a few of its competitors. But what does the internal layer of stainless accomplish? There's really no reason for stainless to be on the inside of the pan, as the purpose of stainless steel is to make cookware durable, warp-resistant, and nonreactive. If on the inside, all it does is impede the heat spreading properties of the aluminum. 

Some manufacturers claim that it is a "more forgiving" configuration that's good for inattentive, distracted, or novice cooks. But, really, this is just another way of saying "slower to spread heat." 

Are we missing something? We could be, but so far, our research has not proven so. If you can show us that the internal stainless provides a function we don't understand, please let us know.

On the other hand, some multi-clad cookware is very high quality. As shown above, Demeyere makes an outstanding multi-ply cookware that we love and recommend. And All-Clad Copper Core is also extremely high quality 5-ply cookware with internal layers of aluminum and copper. And some other top cookware brands make a 5-ply with 3 internal layers of aluminum.

Which all goes to show that cladding is not a cut-and-dried topic. Sometimes bottom-clad cookware isn't as good as tri-ply cookware, but sometimes it's better. Sometimes, multi-ply cookware isn't as good as tri ply cookware, but sometimes it's better.

You have to do your research to understand what you're getting.

We discuss cladding in more detail in the product reviews below. 

The upshot: Avoid multiple-ply cookware with internal stainless. Consider multiple-ply cookware with internal layers of aluminum, copper, or both (though you need to how thick the internal layers are before buying).

Quality of Cladding

There are several ways to take shortcuts when manufacturing clad stainless cookware. Here are a few of the ways manufacturers cut corners, and the problems that can result:

Manufacturer Shortcut:

Resulting Problems:

Using too thin layers of metal (both internal and external)

-Poor durability

-Poor heat conductivity

-Prone to warping

Using cheap alloys (both internal and external)

-Poor durability

-Poor heat conductivity

-Possibly separation of metals

Inferior cladding process (Cladding requires an immense amount of pressure)

-Poor durability

-Poor heat conductivity

-Possible separation of metals (Particularly true for copper, which adheres poorly to stainless steel)

Summary of Cladding (What You Need to Know)

You can tell bottom- or disc-clad cookware by the "seam" where the disc is fused to the pan. Most Americans prefer fully clad cookware, but there are quality bottom-clad brands out there, too. Having said that, many inexpensive brands are bottom-clad. Good quality bottom-clad cookware has a disc thick enough to compensate for the lack of full cladding and that fully covers the bottom of the pan (like Demeyere Atlantis straight-sided pieces), unlike cheaper brands that have a too-thin disc that's smaller than the pan bottom.

Multiple plies are not always better. Avoid multiple ply cookware brands that have internal layers of stainless, which add little to a pan's performance (and may actually detract from it). Look for internal layers of aluminum, copper, or both. 

Inexpensive cookware tends to have thin layers of cladding, resulting in poor heat conduction, poor durability, and a tendency to warp from high heat or rapid temp changes. Budget brands are fine, IF they're reputable--but avoid no-name brands if you don't know their quality. 

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Cladding of the Top 5 Compared

The best stainless steel cookware is going to have a thick layer of aluminum and/or copper to provide even heating. It will also have enough stainless steel for excellent durability and resistance to warping. 

Here are how the top 5 lines of cookware compare to each other:

Demeyere Industry 5/Zwiling Aurora

Made in: Belgium

Total Wall Thickness (mm): 3

Aluminum Layer (mm): 2.1

All-Clad D3 Tri-Ply

Made in: USA

Total Wall Thickness (mm): 2.6

Aluminum Layer (mm): 1.7

Cuisinart Multiclad-Pro

Made in: China

Total Wall Thickness (mm): 2.6

Aluminum Layer (mm): Presumably 1.7

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad

Made in: China or Brazil (identical cookware, but Chinese costs less)

Total Wall Thickness (mm): 2.6

Total Aluminum Layer (mm): Presumably 1.7

Demeyere Atlantis

Made in: Belgium

Total Wall Thickness (mm)/Total Aluminum Layer (mm), Proline skillet: 4.8/3.7

Total Wall Thickness (mm)/Total Aluminum Layer (mm), sauciers: 3.0-3.3/2.0-2.2 (larger pieces are thicker)

Total Disc Thickness (mm)/Total Aluminum Layer (mm), bottom clad pieces: 5/2mm copper + silver/aluminum.

Cookware

Made In:

Total Wall Thickness (mm)

Aluminum Layer (mm)

Demeyere Industry 5/Zwilling Aurora

Belgium

3

2.1

All-Clad D3 Tri-Ply

USA

2.6

1.7

Cuisinart Multiclad-Pro

China

2.6

presumably 1.7

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad

China or Brazil

2.6

presumably 1.7

Demeyere Atlantis:

Proline skillet

Sauciers

Bottom-clad pieces

Belgium


4.8

3.0-3.3 (larger is thicker)

5 (disc thickness)


3.7

2.0-2.2

3.8 (2mm copper plus aluminum and silver)

(table info from centurylife.org)

You may wonder how Cuisinart Multiclad-Pro and Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad differ from All-Clad D3 when they have the same wall thickness (and therefore presumably the same aluminum thickness). Why not just buy one of the less expensive brands?

The answer is in the quality of both the stainless steel and the aluminum. There are several different alloys of each, and we can safely assume that the less expensive brands use lower quality stainless steel and aluminum alloys to keep costs down. This aluminum may not spread heat quite as well (though it's very close to All-Clad in our testing), and a lower quality stainless steel that may not be as durable over time. Since cookware companies don't always disclose this information, we're just guessing--but the guess is educated, based on our own experience and research. Our testing has shown that both the Cuisinart MC-Pro and the Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad behave very similarly to All-Clad D3 in daily cooking tasks, with slightly less evenness in heating. 

The differences tend to be minimal, however, so if you're on a budget, you would do well with either Cuisinart Multiclad-Pro or Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad. Both are good brands of clad stainless steel cookware. You may see more warping and rusting in these brands over All Clad, but both offer a lifetime warranty and should be willing to replace any pans that don't last. 

Sets or Individual Pieces: How to Buy?

Demeyere Atlantis on stove - Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

Whether or not to buy your pots and pans in sets or individually is really a personal preference, and there are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. 

Advantages of Buying Cookware in Sets

  • You'll usually get the best price per piece.
  • The best way to get a lot of cookware right away if you need it.
  • You'll have a matching set of cookware.

Disadvantages of Buying Cookware in Sets

  • You may not use all the pieces in the set.
  • You may overpay for a piece that doesn't need to be of stellar quality (stock pot, for example).
  • You almost certainly won't get all the pieces you need (e.g., an enameled cast iron Dutch oven, nonstick skillet, or roasting pan) so you'll have to buy more pieces anyway--even if you buy a large set.
  • Most sets have smallish pieces, such as 8" and 10" skillets and 1-qt or 2-qt sauce pans. You will probably want to add larger pieces to your collection eventually, especially if you're cooking for several people or like to do meal prepping. Some sets include larger pieces, so buying one of these can save you money in the long run. The Demeyere Industry 10-piece set, for example, comes with an 11" skillet, which is a nice piece. And the Chinese Tramontina 12-piece set comes with two big skillets (10"/12") and a large stock pot. But these are both large sets, and you may actually save money by buying a smaller set and augmenting with the bigger pieces down the road. Only you can know if you will use all the pieces in a set. 
  • Too-large sets in particular can have filler pieces--smallish or similar sized pieces to round out a set and make it seem like a better deal than it actually is (e.g., a 1.5 qt and a 2 qt sauce pan, both of which are small and you are unlikely to need two sauce pans this close in size). Pay careful attention to pan size when buying sets!

Advantages of Buying Cookware in Individual Pieces

  • You can get exactly what you want, no compromising.
  • You'll be sure to use every piece you buy.
  • You don't have to double up on pieces to get what you want (e.g., an enameled cast iron Dutch oven on top of the Dutch oven that came in the set you bought). 

