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Need advice - American Kitchen vs. All-Clad

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Sean191 Jan 28, 2012 09:38 PM

Hi all,

Need help here. I bought my wife a full set of ManPans for Christmas. Beyond the unfortunate name, the product seemed really nice and well-crafted. But my wife thought they looked a little industrial and the bigger problem was that the handles were not comfortable for her. So, back to the drawing board....

What I was looking for:

1. Health-safe/eco friendly (so no teflon, no regular aluminum in contact with the food....)
2. Durable
3. Comfortable handles
4. Made in U.S.A. if possible....

I read later that the anodized aluminum treatment can wear off over time, so I started looking into the enamel and stainless. Enameled cookware seems to be just for cast iron, so I went to the steel.

I read good things about All-Clad and it seems to meet the requirements, even though it's pricey. Still, we were alright with the price - we found a store nearby and my wife tried them out. The handles were again uncomfortable.

They also had American Kitchen - the handles were comfortable and the set is price much lower.

My big concern - how durable is American Kitchen? Why are they so much less? Will we have them in 20 years?

If the durability is a big difference, we'd gladly go with All-Clad, but the handles being uncomfortable means I might have to go back to the drawing board.....

  1. Chemicalkinetics Jan 28, 2012 09:49 PM

    Sean,

    I do want to point out that many people dislike the original All Clad handle, but now All Clad has "improved" its handle design. Some people still dislike the handle, but fewer. You may want to find out if your wife and you tried the older All Clad or the newer All Clad. It is possible that she hates the old handle, but fine with the new handle. Another option is to learn to use a grab the handle with a kitchen towel. Professional chefs do it all the time.

    I have never owned American Kitchen, but typically speaking, triply cookware are very durable. American Kitchen has several lines of cookware, which line did you look at?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
      s
      Sean191 Jan 28, 2012 10:01 PM

      We looked at the American Kitchen Tri-Ply 10-piece Cookware set. Piece-for-piece, it was a relatively close comparison to what we were looking at for All-Clad. I did know that All-Clad changed the handles, I didn't check to see if we were dealing with the newer though. I think also, the lids weren't made in the U.S. for All-Clad for a short time, but that was rectified, unless I have my facts wrong on that.

      1. re: Sean191
        Chemicalkinetics Jan 28, 2012 10:05 PM

        Because All Clad has just redesigned the handle, there are many older and newer All Clad cookware on the market. It is tough to say which one you have tried:

        http://www.only-cookware.com/images/A...

        Many people dislike All Clad handles, your wife actually belongs to the majority on this opinion.

    2. tanuki soup Jan 28, 2012 10:02 PM

      I really like the Viking 7-layer cookware. Made in Belgium (I believe by Demeyere), but designed in the US. Currently on sale at Cutlery and More.

      http://www.cutleryandmore.com/vcookwa...

      I have no affiliation with C&M, but I did buy my Viking 13" frying pan from them -- I really love it! Very solid, even heating, flat bottom, comfortable handles, pouring lip, oven-safe, induction-capable, not ridiculously expensive. lifetime warranty.

      2 Replies
      1. re: tanuki soup
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        mikie Jan 29, 2012 05:42 AM

        As noted in another post, I found the Viking handles to be much more accommodating than either the old or new AllClad handles. In my quest for a saute pan, I was unable to find American Kitchen in a store to evaluate it, so I'm not much help on that front. Although I would have liked to buy US made, I have no issues purchasing items made in the EU and in fact most of the brands that were on my list were from the EU, only because most brands associated with US companies are now made in China. Give the Viking a test run and see if your wife likes the handles better, the quality is every bit as good as the AC.

        1. re: mikie
          s
          Sean191 Jan 29, 2012 12:54 PM

          I'll take a look into the Viking cookware too, thank you for the suggestion - Viking wasn't on my radar before!

      2. a
        alexander112 Jan 29, 2012 12:33 PM

        All-Clad is the best. I have had two sets for a long time and they are the best for our family. Different pots have different handles and not all of them are comfortable. If you cook, buy All-Clad.

