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Thoughts about the All-Clad d5 Essential Pan

kimbers324 Aug 27, 2013 07:36 AM

I've seen the All-Clad d5 Essential Pan mentioned on this board before....the 4 qt looks really good.


But help me figure out what I would use it for instead of things already in my kitchen, such as:

- 6 qt Lodge enameled cast iron dutch oven
- 3.5 qt Le Creuset enameled cast iron braiser
- 3 qt Viking stainless steel saute pan
- Jamie Oliver stir fry pan ( http://www.amazon.com/T-fal-C9421964-...


I want to need it! Thank you!

  1. c
    Cheesed Aug 27, 2013 08:50 AM

    I followed your link and started to get excited about this pan. The price is fantastic. Then I realized that I have this pan and very rarely use it. The WS picture is a bit misleading. This is a rounded, deep pan. That means that the browing surface on the bottom of the pan is a bit limited, and the curved sides are really big. Have you seen and held this pan in person? I have the 4qt. size, and for my cooking needs the style/shape is very akward, not to mention heavy when full.

    The price of this pan is really fantastic. I think that's because WS uses it as an intro. to encourage buyers to step up to the quality of the D5 line. Nothing wrong with WS doing that, just be sure that the configuration of this pan fits your needs.

    I have a lot of D5, but this is the one piece that I just don't use much and it takes up a lot of space. I much prefer to use my big cast iron dutch oven.

    Think about the way you cook. This piece is a nice showpiece for when company is invited, and yes, you could make a great sauce and then pop your cooked pasta into it, but I serve pasta by pouring the sauce on top of the pasta, not visa versa. That's just my experience, Yours may be quite different and if you think you will use this fine quality pan, the price is right.

    1. kaleokahu Aug 27, 2013 10:50 AM

      Hi, Kimbers:

      I know you want to need it, but I'm not seeing the need (despite the "Essential" moniker).

      This is a saute/frypan hybrid, and I bet the floor of this one is smaller than the floor of your 3Q Viking saute. You already have a LC braiser (also a hybrid) and a stir-fry pan (a third hybrid).

      I just can't see anything to do with the Essential that your existing batterie won't do.

      I'd suggest 1.5Q and 3Q saucepans rather than further hybridization/duplication. Perhaps the W-S Thermoclad?


      1. Chemicalkinetics Aug 27, 2013 01:48 PM

        I think the price is nice, but I don't think you actually will need it considering the other cookware you have. You can probably create a special condition which you will need it, but 99% of the time you can go without it.

        1. c
          Cam14 Aug 27, 2013 05:16 PM

          I'll be the dissenter here. I purchased the Essential pan in the 4 qt. size when it was on sale because it filled a niche. Cooking mostly for two. My 3 qt. saute was way too shallow when I cooked anything with a sauce and I didn't like wresting the 6 qt pan several times a week. It's capacity is larger than 4 qt, almost 5 filled to the brim.
          The essential pan has become my everyday go-to pan. The rounded sides are great for stirring risotto, the bottom is wider and flatter than you would think, more the size of a 10" fry pan, and browns beautifully. I cook brats or pork ribs with kraut, chicken cacciatore, pasta sauce, shrimp alfredo, swiss steak,... mostly quicker meals through the week. It's easier to maneuver and clean than a 6 qt. pan and it contains spatters saving cleanup time. It's great for anything that needs stirring, my other half utilizes it for Rice Krispy Marshmallow treats, about the only thing he doesn't barbecue. The heavy bottom and rounded sides are good for candy making, sauces, etc. The 6 qt is now reserved for large weekend meals and the 3 qt saute just languishes in the cupboard.

          1. Sid Post Aug 27, 2013 05:57 PM

            That All-Clad Essential pan looks nice but, it has that awful All-Clad handle. If it had a good handle on it, it might get some interest from me but, .... I've been down that road once and I'm not doing it again.

            Plus, I have my DeBuyer Mineral "Country Pan".

            21 Replies
            1. re: Sid Post
              kimbers324 Aug 27, 2013 07:47 PM

              The de buyer country pan has caught my eye, as well. What do you tend to use it for?

