In the ranks of popular cookware, there are a few brands whose names stand out above the rest. Circulon, Tefal and Calphalon are three names you will surely come across while browsing for a new cookware investment.

Not only do these brands have similar names (lon, lon and lon!) but they offer similar products…with a few differences. They’re all great, but what’s great for you might not be so great for someone else.

To sort out this tangle of cookware competition, we have executed a rundown of these three great brands, to help you select the best one for you.

Circulon

Circulon is a brand under Meyer Manufacturing Company Limited. Started off by Stanley Cheng (aka super-smart mechanical engineer), Circulon has a solid base in sophisticated technology.

The reason for the name Circulon is that their main innovation is a series of raised circles on the surface of the cookware. These little circles are designed to help the food to easily release from the surface, and also help protect the surface from metal utensil damage.

The non-stick coating is the Autograph 2 made by DuPont. (This is the same non-stick coating used by Anolon cookware, FYI).

What’s Circulon’s material of choice?

Good question. Circulon focuses primarily on hard-anodized aluminum with non-stick coatings. In fact, Circulon started the whole non-stick hard-anodized aluminum thing, being the first to make and sell cookware of that nature.

Hard-anodized basically means that the metal has been treated with a special process to harden the exterior and create a sturdy, stick-resistant cooking surface. It’s non-reactive (no metal leaching!) and safe. It is also great for even heating. However, Circulon also works with stainless steel (shiny and durable), and non-stick coated aluminum too. 

What can you get from Circulon?

  • Dutch ovens and casseroles in stainless steel, hard-anodized and aluminum options (all non-stick)
  • Full cookware sets in hard-anodized, forged aluminum and stainless steel options
  • Woks in forged aluminum and hard-anodized options
  • Individual pots, pans and skillets

What do we love about Circulon?

  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Affordable for the quality you get (mid-range between Calphalon and Tefal)
  • Sturdy glass lids
  • Stainless steel handles with silicone covering (for safe hands)
  • Great color choices (i.e. merlot, nutmeg, chocolate)
  • Dishwasher-safe stainless steel sets
  • Everything is non-stick
  • Easy to clean (due to non-stick surface)
  • PFOA-free coating
  • Oven-safe options (almost all of their wares are oven-safe)
  • Safe for metal utensils
  • Thick and sturdy construction

 

The verdict

Circulon is a fantastic cookware brand with a wide range of products on offer. They are a great brand to choose for oven-safe hard-anodized, non-stick cookware. In saying that, their stainless steel options are pretty fantastic too, especially if you require a dishwasher-safe option (albeit for occasional dishwasher use!).

Their stainless steel cookware combines the shininess and durability of stainless steel with the convenience of the Circulon non-stick coating. We think this is a pretty cool combo. (Check out the non-stick stainless steel 11-piece set, it is induction friendly, oven safe, dishwasher safe and super attractive).

Price-wise, Circulon is pretty decent…in fact, I’d go so far as saying they’re very affordable. You can get a comprehensive hard-anodized set for a very good price considering the number of pieces you receive, not to mention the high quality.

Tefal

You know Tefal by the red dot in the centre of their cookware. You might also know them from Jamie Oliver’s own range with them. But Tefal (also known as T-Fal) are a more controversial brand than Circulon and Calphalon, because of their association with Teflon.

The “Tef” comes from Teflon, and the “Al” comes from aluminum. However, Tefal is safe to use as it doesn’t contain PFOA (the really nasty stuff). It does contain PTFE which is really frowned upon by some people, but the science does show that it’s not to be feared. Even if you were to chip your Tefal pans and some non-stick coating made its way into your food, it won’t do any damage.

The concern only really arises if you heat your Tefal pans to an eye-watering eat, which you’re likely not to do with general home cooking. A rule of thumb is to keep the heat around medium-hot, but not screaming hot…if that makes sense?

Tefal does acknowledge this in their FAQ section, stating that even when the pans to become overheated they’re not dangerous, but care should be taken regardless.

What can you get from Tefal?

Tefal offers a wide range of cookware, broken up into different collections (like Calphalon and Circulon). They have simple ranges (i.e “The Essential Cook” range and the “Daily Cook” range) and more advanced ranges (“The expert Cook” and “Cook like a French Chef” ranges). The “Expert Cook” ranges include the “Talent” range which is compatible with induction cooktops.

Tefal now uses a non-stick coating they call “Titanium Pro”. This is basically a PFOA-free non-stick coating which is said to be tougher and lasts longer than other non-stick coatings.

