All-Clad D5 vs. Copper Core

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This article compares the All-Clad D5 vs. Copper Core cookware sets. The Copper Core collection is elegant and performs well, yet the D5 set is more affordable and easier to maintain.

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If I were to ask 100 people for the top name in stainless steel cookware, I’m guessing most would answer, “All-Clad.” This reputation for quality and American craftsmanship is why home cooks and professional chefs choose All-Clad.

In this article, I’ll look at two of All-Clad’s more popular cookware lines, the D5 and Copper Core collections. I’ll break down their differences and similarities, as well as give you the scoop on what consumers say.

At a Glance

I found the All-Clad Copper Core collection to be elegant and have superior performance. But it’s heavy, expensive, and more challenging to maintain.

I like the All-Clad D5 for everyday cooks, but it doesn’t have the iconic copper core layer shining through. It’s also susceptible to damage in the dishwasher.

There are lots of considerations. These factors are what determine which set is the best for each individual.

In the battle of All-Clad D5 vs. Copper Core, which one will prevail and earn a spot in your kitchen? Keep reading to find out.

Things to Consider Before Buying Multi-Ply and Copper Core Cookware

Multi-ply cookware means there are multiple metal layers throughout the body of the pan.

Don’t get this confused with impact-bonded cookware, which are pans that have a metal disc attached to the bottom in order to make them more heat conductive and compatible with induction cooktops.

Many cookware brands use terms like “multi-ply” or “multi-clad” quite liberally. So if you want true multi-ply cookware that has layers throughout the pan, be sure to check the product description.

Multi-clad (or fully-clad) cookware typically has a stainless steel exterior and cooking surface, with layers of conductive aluminum and/or copper in between.

All Clad D5 Layers. Two outer layers of stainless steel, 2 inner layers of aluminum and an innermost layer of stainless steel

The most basic multi-clad cookware has three layers (i.e., tri-ply). But other cookware, like the All-Clad cookware in this article, features five layers of metal.

These layers pack a lot of performance. Copper and aluminum are both highly conductive metals that help a pan respond to heat changes quickly and efficiently. The stainless steel layers are non-reactive and distribute heat evenly. Stainless steel also provides durability and scratch resistance.

Essentially, multi-clad cookware provides all the benefits of different metals by combining them into one pan.

All-Clad D5 vs. Copper Core Review: Product Reviews

All-Clad Brushed D5 10-Piece Stainless Cookware Set

First up is the All-Clad D5 Stainless Steel cookware set. It comes in a brushed stainless steel finish and includes the following pieces:

  • 8-inch (20.32 cm) and 10-inch (25.4 cm) fry pans
  • 1.5-quart (1.42 liters) and 3-quart (2.84 liters) covered sauce pans
  • 3-quart (2.84 liters) sauté pan with lid
  • 8-quart (7.57 liters) stockpot with lid

This set has five alternating layers of stainless steel and aluminum. The aluminum layers are for rapid heat conduction, while the stainless steel layers are for even heat distribution. Together, these layers offer exceptional performance.

Customers were very happy with the All-Cad D5 cookware set. They liked the even heating, the cooking performance, and the versatility. They weren’t crazy about All-Clad’s customer service, however.

All-Clad Copper Core 5-Ply Bonded Cookware Set, 10-Piece

Next up is the All-Clad Copper Core Bonded Cookware Set. I reviewed the Copper Core set and found it to have excellent durability and even heating. This collection comes in a polished finish with a copper ring accent and includes the following 10 pieces:

  • 8-inch (20.32 cm) and 10-inch (25.4 cm) fry pans
  • 2-quart (1.89 liters) and 3-quart (2.84 liters) covered saucepans
  • 3-quart (2.84 liters) sauté pan with lid
  • 8-quart (7.57 liters) stockpot with lid

The Copper Core set has a stainless steel exterior and interior cooking surface. The thick copper core is surrounded by an aluminum layer on either side. This copper layer provides rapid heating and precise heat control, while the aluminum provides extra heat conduction.

Customers loved the even heat distribution of the copper core model.

Watch this short review of the Copper Core Collection:

All-Clad D5 vs. Copper Core: Feature Comparison

Included Pieces

These All-Clad sets contain almost identical pieces. They both have two fry pans, two sauce pans, a covered sauté, and a covered stockpot.

The only difference is in the smaller saucepan. While the D5 set comes with a 1.5-quart (1.42 liters) option, the Copper Core collection has a 2-quart (1.89 liters) pan.

It’s a small difference, for sure, but I like having the extra room. So for that reason, I give the Copper Core set the win in this category.

