🥇All Clad d3 vs d5: Do you REALLY need 5 layers?

By looking for a comparison of the D3 and the D5 product lines, it’s clear that you trust All clad cookware. In fact, most people do. Together with Demeyere, All clad is one of the “pricier” stainless-steel cookware. Their sets are made of the sturdiest cookware materials you could ever find and this is reflected on their price tags, sadly. The brand has been in the cookware industry for decades now and it’s clear that they have a huge customer base. Would you have thousands of loyal customers backing your products if they were inferior? I doubt.

Back in 1967, when John Ulam (who later came to found All clad) was experimenting with metals, he discovered that alloying them wasn’t exactly the best manufacturing technique. Stainless-steel was shiny, durable and sturdy – all desirable qualities. But, it was no match for aluminium’s (or copper’s) heat conductivity. Copper and aluminium were good conductors of heat but their pans wouldn’t’ last. In his lab, Ulam accidentally discovered a manufacturing technique that would change the game forever, while he was making a small pan for use at home.

The real issue isn’t in how the company was founded, it’s in choosing between the D3 (also referred to as tri-ply) or the D5 product lines. In this, All clad D3 vs D5 post, we’ll look at how both products lines fair and what sets them apart. Isn’t it funny that they have so much in common that we actually need a guide differentiating them? They differ in performance, price, number of items in each set and by design. Before the end of this post (a four minute-read), it will be clear why most shoppers opt for the D3.

All-clad D3 vs D5: pricing

Products in the D5 line are 20% pricier (on average) compared to those in the D3 line. See the Actual prices on Amazon

Comparison chart

 All clad d3All clad d5
Made inUSAUSA
Number of layers35
Cooking surfacestainless-steelstainless-steel
Exteriorpolishedpolished /brushed
Lid/handlesyesyes
induction-safeyesyes
dishwasher-safeyesyes
Warrantylifetimelifetime
Prices
Cheaper
See price on Amazon
Pricier
See price on Amazon

Cooking performance comparison: All clad tri-ply vs D5

All cookware manufactured by All Clad is fully clad. No exceptions. Both the D3 and D5 are made by cladding stainless-steel and aluminium layers. Why do they manufacture cookware this way instead of just making the whole thing out of stainless-steel, aluminium or whatever material they see fit?

You deserve the best. Stainless-steel is the sturdiest cookware material but its heat conductivity could do with some improvement. Each material is used for its superior properties while complimenting what it lacks. Full aluminium pans would heat up really quick. But they would be weak and they would develop so many dents they’d be an eye sore. Ever used aluminium foils? Well, that isn’t the strongest gauge of aluminium you could get but you can see how “flexible” it is. They refer to this “flexibility” as malleability. Imagine cooking eggs on a non-even pan.

Stainless-steel is durable but uneven. It would take long heating up too. In fact, aluminium and steel are on opposite sides on the heat conduction spectrum. In 1967, John Ulam figured out that sandwiching an aluminium layer between two stainless-steel ones made a pan that was durable and heated fast. He was essentially getting the best of both materials.

All clad have been using this cladding technique for decades now and it’s clear that this is a superior manufacturing technique. The D3 and the D5 collections all have a stainless-steel exterior that’s durable and an aluminium core that distributes heat fast to the food you’re making.

How do the D3 and the D5 all clad product lines differ?

The biggest difference between the D3 and the D5 product lines is in the number of layers in each. All D5 cookware have 5 layers while D3 cookware is constructed with 3 layers. The D3 is referred to as the tri-ply while the D5 is referred to as the 5-ply.

all-clad d3 vs d5
photo credits: cookwarehouse.com

When making sets in the D3 line, the standard but rather interesting cladding procedure is applied. A stainless-steel cooking surface is first layered with an aluminium core that improves its heat conduction properties. The third layer is shiny stainless-steel that’s durable and magnetic too. For use with induction cooktops. Each layer serves a distinct purpose. The innermost cooking layer is non reactive and won’t corrode even when you’re cooking with acidic ingredients such as vinegar. The aluminium core is for effective heat distribution while the exterior stainless-steel layer is for aesthetics, durability and use on induction cooktops. So, the D3 sandwich looks like Steel-aluminium-steel

The cladding technique used on the D5 is rather experimental and not an industry standard. There’s a stainless-steel exterior for magnetic conduction and durability too. A stainless-steel cooking surface is used just like with the D3. But, the D5 has one additional aluminium layer making it have two alumium layers at its core. These two layers are separated by a thin steel core. The D5 sandwich looks like steel-aluminium-steel-aluminium-steel. Is this an overkill?

Now that we know that the D3 and the D5 differ by the by number of layers, what difference does this make? When you’re using cookware from the D3 line, you will notice that it heats up faster. The aluminium core absorbs the heat and quickly transfers it to the interior stainless-steel cooking surface. This is advantageous as the pan heats up in a relatively short time.

