For many years, All-Clad stainless cookware has been considered the best stainless steel cookware on the market, and with good reason. Since 1974, when their first cookware sets were produced, they have dominated the high-end cookware market and have gotten excellent cookware reviews. Their high cost puts their products beyond many people’s budgets, but there is no doubt that the quality of construction and their excellent customer service ensures that their cookware will last a lifetime, and if any problems should arise, the company will replace any defective cookware, no matter when you bought it.
What Makes All-Clad Stainless Different?
A number of other less expensive brands of stainless steel cookware are also constructed of two layers of 18/10 stainless steel, with an aluminum core sandwiched between that extends up the sides of the pot or pan (which is an indication of quality cookware). The difference between those and the All-Clad stainless cookware is that the All-Clad is made from a proprietary blend of metals that are designed for the best cooking performance, not the ease of manufacture. Also, the three layers of metal are bonded better than some of the lower-end brands of clad cookware, so there is better heat distribution throughout the piece, reducing the likelihood of burnt areas of food.
Although it is possible to use other types of cookware, such as cast iron, for deglazing and making sauces, stainless steel is the best cookware to use. Deglazing in cast iron is possible, but it can degrade the seasoning, and if you use any kind of acid for the deglazing liquid (such as wine or citrus juice), it can impart a metallic taste to your food. All-Clad is the perfect choice for browning, as it does not burn your food, but creates a nice fond with which to make delicious sauces.
All-Clad stainless cookware comes in two different lines: their traditional line and what they call “d5.” The traditional stainless has a mirror finish and straight rims, whereas the d5 sports a brushed finish and comes with rolled rims, which are better for ease of pouring for things like sauces. In addition, the d5 is constructed from three layers of stainless steel and two different layers of aluminum (the aluminum is sandwiched between each stainless layer). This is to provide even better heat distribution and better ensures that the bottom of the cookware remains flat. You should keep in mind, however, that the d5 cookware is slower to respond to temperature changes, so it takes longer to heat up (and cool down).
The main drawback of the All-Clad stainless cookware, apart from the cost, is the design of the handles on their skillets and saucepans. The handles are sturdy and are placed at a more acute angle for the easy tossing and flipping of food, but their design is such that many people complain that the handle tends to cut into their hand uncomfortably, particularly when lifting a skillet full of food. Their handles could certainly use a redesign. Many people resort to using a kitchen glove or towel to make it more comfortable, but this should not be an issue with cookware of this quality.
All-Clad Buying Advice
It is less expensive to buy a set than to buy individual pieces, and sets are great for people just starting out in their own home or if you want to give the ultimate wedding gift for friends who like to cook. An All-Clad 10-piece traditional stainless cookware set runs about $700, and you can get the All-Clad d5 10-piece set for about $900. If you already own a variety of cookware, however, it may make more sense to buy one or two versatile pieces, such as a 2-quart saucepan ($165) and a 12-inch skillet ($125).
And for those who are concerned with where their products are produced (the majority of “American” cookware is made in China!), you will be happy to know that All-Clad stainless cookware is manufactured in Canonsburg, PA from American steel, so you are supporting the domestic economy and ensuring high quality control.
All the cookware reviews we analyzed mentioned that All-Clad stands by their products and will replace any defective item at no charge, with no questions asked. You can certainly spend less for other brands of clad stainless steel cookware, but if you have the budget for it, All-Clad stainless cookware is a joy to use and will provide you with a lifetime of wonderful cooking experiences.
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