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Le Creuset vs All Clad Cookware

Le Creuset vs All Clad, these two are biggest name in the high end cookware industry. But the big question is, who makes the best cookware? I will say this, due to the metal used, the performance in heat conduction will automatically go to all clad. However, there is more to a cookware than just performance. The color, the shape and the design are all important. This comparison will go through each aspect of the cookware and we will see if one is better than the other.

Le Creuset vs All Clad Quick Summary

Best Cookware Categories
Le Creuset Dutch Oven

All Clad Copper Core Skillet
PerformanceGoodExcellent
ColorsWide RangeBrushed and Polished
Brand AwarenessKnown Around the WorldAmerica
WeightHeavyMid Weight
Metals and MaterialsEnamel Cast Iron, Ceramic and Stainless SteelStainless Steel, Aluminum, Copper
ThoughtsThe Dutch Oven are the star of the show. Because of the metals used, they are best suited for braising and retaining temperature. The design, color and heat retention makes it a great choice for serving on the table top. No other company has the reputation and design that Le Creuset has.All Clad Copper Skillet is the best choice in their line up. It has a well designed shape and its perfect for searing and making sauces. The metal used will perform better than Le Creuset. However, All Clad does not have the same flair that Le Creuset has, it does not serve the function of center piece. If you are entertaining people Le Creuset would be better.
Recommended Reviewed CookwareDutch OvenCopper Core Skillet


History

Le Creuset

All Clad vs Le Creuset

Le Creuset is a french manufacturer of enameled cast iron cookware. It was founded in 1925 by two Armand Desaegher and Octave Aubecq. The original color, which is the volacanic flame is their most popular color. Ever since then, their cookware is known as the best cookware in the industry. Le Creuset have also expanded their produce line to various utensils and bakeware but those are usually produced offshore.

All Clad

All Clad is a America manufacturer of cookware. It was founded by John Ulam, a metallurgist in 1967. Although their original purpose was to produce coins for the US mint, they have shifted manufacturing to produce cookware. They have also started to produce various cookware utensils like tongs or spatula but those are made offshore as well.

All Clad Saucier

Le Creuset vs All Clad Metal

Before we get into the review, it is important to understand the metal that these two manufacturer use. This will give you an idea on how one cookware will perform over the other.

Le Creuset

Le Creuset cookware primarily consists of a enamel cast iron. This is what they are most known for. However, the issue with cast iron is that its a poor conductor of heat. If you compare the thermal conductivity of cast iron to aluminum, you can see that it is at least 4 times better than cast iron. As such, when heating and eliminating heat spot, cast iron simply cannot win. What makes it worse is the enamel coating. In my previous test, I constantly found that the enamel degrades the thermal conductivity of the cookware.
The advantage that cast iron has is the sheer mass of the metal. This mass means that it can retain heat a lot better than aluminum. This makes it great for searing food and preventing it from steaming.

Le Creuset ss Pan

In general, aluminum is a better metal to use for cooking then cast iron. To try and appeal to this market, Le Creuset have made a line of Stainless steel cookware that is suppose to compete with the likes of All Clad. Whether it is better or not, that depends on the person. But this line of cookware is made in Portugal. It also doesn’t seem like a lot of marketing have went into this segment of cookware.

All Clad

All Clad primary metal used is their famous claded cookware. Typically it is a sandwiched stainless steel with a aluminum core. Their upper model has 5 to 7 layers of this same metal configuration. In their copper core line, they have a copper in the center. Finally, their HA1 line are hard anodized aluminum, but those are made in China. In general, the metal used by all clad is more diverse and thermal conductive than those of Le Creuset. In terms of heat up time and heat spot, All Clad will almost unanimously win. However, for heat retention, Le Creuset will win simply due to its mass.

Le Creuset vs All Clad Colors

Colors is in reference to the different color available by the manufacturer. This also refers to the appearance of the bare metal finish that different manufacturer employs.

Le Creuset (Winner)

Hands down, you cannot beat Le Creuset in terms of the colors available. They have all colors of the rainbow and more. This makes it very attractive for those who enjoy decorating their home. While a lot of people enjoy their iconic volcanic flame, they realize that people who shop their cookware wants more. They will often come out with very limited runs of color. Some of my favorite limited edition would be the sakura design or even more recently the Star Wars theme design. I personally believe this is why Le Creuset is so successful, they manage to capture the market of those who like to decorate their kitchen. Which is pretty much most of those who like kitchenware.

Le Creuset Doufeu Blue

All Clad

All Clad is a lot more limited in the choice of color. What they basically have is bare metal with different finishes. One of it is polished stainless steel, it is finished to a point where you can use it as a mirror. They also have brushed aluminum and stainless steel. The Aluminum looks more like a stone grey and the brushed stainless steel look like a metallic grey. Their copper core line is finished with a stainless steel exterior with a copper band showing. That bare copper band does nothing but show off its copper. It provides no function other than that. The ha1 is the only black finished cookware that they have. Those are made in China though.
This is by no means bad, I find their cookware to be very pleasing to the eye. However, they do not have the range and variety that Le Creuset has.