Disadvantages of Buying Cookware in Individual Pieces

  • Your cookware may not match
  • You'll probably spend more than if you buy a set and live with the pieces that aren't ideal. (However, most cooks can get by with these 5 essential pieces--plus maybe an extra skillet).

Buying Tips for Cookware Sets

  • No set is going to have everything, so reserve some budget to get additional pieces (e.g., roasting pan, nonstick skillet, enameled cast iron Dutch oven, baking sheets).
  • Make sure the pieces in the set are the sizes you want. We recommend at least a 10-inch skillet (larger is better) and a 3-quart or larger sauce pan. Don't buy a set with two small sauce pans (1-qt/2-qt)--unless you routinely make small batches of different things at the same time.
  • Don't buy a clad cookware set with a nonstick skillet. The coating will wear out long before the rest of the pan and you will have paid too much for it. For more info, see The Best Nonstick Skillet: What to Know Before You Buy

See also our Stainless Steel Cookware Set Buying Guide

Buying Tips for Individual Pieces

  • Splurge on a skillet because this is the piece that takes the most abuse: high heat, hot oil, and rapid temperature changes. It's also the piece that needs to heat the most evenly without hot/cold spots because there's usually very little liquid in skillet cooking to help even out temperature. Our top recommendation is the Demeyere Proline skillet.
  • You may also want to splurge on a sauté pan IF you'll use it like a skillet. (See Should I Buy a Skillet or a Sauté Pan (Or Both)?)
  • Save up and buy a good enameled cast iron Dutch oven if you do a lot of braising. Clad stainless steel Dutch ovens don't have the weight, especially in the lid, to braise well. You don't have to buy a le Creuset or Staub, although if you can afford it, you won't regret the purchase. 
  • Buy larger pieces than you think you'll need, e.g., a 12-inch skillet and a 3-quart sauce pan. Remember: You can use bigger pans for smaller quantities of food, but you can't use smaller pans for larger quantities of food. 
  • If you're on a tight budget, you can go lower quality on stock pots, sauce pans, and roasting pans. These pieces don't require top performance, as cooking with liquids and in the oven require less heat distribution from the pan itself. 
  • Instead of standard sauce pans and sauté pans, consider buying versatile pieces you won't find in most sets. For example, instead of getting a 10-inch skillet (like you would in most sets), consider buying a deep sauté pan or chef's pan. These pans are large, and can be used for almost any cooking task you throw at them. They are pans you will fall in love with.
  • Consider what you like to eat. Do you need a wok for stir frying? A steamer for veggies? A pasta pot? A large stock pot for big batches you'll meal prep or freeze? None of these are essential pieces, but if you'll use them, get them. 

A deep sauté pan is one of the most versatile pans you can have in your kitchen. We love the All-Clad D3 deep sauté pan (6qt):

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

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Is Amazon a Good Place to Buy the Best Clad Stainless Steel Cookware? 

Some readers have expressed concerns about buying cookware on Amazon, saying they might be shipped the wrong product, either by accident or by unscrupulous sellers. 

While both of those things are possible, we nevertheless believe Amazon is an excellent place to buy cookware.

Here's why:

  • You'll usually find the best prices and most options.
  • Most good quality stainless cookware has a long warranty (often lifetime), no matter where you buy it. 
  • Amazon provides its own warranty, so even if you do get unlucky and get bad cookware, Amazon will make it right, even if for some reason the manufacturer won't.
  • Many products ship free on Amazon and have free returns, especially with Amazon Prime. (Get Amazon Prime here--it's worth every penny.) 
  • The reviews can really help you select a product--you won't get those in a brick and mortar store. 

Other reputable online retailers can be great for cookware, too. If you shop around, you can sometimes find great deals at kitchen specialty stores online. These stores might also throw in an extra piece for no extra charge, and they may also be willing to price match (but you have to ask), although you will most often find that prices are the same as on Amazon. If a particular line of cookware is being discontinued, you may be able to get it for a steal. 

For these reasons, while Amazon is usually cheaper, you should check our links to other stores, too. You may come across a great deal! 

Overall, cookware is an excellent product to buy online, IF you buy a known brand and IF it has a good warranty and return policy.

Overall, cookware is an excellent product to buy online, IF you buy a known brand name and IF the cookware has a good warranty and return policy. Amazon has great customer service, and so do most kitchenware sites.

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Cooking with Clad Stainless Steel Cookware

If you're new to clad stainless cookware, you should know that there's a learning curve to cooking with it, especially if your background is nonstick.

Here are some hints to make cooking on clad stainless a pleasure instead of a pain:

  • Heat the pan first, then add oil and heat, then add food. The oil creates a barrier that causes food to stick less. 
  • Give food time to release naturally: when it's fully browned and ready to be turned or removed, it will release from the pan easily. Don't force it. 
  • You rarely need to use high heat, and medium-high heat will produce a good fond--think pan sauce! Lower heat settings help food to not stick.
  • Stainless steel cookware does not need to be seasoned, although some claim you can make it almost nonstick by doing so. 

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Caring for Clad Stainless Steel Cookware

No, clad stainless steel not as easy to wash as nonstick cookware, but if you cook with it correctly--as described above--and use a little common sense, it's not nearly as bad to care for as some people might think. 

  • Let pans cool before washing. 
  • Even if dishwasher safe, hand-wash for best results. 
  • If soap and water doesn't get all the crud, or if a pan has spotting or streaking, use some Barkeeper's Friend to scour it clean. (The powder is better than the liquid.)
  • Don't worry about scratching the surface. Use any utensils you want. The best aspect of stainless is that you don't have to coddle it, ever. 

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Criteria for the Best Stainless Cookware (How We Chose Our Brands)

The array of clad stainless steel cookware brands is overwhelming. We were able to narrow the field a bit by eliminating cookware that failed to meet some basic criteria. 

For example, cookware with glass lids didn't make the cut* because the best stainless cookware has stainless steel lids.

Nor did gimmicky cookware like the overpriced "waterless" brands (FYI, you can cook this way with any stainless cookware--check out our detailed analysis of waterless cookware for more info.)  Most waterless cookware is high quality, but you'll pay too much for it.

And though a lot of stainless cookware sets contain similar sized pans, we gave special credit to sets with large skillets and/or sauce pans (we're looking at you, Tramontina).

In such a large field, it's easy to overlook some lesser known brands; please let us know if you think we missed one, and we'll be happy to check it out. 

Anyway, here are our criteria. 

*Cuisinart Multiclad Pro and Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad now make some sets with glass lids. If you don't want this, be sure before you buy that the set has stainless lids.

Lids and Handles

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)
Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

We eliminated any cookware that had glass lids and/or non-steel handles.

There may be good quality brands with glass lids, but we eliminated them for a couple of reasons.

First, glass lids are fragile. They're more prone to breaking, they're harder to store, and they aren't able to withstand as much high heat as stainless lids.

Second, glass lids often indicate a lower quality product. Glass lids are cheaper to make, which is why you see them so often on inexpensive cookware. (And probably why Tramontina and Cuisinart are, unfortunately, moving to glass lids.)

Double-walled lids: On some of the brands of Demeyere (such as the Silver 7, Sur la Table's version of Atlantis, as well as the John Pawson line), the lids are double-walled. This accomplishes two things: 1) Keeps the lid handle cool, and 2) Provides better insulation for the food in the pot. This is a nice feature, but not an essential one.

As for handles, most clad stainless steel cookware has steel handles, but a few otherwise good brands have silicone handles (Vollrath, for example). Silicone will wear out way sooner than stainless, leaving you with a pot without a handle. They're nice while they last, but they don't last.

Also, like glass lids, silicone handles can also be indicative of a lower quality brand. 

Overall Quality (Heating Properties and Durability)

The overall quality has to be good. This primarily means 1) heating properties, and 2) durability.

Heating Properties. Not all clad stainless cookware is created equally, and in order to be considered of good quality, the cookware needs to have a certain amount of internal, heat conductive material, either aluminum and/or copper (but usually aluminum).