              1. re: kimbers324
                Sid Post Aug 28, 2013 05:55 AM

                I cook a lot of meat products in it here in Arizona. The high sides really work well to keep splatters in the pan and make kitchen clean up easy and nearly effort free.

                If I was back in Alabama, I would be cooking a lot of greens in it too. It really depends on what vegetables are in season and available locally. Where I'm at now, it's more of a meat and potatoes pan.

                1. re: Sid Post
                  kimbers324 Aug 28, 2013 06:26 AM

                  do you have the small or large country pan? What is the cooking surface diameter, and height of the sides? Thanks....I tend to find packaging dimensions, not actual product dimensions!

                  1. re: kimbers324
                    Sid Post Aug 29, 2013 06:37 PM

                    Mine is the largest they make:
                    *) ~6 pounds - give or take a little
                    *) the sides are ~4.5" high
                    *) the rim is 32cm (~13 inches)
                    *) the flat bottom is ~11.5 inches


                    1. re: Sid Post
                      Cam14 Aug 29, 2013 08:12 PM

                      Isn't that a bugger to lift without a helper handle?

                      1. re: Cam14
                        Sid Post Aug 30, 2013 07:38 PM

                        No, not really. I grew up on a farm so, heavy versus light involves something a lot heavier than this.

                        1. re: Sid Post
                          breadchick Sep 1, 2013 06:29 PM

                          Oooh, a farm boy lifting heavy pans. :-)

                          So, seriously, I covet that pan, but can't lift it. I have the 12 inch skillet and that's pretty much my limit. Mine meets fingerling potatoes and asparagus with garlic and olive oil on a regular basis.

                          I can imagine you can use yours for a great stir-fry.

                          1. re: breadchick
                            Sid Post Sep 2, 2013 03:57 PM

                            I don't really think of it with WOK type cooking but, I'm sure it would do a credible job. I'm still debating a turkey fryer for WOK use.

                        2. re: Cam14
                          DuffyH Aug 30, 2013 11:29 PM


                          Sid is a weight lifter. Going pro after the 2016 games in Rio. Ok, I made that up. But your initial impression is spot on. It is indeed a bugger to lift. Those suckers are *really* heavy. Bigger than you'd think, too. Like woks on steroids.

                          I bought one, took one look at it, hefted it, sold it to my son. They're very happy together, but his wife and kids had to move, because their house is only 1900 sqft. and there wasn't room for them and the pan. All right, I made that up, too. Their house is almost 2000 sqft. ;)

                          1. re: DuffyH
                            Sid Post Aug 31, 2013 07:51 AM

                            ROFL .....

                            On a more serious note, my mother has some arthritis so the Mineral pans, even the smaller ones, are too much for her. She also doesn't use her Lodge cast iron either. I "gifted" my lighter weight De Buyer iron pans to her and she loves them!

                            I also find bigger pans to be more flexible than smaller ones. Smaller pans have their uses but, I generally like things to be crisp or snap so, over crowding is avoided in my kitchen for most things. The price you pay is crowding other pans on most stoves and cooktops since the burners are spaced too closely and, as you noted they can be heavy if you lift and hold them for very long.

                            1. re: Sid Post
                              DuffyH Aug 31, 2013 05:42 PM


                              I'm with your mom, love my lighter weight FB pan. I really like my 10.25" Carbone crepe pan, too, but think I wouldn't want anything bigger in a Carbone or Mineral frypan.

                              I did try out the 12" Tim Love branded Mineral frypan from SLT this spring and wasn't happy with the weight. I've already got a 12" Lodge skillet, so feel that would be pointless duplication.

                            2. re: DuffyH
                              kaleokahu Aug 31, 2013 08:25 AM

                              Hi, Duffy:

                              Is it really all that that heavy? ;;

                              Sid said it was 6 pounds. I wasn't going to say anything, but the published weight is 5. Unless it's filled with Milk-of-Lead it should be manageable, I think.

                              My everyday saute is 11", and it weighs 11 pounds without a lid. Sid could probably juggle 3 of them.


                              1. re: kaleokahu
                                DuffyH Aug 31, 2013 06:02 PM


                                It felt as heavy as my 12" CI skillet, so yeah, to me it was very heavy. The skillet weighs 7lbs, 2.5oz and I cannot hold it horizontally with one hand. I can lift it, sure, but only if I let it hang. I had the same issue with the Country Pan. Without a helper handle I couldn't hold it stable, unless I struggled with two hands.