Winner: All-Clad Copper Core

Construction

Both All-Clad D5 and Copper Core cookware feature a five-ply construction. They both have stainless steel layers on the exterior and the interior cooking surface. Finally, they both feature flared rimes for drip-free pouring.

The key difference is when you move to the core. The D5 cookware set features alternating layers of stainless steel and aluminum. The stainless steel core is surrounded by two layers of aluminum, which is encased in the outer stainless steel.

The Copper Core collection, however, swaps out that stainless steel core for a thick copper core. The core layer of copper is then surrounded by two aluminum layers and the stainless steel exterior.

All Clad Copper Core has 5 layers

While both the copper core line and D5 line have excellent construction, some customers did experience sharp edges with the D5 cookware set. This happens when the aluminum layer recedes, leaving sharp edges from the stainless steel.

This problem was not widespread among D5 users, but it does mean that in terms of construction? All-Clad D5 vs. Copper Core has a clear winner.

Winner: All-Clad Copper Core

Heating & Cooking Performance

The All-Clad D5 and Copper Core sets offer some of the best heat distribution. This was actually the most-praised feature among users. They raved about the even heating, even at low to medium heat.

As far as cooking performance? Users couldn’t be more pleased. They loved the heat responsiveness of both the All-Clad D5 and Copper Core collections. Several even said their food tasted better when using these cookware sets.

Users had issues with food sticking to both sets, but this may have been due to using the pans on high heat or not preheating the pan. And of course, using oil or butter is a must with a stainless steel interior cook surface.

Overall, though? Both pans produced excellent results.

Winner: Draw

Stovetop Compatibility

The All-Clad Copper Core and D5 cookware sets have an exterior of ferromagnetic stainless steel, making them compatible with all stovetops, including induction cooktops.

User reviews backed up this claim, as well. Several customers said they had success with using the copper core on an induction stovetop. Those who went with the D5 set also had the same success with very few exceptions.

If you’re worried about stovetop compatibility, you should have no problems with either the D5 or Copper Core set.

Winner: Draw

Oven Safety

Both All-Clad sets are oven-safe up to 600°F (315°C). Need to use them under the broiler? No problem. They’re broiler-safe, too.

An Oven. This is ideal for drying cast iron

Customers were able to use both sets of All-Clad cookware in the oven at a range of normal cooking temperatures. They liked using these pots and pans for stovetop-to-oven dishes and for browning.

But if you were hoping for a clear winner for oven safety? There isn’t.

Winner: Draw

Handles and Lids

The All-Clad D5 and Copper Core cookware sets have stainless steel lids and handles. The dual-riveted stainless steel handles are designed to stay cool while cooking. The lids are not vented or see-through, but they are oven-safe and tight-fitting to lock in heat and moisture.

Reviews on the lids and handles were definitely mixed for both cookware collections. Several said the handles stayed cool, while others said they quickly got hot. Some loved the snug-fitting lids, while a few said they wished they were vented.

The one complaint that was consistent among both sets was in regards to the handle comfort. Many customers said the handles were not comfortable. And since both sets have some heft to them, this discomfort becomes even more noticeable.

But there isn’t any noticeable difference between the two sets, so there isn’t a clear winner.

Winner: Draw

Ease of Cleaning

The Copper Core set is hand wash only. The D5 set is labeled as dishwasher-safe, but I wouldn’t go near a dishwasher with either of these All-Clad cookware sets. Neither of these collections is the type to just toss in the dishwasher and forget it.

For both lines, hand washing is best. For stains and stubborn marks, use Bar Keeper’s Friend to clean and restore shine. Some people also like to use vinegar for a natural alternative.

With that being said, the All-Clad Copper Core set requires more maintenance, especially with the copper ring accent. People were frustrated with the fading and discoloration of that ring, while the D5 customers didn’t have that issue.

So for that reason, the All-Clad D5 set prevails in this category.

Winner: All-Clad D5

Appearance

While the D5 set comes in a brushed stainless steel finish, the Copper Core set features a mirror-polished finish with a visible copper ring.

Out of the box, the Copper Core is uniquely beautiful. User reviews raved about the elegant copper ring and shiny finish.

However, this exterior layer was also a major complaint. Several people said the copper lost color or tarnished over time. Even those who didn’t mind the fading admitted that the ring was very difficult to keep clean and shiny.

The D5, while still a lovely set, doesn’t have quite the level of eye-catching beauty vs. Copper core. However, the D5 collection will hold its matte finish for a much longer time, and it will be easier to maintain.