All-Clad tri-ply, the original clad cookware, has set the bar for how much is "enough." Their original tri-ply--the standard by which all other clad cookware is judged--has a 1.7mm layer of aluminum, which is enough to provide rapid, even heating throughout a pan, yet not so much that the cookware is heavy and hard to use.

A few top cookware brands have more aluminum (Demeyere), but most brands have less; some significantly less. Some inexpensive clad stainless cookware is so thin, in fact, that it barely has enough aluminum to conduct much heat at all. If you've ever used a pan that had hot and cold spots that never seemed to even out, you know what we're talking about. For example, as much as people love Calphalon cookware, our experience is that it is too thin to provide good, even heating (though we need to do more testing to provide exact results).

The inexpensive brands that made our top 5 have a layer of aluminum equal to All-Clad D3, or only slightly thinner. For a much lower price, they provide nearly similar performance. 

The more expensive brands in our top 5 have a thicker layer (or layers) of aluminum. They spread heat more evenly than All-Clad (and this is reflected in the price). 

Durability. Clad stainless steel cookware is pretty much unsurpassed in durability, except for cast iron (which is heavy and spreads heat slowly and unevenly). But just as with the heating properties, not all clad stainless is created equally. This is because of its stainless steel exterior, which is strong and also unreactive; exactly what you want in cookware. 

As we discussed above, however, there is a wide variety in quality of the stainless steel used in cookware. Manufacturers of inexpensive clad stainless use lower quality steel; they have to, or they couldn't make a profit. This is particularly true of cookware made in China. 

Lower quality stainless steel is more reactive. It's going to rust, pit, and discolor more easily. It probably won't be as highly polished either, which means food might stick to it more easily. If it's thin--as is common in less expensive cookware--it's also more prone to warping. It simply won't be as durable as higher quality stainless steel.

This doesn't mean you have to buy at the top of the price range to get a good set. What it does mean is that if you want an inexpensive set, buy a known brand like Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad or Cuisinart MultiClad Pro. The stainless may not be quite as good as on an American or European brand; then again, it might be: it's just hard to say with Chinese-made cookware. If you're on a tight budget, it's worth the gamble, in our opinion--as long as you go with a known discount brand.

Good Pieces in the Sets

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

Let's face it, no cookware set is perfect, and most of them are missing something. The pieces are too small, or there's one or two that you'll never use, or you just have to settle in one way or another. But you get the set because it's so much cheaper than buying all the pieces separately.

We mostly believe in buying a small set and supplementing with what you need instead of buying a big set and paying for pieces you may not use. 

So if a set has larger pieces--which, incidentally, are going to be more expensive when purchased separately--it gets bonus points. 

The Tramontina 12 Piece Set is our poster child for a set with spectacular pieces, although it's a lot of pieces, and you may not use them all. If you're on a budget, you'll spend less just getting the pieces you want (such as the 12-inch skillet).

UPDATE: Some of the Chinese Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad now has glass lids. So you have to decide: pay more for smaller pieces in the Brazilian set but get stainless lids, or pay less for the Chinese sets with the larger pieces and glass lids. The plus side is that the set with glass lids is about $100 less than the set with stainless lids, and you still get the big pieces.

As of this update--January 2021--your best bet to find Tramontina sets with stainless steel lids is on Amazon (though that's probably going to change).

No Nonstick Pieces

It's fine to own a nonstick skillet, or maybe two if you get a good deal on a set (like this one and this one, our two favorite nonstick skillets), but don't buy an entire set of nonstick, and don't buy a clad stainless nonstick skillet.

The nonstick coating is going to wear out long before the rest of the pan, and you'll need to replace it. Same for every other piece of cookware, which is why you should avoid sets of nonstick--that, and nonstick simply isn't necessary on stock pots, Dutch ovens, or even sauce pans. 

So go ahead and get a nonstick skillet, but get a cast aluminum one. It's not only cheaper, but it will heat just as well, and you'll be happy that you got 2-3 years of use out of a $30 pan (rather than 2-3 years of use out of a $100+ pan).

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

Having a nonstick skillet or two is fine, but don't buy them in clad stainless steel. These cast aluminum pans from All-Clad are about $30 apiece and provide excellent, even heating: one of the best cookware deals out there.

Tradeoffs

You may never find the exact pieces you want, and this is true no matter how you buy. But of course, this is especially true if you're on a tight budget. Here are some of the typical tradeoffs you have to make when buying cookware:

  • Price vs. quality
  • Price vs. pan design
  • Set vs. individual pieces

We tried to include as many options as possible that made those tradeoffs as painless as possible, particularly at the budget end. For example, the Cuisinart Multiclaad Pro skillet has a better shape--i.e., more flat cooking surface--than the Tramontina skillet. But the Tramontina has a 12-inch skillet in its 12 piece set. If you're getting a set, these are both good options that offer a lot of variety (so you can get as close to exactly what you want as possible). 

Even with the more expensive brands, we chose sets that were not only stellar quality but had decent pieces as well. This isn't always possible, or you may have different preferences, but we did our best. 

Induction Compatibility

All of our picks are induction compatible (as most clad stainless cookware now is). 

You may not have an induction stove, but if you ever decide to buy a portable induction burner, you'll be glad to not have to upgrade your cookware.

For more about induction cooking, see our Induction Archives

Oven Safe to 500F

All of our picks are oven safe to 500F, including lids.

Performance

Eggs in Pan Test

Of course, the cookware also had to perform well. While good quality cookware is apparent by its design, we also tested each brand to make sure it would be a good purchase. 

Our standard cooking tests for frying pans are eggs, hamburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, and a mixed vegetable sauté. For sauce pans, we make pasta (a thin liquid) and oatmeal (a thick one).

We've found that these do a good job of showing how a pan is to cook with. By cooking the same foods in the different cookware, we are able to make good side-by-side comparisons of all the brands.

We look mostly for speed of heating and evenness of browning. We also test how the pan is to hold and maneuver. Are the handles comfortable? Is it easy to stabilize? Does it drip when pouring? Does it clean up easily? Does the lid fit well?

For testing, note that we use a small amount of cooking oil or butter for eggs and vegetables, and no oil for the burgers or grilled cheese (except what's on the bread). If we also cooked leaner meats or fish, we also used cooking oil for those. A little bit of fat is necessary for cooking with stainless steel skillets, but don't let this scare you away from these wonderful pans: you don't need a lot of it (just enough to coat the cooking surface), it adds wonderful flavor and browning--and, fat is essential for absorption of several important nutrients

These tests are meant to replicate regular kitchen use for clad stainless steel cookware. Because we did a good job researching the cookware, we got good results from all of the brands that made it to the test kitchen; they all performed very well and all very similarly. As expected, the Demeyere was easier to clean than other brands because of the Silvinox treatment, but overall, we were satisfied with the performance of all of these brands. 

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Zwilling J.A. Henkels Aurora/Demeyere Industry 5 Review

Demeyere Industry 5

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)
Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

See Industry 5 with Insulated Lids at Sur la Table

See Other Demeyere Industry 5 Cookware on Amazon

About Demeyere

Demeyere (pronounced de-MY-ruh), is a Belgian cookware company that's been around for more than 100 years. In 2008, they were purchased by Zwilling J. A. Henckels, a German kitchenware conglomerate that owns several cookware lines as well as other kitchenware products. In the US, Zwilling J. A. Henckels are probably best known for their knives. Even so, they are one of the top cookware brands on the market today.

All-Clad's patent on clad cookware expired in the early 2000s, which allowed other makers to get into the clad cookware market. While most of the competitors who got in the clad cookware game went cheaper, manufacturing their cookware in China to compete with All-Clad at a lower price point, Zwilling J.A. Henckels went in the other direction: they decided that if they were going to compete with All-Clad, they were going to make a better product at a premium price point.

Thus, the Industry 5 cookware line was born: Demeyere's first fully clad line of cookware, probably created to compete with All-Clad in the US market. At first it was sold exclusively by Sur la Table, but you can now find it on Amazon, Williams-Sonoma, and elsewhere. 