                                Bear in mind I've broken both my right arm and left wrist. You'd be amazed how that can change your life. My hand/wrist strength isn't anywhere near what it used to be. I must wear a wrist support when bowling to keep my left wrist from buckling when I pick up my bowling ball. Once I've got the ball balanced I'm fine, but my wrist quite literally gives way when I try to swing it into position without a brace.

                                So, yes, I'm a wimp and pans really are that heavy.

                                1. re: DuffyH
                                  kaleokahu Aug 31, 2013 08:26 PM

                                  You realize that you're making a case for extra-fort aluminum, right?

                                  1. re: kaleokahu
                                    DuffyH Aug 31, 2013 08:38 PM

                                    What is extra-fort?

                                    1. re: DuffyH
                                      kaleokahu Aug 31, 2013 08:52 PM

                                      The thickest gauge. Mauviel and Gaillard once made entire lines in approx. 6mm. Probably equal to 3mm of copper in performance yet very light.

                                      1. re: kaleokahu
                                        DuffyH Aug 31, 2013 11:22 PM

                                        Got it, thanks.

                                        I don't accept your premise. There's a lot of room between a 13" Mineral Country Pan and thick aluminum. I could just as easily be making a case for something in between.

                                        1. re: DuffyH
                                          kaleokahu Sep 1, 2013 07:47 AM

                                          I was trying to help the weak-wristed with performance.

                                          1. re: kaleokahu
                                            DuffyH Sep 1, 2013 08:53 AM

                                            Oh, I see. My mistake. Thank you. I have a problem with aluminum, in that I really don't like it as a cooking surface. It makes a wonderful base for teflon, and in fact my very favorite non-stick pans are Tramontina's Pro line of shiny aluminum with some of the best teflon I've ever encountered. They're inexpensive, too.

                                            But other than those, I've not encountered any I like. My past usage has been extremely limited, to be sure. I recently picked up an ancient Calph. HA frypan at the Salvation Army store for $5. It was very clean, in excellent condition, but awful to cook on. I tried an egg using the same heat, oil, room temp egg method that I would on my SS. I got no joy at all! Should it be seasoned? Is it not good for eggs? I also owned and mildly disliked some original Scanpan. I don't recall if those had a coating, although I think not, as nothing ever peeled or chipped.

                                            If I could learn to cook on it, and could find some that's induction-friendly, it could certainly be an alternative to heavy CI/CS and clad SS.

                                            1. re: DuffyH
                                              kaleokahu Sep 1, 2013 09:18 AM

                                              Hi, Duffy:

                                              That's too bad. Minimally-"seasoned" bare aluminum is about as non-stick as it gets for eggs. Add in extra-thick, and it's also extremely stable on and off the heat. That's one reason they're favored by omeleteers turning out large ## of omelets.

                                              I'm not sure anyone makes very thick aluminum with an inducto-base. The Demeyere Prolines approach these thicknesses of aluminum, but have the cladding (which defeats the purpose if *light* is a purpose).

                                              It's the foreclosure of such options that I think is a big disadvantage of... you know... The way things are headed, wrist-strength-compromised cooks will face narrowing choices, the lightest choices being cheap nonstick, and the very thin enameled steel speckleware-type pans.


                                              1. re: kaleokahu
                                                DuffyH Sep 1, 2013 10:04 AM

                                                Hey, Kaleo,

                                                <It's the foreclosure of such options that I think is a big disadvantage of... you know...>

                                                And that's valid. But for me, I think the advantage of fast response will outweigh that. It's about finding the balance, knowing that I'll be slowing the response if I opt to use clad anything. But most of us have to find compromises, matching our cookware and hobs to what works best for us, most of the time. Of course, we'll all have different criteria.

                                                Mostly I need very light pans for jumping food, usually veg, which in my house doesn't require a large pan. I can use most anything for that except CI and heavy CS. I normally grab whatever comes to hand, non-stick, SS, anything not too heavy in a 8-10" pan. So I wouldn't want a proline for that, it would be overkill and too heavy besides, but a FB or even Lyonaise frypan will do, as will a lightweight clad unit. Weight and wall angle are my only concerns in that pan, which is good, because it means I can go cheap and get great results.