        1 Reply
        1. re: alexander112
          Chemicalkinetics Jan 29, 2012 01:11 PM

          "If you cook, buy All-Clad"

          :)

          So the only time not to buy All Clad is if I don't cook, right?

        2. s
          Sean191 Jan 29, 2012 12:53 PM

          No one has had any experience with American Kitchen good or bad? I'll have to find out which handles were on the All-Clad pots and pans we checked out yesterday.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Sean191
            Chemicalkinetics Jan 29, 2012 01:12 PM

            I have sent you the photos of the new and old handle design. Go back to store and double check what you have tried. If you have already tried the new design, then it will be unlikely that you will like the old one. If you tried the old one, then you still have a glimpse of hope for the new handle.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
              Jay F Jan 29, 2012 05:15 PM

              When you are looking at the All Clad to assess whether you like the handles, make sure you've got something in the pot to represent the full weight you'll be carrying.

              1. re: Jay F
                Chemicalkinetics Jan 29, 2012 05:51 PM

                Good point.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                  Jay F Jan 29, 2012 05:55 PM

                  Until I found this place, it didn't occur to me that the handles could hurt. They don't bother me as much as they do some people, but I have helper handles on 3 out of 4 pieces, and I use them. Still, I was carrying a nearly full skillet of pasta and sauce the other night, and one of those "V" sides really put some strain on my hand.

                  I would like to try a 9.5" Viking skillet. Their handles look a lot like those on that other Belgian brand, Demeyere. I have a 12" All Clad skillet, but now I know it is big for the burner. http://www.cutleryandmore.com/viking-...

                  1. re: Jay F
                    m
                    mikie Jan 29, 2012 07:06 PM

                    There's no doubt All Clad makes an excellent product, I'm a bit surprised when they made the handle change they didn't make a more significant change. It's still a semicircle with a rather sharp edge. My son has had his All Clad pans for several years and he doesn't notice the edge, so I figure it's all in the grip. The Viking handle is also a bit of an inverted semicircle, convave on the top, but the edges are very much rounded over, so for me at least they don't dig into my hand. Viking wasn't really on my radar until tanuki soup brought up that brand on another post. I really don't think there is enough information available on either brand to make a comparison of how they might cook based on metelurgy, assuming you could actually tell the difference. It would appear Viking uses the 7 ply Demeyere technology.

            2. re: Sean191
              e
              ellabee Jan 31, 2012 08:14 PM

              I have had a Regal American Kitchen tri-ply skillet (10") for the last year and would never trade it for an All-Clad. The handle is long and comfortable and arched in a way that lets you do the roll and jerk saute movement with ease. It's just as much of a tank as All-Clad, at a decent price, and I expect to be using it for the next several decades, assuming I'm around.

              I don't like the dimensions of the rest of the AK line as much as I do the skillets, and I already had all the saucepans I needed, but if they suit you I'd have no worries about quality and durability.

            3. s
              sueatmo Jan 30, 2012 07:43 AM

              There are many stainless pans to choose from, so I'd advise taking your time with your next choice. I don't like the All-Clad handles either, or others of the same sort. Since this is an obstacle, why not decide what sort of handle is good, and then look at pans that have the style of handle that works? What I am getting at is this: for me the fat hollow handle is most comfortable. I would buy only stainless that has that sort of handle. Tramontina makes this style, and I've seen a few others also. What handle works for you could be some other sort of characteristic. But since the handle is a deal make or bread, I'd zero in on the right style of handle as the first thing to find. I think you will find things to choose from, even selecting for handle.

              2 Replies
              1. re: sueatmo
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                Sean191 Jan 30, 2012 01:28 PM

                I agree with you on that - and American Kitchen's handle worked. I just don't know how the quality is on that brand. If the quality is good, then there's a winner. If the quality isn't, then I need to verify that the which All-Clad handles we were dealing with, check out Viking, check out some others I guess. I think All-Clad is probably at the top of our budget. My wife cooks every night and she's a good cook, so we want something good, but doesn't need to be professional grade.

