For a lot of people, All-Clad is synonymous with stainless steel cookware. This heavyweight brand has been leading the industry with its made-in-America stainless steel cookware since the 1970s.
On the other hand, you can’t find a brand better known for its beauty and high-quality cookware than Le Creuset. This French cookware company has been turning out iconic enameled cast iron Dutch ovens since 1925. Perhaps less known is that Le Creuset also makes a line of stainless steel cookware.
To make a fair comparison I’ve decided to pit Le Creuset’s stainless steel against All Clad’s standard range. All Clad doesn’t make enameled cookware, and it’s hard to compare enamel with steel.
The two brands offer unique advantages. But which one is right for you? Keep reading to find out.
At a Glance
When it comes to All-Clad vs. Le Creuset, you can rest assured that both brands offer excellent cookware. If you need a quick breakdown of the features, use the chart below:
|Specialty||Enameled Cast Iron Cookware||Stainless Steel Cookware|
|Where It’s Made||France||USA|
|Stainless Steel Line||Signature SS Tri-Ply||D3 Tri-Ply Stainless Steel|
|Max Oven Safe Temp||500°F/260°C||600°F/315°C|
What to Consider Before Buying Stainless Steel Cookware
Stainless steel is an alloy of steel with 10.5% or more of chromium. Chromium is what makes stainless steel non-reactive, by combining with oxygen and forming a layer of chromium oxide, which prevents rust. The higher the chromium content, the higher the corrosion resistance.
The most common type of stainless steel used in cookware is 304 stainless steel. The two most popular types are 18/10 and 18/8, which refer to the chromium and nickel content, respectively. So, 18/10 means the stainless steel has 18% chromium and 10% nickel.
All-Clad’s D3 tri-ply stainless steel cookware features 18/10 steel. Le Creuset’s product description isn’t as clear about the type of steel, but from what I can tell, it also features 18/10 stainless steel.
There are several advantages to using stainless steel cookware.
- It’s durable. It won’t warp, melt, or dent (not easily, anyway!). Unlike a non-stick coating, you can scrub stainless steel. It’s built to last.
- It’s attractive. Stainless steel gives a sleek, timeless, professional look. Even if you aren’t the best cook, you can look like you know what you’re doing with stainless steel pots and pans.
- It’s easy to maintain. You don’t have to season stainless steel cookware. Even when it loses its shine, you can restore it with Bar Keepers Friend.
- It retains heat. Stainless steel has excellent heat retention, which means you don’t have to use as high a heat to cook food. It also is suited for a wide range of cooking methods.
- It’s non-reactive. Unlike aluminum or cast iron, stainless steel is inert and won’t react with acidic food.
- It’s great for searing. Stainless steel is one of the few cookware materials that can handle high enough heat to produce that perfect sear.
- It’s dishwasher-safe. Most stainless steel cookware is dishwasher-safe, although that’s not always the case (such as All-Clad’s Copper Core Collection). Check the product description to make sure.
- It’s cost-effective. Although stainless steel is more expensive than different materials, its durability and versatility mean you get a lot of value out of each and every piece. And unlike Teflon pans, you won’t have to replace your stainless pans each year.
There are some things you should know about using stainless cookware, however. These tips hold true across brands:
- Preheat your steel-based cookware. You should always preheat stainless steel pans. This might sound counterintuitive if you’re used to non-stick, but steel-based cookware is different. It needs to preheat so the microscopic pores won’t draw in the oil and make sticking worse. Learn more about why food sticks to stainless steel cookware.
- Use oil or cooking fat. Stainless is not non-stick, so it needs some type of cooking oil or butter. If you’re watching your fat intake, use a small amount.
- Don’t overdo it on heat. Even though stainless steel cookware can withstand high heat, that doesn’t mean you should use it. Too high a heat can make sticking worse. I usually preheat on medium-high and then turn it down a little after adding food.
