What’s the Difference Between All of the All-Clad Lines?

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

When it comes to stainless steel pots and pans, All-Clad is one of the most recognizable names in the game. Their cookware has come highly recommended in our tests, and we’ve used All-Clad’s pots and pans at home and in the test kitchen for many, many years. Pretty much any Serious Eats staffer can speak to their durability and practicality. 

But with so many different products—and vague identifiers like D3 and D5—what’s the difference between All-Clad’s cookware lines? 

Let’s Quickly Touch on Non-Stick

Serious Eats / Russell Kilgore

We’ll be focusing on All-Clad’s stainless steel offerings for this story because, really, the only All-Clad nonstick piece we recommend is the reasonably-priced HA1 nonstick skillet. We seldom use nonstick except for delicate things like cooking eggs or crepes—and think stainless steel is, generally, a much better investment. And because we don’t recommend spending a lot on nonstick pans, that puts All-Clad’s pricey Fusiontec skillets out of the running for us from the jump.

Tri-Ply vs. Five-Ply

First things first: descriptors you’ll see over and over again when shopping for stainless steel cookware are “3-ply” or “tri-ply” or “triply.” They all mean the same thing, which is triple-layered material. This is usually a sandwich of stainless steel with a layer of aluminum in the middle, because aluminum is great at conducting heat but it isn’t exactly food-safe on its own.

Thus, when you see a reference to “5-ply,” it should be no surprise that this means there are five layers of metal rather than three. In All-Clad’s case, they alternate layers of stainless steel and aluminum for added durability and even heat distribution. Because there’s more material, 5-ply pans are pricier and heavier.

Polished vs. Brushed Stainless Steel

Serious Eats / Russell Kilgore

Honestly, this detail is all about personal preference (and price…as we’ll get into below). Some people love the gleam of a polished finish, others prefer a brushed surface for its subtlety and resistance to fingerprints. In either case, if you store your pots and pans by stacking them in a drawer or cabinet, it’s a good idea to use pan protectors to help safeguard against scratches (which a mirror finish is more likely to show). In our many cookware tests, though, we haven’t found either finish affects performance.

What’s with All-Clad’s Handles?

Serious Eats / Russell Kilgore

Nearly all of All-Clad’s cookware has the same handle that features an indent on the top that runs its length. Some people dislike it, preferring rounded handles that feel smooth to hold. However, we’ve found this indent has a purpose: it prevents the handle from rotating in your palm as you pour. It’s also just a nice place to put your thumb for added leverage as you toss, pick up, and move the cookware.

D3 Stainless 

The All-Clad D3 Stainless collection is try-ply and has a polished finish. In our tests, we’ve found this line performed exceptionally well (even heating; great durability; nicely balanced). In fact, the All-Clad D3 Stainless skillet nearly earned the top spot in our testing of 22 stainless steel skillets (it was bumped out by the Made In, which is ever-so-slightly cheaper). Some of our favorite saucepans, saute pans, stockpots, and stainless steel cookware sets are also part of this line.

Key Specs

Line includes: 28 products, plus 12 options for sets or pairsPrice range: $65 (7.5-inch skillet) to $1660 (14-piece set)Induction compatible: YesSerious Eats / Russell Kilgore

D3 Everyday

All-Clad’s D3 Everyday shares a lot of the traits of the D3 Stainless, but adds in some features that some may find more user-friendly, like handles that are rounded and indent-free (for those that have taken issue with the classic All-Clad handle). The 3-quart saucepan in this line also features a flared pouring rim (to minimize dribbling), which we have wished the D3 Stainless saucepan had as we poured brown butter, sauces, and soups out of it. Price-wise, the D3 Stainless and Everyday lines are also similar. For example, their 10- and 10.5-inch skillets cost $100 a pop, but the Everyday’s doesn’t come with a lid.

Key Specs

Line includes: 7 products, plus 3 options for sets or pairsPrice range: $90 (8.5-inch skillet) to $1405 (10-piece set)Induction compatible: Yes

D5 Brushed

Stepping up to 5-ply construction, the All-Clad D5 Brushed series provides two additional layers and has, you guessed it, a brushed finish. Given those extra layers, D5 pans are heavier than D3 ones. They’re more expensive, too, with D5 Brushed products starting $85 higher than those in the D3 Stainless line and going far beyond that, too. The D5 Brushed’s 10-inch skillet is $250 compared to the $130 D3 Stainless. When we tested a D5 Brushed pan as part of our stainless steel skillet review, we didn’t see enough difference in performance to justify paying more. We felt the same way about the D5 Brushed saucepan and cookware set when we tested them: they were nice to use, but not worth the added price over the D3.

Key Specs

Line includes: 17 products, plus for options for sets Price range: $150 (8-inch skillet) to $2,360 (14-piece set)Induction compatible: Yes

D5 Polished

Yep, you guessed it: All-Clad’s D5 Polished line is just like the D5 Brushed, but with a polished finish. Again, this line’s price is high—and we remain skeptical of the added performance benefits you’ll actually notice/care about for the additional cost. However, we haven’t formally tested anything from this line.

Key Specs

Line includes: 24 products, plus 6 options for sets or pairsPrice range: $150 (8-inch skillet) to $2,600 (15-piece set)Induction compatible: YesSerious Eats / Vicky Wasik

D7 Stainless

The All-Clad D7 Stainless is quite a small collection with just one product—a stovetop slow cooker with a 7-ply construction that includes four layers of stainless steel and three layers of aluminum. It’s not a slow cooker at all and is more of a lightweight Dutch oven alternative. For the price, though ($360, when not on sale), and size, we’d opt for a 5-quart Dutch oven and a stainless steel stockpot instead. Our budget-friendly recommendations from these reviews, together, cost far less than the D7 pot.

Key Specs

Line includes: 1 productPrice range: $360Induction compatible: Yes

Copper Core

Finally, we have the All-Clad Copper Core line. These pans are 5-ply and combine stainless steel, aluminum, and copper. The Copper Core line is meant to be ultra-responsive to heat changes (we’ve written about copper cookware and how it both heats and cools quickly). That said, since the All-Clad cookware we’ve tested is already heat-responsive, we’re not totally sold on this line’s added cost. For example, the 7-piece cookware set is a whopping $1,100 compared to the D3 set’s (still whopping) $799.

Key Specs

Line includes: 12 products, plus 3 options for setsPrice range: $150 (8-inch skillet) to $2,729,92 (14-piece set)Induction compatible: Yes

So, Which All-Clad Line Should I Buy?

Serious Eats / Russell Kilgore

Our tests continuously prove the All-Clad D3 Stainless line to be the best value for its performance, price, and durability. In fact, across all of our cookware reviews, it’s the only All-Clad line we’ve recommended. If you’re already spending a lot, you shouldn’t spend more—especially if you won’t notice performance differences.

FAQs

How do you clean All-Clad cookware?

Always wash your All-Clad cookware by hand, and only after it cools down. While stainless steel cookware can go in the dishwasher, we recommend hand-washing it to preserve its longevity.

Can All-Clad cookware go in the oven?

All-Clad stainless steel cookware is oven-safe up to 600°F. Be aware that extended exposure to heat above 500°F may result in discoloration, but pan performance won’t be affected.

Does All-Clad work on induction?

All-Clad’s D3, D5, and Copper Core cookware are compatible with induction cooktops.

Does All-Clad cookware have a good warranty?

All-Clad’s stainless steel products—including pots, pans, skillets, and cookware sets—are backed by a lifetime warranty. 

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