If you’re on the hunt for a new cookware item or set, you’re going to come across all kinds of scientific terms, brand names and fancy-sounding materials. Two of the most popular brand names you’re sure to come across are All-Clad and Calphalon.

These are two heavy hitters in the cookware game, both boasting super sturdy materials and high-end construction. Both brands are worthy of praise and are smart choices for you and your cash.

But which one is best? How do they compare in terms of materials? Is one tougher than the other? Which one is more cost effective? Are the differences all that drastic? Or, are you getting basically the same thing no matter which you choose?

Read ahead to get into the nitty-gritty comparison between these two high-end cookware brands so you can make the best purchase for your requirements.

See also:

The All-Clad Copper Core Collection Review here.
The All-Clad MC2 Cookware Range Review
here.
The All-Clad D5 Cookware Set Review here.

 

What is All-Clad cookware?

All-Clad is an all-American brand which has been around since the late 1960’s. The founders of All-Clad worked to figure out the best ways to bond and combine different layers of metal for the strongest result. Fast-forward to today, and they’re still going strong, hand-crafting their cookware in the USA.

But what can you get from them? Let’s look at what they actually make and why…or IF it’s any good…

What does All-Clad make?

You can get a wide range of kitchen products from All-Clad. They make everything from electric goods (such as slow cookers, waffle makers, hand blenders and toasters), to tools, utensils and of course, cookware. The price point for All-Clad cookware is reasonably high, and it can be purchased from Amazon.

Let’s get back to cookware; pots, pans, skillets etc. What kind of cookware can you expect from a trawl through the All-Clad collection? Well, their cookware comes in a few different materials and finishes, namely these ones:

  • Non-stick (PFOA-free, hard anodized)
  • Stainless steel (bonded with aluminum)
  • Copper (bonded with stainless steel)

You can find individual items, such as chef’s pans and griddles, as well as full sets. 

Pros

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All items are hand-made in the USA

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Limited lifetime warranty

R

The handles are riveted for extra sturdiness

R

Materials used are safe (i.e. no PFOA or PTFE)

R

High temperature resistance

R

The stainless steel used has been tested and approved by National Standard ISO

R

Dishwasher safe (most collections)

 

Cons

Q

It is more expensive than Calphalon

What have other consumers found?

The overall star ratings for All-Clad cookware are pretty high across the board, covering all of their different materials and collections. It’s hard to find a rating lower than 4 stars, which is really encouraging. But surely there are some gripes?

Here’s what we found in the negative sections:

  • Sticking: the D3 Tri-Ply stainless steel cookware has incited some frustration among customers who have found that everything they cook will completely stick. However, this could be an issue with the cooking method as opposed to the pans themselves. Most pans which are not designed to be non-stick will stick a little bit
  • Tarnishing: some commenters have found that their stainless steel cookware becomes tarnished and marked very easily
  • Peeling: the hard-anodized non-stick pots and pans have disappointed some customers who say the coating peels and scratches very easily
  • Warping: a few customers who purchased the hard-anodized non-stick cookware found that the surface was uneven therefore created hot spots and uneven cooking

Now for the positive stuff, what did consumers love, according to reviews?

  • Even cooking: happy customers have raved about how evenly their All-Clad cookware heats up and cooks their food with an even result
  • Attractive: the beauty of All-Clad (especially stainless steel) cookware is mentioned in positive review sections
  • Easy to clean: the ease of cleaning has been mentioned multiple times by satisfied customers (for the stainless steel and the hard-anodized non-stick). Both are dishwasher safe but are reported to be just as easy to clean by hand

To be perfectly honest, I think the negative comments were a result of bad luck as opposed to being a true reflection of All-Clad. After trawling the comment sections both positive and negative, the overwhelming impression is that All-Clad is extremely reliable, high-quality and well worth the cash.

What is Calphalon and what do they make?

Calphalon is an American brand which specializes in hard-anodized aluminum cookware, (their parent company is Newell Rubbermaid). Hard-anodized basically means that the aluminum has been treated to result in a super-hard, non-reactive surface. (“Non-reactive” refers to the leaching issue which older aluminum cookware had when exposed to acidic foods like tomatoes). Their most well-known and popular range of cookware is made from a hard-anodized aluminum base with a non-stick coating.

