December 17

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The Ultimate All-Clad Review: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About All-Clad (Page 2)

By trk

December 17, 2019


The second part of our Ultimate All-Clad Review covers the lines we do not recommend. While all of All-Clad's products are high quality and durable, some of them simply aren't worth the premium price tag. We explain why here.

All-Clad D5 Review

Ultimate All-Clad Review

Overall Rating: 3.5

Heating Properties: 3.0

Durability: 5.0

Stability: 5.0

Ease of Care:

Design/Usability: 3.0

Price/Value:

See D5 On Amazon Now

See D5 Brushed Stainless On Amazon Now

See D5 at Williams-Sonoma now

Introduction

Induction compatible: Yes

Dishwasher safe: Yes

Compare to: Demeyere Industry 5 (see it on Amazon), All-Clad D3, All-Clad Copper Core

All-Clad D5 is a 5-ply clad cookware with alternating layers of stainless and aluminum (s-a-s-a-s). All-Clad calls the D5 their "optimal induction cookware" and says it is excellent for browning. 

We're not sure why the D5 is "optimal for induction." The extra stainless slows performance, and might only be beneficial for novice cooks or those not accustomed to the ultra high speed of induction cooking. We actually think D5's extra stainless is a drawback for induction--and in general. The slightly better heat capacity might make it slightly better for browning than D3, but the difference is minimal.

The one thing the extra layer of stainless might provide is more resistance to warping. But all of All-Clad's cookware lines are warp resistant already, so we don't see this as a huge plus. All-Clad cookware review

D5 comes in a polished or brushed stainless exterior. The brushed exterior creates a flatter finish than the polished, and is good for hiding scratches: 

Ultimate All-Clad Review

Thomas Keller is the only other All-Clad with a brushed stainless exterior.

D5 Heating Properties

The D5 has the same wall thickness as the D3: 2.6mm. Since D5 has an extra layer of stainless, this means that it actually has less aluminum in it than the D3. Here's a diagram of the configuration:

Ultimate All-Clad Review

Less aluminum means poorer heating properties, since aluminum is what spreads the heat evenly and rapidly. Stainless does pretty much the opposite: slows heat down and makes it less even.

Remember the original concept behind clad cookware? To put the rapid-heating-but-soft aluminum between two protective layers of poorly-heating-but-durable stainless. So why has All-Clad started to put stainless on the inside of their cookware (D5 and D7)? All-Clad cookware review

All-Clad claims that the internal layer of stainless slows down the lateral movement of heat (that is, how it spreads around the pan), causing it to be more even. But as far as we can tell, it just makes a pan heat more slowly. 

And yes, slightly more evenly than D3--but D3 is already extremely even heating cookware, so it's questionable whether such an "improvement" was needed, or provides any real benefit--especially at the higher cost of D5.

(And if you want to compare the D5 to Demeyere's Industry 5: Industry 5 has a total thickness of 3mm with a total aluminum thickness of 2.1mm--making Industry 5 vastly different cookware than D5.)

We don't mean to pick on poor D5. But seriously, it's more expensive than D3 and has less aluminum. If All-Clad has an explanation for why this is more expensive cookware, we'd love to hear it.

D5 Durability

With its stainless exterior, D5 is as durable as any clad product. If you go with the brushed stainless, it will camouflage scratches (which are normal wear and tear on all cookware), keeping the D5 looking great. So the durability of D5 is excellent. All-Clad cookware review

D5 Stability

Again, with its stainless exterior, D5 provides a very stable cooking surface. Stainless is one of the most stable cooking surfaces on the market. It doesn't react with food, doesn't rust, and doesn't leech unsafe metals into your food. All-Clad cookware review

SEE D5 REVIEWS ON AMAZON NOW

D5 Ease of Care

D5's stainless or brushed stainless is as easy (or hard) to care for as stainless in general. So like all stainless, it gets an average rating for ease of care. 

D5 is also dishwasher safe, which is a great, but we recommend hand-washing all your cookware. The abrasive particles in dishwasher detergent are hard on stainless, and may dull the appearance of the cookware.

D5 Design/Usability

With performance similar to D3, we could have been more fair and given D5 4 stars. However, we feel that it doesn't live up to its marketing claims of being their "optimal induction line," or that it provides superior browning. 

It's more expensive than D3--with less aluminum!--so we deducted a point (and feel that even that was generous).

The brushed exterior doesn't add to performance, but doesn't detract from it, either. If we're honest, we'd have to say that the main reason to buy D5 is if you fall in love with the looks of the brushed exterior: Thomas Keller is your only other option for this, and it's even more expensive than D5.