So when it comes to appearance, which one wins, D5 vs. Copper Core? For short-term appearance, I’d go with the Copper Core. For the long-term, I’d rather have the D5.

Winner: Draw

Cost

If you’re on a strict budget, you won’t find either of these All-Clad sets accommodating. However, there is a significant price difference between the two. The D5 is pricey, but the Copper Core is much more expensive. This comes as no surprise, since copper

Winner: All-Clad D5

All-Clad D5 vs. Copper Core: Are There Alternatives?

All-Clad D3 Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Cookware Set, 10-Piece

Another of All-Clad’s most popular cookware collections is the Tri-Ply D3 Cookware Set. It has the same 10 pieces as the other All-Clad sets but with only three layers of metal. The exterior stainless steel layer and cooking surface surround an aluminum core.

It has a similar design to the Copper Core and D5 sets. Stainless steel handles, stainless steel lids, flared rims for easy pouring, oven-safe to 600°F (315°C), and superb heat distribution.

If you want the quality of All-Clad Multi-Ply cookware but can’t stomach the price of the All-Clad Copper Core or D5 cookware sets, this Tri-Ply D3 set is a great alternative.

Anolon Nouvelle Stainless Steel Pots and Pans Set, 10 Piece

This 10-piece set by Anolon has a stunning look, with European tulip-shape flared rims and a copper accent. It’s not full-clad, so the copper core does not extend throughout the body of the cookware.

Instead, it has an impact-bonded base with five layers and a copper core to provide better heat control. It has a stainless steel body and cooking surface. This Anolon Nouvelle set is also dishwasher-safe and oven-safe to 500°F (260°C).

With this Anolon set, you’ll sacrifice some of the rapid and even heating of the All-Clad D5 and Copper Core sets. But you’ll also save a large chunk of cash. That’s why I like this set as a good bargain alternative to All-Clad.

FAQs

Why Choose Copper?

There are several reasons why someone might choose copper pans for their cooking needs.

For starters, copper is superb at conducting heat, which helps make cooking more efficient. Copper has excellent heat distribution, so you don’t have to worry about hot spots.

Secondly, copper offers accurate heat control, which is excellent for adjustable cooking methods, like the brown and braise method, for example.

Lastly, copper is hygienic and brings an elegant, timeless look to any kitchen. Copper cookware is beautiful cookware.

But copper does come with drawbacks. Copper is highly reactive, so it’s not the ideal cooking surface. This is why you’ll find copper core cookware, with the copper layer housed inside layers of other, non-reactive metals.

Copper is also higher maintenance. Tarnishing is a common problem and requires some time and elbow grease to prevent or treat. Lastly, copper is expensive. Copper core pots and pans will run significantly more expensive than both aluminum and stainless steel pans.

Is a Copper Core or Aluminum Core Better?

That depends. If you want the most precise heat control? Choose copper layers. Copper has significantly more heat conduction than aluminum, so a copper layer makes a pan highly responsive to changes in heat.

But if you have trouble lifting a lot of weight? An aluminum layer is a better choice. It’s lighter weight than copper, so it’s easier to lift. Another bonus? Aluminum is way more affordable, making it lighter on the wallet, too.

Either of these metals will make for a conductive, high-performing pan. It just depends on which feature is the most important to you.

How to Care for Multi-Clad and Copper Core Cookware

For both the D5 and copper core collections, it’s essential to properly use and care for this cookware. It will maximize performance, avoid damage, and keep your cookware in tip-top shape as long as possible.

One of the most important tips? Preheat your pan and only cook on low to medium heat. Because both copper and aluminum are highly conductive, it’s not necessary to crank up the stove to heat your pans.

What’s more? Using high heat is more likely to damage a pan, or at a minimum cause food to stick to the stainless steel cooking surface.

Even if a multi-clad pan is technically dishwasher-safe, it’s best to wash these pans by hand. The dishwasher is notorious for causing sharp edges to form, scratching, or otherwise damaging a pan.

All-Clad D5 vs. Copper Core Cookware: The Final Word

When it comes to All-Clad D5 vs. Copper Core, which one is the best? While the All-Clad Copper Core Collection is stunning, it’s also significantly more expensive than the All-Clad D5 set. Plus, I didn’t find a big difference in the cooking performance.

If you have your heart set on copper and have the extra room in your budget, get the All-Clad Copper Core Cookware Set.

If you don’t care about the copper accent, have a tighter budget, or need something lighter weight, get the All-Clad D5 cookware set.

But rest easy. Either way, All-Clad D5 vs. Copper Core, you’ll be getting an excellent cookware set that performs beautifully in the kitchen.