You will find Industry 5 sold under different names (possibly because Demeyere is struggling to get a foothold in the US market). Since Industry 5 came out, it's been re-branded as Zwilling Sensation, Demeyere 5 Plus, and its latest iteration, just Industry. 

Zwilling J.A. Henckels' Aurora is a near-copycat of Industry 5, with these important differences:

  • Aurora lacks the proprietary Demeyere Silvinox treatment, which strips out impurities on the pan surface, making the stainless shinier, more durable, and somewhat easier to clean.
  • Aurora has riveted handles (so rivets on the cooking surface, right). Industry 5 has welded handles (so no rivets, left):
Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)
Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

Otherwise, the brands are identical, and both offer excellent heating properties, with a significantly thicker layer of aluminum than All-Clad tri-ply. The Aurora line is significantly less--so the decision is how much a rivetless cooking surface is worth to you.

If you're looking for superb quality clad stainless cookware with excellent heating properties, both the Demeyere Industry 5 and Zwilling Aurora are top contenders.

Aurora/Industry 5 Features and Performance

This clad stainless steel cookware is marketed as 5-ply, but all three inner plies are aluminum. The heat-spreading core aluminum doesn't adhere to stainless very well, so it gets sandwiched between two micro-thin layers of aluminum alloy that bonds to the stainless steel. Whether you consider this 3-ply or 5-ply is really not important. What is important is the result: a durable pan with a lot of heat-spreading aluminum.

Features:

  • All pieces fully clad
  • 3mm thick side walls, with 2.1mm of aluminum (compare to 2.6/1.7mm of All-Clad D3)
  • Rolled rims for drip-free pouring
  • Tight fitting lids--Industry 5 has hermetically sealed lids
  • Ergonomic, stay-cool polished handles
  • Oven safe to 500F
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Induction compatible
  • Silvinox coating for added durability and easier cleaning (Demeyere Industry 5 only)
  • Welded (rivetless), shot-blasted handles (Demeyere Industry 5 only)
  • Made in Belgium.

Just to clarify: Demeyere Industry 5 and Zwilling J.A. Henckels are NOT the same cookware. Industry 5 has rivetless handles and the Silvinox finish--and Industry 5 at Sur la Table has double-walled lids (for the same price as the Industry 5 on Amazon).

Why did we group them together, then? Well, the cladding configuration is identical--so if you want the performance of Industry 5 at a lower price (and don't mind scrubbing rivets), get the Aurora. 

Sets

Zwilling J.A. Henckels Aurora 7 Piece Set:

(see it on Amazon)

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)
  • 9.5-Inch Skillet
  • 3-Quart Sauce Pan With Lid
  • 5.5-Quart Dutch Oven With Lid
  • 3-Quart Sauté Pan With Lid.

Zwilling J.A. Henckels Aurora 10 Piece Set:

(see it on Amazon)

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)
  • 9.5-inch skillet
  • 11-inch Skillet (great piece!)
  • 1.5-quart Sauce pan with lid
  • 3-quart sauce pan with lid
  • 8-quart stock pot with lid
  • 3-quart sauté pan with lid.

Demeyere Industry 5 10 Piece Set

(see it on Amazon)

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)
  • 9.5-inch skillet
  • 11-inch Skillet (great piece!)
  • 2-quart Sauce pan with lid
  • 4-quart sauce pan with lid and helper handle (great piece!)
  • 8-quart stock pot with lid
  • 3-quart sauté pan with lid.

Demeyere Industry 5 14 Piece Set

(see it on Amazon)

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)
  • 9.5-inch skillet
  • 11-inch skillet (great piece!)
  • 2-quart sauce pan with lid
  • 3-quart sauce pan with lid
  • 4-quart sauce pan with lid  (great piece!)
  • 3.5-quart saucier with lid
  • 5.5-quart dutch oven with lid
  • 8-quart stock pot with lid.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Top quality cookware w/lifetime warranty
  • Good pieces in the larger sets
  • Welded handles and Silvinox finish make for easier cleaning (Demeyere I-5 only).

Cons

  • Thick walls make these pans heavier than All-Clad D3
  • Expensive.

Recommendation

If you want some of the best stainless cookware on the market, Demeyere Industry 5 is it, and it's only slightly heavier than All-Clad. If you want to save a few hundred, go for the Zwilling Aurora over the Demeyere Industry 5. If you want the rivetless cooking surface (worth every penny if you hate to clean), get the Demeyere. 

buy demeyere industry 5 Cookware now:

Buy demeyere industry 5 skillet now:

buy Zwilling/J.a. henckels aurora Cookware set now:

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

BUY ZWILLING/J.A. HENCKELS AURORA SKILLET NOW:

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

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All-Clad D3 Tri-Ply Review

All-Clad D3 Tri-Ply Clad Stainless Set (Amazon)

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

Skillet (Amazon)

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

Skillet w/lid (Amazon) (Best Deal on this skillet!)

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

About All-Clad

All-Clad is an American company founded in 1970 by John Ulam, the inventor of metal cladding. As the first cookware of its kind and a high quality brand, All-Clad tri ply--officially called "D3"--sets the standard for premium cookware in the US and the bar for all other clad stainless steel cookware. All-Clad clad cookware is made in the US (in Pennsylvania). Their other products, including their cast aluminum nonstick cookware, is made overseas (mostly in China).

All-Clad makes several cookware lines. D3 is their tri-ply clad line and the one we review here. This All Clad tri ply has a total thickness of 2.6mm, with an aluminum interior of approximately 1.7mm. This amount of aluminum is the gold standard for clad stainless cookware, at least in the US. Very few cookware lines go thicker than this, and the vast majority of lower-priced cookware is thinner. This means it won't have the same heating properties and it may be more prone to warping. In general, All-Clad pots and pans are higher quality than most less expensive brands.

For more information about All-Clad, see our articles All-Clad Vs. Demeyere: Which Is Better? and The Ultimate All-Clad Review.

All-Clad D3 Features and Performance

  • Full cladding with 2.6mm walls and 1.7mm of aluminum alloy for excellent heating
  • Highly polished cooking surface offers stick resistance and easy maintenance
  • Stainless steel handles are permanently secured with stainless steel rivets
  • 18/10 stainless steel cooking surface will not react with food
  • Oven and broiler safe to 600F (not including lids)
  • Induction compatible
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Made in USA
  • Limited lifetime warranty.

Sets

One of the best things about All-Clad is how many buying options you have. And while buying a set is the most economical way to go, you also have dozens of open stock pieces to choose from, including obscure pieces like woks, fish pans, pasta pots, and more.

See All-Clad D3 on Amazon

see all-clad d3 at williams-sonoma

Here are the most popular All-Clad tri-ply sets--but we're not necessarily recommending that you buy a set. If you do, we recommend going with the 5 piece or 7 piece set. The 10 piece includes two more small pieces--an 8-inch skillet and a 2-quart sauce pan--when you're more likely to want to supplement with larger pieces, such as a 12-inch skillet and a 4-quart sauce pan. To get these pieces in a set, you have to go with the 14 piece behemoth, and you're probably better off buying the individual pieces you want rather than getting all that cookware at once.

On the other hand, the 14 piece set has some really nice pieces, including a chef's pan, a 12-inch skillet, and a 6-quart deep sauté pan (yes--the one we mentioned above as one of our favorites). This more than makes up for this set's lack of a larger sauce pan. It's actually a very nice set, and the only filler-ish piece is the 2-quart sauce pan (though most people wouldn't consider that a filler piece). 

The 5 Piece Includes: (see it on Amazon)

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)
  • 10 inch skillet
  • 3 quart saucepan with lid
  • 3 quart sauté pan with lid.

The 7 Piece Includes: (see it on Amazon)

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)
  • 10 inch skillet
  • 3 quart saucepan with lid
  • 3 quart sauté pan with lid
  • 8 quart stock pot with lid.