                1. re: Sean191
                  luv2putt May 16, 2012 01:11 PM

                  Warranty on American Kitchen is 25 years ...sounds good to me to at least try ..

              2. n
                Nutmegger1 May 16, 2012 05:12 PM

                I recently went through the same decision process and decided to give All-Clad a limited try by investing in one fry pan and one pot. If I like them I'll buy more. I thought long and hard about American Kitchen, though. Here are the reasons I decided to give it a pass.

                First, Regal has only been making AK Tri-Ply since around 2010. It's a small part of their overall business. All-Clad only makes All-Clad and has been doing so since 1971. Regal got its start at the end of WWII making aluminum cookware for the mass market. Through acquisitions (including the 100 year old West Bend Corp) they ended up with a number of premium cookware brands, such as Royal Queen and Saladmaster, that you probably never heard of because they are marketed by direct sales like Tupperware. In fact, in 1999 Regal exited the entry-level retail cookware market to focus on direct sales cookware. This lasted until 2010 when it introduced AK Tri-Ply and two lesser lines. This is all on their website.

                The second reason I did not go with AK Tri-Ply is because the warranty is for only 25 years while all Regal's direct sales brands have lifetime limited warranties, as does All-Clad. It makes me feel as if Regal's commitment to AK is on par with my commitment to All-Clad, i.e., they're just giving it a try. I am replacing 25 year old cookware that I was happy with, except the handles started to go and the company is out of business. So I value a lifetime warranty for a product that has been around for 40 years like All-Clad.

                Third, While Regal is very explicit about the materials used in their direct sales brands, specifying the exact type of stainless, the product information for AK Tri-Ply says, simply, "stainless steel." I know the description on Amazon specifies 18/10 stainless, but you won't find this in the AK Tri-Ply product information on the Regal website or in Regal's AK Tri-Ply promotional video on YouTube. All-Clad, in contrast, explicitly states that their tri-ply cookware is lined with 18/10 stainless. (The outer layer needs to be magnetic to be induction compatible, so it needs a lower nickel content.) As someone wrote in another post, if it's 18/10, the company will publicize it, and if they are silent, it's not an oversight.

                Speaking of oversights, one thing I could not find on the Regal and All-Clad websites is anything that might suggest that either of them is anything but independent. They both were acquired about 6-8 years ago by Groupe SEB (yes, both All-Clad and Regal are owned by the same company), a publicly traded French company that owns a variety of cookware and small appliance manufacturers.

                Hope this helps!

                6 Replies
                1. re: Nutmegger1
                  luv2putt May 17, 2012 09:55 AM

                  actually Allclad does state they were purchased in their history section... http://www.all-clad.com/NR/rdonlyres/...

                  1. re: luv2putt
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                    Nutmegger1 May 18, 2012 06:52 AM

                    Missed that time line at the bottom of the page, but it's another reason for me to feel more comfortable with All-Clad -- I hate it when key facts are not disclosed.

                    Further on the full disclosure issue, it irritates me that Cuisinart quietly removed the 18/10 designation from their multi-clad product even though many retail websites still tout it as 18/10. Calaphon, on the other hand, discloses in their website's FAQ section that their tri-ply cookware is no longer made from 18/10 but that they closely monitor the quality of the stainless used. Both lines are made in China, and I don't think I've seen any 18/10 SS cookware of Chinese origin, so perhaps 18/10 isn't available there. That still doesn't explain why American-made Regal AK stopped using it. Since 18/10 is the least reactive and most corrosion and rust resistant, a fact touted by Regal's high-end direct sales lines, it is a good thing to use on the surface that is in most contact with food.

                    1. re: Nutmegger1
                      luv2putt May 18, 2012 07:27 AM

                      At Costco . Kirkland 13 pc set is labeled 18/10 Stainless and im pretty sure its from China.

                      1. re: Nutmegger1
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                        ellabee May 18, 2012 11:17 AM

                        When Cuisinart MultiClad was 18/10, it was also made in China. It'd be pretty remarkable if 18/10 weren't "available" in China, given the scale of manufacturing there. It's probably much more a question of price than availability.