- Deglazing is your friend. After the food cooks, it might stick to the pan. When this happens, add a little liquid (broth, water, or oil, depending on the recipe) to the pan. The liquid will loosen up any frond (cooked bits) from the pan and add richness and depth of flavor to the dish. Seriously, deglazing is the way to go!
About Le Creuset
Le Creuset began in 1925 in Fresnoy le Grand, France. Le Creuset was founded by Arman Desaegher and Octave Aubecq, two Belgian industrialists who came up with the idea of covering cast iron in a colorful glaze. This enamel coating made the Dutch oven more functional, beautiful, and versatile.
Le Creuset used a flame-orange color for their first enameled Dutch oven (a.k.a. cocotte). Since then, the brand has added a multitude of colors to its collection. Choose from a wide range of colors, including rose, teal, meringue, cerise, and artichaut. Some colors have a two-tone gradient that fades from light to dark.
The company also manufactures more than just Dutch ovens. You can find crocks, braisers, casserole dishes, tagines, and dinnerware.
Le Creuset prides itself on quality. Each piece is still handcrafted in France with only premium materials. The rigorous production process means each piece is inspected by 15 people before it leaves the factory.
Le Creuset products are covered by a limited lifetime guarantee.
All-Clad Metalcrafters was started in 1971 by metallurgist John Ulam. Before then, aluminum cookware was extremely popular for its easy handling, low cost, and quick response to heating. However, people complained about the metallic taste aluminum gave their food. In addition to aluminum’s reactivity, it’s also susceptible to warping and less durable.
Stainless steel’s scratch resistance and durability made it an attractive alternative to aluminum cookware. There was only one problem.
Stainless steel is slow to heat.
So John Ulam combined the two metals into one pan that cooked food more evenly while being non-reactive, warp-resistant, and scratch-resistant. The rest, as they say, is history.
The company has changed ownership multiple times since John Ulam’s passing in 1989. All-Clad is now owned by the French consortium Groupe SEB. All-Clad makes all its stainless steel cookware with American-made steel in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.
I should note that All-Clad now manufactures a portion of its product line in China. This does not include their premium stainless steel cookware, which is still made in America. It does, however, include all non-stick collections and single-layer items such as steamer baskets, lids, and more.
All-Clad vs. Le Creuset Cookware: Overview
Even though Le Creuset specializes in enameled cast iron cookware, this Le Creuset Tri-Ply Stainless Steel 10-Piece Cookware Set has all the quality and craftsmanship you would expect from the iconic French brand. Here are the pieces you get with this cookware set:
- 10-inch fry pan (25 cm)
- 2-quart saucepan (1.89 liters)
- 4-quart saucepan (3.79 liters)
- 3-quart sauté pan (2.84 liters)
- 9-quart stockpot (8.5 liters)
- Deep colander insert
All-Clad cookware comes in several types, but the All-Clad D3 Tri-Ply Cookware Set is one of the most popular cookware sets. It’s considered the “Everyday” line of All-Clad products, but don’t let the label fool you. It has professional chef-type quality. Here’s what comes with this set:
- 8-inch & 10-inch frying pans (20 & 25cm)
- 2-quart saucepan (1.89 liters)
- 3-quart saucepan (2.84 liters)
- 3-quart sauté pan (2.84 liters)
- 8-quart stockpot (7.57 liters)
Both the All-Clad and Le Creuset cookware sets come with 10 pieces, but the exact pieces vary slightly. The All-Clad set includes two frying pans, whereas the Le Creuset set swaps out the extra frying pan for a large colander insert.
Both sets come with a stockpot, sauté pan, and two covered saucepans. But the Le Creuset pieces are larger in volume than the All-Clad cookware set.
If you want the extra volume, go with Le Creuset. Personally, I prefer to have a small frying pan for warming small tortillas and cooking single omelets. For that reason, All-Clad wins this category for me.