The 10 Piece Includes: (see it on Amazon)

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)
  • 8 inch skillet
  • 10 inch skillet
  • 2 quart saucepan with lid
  • 3 quart saucepan with lid
  • 3 quart sauté pan with lid
  • 8 quart stockpot with lid.


The 14 Piece Includes: (see it on Amazon)

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)
  • 10 inch skillet
  • 12 inch skillet
  • 2 quart saucepan with lid
  • 3 quart saucepan with lid
  • 3 quart sauté pan with lid
  • 6 quart sauté pan with lid (great piece!)
  • 12 inch chef's pan (great piece!)
  • 8 quart stockpot with lid.

SEE ALL-CLAD D3 ON AMAZON

SEE ALL-CLAD D3 AT WILLIAMS-SONOMA

About the D3 Handles

A lot of people complain about the All-Clad D3 handle design, which is U-shaped:

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

People say that it digs into their hands or arms when they pick up a heavy pot, that it is uncomfortable, and that it isn't well designed.

While we understand this logic, we respectfully disagree. In fact, we think the handles on All-Clad tri-ply are excellent. They provide a terrific amount of grip and traction, with the U-shape making it almost impossible for the handle to slip out of your grip no matter how you grab it

If the choice is between a handle that digs into your hand a little or one that's going to slip out of it more easily, we'll pick the one that digs in every time. In fact, the All-Clad D3 handle is our favorite of all the cookware brands in this review. 

All-Clad D3/tri-ply is still the best All-Clad line for the best price, and you will spend hundreds more on D5 or Copper Core without getting a lot more in the way of performance or durability.

Meaning: if you want All-Clad, you can probably live with the D3 handles.

Pan Design

One of D3's drawbacks is that not all the pans have flared rims for easy pouring. The skillets, sauté pans, and Dutch ovens have them:

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

The sauce pans and sauciers do not:

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

We actually prefer the looks of the lipless sauce pans and sauciers, and they pour pretty well, too. But if flared rims/lips are important to you, All-Clad D3 is not the set for you.

What About Other All-Clad Lines?

All-Clad tri-ply/D3 is our favorite line of All-Clad.

If you want to go a step up from the D3, we recommend Copper Core (or a Demeyere line).

Here's a quick summary of All-Clad's other popular lines (asterisks indicate a recommendation):

D5: A true 5-ply cookware with alternating layers of stainless steel and aluminum (s-a-s-a-s). But let's do the math: with the same wall thickness as D3 (i.e, 2.6mm) and an extra layer of stainless, that means less heat-spreading aluminum---and it's more expensive, too! Though very popular now and billed as A/C's "induction" line, not recommended. You're much better off with D3. (Or, if you want an expensive 5-ply, the Demeyere Industry 5 or Zwilling J.A. Henckels Aurora.) 

*Copper Core: Another 5 ply cookware with internal layers of aluminum and copper (s-a-c-a-s) with a 1mm layer of copper and thin layers of aluminum. All pieces have flared rims and a slightly revamped handle design. Excellent, lightweight cookware but very expensive. If you can afford it, go for it: it's beautiful, and it performs better than D3--but they're very close. Recommended, IF you have a big budget. The D3 is a much better deal. And if you want copper cookware and don't need induction compatibility, we recommend real copper cookware like Mauviel, which will have 2-3 times as much copper as the Copper Core.

For more info, see our review All-Clad Copper Core: Is It Worth It?

Fusiontec: This is All-Clad's newest line. It's enameled stainless steel and made in Germany. Though we need to do more testing, we don't recommend it over any of All-Clad's clad stainless lines.

For more details, see our Ultimate All-Clad Review

SEE ALL-CLAD D3 ON AMAZON

SEE ALL-CLAD D3 AT WILLIAMS-SONOMA

D3 Options

If you're tight on space, you can get D3 Compact (see it at Williams-Sonoma and Amazon). It's the same great cookware with a squatter design for easier storage. Some of the pieces are slightly smaller than found in the regular D3 set.

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

And we've mentioned this before, but we recommend that you don't buy any nonstick pans in clad stainless steel/tri-ply. They're out there, and they're just as spendy as the regular tri-ply. Instead, get a cheap nonstick skillet with a thick cast aluminum body. The All-Clad HA1 skillets are a fraction of the cost of a D3 nonstick skillet, are induction compatible, and provide excellent heating properties. Win-win-win.

Then, when the time comes to replace it in a few years, you can congratulate yourself for how smart you were.

D3 Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Great all-around cookware by every measure
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • The original clad cookware and the standard against which all other clad stainless cookware is measured. 

Cons:

  • No lips on the sauce pans and sauciers
  • Some people don't like the handles (we love them)
  • Expensive initial investment, but the cost-per-year-of-use is low.
Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

Recommendation

Yes: All-Clad tri-ply/D3 is a big initial expense but it is some of the best stainless cookware on the market. And, if you consider your cost-per-year-of-use, it's actually a great deal because this cookware is going to last a lifetime (and if it doesn't, All-Clad will replace it, no questions asked). It's also going to be a pleasure to use, with its lightweight, nicely balanced pieces, and this also makes it worth its premium price. It is excellent all-around cookware, with enough internal aluminum to give it great heating properties, and enough external stainless to make it durable and warp-resistant. This is truly cookware you can love, and probably pass down to your children.

BUY ALL-CLAD TRI-PLY D3 COOKWARE:

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

BUY ALL-CLAD TRI-PLY D3 SKILLET NOW:

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)
Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

 12" skillet w/lid on Amazon (and helper handle):

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

About Cuisinart Multiclad Pro

Cuisinart is an American company founded in 1971. Cuisinart is best known for their original product, the  food processor (the first of its kind). Cuisinart was sold in 1989 and is now owned by Conair (the blow dryer folks).

Under Conair, Cuisinart expanded into a full line of kitchenware products (e.g., grills, waffle makers, coffee makers, toaster ovens, etc.). Most of their products are made in China, including their Multiclad Pro line of clad stainless cookware. Cuisinart Multiclad Pro is one of the best stainless cookware lines made in China.

Cuisinart makes several lines of cookware, including several lines of clad stainless cookware. Their Multiclad Pro is their best, highest performing line. Their French Classic cookware is of similar quality, made in France and more expensive (but very pretty!). We prefer the Multiclad Pro for its equivalent performance and lower price point.

see cuisinart multiclad pro cookware on amazon

see cuisinart Multiclad pro cookware at bed, bath & beyond

Cuisinart Multiclad Pro Features and Performance

Of all the Chinese All-Clad knockoffs, Cuisinart Multiclad Pro is the closest in performance and design to All-Clad tri-ply (D3). It has the same sidewall thickness and approximately the same amount of interior aluminum. If you're on a budget and want good quality clad stainless cookware, this is the set to get.

Features:

  • Triply-ply construction with 2.6mm sidewalls and pure aluminum core
  • Polished cooking surface resistant to rust, corrosion, and discoloration
  • Oven safe up to 550F
  • Flared rims on all pieces for drip free pouring
  • Tight fitting, "self-basting" stainless lids
  • Stainless riveted Cool Grip™ handles
  • Induction compatible and dishwasher safe
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Made in China.

SEE CUISINART MULTICLAD PRO COOKWARE ON AMAZON

see cuisinart Multiclad Pro cookware at bed, bath & beyond

Sets

Cuisinart Multiclad Pro sets are available in 7 piece, 8 piece, and 12 piece. (There is also a 10-piece set which you can see on the same Amazon page, but this set has glass lids, so we did not include it.)

Here's what you get in each:

The 7 Piece Includes: (see it on Amazon)

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)
  • 10 inch skillet
  • 1.5 quart saucean with lid (too small!)
  • 3 quart sauce pan with lid
  • 8 quart stock pot with lid.

The 12 Piece Includes: (see it on Amazon)

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)
  • 8 inch skillet
  • 10 inch skillet
  • 1.5 quart sauce pan with lid (too small!)
  • 3 quart sauce pan with lid
  • 3.5 quart sauté pan with lid
  • 8 quart stockpot with lid
  • Steamer insert with lid (for sauce pans).