D5 oven safe up to 500F. It has standard All-Clad stainless lids. The handles have a little stop on the underside, similar to the Copper Core:

Ultimate All-Clad Review

The extra layer of stainless slows down heating somewhat, so if you prefer pans that are less responsive, the D5 is what you want. All-Clad cookware review

Overall, we give D5 an average rating for usability--and that's probably a little generous. D3 can do anything D5 can do, and for less money. The only thing D3 doesn't have is the brushed exterior.

D5 Value

D5 gets two stars for value, and we feel that's a bit generous. Like all All-Clad cookware, it's nice stuff, but not nice enough to warrant the price increase over and above the D3. The internal layer of stainless is gimmicky, detracting more than adding to performance. 

D5 Pros/Cons

Pros:

  • Available in brushed exterior
  • Induction compatible and dishwasher safe.

Cons:

  • Internal layer of stainless adds to cost but not to performance.
D5 Recommendation

We see so many people on cooking forums asking, "D3 or D5?" We enthusiastically answer "D3. For everything."

5 layers could result in really great cookware (like Demeyere Industry 5), but All-Clad D5 is not executed well: The extra layer of stainless, without added aluminum, results in slower performance than D3. This might be a slightly more forgiving configuration for novice cooks, but the difference is barely noticeable--and you're paying more for it. 

Here are our thoughts about buying D5 (or not):

  • If you want 5 ply induction cookware, Demeyere Industry 5 has a better design. (This Viking 5-ply is also very nice cookware.) Copper Core is also a better choice, performance-wise. 
  • If you want all-purpose clad stainless cookware, it's hard to beat the All-Clad D3.
  • If you want all-purpose cookware and don't care about induction compatibility, the MC2 is your best buy. 
  • Buy D5 if you love the look of the brushed exterior--but don't expect better performance.

BUY D5 ON AMAZON NOW:

Ultimate All-Clad Review

Buy All-Clad D5 at Williams-Sonoma now:

Ultimate All-Clad Review

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All-Clad Thomas Keller Review 

Ultimate All-Clad Review

Overall Rating: 3.5

Heating Properties: 3.0

Durability: 5.0

Stability: 5.0

Ease of Care:

Design/Usability: 3.0

Price/Value: 2.0

See Thomas Keller at Williams-Sonoma

See Thomas Keller on Amazon (limited options)

Introduction

Induction compatible: Yes

Dishwasher safe: Yes

Compare to: All-Clad Copper Core or D5 depending on the piece. 

Thomas Keller is a world-famous chef. The All-Clad Thomas Keller (TK) set is a mix of different All-Clad pieces with a different design. The idea is that, according to Keller, "A cookware collection should include a mix of materials intended for specific tasks." Thus, some of the pieces are tri-ply, some are Copper Core, and some are 5-ply.

Here's the breakdown, according to the Williams-Sonoma website:

  • Sauce pans are 5 ply with a copper core (s-a-c-a-s)
  • Skillets and sauté pans are D5 (5-ply without a copper core: s-a-s-a-s)
  • Stock pots are tri-ply (D3).

If you want different configurations for your sauce pans and skillets, why not just buy them separately? Well, the TK pieces all look the same, so if you want your cookware to match, there's that. 

TK also has a brushed stainless exterior--the only other A-C line besides the D5. (This is not an option, as it is with D5.)

While it's true that different cookware works better for different tasks, the TK line is a little bit gimmicky. First of all, sauce pans don't require a copper core to perform well, nor do skillets need to be D5. 

And as we've already said several times in this review, the differences in performance among D3, D5 and Copper Core are small. In fact, it seems that All-Clad is striving to keep all of their cookware within a fairly narrow performance band. All-Clad cookware review

Our thoughts are that if you want different cookware for different tasks, you would go cheap on the sauce pans and invest your money in the skillets and sauté pans because that's where you need precise temperature control and your heat retention (depending on what you want to accomplish). But the Thomas Keller is the opposite of cheap. It's going to set you back more than a set of Copper Core--almost $300 more for the 7 piece set.

The TK line has some other design aspects that you'll either love or hate. But what we really dislike the most is the price: even if you bought every piece of D3 individually, you'll probably spend less than buying a TK set.

If you do want the Thomas Keller, you can only find it at Williams-Sonoma or the All-Clad website. Either way, it's spendy stuff. All-Clad cookware review

Since the whole idea of the Thomas Keller line is that different types of cookware need different heating properties, it should warrant a near perfect score in this category.

