What Your Stainless Steel Cookware's Cladding Says About Its Composition

By Team Made In
May 27, 2020
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Everything you need to know about the composition of your stainless steel cookware.

Home cooks spend a lot of time ruminating over recipes, planning meals, and purchasing quality ingredients. But what about their cookware? If you’re not giving your cookware as much thought as your dinner, you might be missing the most important ingredient.

In this quick and easy, down and dirty guide to cladded cookware, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about your stainless steel cookware’s composition so you can choose the best tools to bring out the most flavor in your home-cooked meals.

Chatter About Cladding

Cladding is a method of metal fabrication. Layers of different metals (usually a highly conductive interior to distribute heat and a non-reactive exterior to protect ingredient integrity) are bonded together as a new, single sheet of metal. Ply refers to the number of metal layers contained in this new metal sheet. Common varieties of ply include 3-ply, 5-ply, and 7-ply.

When it comes to cookware, cladded metal creates an efficient and evenly heated cooking surface. Not all clad cookware, however, is created equal.

Some pots and pans are advertised as cladded that are, in actuality, manufactured with a single heat distributing disc on the bottom rather than being completely molded from a single fully cladded metal sheet.

Cookware manufactured entirely from high quality cladded metal will consistently conduct heat from the base to the top edge and create an evenly heated cooking surface.

The Jive With Ply

When you’re shopping for cookware, make sure to do your homework and look into the composition of the metal.

As we mentioned earlier, “ply” describes the layers of metal contained in a pan's cladding. Common varieties of ply include:

  • Tri-Ply (3-Ply) - Three layers usually comprised of a layer of copper or aluminum sandwiched between stainless steel.
  • 5-Ply - Contains two more interior layers of a heat conductive metal than tri-ply.
  • 7-Ply - Contains 4 more interior layers of a heat conductive metal than tri-ply.

A higher ply does not always directly translate to higher quality cookware. The overall thickness of the pot or pan's material and overall distribution of the cladded metal throughout the cookware will affect heat distribution to a larger degree than the number of layers contained within the cladded metal.

Do Metals Matter?

Yes, the metals that comprise a pan, pot or skillet affect heat distribution, durability, and can even change the flavor of the food prepared inside the pan!

The cladding process is great because it allows you to harness the best characteristics of numerous metals. A popular way to do this is with food-safe stainless steel touching your food, conductive aluminum at the core regulating heat, and induction compatible stainless steel touching the element and allowing for a wide range of cooking options. This way, you can evenly distribute different kinds of heat without imparting any outside flavors on your food!

Need more info on different types of cookware materials? Check out our cookware materials guide to learn more.

Time to Bond?

The most premium materials will be rendered useless if the cladder doesn’t properly bond the metals together. Your cookware manufacturer working with a partner who has the experience and machinery to ensure proper bonding will guarantee a long-lasting piece of cookware that will hold up to extreme heats.

The best metal cladders use “stress tests” to make sure only the highest quality cladded discs head to the punching process.

Made In

At Made In, we craft 5-ply stainless steel cookware in multi-generational factories that have perfected their processes over generations.

As a result, we’ve come to know a lot about metal, cladding, and cookware. You can browse our full collection here, and even if you don’t buy Made In we’re here to help you through any cookware confusion.