All Clad D5

Le Creuset vs All Clad Performance

Performance means how fast the cookware heats up, provide even heat and retain heat. This was touched upon at the metal portion but we will actually provide test results for this category.
To test the how well it distribute heat and how well it heats up, I perform a toast test where I place a piece of toast in the center than weight it down with a meat pounder. I heat up the pan for a total of 2-3 min then see the color of the toast. For the All Clad pans, I only used 2 minutes.

Le Creuset

In spite of what most people claim, cast iron cookware are very poor conductor of heat. If you look at the test result below for their skillet, you can see that it conducts heat very poorly. I had to increase my test time to 3 minute in order to give any coloring to the toast. Not only that, there are big issues in regard to the heat distribution. There is big heat spots on the upper region of the toast. The lower region will remain unbrowned. This isnt something you really want when searing food.
Le Creuset Toast Test
The enamel coating is also correlated with degraded performance. I tested the skillet by lodge which has no enamel coating. That result showed that it performed better than Le Creuset. Although the enamel protects the cast iron from rusting, it takes away the heat conductivity cast iron.
Lodge Toast Test
In terms of non stick, it is poor, its not bare cast iron. It wont take on the same seasoning property of bare cast iron. Although I have heard of enamel coating building up seasoning, test results from publication like Cook Illustrated have shown that it does not perform well.
Le Creuset Enamel Cast Iron out performs in the area of heat retention. Because of the weight of the pan, it is able to hold a lot of heat. This means that the chance of the pan cooling when you drop food in is reduced.
Their newer line of stainless steel cookware does perform better than their cast iron line. However, it doesn’t seem to be picking up as much traction as their enamel cast iron line.

All Clad (Winner)

All Clad on the other hand tries to use the best metal available for their cookware. While most of their cookware uses an aluminum core, their high end line uses a copper core. That pan actually heats up the fastest and provide the best heat distribution. If you look below, their d5 cookware actually provides a pretty decent heat distribution and heats up fast.
All Clad d5 Toast Test
Looking at the copper core pan, the heat distribution is near perfect. There is very little hot spot and it provides an even sear on the toast. This is something that you simply do not get with Le Creuset.

All Clad Copper Core Toast Test

In terms of heat retention, it does not perform as well as Le Creuset. All Clad tries to combat this with their d7 line which has even more layers their d5 line. This is the pan to get if you are trying to match the heat retention properties of Cast Iron.
In terms of sticking, I would say that Le Creuset is slightly better. If you do not know how to cook with stainless steel, everything will stick. It is never recommended to cook delicate food with stainless steel until you know how it works.

Le Creuset vs All Clad Weight

This answer to this should be obvious now. Le Creuset is heavier than the likes of All Clad. Whether this is good or bad depends on the user. Most people do not like how heavy cast iron pans are. But that weight gives it the ability to retain heat. In pots like dutch oven, this heavy heat retaining property is actually beneficial. It is also great when you sear steak. However, for this ergonomic purpose, most people who prefer a relatively light pan that All Clad has. Although theirs is not as light as those of T-Fal, they are a good weight for its class. Le Creuset stainless steel line will have similar weight to those of All Clad d3 line.

Le Creuset vs All Clad Reputation

While reputation wont affect performance, some people do like the status and prestige that cookware gives. This is important when you are giving gifts to individuals, they will be more impressed by reputation rather than performance. Having said that, Le Creuset is known as THE cookware manufacturer. If you think of high end cookware, people think of Le Creuset. While All Clad is starting to pick up the same recognition that Le Creuset has, they are simply not as well known. People will ohh and ahhh at Le Creuset but if they see All Clad, they will just see it as another pan. Another factor to consider is that French Cookware is king. In the cookware industry, most people like all things french, America not so much.

Thoughts

While this comparison might paint Le Creuset as inferior. It really depends on the purpose of the cookware. What Le Creuset is most well known for is their Dutch Oven. In this instance, heat retention is more important than anything else. When you bake and when you serve soup, you want something that will keep it hot. With more conductive metal like Aluminum, the heat will be lost faster to the surrounding.
For things like skillets, I recommend All Clad, they simply heat up faster and sear food better. If you want something that has the heat retention property of Cast Iron, I recommend just getting the d7 line, that will sear better and retain heat similar to those of cast iron.
Finally, while it may look superficial, appearance does matter. All Clad does look nice, but it does not give the home feeling that Le Creuset provide. The colors of Le Creuset can simply match any household better than All Clad.



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