But as we said, the difference in performance among the All-Clad lines is small, so we think the whole concept is more gimmicky than it is useful. 

If you really want different performance, our recommendation is to not buy a set of cookware. You will notice differences between copper and cast iron, or a Demeyere Proline and an All-Clad D3 skillet. But the differences among the lines of All-Clad are small, and will have a small impact on how you cook.

Also: there is no "better" or "worse" configuration for your cookware. It's all in the task at hand and what you're trying to accomplish. All-Clad cookware review

Like all All-Clad cookware, Thomas Keller will provide good performance. But don't expect vast differences between the pieces.

See Thomas Keller cookware at Williams-Sonoma

TK Heating Properties

The sauce pans are Copper Core, so they're thin and responsive--but remember, only slightly better than D3 (and for most people, not enough to justify the extra cost).  

The skillets and sauté pans are D5, so they're similar to D3 but with less aluminum in their interior, so they'll be slower to respond. All-Clad cookware review

Whether or not this is a good configuration is, well, kind of an opinion--and again, it really depends on what you're trying to do. Thomas Keller likes his sauce pans fast and his skillets slow. This sort of makes sense, as sauces can be delicate and require fast temperature changes to not be ruined.

On the other hand, sauce pans are also kitchen workhorses, used for everything from boiling pasta to making oatmeal. Those everyday tasks don't require a lot of precision.

Same for skillets and sauté pans. You may want cast iron for tasks that require heat retention, copper for tasks the require precision, and clad tri-ply for general cooking. 

The point being, there is no "better" or "worse" configuration for your cookware. It's all in the task at hand and what you're trying to accomplish.

The even more relevant point, though, is that these three lines of All-Clad perform very, very similarly. So you're not getting stellar differences in performance. And if you want that, you're better off buying your cookware pieces separately. You'll save money--because you can go cheap on stock pots and sauce pans--and you'll get exactly what you want.

TK Durability

The brushed stainless exterior will hold up well and hide scratches, and the stainless cooking surface will provide long life, as it does for all stainless cookware.

TK Stability

The stainless exterior is very stable and won't rust or react with food.

READ THOMAS KELLER REVIEWS AT WILLIAMS-SONOMA

TK Ease of Care

TK pieces are stainless, so they get average marks for ease of care. All TK pieces are dishwasher safe, which is a plus; the brushed exterior probably won't even show the abrasions from putting them in the dishwasher.

TK Design/Usability

The Thomas Keller line has a number of unique design features that you're either going to love or hate.

Like all All-Clad stainless cookware, all the pieces are induction compatible and oven safe up to 500F. 

The handles are oval shaped, without the traditional All-Clad groove:

Ultimate All-Clad Review

All the pieces have a curved lip for easy pouring (nice).

The lids are "universal," meaning they're a flat, one-size-fits-all disk. You can see both of these features here:

Ultimate All-Clad Review

It's a clever concept, because you can use the lids on any piece. This would save time in a busy restaurant kitchen, but whether you need that in your home kitchen is questionable. We think these flat lids are ugly and not very functional because they don't as snugly as sized lids would. But if you like them, add half a point or so to the design rating.

The TK pieces are also shaped to nest easily so they take up minimal storage space; the flat lids are also easy to store, as you can see here:

Ultimate All-Clad Review

If you like the universal lids and the different configurations for the different pieces, add a point here. But the different configurations (D3/D5/Copper Core) don't win extra points for usability because they aren't really that different from each other.

TK Value

The Thomas Keller line is nice cookware, like all All-Clad. But it's overpriced. Unless you really love the design (universal lids? D5 for skillets?), you can do better just buying the pieces you want in Copper Core or D3 (and skip the D5 altogether). All-Clad cookware review

TK Pros/Cons

Pros:

  • Brushed exterior hides scratches
  • Designed to nest and save storage space
  • All pieces have lips for drip-free pouring
  • Induction compatible and dishwasher safe.

Cons:

  • The "universal" lids are just flat disks--not very pretty or practical
  • Expensive without adding a lot more performance than D3.
TK Recommendation

For the small differences between D3, D5, and Copper Core, we really think that D3 is the best overall choice, not only price-wise, but performance-wise, as well.

If you want different configurations for different tasks, just buy them piecemeal: e.g., cast iron for heat retention, D3 for general purpose, copper for speed...you get the idea. All-Clad cookware review

Buy the TK only if you love the design and can't live without it. Otherwise, you can save a small fortune by buying a set of D3 plus a few individual pieces to round out your collection: cast iron, copper, or whatever suits your cooking style.