SEE CUISINART MULTICLAD PRO COOKWARE ON AMAZON

SEE CUISINART MULTICLAD PRO COOKWARE AT BED, BATH & BEYOND

Lids and Handles

If you dislike the All-Clad D3 handles, you will probably like these handles. They're flatter, yet still grooved enough to provide a nice grip. And in our opinion, they're a little bit prettier than All-Clad tri-ply handles, too:

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

The lids are great, providing a snug fit that does a great job keeping in juices. 

NOTE: Some Multiclad Pro pieces, including sets, have glass lids. If you don't want glass lids, make sure the ones you buy are all stainless.

Overall, the design of this cookware is great. Each piece has a flared rim for drip free pouring, and the larger pieces have helper handles, including the 3.5 quart sauté pan (which is about the equivalent of a 10-inch skillet).

Why Buy All-Clad D3 if This Is the Same Quality for Less?

If Cuisinart Multiclad Pro is nearly identical to All-Clad tri-ply D3, with nearly identical heating performance and a lifetime warranty, as well as flared rims on all pieces, then why in the world should you ever pay more for All-Clad tri-ply?

Well, there are a few reasons:

Stainless exterior: It's not clear that Cuisinart Multiclad Pro has an 18/10 stainless exterior. If not, then the stainless isn't going to be as durable as All-Clad tri-ply--more prone to rusting, pitting, and discoloring. Yes, their marketing claims that the steel won't corrode or discolor. But it doesn't claim that it's 18/10 stainless, so it probably isn't. Furthermore, even if it is 18/10 stainless, it's Chinese 18/10 stainless, which is always a bit of a gamble. Chinese stainless is almost always inferior to American or European stainless (that's one reason Chinese cookware is so much cheaper).

Performance: Despite having an almost identical configuration as All-Clad, the heating properties aren't quite as good. The difference is small, however, so if you want to save a few hundred dollars, Multiclad Pro is almost, very nearly, close to as good as All-Clad tri-ply (D3).

Warping: While in our testing we had no problems, some reviewers complain that Multiclad Pro warps fairly easily. If it's made with inferior stainless, this is certainly possible. 

Glass Lids on Some Pieces: Perhaps eventually all Multiclad Pro is going to have glass lids, we don't know if this is a shift they're making (no doubt to cut costs). But right now, some of the pieces, and some entire sets, come with glass lids. If you want stainless lids, you have to be sure to order the right product(s). Right now, sets on the same Amazon page can have both--so be careful!

In short, Cuisinart Multiclad Pro is a Chinese product. The quality control there can be iffy, so the product quality is usually not going to be as good as products made in the US, Western Europe, and Canada. 

Also: the sets have a lot of filler pieces: for example, the larger sets add a 1.5 quart sauce pan rather than a larger sauce pan or a 12-inch skillet. None of the sets have a 12-inch skillet, unfortunately. 

We like Cuisinart Multiclad Pro, but it's just not quite as high quality as All-Clad tri-ply. 

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Great price
  • Flared rims
  • Skillet has a good design with straight-ish sides and a lot of flat cooking surface
  • Really good quality--top of the line for Chinese clad stainless
  • Build and performance very similar to All-Clad tri-ply D3 for a lot less $$.

Cons:

  • Not very good pieces in the sets (unless you want small pieces, then they're great)
  • Chinese quality can be iffy, and this cookware may not be 18/10 stainless (so more prone to corrosion).

Recommendation

If you're on a budget and want clad stainless steel cookware, Cuisinart Multiclad Pro is the set to get. If you want to invest in some pieces and save on others, we recommend a Proline or D3 skillet and sauté pan, and Multiclad Pro for sauce pans, sauciers, stock pots, and roasting pans.

buy cuisinart multiclad pro cookware set now:

BUY CUISINART MULTICLAD PRO SKILLET NOW:

buy cuisinart multiclad pro skillet with lid now:

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)


buy cuisinart multiclad pro 4 quart sauce pan with lid now:

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)


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Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Stainless Steel Cookware Review

Tramontina 12 Piece Set (Made in China):

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

Tramontina 12" skillet (Amazon--not available at Wal-Mart):

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

See more Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad cookware on Amazon

See more Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad cookware at Wal-Mart

About Tramontina

See also our review of Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Cookware for detailed information and more buying options.

Tramontina is a Brazilian kitchenware company that makes cookware, utensils, mixing bowls, knives, and more. They are probably best known in the US for knives and cookware.

Tramontina was founded in 1911 and is privately owned, with several factories around the world. Tramontina has dozens of cookware lines, including nonstick aluminum cookwareceramic nonstickenameled cast irondisc-clad stainless, and fully clad stainless. This review is for the Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad fully clad stainless cookware line. 

Tramontina's Tri-Ply Clad stainless steel cookware is manufactured in both China and Brazil. The quality of their Chinese and Brazilian cookware is identical, even though the Brazilian cookware is more expensive. You can still find Chinese made Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad with stainless lids, but they seem to be switching over to glass lids and offering the Chinese sets at even lower prices.

The Chinese sets tend to have the best pieces at the best price. If you want stainless steel lids, we recommend you buy from Amazon, as all the Wal-Mart options now seem to have glass lids. 

Tramontina has a reputation for economically priced yet excellent quality cookware. It's a great option for people on a budget, but want all the great options that clad stainless has to offer, including 18/10 stainless construction and a lifetime warranty.

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Stainless Steel Cookware:

When shopping for Tramontina cookware, be sure that you're looking only at their Tri-Ply Clad line. This is their fully clad line. They make other stainless steel cookware lines that are disc clad. Tri-Ply Clad is their highest quality stainless cookware line.

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad Stainless Steel Cookware Features and Performance

  • Durable 18/10 stainless with 2.5mm sidewalls (compare to All-Clad D3 which is 2.6mm.)
  • Gorgeous design with mirror polish finish (most stainless cookware is not this highly polished)
  • Comfortable ergonomic handles
  • Riveted, forked, stay-cool handles
  • Oven safe up to 500F
  • Induction compatible
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Lifetime limited warranty
  • Some pieces/sets now have glass lids--check before buying if this matters to you
  • Made in China or Brazil (same quality but Chinese-made is usually less expensive).

Sets

Amazon and Wal-Mart tend to have the best prices on Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad sets. Be sure to check both sites to get the best price. Wal-Mart sets tend to have glass lids, while Amazon sets tend to have stainless lids (though this may change; we suspect they will be transitioning to all glass lids eventually).

Here's a table from our Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad review with a comprehensive list of buying options.

Note: Table may not be visible in mobile view.

Set

Includes:

TRK Rating/

Notes

Available At:

Tramontina made in China

8 pc. Tramontina Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Clad Cookware Set

80116/544DS 

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

2 skillets: 8"/10",

2 sauce pans: 2qt/3qt w/lids,

5 qt Dutch oven w/lid.

Price: app. $190. Pan sizes are too small. 

Good starter set; you will probably want a bigger skillet.

Some sets now may have glass lids.


10 pc. Tramontina Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Clad Cookware Set

80116/566DS

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

2 skillets: 8"/10",

2 sauce pans: 1.5qt/3qt with lids,

8qt stock pot w/lid,

3 qt saute pan w/lid 

Price: app. $220. Nice saute pan and stock pot, skillets and sauce pans average size.

Some sets may now have glass lids.

12 pc. Tramontina Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Clad Cookware Set

80116/567DS

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

2 skillets: 10"/12",

2 sauce pans: 1.5/3qt w/lids,

5qt saute pan w/lid, 5qt Dutch oven w/lid, 12 qt stock pot w/lid.

Price: app. $300. Good pan sizes. 

WalMart set now has glass lids, but the price is even lower.

14 pc. Tramontina Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Clad Cookware Set

80116/568DS 

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

3 skillets: 8"/10"/12",

2 sauce pans: 2qt/3qt w/lids,

5 qt saute pan w/lid, 

5qt Dutch oven,

8qt stock pot w/lid and pasta insert.