                        I don't assume that Regal's American Kitchen line has ceased being 18/10 either; asking the company directly would provide better info than a worst-case assumption.

                        1. re: ellabee
                          n
                          Nutmegger1 Jun 6, 2012 01:14 PM

                          I did, and you're right, and the thought process behind incurring the expense of 18/10 without getting some marketing traction from it will have to remain a mystery--see below.

                    2. re: Nutmegger1
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                      PatatRegalWare Jul 3, 2012 07:57 AM

                      Actually Regal Ware was NOT purchased by SEB, but remains a privately-held, family-run independent copmany.

                    3. n
                      Nutmegger1 Jun 6, 2012 01:04 PM

                      Regal appears to be discontinuing American Kitchen and exiting (again) the retail cookware business to focus on their direct sales lines. Scroll down to the second story: http://kitchenboy.net/blog/news-culin...
                      You might be able to pick up some at a deep discount.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Nutmegger1
                        luv2putt Jun 6, 2012 01:09 PM

                        WOW ...I just recd a pan shipped from American Kitchen them last week ...Guess i got it under the wire !!!!

                        1. re: Nutmegger1
                          nokitchen Aug 8, 2012 01:37 PM

                          It was this thread and maybe another on Chowhound that convinced me to look for the AK brand so I think it's only fair that I join up to let you know that it is indeed possible to get their line at a deep discount. BBB has the 10-piece set for $239.99 http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/produ...

                          I can't review the set yet because it's still in the box -- that's how excited I was to tell y'all about the deal. I can say that the box reports that it's a full aluminum core, not just the bottom and that the steel is 18/10 stainless. I'll post a full review after I've given them a few tests, like a nice roux for gumbo I've been waiting to try.

                        2. t
                          Tom34 Jul 3, 2012 08:42 AM

                          I did not like the feel of the All Clad handles but many of the other brands were made in China. After doing some research I chose a 10 pc set of Cuisinox Elite multi ply. Cooks Illustrated rated them very close to All Clad at 1/2 the price. It was several years ago but I think the set was under $400.00 and at that time it was made in Canada.

                          To date they have performed flawlessly and the handles are comfortable.

                          1. t
                            texanfrench Jul 3, 2012 09:48 AM

                            It's my understanding that although All-Clad invented the bonding system that created the line, their patent ran out a few years ago (2007 I think?), and now any company can use their technology. So any "clad" pan will use the same manufacturing method, and the main differences now are in the thickness and quality of the materials used, as well as handles, lids, etc. When All-Clad owned the patent, they could charge a premium price.

                            Now other companies use the same technology, and they set their own prices. Since the technology is now pretty much the same everywhere for this type of pan, things like weight, handles and lids become more important. But many of these companies don't have a track record with this type of cookware yet. Why don't you buy a single piece and try it out before you invest in a whole set?

                            FWIW, I use an "underhand" grip on my pans, and I find the All-Clad comfortable, My thumb fits perfectly into that deep groove, and my fingers curl nicely around that raised edge. But if you don't hold a pan the way I do, you won't be happy with that handle.

                            What is most important is how your cookware interacts with your stove. What works well on an electric stove may be terrible on a gas stove. A smooth ceramic top may not be happy with pans that do fine on cast-iron grates. And then there's induction....

                            The stove will settle the type of cookware you want, but the specific cookware line is based on individual choices--weight, handles, lids, capacities of various pans, (Personally, I don't like glass lids, and I have no pan smaller than 2 quarts.) If you try out a single pan and find you don't like it, you will find it much easier to move on than if you've bought a whole set.

                            Good luck, and have fun!

                            1. s
                              Sean191 Aug 8, 2012 02:40 PM

                              Well, since I started this with asking opinions, I figured it's only right for me to circle back around. I'm not a cook, but according to my wife, the American Kitchen pots and pans we went with are great. The handles are comfortable, they heat evenly and are very easy to clean. It's only been roughly 6 1/2 months since we purchased them, but there's no problems at all.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Sean191
                                dcrb Aug 8, 2012 07:10 PM

                                Thanks for the comeback and letting us know what you purchased and that it is working out well for you.

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