All-Clad cookware comes with stainless steel lids that lock in heat and moisture. Because the lids are stainless steel, they can get quite hot. Make sure to use oven mitts or a thick towel when lifting the lid. Another downside is that you can’t see through them to monitor food. However, I prefer the tight fit of these lids. Unlike glass lids, stainless lids don’t get moisture trapped in the rim, so they’re more sanitary.
Le Creuset pans feature stainless steel lids with the iconic three-ring pattern and the brand name embossed on one side. Instead of handles, these lids sport round metal knobs, just like Le Creuset Dutch ovens. Le Creuset lids fit snuggly, and some also have a dimple on the lid to control the steam output.
Overall, both stainless steel collections have solid, tight-fitting lids. There isn’t a clear winner here, so it really comes down to your personal taste.
All-Clad’s handles are permanently secured with steel rivets for long-lasting sturdiness. They are contoured with a U-shape indentation at the top to disperse heat and stay cool.
Unfortunately, one of the top consumer complaints is how uncomfortable the All-Clad handles are. The U-shape is notorious for digging into the palm, making it difficult to maneuver and pour.
Like All-Clad, Le Creuset handles are secured with stainless steel rivets. Le Creuset, however, boasts more comfortable handles with rounded edges and the brand’s logo engraved at the base.
Additionally, the 4-quart (3.79 liters) saucepan has a helper handle, which is convenient for lifting and pouring. Le Creuset specializes in enameled cast iron cookware, so the brand knows a thing or two about making heavy pans easy to lift and maneuver.
When it comes to the handles, I give Le Creuset’s stainless steel collection the edge.
Winner: Le Creuset
All-Clad’s D3 Stainless Steel Collection comes in a polished stainless finish, which is shiny and reflective. The Le Creuset cookware also comes in a mirror-polished exterior finish.
In both cases, you can keep the polish nice and shiny using cleaners like Bar Keepers Friend or Bon Ami.
The only noticeable difference in the appearance has to do with the lids. The All-Clad stainless lids have a wide, rectangular-shaped handle, whereas the Le Creuset lids sport a round stainless steel knob, just like the iconic Le Creuset Dutch oven.
Comparing All-Clad vs. Le Creuset in appearance is sort of like asking if you want a delicious meal or a scrumptious one. They’re both desirable options. In this category, it boils down to personal preference.
Materials & Construction
Le Creuset and All-Clad both make their cookware with a fully clad stainless steel construction. Cladding refers to multiple players of metal that are bonded together. All-Clad got its name from this innovative process.
Multi-clad pans have more than one layer of metal, either in the base or the pan. Fully clad cookware has layers throughout the entire pan, from the base to the sides. Fully clad pans are more expensive, but they last longer and have better cooking performance than those with only an impact-bonded base.
You can read more about cladding in this detailed breakdown of the different constructions of stainless steel cookware.
Both All-Clad and Le Creuset use three layers of metal for their tri-ply stainless steel cookware. Both sets feature a stainless steel exterior base and interior cooking surface, with an aluminum core.
The aluminum core layer improves the cooking performance, minimizing hot spots and speeding up the cooking process. The stainless steel protects the cookware from warping at high temperatures, resists scratches, and improves heat retention. Together, the multiple layers result in excellent heating.
You can’t go wrong with either All-Clad or Le Creuset stainless steel collections. Both distribute heat efficiently and retain heat. Both collections are made from durable materials and undergo strict manufacturing processes to ensure quality.
Stovetop & Oven Compatibility
The All-Clad pans are oven-safe and broiler-safe up to 600°F (315°C), exceeding most ovens’ max temperature of 500°F (315°C). The Le Creuset collections are also oven-safe and broiler-safe up to 500°F (260°C). While Le Creuset’s pans have a lower max temperature, I don’t know of any reason the average home cook would need a temperature higher than that. Either set will work for home kitchens.