In the D5 collection however, the heat has to be conveyed through two additional layers before getting to the food. These two extra layers are both advantageous and disadvantageous.

Advantages of the 2 additional layers in the D5 collection

Even heat distribution

There’s a thin steel layer between the two aluminium cores. This barrier is primarily used to ensure that there’s even heat distribution to the cooking surface. There won’t be hot spots or cold spots in the food you’re making. Steel is a lower conductor of heat while aluminium conducts heat well. All clad explains that this patented 5-ply cookware manufacturing technique ensures that there’s lateral heat flow. This is the most efficient way of eliminating hotspots in cookware. Does this mean that the D5 distributes heat evenly while the D3 doesn’t? No. The two extra layers in the D5 just ensures that there’s even heat distribution every single time you’re using their sets.

Heat retention

This is a desirable quality when you’re making soups and dishes that should be simmered over low heat for long. In comparison to the D3, the additional aluminium layer in the D5 product line “locks” in heat after you’re done cooking. This way the food stays warm after cooking. Sometimes you don’t want to serve immediately after cooking and the heat retention is beneficial.

Heat tolerance

The D5 is slower to heat (and at cooling too) in comparison to the D3. When you accidentally turn up the stove too high, the D5 will forgive you but the D3 won’t. You’re more likely to burn or overcook food when using the D3 than when with the D5. Does this mean that’s impossible to overcook food with the D5? No. You just have a larger margin of error.

Durability

The D5 feels tougher than the D3 though they’re both indestructible. Even when misused, either set will still outlive its utility. There won’t be much stability gained from these additional layers in the D5, in all honesty.

Disadvantages of the 2 additional layers in the D5 collection

The D5 takes longer heating up

In comparison to the D3, the D5 takes about 10% longer to heat up. Of course, this isn’t a significant difference but when you need to make quicks after waking up late and the pan isn’t heating up, you’ll be mad.

Slower response

Heat changes aren’t conveyed quickly to the food when your cooking with the D5. This helps mitigate the risk of overcooking food. But its a disadvantage when you need to make sensitive dishes like scuffles that require precise immediate temperature adjustments.

The D5 is heavier

The two additional layers in the D5 definitely contribute to its weight, For comparison the 12 inch frying pan in the D5 set weighs 4 pounds and 4 ounces (with the lid) while a similar pan in the D3 line is just 4 pounds. Cookware weight often determines how comfortable they feel and manoeuvrability when cooking.

In a nutshell, both are great performers. Their quality is unmatched. This is why tens of thousands of chefs around the globe back All clad. At first you may not notice any significant difference between the D3 (tri-ply) or the D5(5 ply). But with time, you will start to appreciate the reliability that All Clad cookware come with. You’ll even wonder how you were cooking without either.

Design: comparison between All clad tri-ply and 5-ply

Design wise, you will notice three differences between the D3 and the D5 a first glance. These differences are in their lids, the rims and in the handles.

Exterior

The tr-ply comes with the conventional polished stainless-steel exterior characteristic of All clad cookware. It has a beautiful glow that will complement your kitchen’s décor. The D5 on the other hand comes in a brushed matte exterior. If you’re looking for cookware with a contemporary feel to it, you will fall in love with the D5. With the D5, you get to choose between a matte dull exterior or the traditional shiny stainless-steel exterior. There’s no matte option with the D3. Of course, this is only an aesthetical feature and doesn’t impact on its cooking performance. They are beautiful though. See for yourself

Please note that with the D5, you can either buy individual pieces with the polished exterior. However, the brushed exteriors pieces cannot be bought individually and you have to get the whole set. You CANNOT get D3 cookware with a brushed exterior. Not as individual pieces. Not as the whole set.

Handles and lid

Both collections have stainless-steel handles securely riveted to the unit at multiple points. That’s their similarity. However, the handles on the D5 are slightly larger than in the D3 perhaps for better grip. The handles on the tri-ply are smoother as they don’t have the All clad logo engraved there.

all clad d3 or d5
Photo credits:williams-sonoma.com

Theoretically. The larger (and heavier) handles on the D5 would make grabbing it comfortable and easier but you won’t feel any difference when cooking. There’s no difference in terms of cooking performance or durability.

Flaring on the cookware’s rim

They both have flared rims for easy and mess free pouring. The flare on the D5 is more pronounced compared to that of the tri-ply. You will notice that all pieces in the D5 set have flared rimes. However, with the tri-ply, only the pans, skillets and saucepans have flares on their rims. The D3’s stockpots and saucepans all have straight edges and these aren’t the easiest to pour liquids from.