                                                <The way things are headed, wrist-strength-compromised cooks will face narrowing choices, >

                                                In the immediate future, yes. But looking out 3-5 years, I think we'll have wider choices, especially given the millions of boomers who will be needing lighter cookware. If we need it, it will come. Everyone caters to boomers.

                2. DuffyH Aug 27, 2013 06:57 PM


                  I have the similar 3.5 quart Demeyere I5 Essential pan from SLT. Subjectively, just looking at photos, it appears the AC isn't far off a sauté pan, while I can attest the Demeyere is almost a saucier, but one with a large base diameter. It's base is exactly the same as the base on my 4.5 qt Calphalon Tri-Ply saucepan.

                  I convinced myself the Demeyere would be the perfect induction replacement for my 4.5 qt saucepan. I wanted to need it badly, but alas, I couldn't. Practical experience showed me that the I5 is too big for a saucier and too small to be a large saucepan. So back it goes. :(

                  Given that the d5 is going to be similar to your sauté and brasier, but only slightly larger, I'd suggest you only buy one if those other pans aren't meeting your needs. Me, I'm waiting for a markdown on the I5 2 quart saucier, or something similar.

                  But that's just me.

                  1. c
                    calumin Aug 28, 2013 08:04 AM

                    I think this pan is more for people who don't have many pans and who want something that could potentially replace a bunch of other pans. If you already have a quality set (stir fry, saute, dutch oven etc) I don't see the need for this.

                    1. b
                      brooktroutchaser Sep 1, 2013 09:07 AM

                      Think risotto for four to eight people.

                      1. c
                        Cam14 Sep 21, 2013 08:58 AM

                        Kimbers, Here's a link to Thomas Keller using the Essential pan. It has great shots of size and floor space. Also some great tips on building a sauce and informative chef discussion. This pan is the copper core essential pan, but it has the same dimensions of the D5.


                        10 Replies
                        1. re: Cam14
                          kaleokahu Sep 22, 2013 10:01 AM

                          Hi, Cam:

                          Interesting that the video is entitled "Roast..." This is a braised preparation, right? Or did Keller take the lid off after I nodded off?

                          I also found it interesting that the large Essential Pan was maxed out with enough mirrepoix for 4 shanks--only Keller's extreme dexterity (and fussiness) kept it from going in the grates. What's the point of sweating mirrepoix in that shape pan when there is already a larger saute at hand? Looks like A-C using Keller to sell pans to me.


                          1. re: kaleokahu
                            Cam14 Sep 22, 2013 10:50 AM

                            Yes, it was braised. Was the pan too small or a few cups too many veg? That was the largest pile of mirepoix I've ever seen used. It left me wondering if that was their intention, to have it packed tight for more intense flavor; as it cooked down it would help maintain a lower headroom as I recall Molly Stevens recommends for braising. ?? There is a 6 qt D5 available too, but of course they were showcasing the Copper Core. At any rate they shared a lot of tips, displayed the pan, Mr. Keller probably received a paycheck, AC sold a pan or two and I got to watch it in my jammies before I too nodded off.

                            1. re: Cam14
                              kaleokahu Sep 22, 2013 11:22 AM

                              Hi, Cam:

                              Re: too much mirrepoix... Well, it ended up being too much for the particular saute pan chosen for the braise, that's for sure. At one point Keller can't get the cover to seat completely. He struggles to force it, and then gives up. My guess is the ever-anal Keller's recipe was scaled for a rondeau with 1:3 sides, and what was in the studio kitchen was a 1:4 saute. He probably thought: "Oh Hell, it'll cook down enough to seal by the time we take it out of the oven."

                              Isn't it Stevens who favors reducing headroom by just using a taller pan and perching an inner "lid" of parchment atop the braise? This makes total sense whenever you don't have every conceivable size braiser but *do* have a cocotte that's the right diameter (which taller pan also works with the mirrepoix).


                              1. re: kaleokahu
                                Cam14 Sep 23, 2013 06:38 PM

                                Yes Stevens recommends the parchment method. I enjoyed the struggle with the lid, nothing edited there! Could you explain your ratios and process of choice of pan by that?