When it comes to stovetop compatibility, the All-Clad stainless steel collection can be used on any conventional stovetop, including induction. Likewise, the Le Creuset stainless steel pans can be used on any cooktop, even induction.
There isn’t a huge difference in Le Creuset vs. All-Clad, but I’ll give the advantage to All-Clad for the extra heat resistance.
Both All-Clad and Le Creuset cookware are known for long-lasting performance. The two brands make cookware that can last a lifetime.
Le Creuset and All-Clad offer a limited lifetime warranty on all their cookware.
Ease of Cleaning
The All-Clad and Le Creuset stainless steel cookware sets are both dishwasher-safe. But some consumers have complained about the rims of the All-Clad pans becoming rough after exposure to the high heat and harsh detergents of the dishwasher. When this happens, the stainless steel is essentially wearing down, revealing the aluminum core. The edges become rough, and in the worst cases, sharp. This isn’t something you should expect to happen, but it is a possibility.
Le Creuset gets the advantage.
Winner: Le Creuset
Both All-Clad and Le Creuset are premium cookware brands, and their cookware sells for a premium price tag. Both lines are constructed similarly and come with 10 pieces, so their prices don’t differ drastically.
However, when it comes to this particular stainless steel cookware, the All-Clad D3 Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Set is less expensive than the Le Creuset Tri-Ply Set.
This isn’t the case with the higher-end All-Clad collections. For instance, the D5 and Copper Core collections are pricier than the D3 line. You can read more in my detailed comparison of All-Clad’s D5 vs. D3. You’ll find the Tri-Ply to have more value for your money.
If you want a boost in heating performance and don’t mind a boost in price, you might like the All-Clad Copper Core Cookware Set. This is the high-end of All-Clad products. Instead of three layers, it has five. The two layers of stainless steel, two layers of aluminum, and a copper core. This set comes with 10 pieces, just like the D3 collection.
The two major differences between this All-Clad collection and the Tri-Ply are the additional layers for extra heating efficiency and the beautiful copper accent ring on the exterior.
The even heat distribution is superb. This is fantastic if you want nothing but the best cookware. However, the cost is significantly higher than other cookware sets. Not only that, but the copper ring fades easily and makes the cookware not safe for the dishwasher.
If you’re willing to spend more and wash your pans by hand, the All-Clad Copper Core set is great cookware. However, for most home cooks, the D3 Tri-Ply All-Clad set is sufficient for their cooking needs.
Honestly, the Le Creuset Signature enameled cast iron Dutch oven is the bread and butter of the French company. It’s no surprise that it’s their top seller year after year. It was also my pick as the best Dutch oven for home cooks, beating out powerhouse brands such as Staub.
The enameled cast iron construction has unmatched heat retention and distributes heat evenly. It is slower to heat, but that’s typical with cast iron. This Dutch oven is perfect for soups, stews, chili, baking bread, and so much more. Le Creuset offers the Dutch oven in a wide variety of bright colors.
The enamel coating gives the Dutch oven a naturally stick-resistant, non-reactive cooking surface. It’s also dishwasher-safe and oven-safe up to 500°F (260°C). Even though Le Creuset claims this Dutch oven is safe for metal utensils, I wouldn’t risk it. Stick with silicone or wooden tools.
If you want the best enameled cast iron Dutch oven, Le Creuset makes it.
All-Clad Stainless Steel Collection vs. Le Creuset Cookware: Final Thoughts
If you’re looking for premium stainless steel cookware, you can rest assured that the two brands will deliver in quality, beauty, and durability. If you have to choose between All-Clad vs. Le Creuset stainless steel cookware, I would go with the All-Clad D3 collection for its value and long-lasting performance.
If you want enameled cast iron cookware, go with Le Creuset. But for stainless steel? That’s All-Clad’s specialty, and the brand’s track record is stellar. Furthermore, All-Clad offers other stainless steel collections, so you have choices. Le Creuset only has one set in stainless steel.