The flared rims have more to do with functionality and less of aesthetics. Eggs, soups sauces and just about anything is easier to slide off from a flared rim. Flared edges are kind of a double-edged sword. They make pouring food easier but it’s a challenge containing the food. Eggs and pancakes may just slide off the pan while you’re flipping them.

all clad d3 or d5 better
photo credits: williams-sonoma.com

Product options

All clad has various product lines and we’ve been comparing the D3 (tri-ply) against the D5 lines today. There are other product series within these product lines too, distinguished by minimal features.

D3 product options

There are three product series in this line and the first is the most bought

D3 Stainless-steel

This was their first line and it’s still the best seller UpToDate. The original cladded D3 stainless-steel line is used in thousands of homes in the United States. All clad has 54 options in this category and among them are sets ranging from 6 to 10 pieces. 50 Pieces in this line can be bought individually.

Click to view them on Amazon

 

D3 compact

There’s isn’t much aesthetic difference between the D3 stainless-steel and the D3 Compact line. The Comact line is a “modernized” version of the classic stainless-steel line. These pieces are designed to be stacked over each other. Perhaps suggesting that they’re built for the contemporary kitchen where cupboard real estate is valuable. Pieces in the D3 stainless-steel line come with straight handles but those in the compact series come with curved handles. There are only 6 products in the D3 compact line but you’ll find them valuable if storage space is the biggest consideration.

Click to go to Amazon

 

D3 Armor

Think of a stainless-steel cooking layer with bumps engraved onto it for quick release. Stainless-steel is durable and scratch-les, but its non stick properties could do with some improvements. The bumps help in sliding off food. There aren’t many options in the D3 Armor line either. The pieces available are all pans.

all clad d3 armor

 

Product variations in the D5 line

D5 brushed

This is arguably the most beautiful set from All clad. The matte exterior will surely draw in compliments from guests if they happen to get into your kitchen. A few forum users argue out that the dull matte exterior is better at hiding scratches than a polished surface. I’ve been using polished cookware all my life and I know that those unsightly scratches come off with steel wool (and some elbow grease). As long as you take good care of your cookware, it won’t lose its shiny, gorgeous exterior. There are 26 brushed exterior D5 products and among them are 5 to 15 piece sets. You can get individual pieces too

D5 polished

It’s basically the same cookware as with the brushed line except that it has a polished stainless steel exterior instead. There are 33 individual pieces and you can’t be them as a set either. If you need a set, you’ll have to order the individual pieces separately. Individual pieces are often pricier than getting the whole set but there’s room for customization. If you don’t want a fish frying pan, don’t get one. From what I think, the D5 polished line is meant for customers that want to experience the advantages of 5-ply cookware without having to own the whole set. Perhaps you may get a 5-ply stockpot and get a few D3 stainless-steel pans instead as they tend to heat up faster. 

Pricing

The D3 or the D5, both are hefty investments. It’s more of a financial choice. Would you rather get high-quality cookware that has a lifetime warranty or spend more, in the long run, buying different sets over the years? With their lifetime warranty, you’re sure that You’ll be saving money by getting All clad cookware.

The D3 stainless-steel and D3 compact variations come at almost the same cost. However, the D3 armor variant is pricier perhaps because of its textured surface. The D5 polished and the D5 brushed lines have almost similar pricing too. But, note that you can only buy the polished series as individual pieces. They are not sold as a whole set. Individual pieces tend to be more expensive than the whole set. The D5 brushed line will be cheaper if you’re getting the whole set. Get individual pieces from the polished line instead.

Summary: Should you buy All clad D3 or D5

They’re both great but they differ in performance, pricing and design. What factors do you give weight to when choosing cookware?

If it’s performance you’re after, the D3 will heat up faster than the D5. The D5 is forgiving and you won’t overcook or burn the food when you accidentally turn up the stove way too high. The D5 isn’t responsive to temperature changes. But it will keep the food warmer for longer after you’re done cooking.

If its precise temperature control you’re after, then the D3 is the right set for you. If you’re great at multitasking and can cook 10 dishes at the same time, then the D5 is for you. It will forgive you if you forget to stir food.

Don’t ignore aesthetics altogether, the brushed exterior on the D5 brushed variant looks great but you’ll quickly get used to it. You will be owning this set for decades and you want something you won’t get sick of seeing.

You may not notice the huge difference between the handles on the D3 line and those of the D5 line. However, the real difference is in the exterior. You can get a dull, brushed matte exterior in the D5 but this isn’t available with the D3.

Of priicng, both are expensive. D5 products cost about 20% more than D3 ones. If you’re looking for a “one-size-fits-all” recommendation. Get the D3. It heats up fast, has even heat distribution, wont scratch overtime and is almost indestructible. If there isn’t massive cupboard space the All clad D3 compact will stack up nicely in your cupboard using minimal space. All all clad products are available on Amazon. Check features, compare prices and see reviews from other buyers.