                                1. re: Cam14
                                  kaleokahu Sep 23, 2013 07:30 PM

                                  Hi, Cam:

                                  Well, the ratios are just general proportions that have evolved. It's stricter with the classical French wares, and we Americans and the Scandinavians take license with it. But sautes generally have walls 1/4 their diameter, rondeaux 1/3, and saucepans and ovens 1/2. Poelles, if you include the shoulder generally go 1/5 and true consomme/stockers approximate 1/1. Is that what you meant? There's a good thread over on eGullet that gives more information and comparisons of all this.

                                  Choice? Well, for the braising, I think it comes down to a few things. First, headspace for the *cut* or *joint*. As Keller inadvertently demonstrated, the saute was the right diameter but a little too shallow (for all that miorrepoix + the shanks). If you have a high domed lid, great, forget that one.

                                  Second, what'll fit in the oven? I saw him start with a saute, and I thought: "Is that handle going to clear the oven?" Rondeaux fit ovens better (in every dimension), and that A-C was prolly the biggest saute that would have fit.

                                  Third, is there a danger of the pan swamping, or spilling and burning someone? If you're adding things as you go, why *not* have a little extra height and *two* handles?


                                  1. re: kaleokahu
                                    Cam14 Sep 28, 2013 08:45 PM

                                    It didn't dawn on me you were comparing side walls to pan diameter, I get it now. Thanks for the explanation.

                                  2. re: Cam14
                                    kaleokahu Sep 24, 2013 10:27 AM

                                    Hi, Cam:

                                    Here's a link to the eGullet article I mentioned. It's by Sam Kinsey.



                                    1. re: kaleokahu
                                      Cam14 Sep 28, 2013 08:40 PM

                                      Thanks for the link, it's been a long week and my eyes won't cooperate. Tomorrow, my day off, I'm going to slowly read though it all with a nice hot cup of coffee. Cooking/eating is one of the nicest things we do for ourselves, it's good to grab some cliff notes now and again. Thanks again.

                              2. re: kaleokahu
                                ellabee Feb 25, 2014 09:45 PM

                                He was certainly taking a payment from A-C at the time he was producing his cookbook Ad Hoc at Home, as was his co-writer Michael Ruhlman. I was put off by a direct plug in the text, but it was just one among a host of irritations.

                                Ruhlman has since turned away, and is getting paid by Le Creuset.

                                1. re: ellabee
                                  Cam14 Feb 26, 2014 09:38 AM

                                  I love the Ruhlman/Le Creuset videos. Lovely to look at, and the Le Creuset is pretty too. ;)

                            2. randallhank Feb 25, 2014 06:30 PM

                              I found a copper core 4 quart essential pan at Marshall's for $100. It has a couple of scratches on the exterior and a bit of the decorative copper stripe has worn away, but functionally there is nothing wrong with it. I already have a 5/9-ply copper core 3 quart saute by Michael Chiarello that has the same amount of searing space if not a bit more. So, the only advantage of this pan is volume/versatility. I truly do not need it, but at $100, should I keep it anyway?

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: randallhank
                                Cam14 Feb 25, 2014 10:18 PM

                                You're the only one that can decide if it fills a niche for you. I found my 3 qt saute lacking in volume for sauces, adding pasta to sauce, dishes like chicken cacciatore, etc. The d5 essential measures 4 qts at about rivet level and is just shy of 5 qts to the top, so it's a roomy pan. I've enjoyed it's rounded contours for stirring. It is great for large batch risotto, too.

                                1. re: randallhank
                                  Cynic2701 Feb 26, 2014 06:55 AM

                                  If you cook for larger groups of people the extra volume is useful. I have a D5 essential and I use it frequently when cooking for 6 - 8 people; I made risotto for friends recently and it worked great. On the other hand, if you usually cook for a smaller group of people or work in smaller batches or volumes, then I don't think you'll find it as handy in the kitchen.

                                  I'm personally seeing a "hole" in my pan repertoire roughly in the shape of a 2-quart saucier. A smaller pan when making sauces or caramels would be extremely useful. I like to think of the essential pan as basically a saucier with a wider bottom.

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