BUY THOMAS KELLER SET NOW:

Ultimate All-Clad Review

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All-Clad C4 Review

Ultimate All-Clad Review

Overall Rating: 3.2

Heating Properties: 4.0

Durability: 4.0

Stability: 4.0

Ease of Care: 2.0

Design/Usability: 3.0

Price/Value: 2.0

See C4 At Williams-Sonoma
See C4 at all-clad.com 
See C4 on Amazon
Introduction

Induction compatible: No

Dishwasher safe: No

Compare to: Mauviel M'Heritage 150S (see it on Amazon)

All-Clad introduced their C4 line early in 2018. It isn't A-C's first foray into copper cookware; they've had lines in the past that they've dropped, presumably because they weren't selling. 

The C4 cookware is, like all copper cookware, stunning. There's nothing new or revolutionary about it, though, so like all copper cookware, it requires a fair amount of maintenance to stay looking beautiful. 

Most copper cookware now has a stainless cooking surface, so there's nothing revolutionary about, either.

If you know what you're getting into with copper, the C4 is lovely, good-performing, all-around cookware. 

As of this writing, C4 is one of the highest-priced cookware lines we've ever seen. And probably overpriced in comparison to other copper cookware brands.

C4 Heating Properties

The C4 has four alternating layers of copper and stainless (c-s-c-s). This puts copper on the exterior with a stainless cooking surface: exactly what you want.

The external layer of copper is 1.0mm--slightly more than the single layer of copper in the Copper Core (0.9mm). The internal layer is, as of this writing, an unknown, but we suspect it's around 0.5mm. This makes the C4 equal in performance to Mauviel's 150S, which provides about 1.3mm of copper. However, if it's closer to 1.0mm, it makes the C4 roughly equal to Mauviel's 250B cookware (which is impressive).

We suspect the C4 is closer to a total of 1.5mm of copper. (It's just too expensive to cut open and measure.)

Without knowing the exact amount of copper in C4, it's hard to give a precise explanation of its heating properties. But even at the low end, it's going to provide better copper performance than the Copper Core, and be at least equal to the less expensive high-end copper cookware. All-Clad cookware review

In other words, the performance is as good as lower end premium copper cookware. And this is exactly how it performed in our testing.

And yet: Once again, why is there an internal layer of stainless? It adds nothing to performance. Why not put a layer of aluminum in there? Now that would make some really nice, top performing cookware. We think the internal stainless is a big miss for All-Clad C4.

We could add a half point for having significantly more copper than Copper Core, but we didn't because of the internal layer of stainless, which is only going to detract from performance.

C4 Durability

If you don't consider the cosmetic aspect of copper--that it requires polishing to stay pretty--then the durability is decent. No, not as good as stainless, but still pretty good.

However, we took points off for its easy oxidation. No, this doesn't affect the performance, but copper is, in fact, less durable than stainless, and this is reflected in its appearance (we think).

The stainless cooking surface is quite durable--as good as any other stainless cookware on the market.

C4 Stability

Even though the exterior is highly reactive, oxidizing easily, copper itself won't harm you if it leeches into your food. And the stainless cooking surface is very stable (like all All-Clad clad cookware), so we don't deduct any points for reactivity. The C4 is as safe as any stainless cookware.

READ C4 REVIEWS AT WILLIAMS-SONOMA NOW

C4 Ease of Care

Here's where the C4 fails. Copper requires a lot of maintenance to stay beautiful. You have to polish it about twice a year--more if you really want it to stay gorgeous.

C4 is also not dishwasher safe--so in addition to the bi-yearly polishing, you have to wash it by hand every time you use it.

Copper cookware performs just as well with a patina, so if you don't care about looks, or if you don't mind polishing it once or twice a year, add a point here. 

C4 Design/Usability

C4 offers good performance: in our testing, close to the performance of less expensive premium copper cookware. 

All the C4 pieces have curved lips for drip-free pouring. They have standard All-Clad lids and the newer handle design: oval instead of grooved (like the LTD shown here):

Ultimate All-Clad Review

But C4 loses points for not being induction-compatible and for not being dishwasher safe.

If you don't care about induction compatibility or not being able to throw your cookware in the dishwasher, you can add a half a point here--but probably no more than that. If you hate the traditional All-Clad handles, you can add another half point. 