Price: app. $370. Good pan sizes, but a lot of pieces.

WalMart set now has glass lids for lower price.

Recommended if you want the pasta insert and smaller stock pot. Otherwise get the 12 pc. set.

Amazon

Wal-Mart (best price!)

Tramontina made in Brazil

Tramontina 18/10 Stainless Tri-Ply Clad Cookware Set

80116/247DS (8 pc)

80116/248DS (10 pc)

80116/249DS (12pc)

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

8 pc:

2 skillets: 8"-10",

2 sauce pans: 2qt-3qt w/lids,

5qt Dutch oven.


10 pc:

2 skillets: 8"-10",

2 sauce pans: 1.5qt-3qt w/lids,

6qt stock pot w/lid,

3qt braiser w/lid.


12 pc:

2 skillets: 8"-10",

3 sauce pans: 1.5qt - 2qt - 3qt w/lids,

5qt deep sauté pan, 8-qt stock pot.

Price: app. $200. A nice set with good starter pieces.


Price: app. $340. A nice set with good starter pieces.




Price: app. $470. Stockpot is nice, but do you need 3 sauce pans?



Amazon

Wal-Mart (best price!)





Amazon

Wal-Mart (best price!)






Amazon

Wal-Mart (best price!)

(Note: See same link for individual pieces.)

8 pc. Tramontina 18/10 Stainless Tri-Ply Clad Cookware Set

80116/597DS

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

8" skillet,

3qt sauté pan (no lid),

1.5/3 qt  sauce pans w/lids,

5qt Dutch oven w/lid.

Price: app. $250. No lid with sauté pan(weird!).

As you can see, the 12- and 14-piece Chinese sets has the best (biggest) pieces. Rhe smaller sets don't have the great pieces that these sets have, and neither do the Brazilian sets.

Of course, if you don't mind the 8"/10" skillets, you can go with any set. 

You may also find 12 piece sets that DON'T have the larger skillets. Whatever site you're on, be sure to check piece size before clicking the Buy button (though this is more likely to happen at Wal-Mart).

If you need everything, the 12 piece set is a great deal. If you don't want this much cookware, buying individual pieces is an option, and it won't set you back nearly as much as it would for some other brands. 

See Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad cookware on Amazon

See Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad cookware at Wal-Mart

Handles, Lids, and Design

Handles: The handles on Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad are very pretty: 

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

They aren't grooved like All Clad tri ply, or even have grooved edges like Cuisinart Multiclad Pro. If you don't like the All-Clad tri-ply grooved handle, you'll love the Tramontina handle. If you like the grooves, because they help you grip the pot firmly with no chance of it sliding around, then you won't love these handles. But handles shouldn't be a deal breaker: if you like everything else about the cookware, you'll learn to live with less-than-perfect handles (just ask All-Clad D3 owners!).

Rims: Like All-Clad D3 tri-ply, only the skillets and sauté pans have flared, drip-free rims. The sauce pans, stock pots, and Dutch ovens aren't flared.

Lids: Good, tight-fitting lids.

Skillet Design: The Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad skillets have longer sides and a smaller flat cooking surface than other skillets in our Top 5:

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

Compare this to the Cuisinart Multiclad Pro skillet (which is closest in price):

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

The difference might not look huge, but the Cuisinart Multiclad Pro has about an inch more flat surface diameter. When you're frying burgers or chicken breast, it could make the difference between getting it done in one batch or having to do two (or use a second skillet). 

On the other hand, if you'll use the skillet for a lot of stir frying, you might actually prefer the longer sides. 

Why Pay More for All-Clad (If this Is So Great)?

The reasons are the same as those for Cuisinart Multiclad Pro:

  • The Chinese (and Brazilian) stainless steel is more prone to corrosion than that made in the US
  • Lower quality stainless can be more prone to warping under extreme temp changes
  • Compared to All-Clad D3, Tramontina's slightly thinner sidewalls make a small difference in performance, such as temp crashes when cold food is added and less even heat spreading--though in our testing, we found the differences to be small, and probably not noticeable for most kitchen tasks.

One thing Tramontina doesn't do to cut costs is add small filler pieces to their big sets. Their 12-piece and 14-piece sets have fabulous pieces at a fabulous price. Unfortunately, to get those pieces you have to buy the big sets or buy them separately. (Not unlike All-Clad.)

For budget clad stainless steel cookware, Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad is about the best there is. It's got a lot going for it. It isn't quite as good as the All-Clad. But if you're looking to save money, it's hard to justify spending hundreds more on All-Clad D3 when the Tramontina is so close in performance.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Great price point
  • Good quality--top of the line for Chinese clad stainless cookware
  • The 12- and 14- piece Chinese sets have excellent (large!) pieces including 10- and 12-inch skillets.
  • Almost identical build and performance as All-Clad D3 for a lot less.

Cons:

  • The skillet has long sides and a smallish flat cooking surface
  • The mirror polished finish is beautiful, but it shows scratches more than less polished cookware
  • Some sets now have glass lids, or smaller pieces than they once did.

Recommendation

If you're on a budget, Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad stainless steel is excellent cookware and we highly recommend it. We especially like the 12-piece set, which has great pieces. Wal-Mart usually has the best price on the sets we like, but check Amazon to be sure you're getting the best deal, especially if you want stainless steel lids.

Also make sure the set you buy has the pieces you want; don't assume they'll have the pieces listed here (the lineup can change without notice).

buy tramontina tri-ply clad  cookware set now:

BUY TRAMONTINA TRI-PLY CLAD SKILLET NOW:

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)
Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)
Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

See more Demeyere Atlantis cookware on Amazon

See also Sur la Table Silver 7 cookware (made for Sur la Table by Demeyere, almost identical cookware but with double-walled lids):

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

About Demeyere

As we said above, Demeyere is a Belgian cookware company that's been around for more than 100 years. In 2008, they were purchased by Zwilling J. A. Henckels, a German kitchenware conglomerate that owns several cookware lines as well as other kitchenware products. Even though not well known in the United States, Demeyere is one of the top cookware brands in the world, and probably the best stainless brand on the market. 

Demeyere's original line of cookware is Atlantis. It is a mix of fully clad pieces and bottom-clad pieces--one of very few cookware lines configured this way, and not something many Americans are familiar with. 

The sloped-sided pans--i.e., skillets and sauciérs--are fully clad:

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

The straight-sided pans--i.e., sauté pans, Dutch ovens, and stock pots--are bottom clad:

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

The reasoning for this actually makes sense: with sloped-sided cookware, the sides are an integral part of the cooking process; with straight-sided cookware, they are not. So if the bottom cladding is sufficient, straight-sided pans don't really need to be fully clad. 

In both cases, the cladding is really impressive: the full cladding varies from 3.3-4.8mm, and the bottom-cladding contain an outstanding 5 millimeters of heat-spreading copper, silver, and aluminum. This makes Demeyere Atlantis some of the most impressive clad stainless cookware on the market.

Consider this: even the thinnest Atlantis pieces (which by the way are their small sauciérs) have thicker walls and more aluminum than the All-Clad tri ply (D3). (Not to mention all the other A/C lines.)

Also consider this: You may not notice a huge difference between All-Clad and the cheaper brands we recommend (Cuisinart Multiclad Pro and Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad), but you will definitely notice a difference between All-Clad and any Demyere line.

But as great as the Atlantis cookware is--and it is truly spectacular cookware--bottom cladding has never really caught on in the US, likely because of All-Clad's highly successful marketing campaigns: Americans have been taught that full cladding is equivalent to the good stuff, no exceptions.

Or maybe there's a valid reason that Americans dislike bottom-clad pieces. As great as the Atlantis cookware is, the heavy bottoms can make it feel a little "unbalanced" when you're accustomed to fully clad pieces. Also, what if you want to use a sauté pan as a skillet? In the US, these are thought of as mostly interchangeable pans. The different design of the Atlantis cookware makes this a less straightforward option. 