Their cookware repertoire also includes:

  • Ceramic cookware (not rated very highly overall)
  • Stainless steel cookware (tri-ply, similar to All-Clad tri-ply cookware)

Calphalon has many different cookware lines such as ‘Simply’, ‘Select’, ‘Elite’ and ‘Classic’, all offering different price points and suitability.

For example, the ‘Elite’ range of non-stick cookware is compatible with heat up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, is dishwasher safe and can be used with metal utensils.

While the ‘Simply’ range is suitable for heat up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, is not dishwasher safe and should be used with gentler utensils.

 As well as cookware, Calphalon also makes:

  • Bakeware
  • Appliances
  • Utensils/cutlery

The most interesting fact about Calphalon is that they use PTFE in their non-stick coatings. While this isn’t going to automatically harm you, it does mean that if you overheat your Calphalon non-stick cookware, there is a risk of toxic fumes being released.

 

Pros

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It’s generally cheaper than All-Clad comparatively to similar items (i.e. a 5-piece copper set from All-Clad is around $300 more than a 10-piece copper set from Calphalon)

R

Limited lifetime warranty

R

Designed to distribute heat evenly

 

Cons

Q

The ceramic range has issues such as chipping and unstable surfaces

Q

The non-stick surfaces of the non-stick ranges will eventually become less effective

Q

PTFE is used in some of their non-stick cookware

What have other consumers found? 

The review section is the best resource at our fingertips when trying to discern the true quality of a product. You shouldn’t take it for gospel, but it’s a great help for us online consumers. Here’s what I found in the negative and positive sections for Calphalon cookware:

The negative reviews…

  • Peels: the non-stick cookware has come under fire from customers complaining that the non-stick coating peels off with each cooking session
  • Warps: the nonstick cookware has been accused of badly warping
  • Sticks: the stainless steel cookware ranges have disappointed a few customers due to extreme sticking. However this generally does come down to cooking method (i.e. too high heat or too cold food can increase the risk of sticking)

The positive reviews…

  • Sturdy: pleased customers have commented on the heavy, sturdy feel of Calphalon cookware (specifically the stainless steel)

  • Great price: the quality versus price has been praised, with customers finding they get a lot for what they pay for
  • Lids are a great fit: the non-stick cookware sets have been praised for their well-designed, perfectly fitting lids
  • Easy to clean: the non-stick cookware ranges are praised for being really easy to clean with a quick scrub or wipe down

Quick-fire comparison 

  • All-Clad generally has a higher temperature tolerance
  • All-clad is generally more dishwasher-safe (though does depend on the particular product range)
  • Calphalon is a little cheaper in price
  • Both offer non-stick, stainless steel and tri-ply options
  • All-Clad is generally safer (Calphalon uses PTFE)
  • Calphalon has a larger range of products with many different collections and product lines

What are the main similarities?

Both of these brands have similar stories. They were both created in the USA in the 1960’s by companies dedicated to making premium metal products.

Both All-Clad and Calphalon have various different lines within their collection of cookware. For example: tri-ply, copper, non-stick, brushed, polished…it all gets a little dizzying! However, Calphalon does have a much larger range with different levels of quality and durability.

Is there a right or wrong when choosing between the two?

Nope. They’re both great brands with fantastic benefits. It all comes down to your budget and your needs at the time. You may need the most affordable non-stick cookware set you can find, so Calphalon might be spot on.

Or, you might need a high-quality stainless-steel cookware set which can be used at very high temperatures…in which case, take a look at All-Clad.

Conclusion

All-Clad and Calphalon are both very popular brands in cookware. They both work from a philosophy based on strong, durable metals. All-Clad focuses on bonded metals (i.e. aluminum and stainless steel), while Calphalon is the master of hard-anodized aluminum.

They both offer various different metals and finishes, and their product lines have many similarities. All-Clad is the more expensive of the two but offers higher temperature resistance and more dishwasher-safe options.

Calphalon offers a very wide range of prices, materials and caters to different levels of cooking expertise.