As well as hard-anodized aluminum, Tefal also has an awesome range called the “Heritage Tri-Ply” range. They layer stainless steel with hard-anodized aluminum and a Titanium Pro non-stick coating for an even heat distribution and shiny, elegant aesthetic. This range is compatible with all cooktops (induction included) as well as oven and dishwasher-safe.

The Jamie Oliver ranges include hard-anodized aluminum and stainless steel and offer all of the features of the regular ranges plus induction compatibility.

What do we love about Tefal?

  • Really affordable
  • Stainless steel handles (attractive, durable and stay relatively cool)
  • ThermoSpot indicator (helpful for accurate cooking)
  • PFOA-free
  • Safe to use (despite controversy)
  • Great range of products
  • Oven-safe options
  • Dishwasher-safe options
  • Stainless steel options (“Heritage Tri-Ply” range)

The verdict  

Price-wise, Tefal is the most affordable brand when compared with Circulon and Calphalon. We love their Heritage Tri-Ply range as it combines the shiny stainless-steel look with hard-anodized durability and non-stick ease. They have a great set of features and their Titanium Pro non-stick coating is reassuringly sturdy and durable.

Calphalon

Calphalon is a stalwart of American-born cookware owned by Newell Rubbermaid. Like Circulon, Calphalon works primarily with hard-anodized aluminum. Also like Circulon, they’re known for their non-stick coating which makes their hard-anodized cookware even more user-friendly. They do offer other materials such as ceramic, stainless steel and copper.

What does Calphalon make?

Calphalon is very thorough in their offerings. They make a full range of cookware items, from woks to Dutch ovens to full sets. Their collection is far more vast than Circulon’s and slightly larger than Tefal’s.

Calphalon has divided their cookware into different collections with different features, to make it easier for the consumer to find the best set. For example, for non-stick, oven-safe, dishwasher-safe and metal utensil-safe cookware, you would choose the “Elite” range. Other ranges, such as the “Simply” range have slightly less user-friendly feature (i.e. not dishwasher or metal utensil safe).

What do we love about Calphalon?

  • Durability (especially the tough, hard-anodized aluminum ranges)
  • Easy to clean (thanks to non-stick coating)
  • Great lids (tempered glass and stainless steel)
  • Non-stick (and reliably so)
  • Attractive
  • Huge range of products
  • Varied price range

 The verdict

Calphalon cookware is a great choice if you’re looking for hard-anodized, non-stick cookware, or stainless steel/copper cookware. We would recommend against their ceramic cookware, as there are better ceramic brands out there. Besides, they do non-stick hard-anodized so well so it would be a shame not to make use of that.

Price-wise, Calphalon is more expensive than both Circulon and Tefal, especially if you’re looking at tri-ply stainless steel or copper. Their “Classic” range is more affordable, but still not quite the same value as similar sets from Circulon.

The quick-fire comparison

  Circulon Tefal Calphalon
Price Mid-range Cheapest. Great value Most expensive
Materials Hard-anodized aluminum, stainless steel, aluminum (all non-stick) Hard-anodized aluminum, stainless steel Hard-anodized aluminum (non-stick), stainless steel, ceramic, copper
Selection Large but not as vast as Calphalon Large selection including Jamie Oliver collections Largest selection – (around 10 collections)
Easy to clean? Yes – all are non-stick so easy to clean Yes – thanks to non-stick surface Yes – especially non-stick ranges
Oven-safe options? Yes – almost all are oven safe Yes – almost all are oven safe Yes – almost all are oven safe
Dishwasher-safe options? Yes – almost all are DW safe Yes Yes, except cheaper ranges such as “Classic”
Durable? Yes Yes Yes
Attractive? Yes, great color choices too Yes, especially Jamie Oliver stainless steel Yes, especially the stainless steel and copper sets
Non-stick? YES – all Yes Yes

Conclusion

As we’ve learnt, Circulon, Calphalon and Tefal are similar brands in their materials of choice and the features they offer. They all offer hard-anodized aluminum cookware with non-stick coatings, as well as stainless steel ranges.

Tefal has the extra feature of the Thermal Spot Indicator, as well as a Jamie Oliver endorsement but that’s neither here nor there. The choice comes down to your budget at the time, your specific needs in terms of cooktops, cleaning preferences and aesthetics.

We’re confident in saying that you can find a perfect fit with Calphalon, Circulon or Tefal as they all offer similar (and very high) quality.