C4 Value

All-Clad C4 is gorgeous cookware, but its probably overpriced compared to "real" copper cookware such as Mauviel. Here's the rub: when you buy a brand like Mauviel, the copper content is right in the name, so you know exactly what you're buying. But All-Clad does not disclose this information about C4, so you can't be sure how much copper you're actually getting.

It's good cookware, it will last for decades, but you can get almost-as-good performance from D3 for considerably less. OR, buy a premium copper cookware brand and know exactly what you're paying for.

C4 Pros/Cons

Pros:

  • Beautiful design
  • Good performance
  • All pieces have lips for drip-free pouring.

Cons:

  • High maintenance (if you want to keep the gorgeous exterior gorgeous)
  • Not induction-compatible or dishwasher safe
  • As expensive as premium copper brands that may have more copper.
C4 Recommendation

All-Clad C4 is beautiful and is going to provide good performance. However, the price is even more than some comparable cookware brands that don't have an extra layer of stainless inside. 

  • If you want copper cookware, buy Mauviel 150 for the same cost or maybe less.
  • If you want good, general purpose clad cookware, buy D3.
  • Buy the C4 only if you fall in love with it and have to have it.

BUY ALL-CLAD C4 NOW:

Ultimate All-Clad Review

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Other All-Clad Lines and Pieces

All-Clad makes a few other pieces, as well, such as a nonstick skillets in D3 and D5, and a "hybrid" skillet with nonstick sides and a stainless cooking surface. There are also discontinued lines, such as the C2 Copper cookware, old versions of Master Chef and LTD, and D7. You might still be able to find these for clearance prices anywhere that sells All-Clad cookware. If you do, they are often excellent buys, and you will still get the All-Clad lifetime warranty on any of these products. 

Nonstick Clad Stainless: We do not recommend buying any clad stainless pieces with a nonstick coating. The PTFE coating will wear out decades before the clad stainless construction, leaving you with a useless pan you paid a lot of money for. Instead, buy the less expensive cast aluminum nonstick pans: they're cheaper so you won't feel as bad about replacing them in a few years--plus, they have excellent heating properties; as good or better than clad stainless.

This goes for the hybrid nonstick skillet as well: if you want nonstick, just buy the cast aluminum HA1. You'll get everything you need and won't feel bad about replacing it in a few years.

D7: These are all nice lines of cookware so if you can find them for a reduced price, they can be excellent purchases. All-Clad cookware review

Ultimate All-Clad Review

SEE ALL-CLAD D7 COOKWARE ON AMAZON

D7 is a 7-ply stainless-aluminum construction with domed lids. It was created to compete with le Creuset enameled cast iron (and possibly Demeyere Atlantis), but All-Clad discontinued it, presumable because it wasn't selling. Being 7-ply, it's heavy cookware, and nice if you're looking for something along the lines of le Creuset. It's also going to heat slowly because of the mass, but once heated should perform well, hanging onto heat nicely for searing and frying. It can't compete with Atlantis or le Creuset, but it's nice cookware nevertheless--especially if you can find it at a discount.

C2: All-Clad C2 is a 2-ply copper/stainless cookware that was discontinued a few years back. It contains considerably less copper than other premium copper/stainless cookware, yet is priced similarly. For this reason, we do not recommend it.

SEE ALL-CLAD C2 COOKWARE ON AMAZON

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Final Thoughts

You might wonder why we give all the A-C lines decent ratings, but don't recommend buying them. The answer is simple: All-Clad makes fabulous cookware! And any line you buy you're going to love. But not all of it is worth the asking price.

Overall, our thoughts are this:

  • We enthusiastically recommend the D3 and MC2 lines. Go with D3 if you need induction compatibility.
  • We really like the nonstick HA1/NS1 lines, and they are reasonably priced. (We don't recommend any other A-C nonstick.) But only buy skillets or sauté pans: you don't need nonstick on other pans, and it wears out too fast to justify a whole set.
  • We love the Copper Core and LTD, but they're more expensive while providing only slight improvements. 
  • D5 is D3 with less aluminum and more stainless for a higher price. We don't recommend it. 
  • Thomas Keller and C4 perform fine, but if you have the budget for these lines, you're better off buying the individual pieces you want (TK) or a "real" brand of premium copper cookware. 

We hope we've given you enough information in this All-Clad cookware review to understand the differences among all the All-Clad lines so you can know exactly what you're paying for--or maybe to convince you to keep looking! 

And if you do want to keep looking, check out our other cookware articles for help:

Thanks for reading!

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Ultimate All-Clad Review

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