Atlantis cookware is so different from what Americans like and know, we almost didn't list as one of the top 5 brands. But it really is that.much.better than other clad stainless cookwares on the market.

So even if you don't think this is what you're looking for, we would be doing you a disservice by not sharing its wonderful qualities. So before you decide what you want, read on, and keep an open mind!

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

SEE DEMEYERE ATLANTIS ON AMAZON

SEE SUR LA TABLE SILVER 7

About the Bottom-Cladding (Sauté Pans, Dutch Ovens)

Demeyere calls their bottom cladding InductoSeal®. The InductoSeal® base disc consists of seven layers: 

  • The interior surface of 18/10 stainless
  • A thin layer of silver
  • A copper core approximately 2mm thick
  • A thin layer of silver
  • The TriplInduc® base (stainless-stainless-stainless).

The thick copper core provides excellent heating performance.

The thin layers of silver surrounding it add to the heating performance and help to bind the copper to the stainless steel. (Copper is notoriously bad at cladding to stainless.)

Demeyere's proprietary TriplInduc® technology makes up the external 3 layers of Atlantis cookware (as well as the Sur la Table Silver 7 line). According to Demeyere, its three alloys provide up to 30% more efficiency on induction than other brands of clad stainless cookware. Its heft also ensures that the base remains flat and will never warp under any conditions.

Whether or not TriplInduc® actually results in more efficiency on induction, it's an extremely well-thought out design: the exterior layers of 18/10 stainless protect the internal magnetic layer of 18/0. This means that Atlantis cookware is 18/10 everywhere it is exposed, and thus, less prone to corrosion than pans with 18/0 magnetic exteriors (that is, every other brand of induction compatible clad stainless cookware).

It may also mean that they can use an even more magnetic stainless in the core, which could indeed result in more efficient induction performance--but this is just a guess on our part.

This diagram shows the configuration of the InductoSeal® base:

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

This entire bottom capsule is hermetically welded to the pan to provide extra protection from water, fat and contaminants.

About the Full Cladding (Skillets and Sauciérs)

Demeyere Atlantis/Sur la Table Silver 7 is billed as 7-ply, which may be technically true, but they are basically tri-ply  pieces with a really, really thick layer of aluminum to provide stellar performance, heft, and durability not seen in other clad stainless cookware.

The external stainless is also TriplInduc® technology, and the internal layers are different aluminum alloys; again, some alloys heat better, and some adhere to stainless better. So while these pans are said to have 7 plies, it's easier to think of them as really heavy duty tri-ply than to count all those layers of aluminum as separate plies. 

However you want to think of it, it's fabulous. 

Here's a diagram of the "7 ply" construction (from everythingkitchens.com):

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

Silvinox® 

Silvinox® is a proprietary electrochemical surface treatment system that removes excess iron and other impurities from the cookware's surface. This makes the stainless steel easier to clean and provides a higher resistance to fingerprints, harsh detergents, and acidic foods. The products retain their silvery-white color, even after years of use (adapted from the Demeyere website). 

With All this Fabulousness, Why Isn't Atlantis Our #1 Pick?

Demeyere Atlantis/Sur la Table Silver 7 is truly fabulous cookware. The engineers, cooks, and designers at Demeyere have really thought of everything for this line, and the quality, durability, and performance really are unparalleled. If you want the very best clad stainless cookware on the market, this is absolutely the set to get.

The main reason it isn't our number one pick is that Americans simply prefer fully clad cookware. It's what we're used to, and it's what we like. And with most bottom-clad cookware having a reputation for inferior quality (Atlantis being an exception), that's probably not going to change anytime soon.

So as great as Atlantis is, a lot of people are just going to prefer All-Clad because that's what they know and are familiar with. 

And as much as we love the Atlantis line, it has another drawback: all that stellar performance comes at a cost, and that cost is weight: this is heavy cookware. The 12-inch skillet weighs almost twice what the All-Clad D3 skillet weighs.

If you like to do a chef's toss, or are concerned about accidentally slamming a heavy pan down too hard on a glass induction cooktop, or you're a small or elderly person, this may not be the cookware for you.

see demeyere atlantis on amazon

see silver 7 at sur la table

Sets

As great as Atlantis is, you should be sure you like the bottom cladding on the straight sided pieces before you buy it. Our advice is to go to a kitchen store--Sur la Table would be best because you can see the Silver 7 line--to try it out. At this price point, they'll be happy to let you take it for a test drive.

On the other hand, we recommend the Proline skillet without reservation. If you can afford it and want to invest in a great pan, buy a Proline skillet today. You will love this pan.

The 9.4-inch Proline skillet on Amazon is under $100, making it around the same price as an All-Clad D3 skillet of approximately the same size.

Note: If you're concerned about weight, we recommend that you don't go larger than the 11-inch skillet. (Think of it as cast iron; it's almost that heavy.)

Here are the available sets.

The Demeyere Atlantis 3 Piece Starter Set Includes: (see it on Amazon)

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)


The Demeyere Atlantis 6 Piece Set Includes: (see it on Amazon)

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)
  • 9.4 inch skillet
  • 3.2 quart sauce pan with lid
  • 5.5 quart Dutch oven with lid
  • Steamer (fits 5.5 quart pot).


The Demeyere Atlantis 10 Piece Set Includes (see it at Williams-Sonoma):

  • 11 inch skillet (great piece!)
  • 2.3 quart sauce pan with lid (filler piece)
  • 3.5 quart saucier with lid
  • 5 quart sauté pan with lid
  • 8 quart Dutch oven with lid.


The Sur la Table 12 Piece Silver 7 Set Includes (see it at surlatable.com):

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)
  • 9.5 inch skillet
  • 11 inch skillet (great piece!)
  • 1.5 quart sauce pan with lid (filler piece)
  • 3 quart sauce pan with lid
  • 2 quart conical saucier 
  • 5 quart sauté pan with lid
  • 8 quart stock pot with lid
  • Pasta insert for stock pot.

Pros and Cons of Demeyere Atlantis/Sur la Table Silver 7 Cookware

Pros:

  • The very best, top quality clad stainless cookware on the market
  • Super durable, super high performing, with significantly more aluminum and/or copper than All-Clad's top lines
  • Insulated lids (Silver 7 only)
  • 30 year warranty.

Cons:

  • Straight-sided pieces are bottom clad only, which can feel heavy or unbalanced if you're not accustomed to it
  • The stellar amount of cladding makes this heavy cookware
  • Expensive.
Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

Recommendation

If you want the best of the best (and can afford it), Demeyere Atlantis is the cookware to get. And even if you don't want to get a whole set, consider investing in a Proline skillet. It's a fabulous tool--a skillet you can truly love. We guarantee you will not regret investing in it. Demeyere is some of the best stainless cookware on the market, and the Proline is their flagship piece.

Silver 7 is Sur la Table's brand of Demeyere Atlantis with the added feature of double-walled lids. This is also an excellent, best-of-the-best cookware brand.

buy demeyere atlantis cookware set now:

buy demeyere proline skillet now:

Top 5 Brands of Clad Stainless Cookware (And Why You Should Buy Stainless)

Buy silver 7 at sur la table now:

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Final Thoughts

To summarize, here are our picks for the best stainless steel cookware:

  • Demeyere Industry 5/Zwilling J.A. Henckels Aurora
  • All-Clad Tri-Ply (D3)
  • Cuisinart Multiclad Pro
  • Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad
  • Demeyere Atlantis/Sur la Table Silver 7, esp. the Proline skillet (if you want to invest in one superb piece the Proline is the way to go).

The clad stainless steel cookware market is huge, and with most of it made in China, the quality often just isn't there. These 5 top brands offer the best options at several price points. In fact, if you can't afford even our budget picks (the Tramontina or Multiclad Pro), we suggest you forego a set and just buy two or three essential pieces, and add to them as you can. Clad stainless cookware at a lower price point is probably not worth the investment. 

Thoughts or questions? Disagree with any of our picks? Let us know in the comments below.

And thanks for reading!

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