All-Clad vs. Calphalon

All-Clad is a premium cookware brand with prices to match. Calphalon, on the other hand,  targets everyday cooks at every skill level and budget. 

Both are incredibly popular. So why does one cost twice as much as the other? That’s what we’re here to find out.

Over the last 11 years, I’ve been using these (and similar) products in professional kitchens, and they quickly became my go-to at home. Through those years I’ve cooked countless meals in stainless steel cookware and am intimately familiar with the features that can make or break a pan. 

Between my professional experience and the feedback from hundreds of real life owners, I hope to save you time and stress when deciding between All-Clad vs. Calphalon for your kitchen.

In This Article

All-Clad – Background

Calphalon – Background

Comparison: Stainless Steel Lines

Comparison: Nonstick Lines

Recommendations

All-Clad

All-Clad Metalcrafters was founded in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania in 1971. They are best known for their fully clad stainless steel pots and pans but they also make hard anodized nonstick options. 

Stainless steel cookware is what All-Clad has built its reputation on. Today they have a loyal following of both home and professional cooks. All of their stainless steel pots and pans are made in the US and have developed a reputation as one of the most durable choices on the market.

Fully clad cookware bonds multiple layers of metal through the entire pot or pan. This adds strength and conductivity from base to rim.

This method is superior to budget options that only feature disc cladding. Instead of multiple layers throughout the cookware, disk clad pieces use a multi-layered baseplate. This provides a similar effect but only to the very bottom of the pots and pans.

All-Clad’s three-layer D3 series is their flagship collection. On top of that, they have two five-layer lines that feature additional layers of stainless steel and copper.

Even though stainless steel cookware put All-Clad on the map, their nonstick holds its own against the competition.

What We Like

  • The industry standard for fully clad cookware
  • All stainless steel pieces are available individually
  • Stainless steel is made in the USA
  • Trusted by some of the best professional kitchens

What We Don’t Like

  • Some of the most expensive cladware on the market
  • No budget or entry-level options

Calphalon

Calphalon is another US-based cookware company. They have been making aluminum pots and pans since the 60s and were one of the first to develop hard-anodized aluminum.

Hard-anodizing was a huge step for aluminum cookware. Without this chemical process, aluminum cookware reacts to acid ingredients and is very susceptible to warping. 

While hard-anodized nonstick cookware is what they are known for, they have also broken into the stainless steel market.

Up until the early 2000s, All-Clad had a patent for fully clad stainless steel cookware. Once their patent expired competitors quickly started emulating their design. Calphalon has been one of the most successful in offering cladware at more accessible prices.

They now offer three and five-layer designs similar to All-Clad. But, by outsourcing the production of their products they can charge significantly less.

Even though the quality of craftsmanship may not be on par with All-Clad, Calphalon’s cladware is a great option for a wider range of home cooks.

What We Like

  • Huge selection of stainless steel and nonstick cookware.
  • Wide range of prices are more accessible.
  • Less of a commitment if you want to try stainless steel for the first time.

What We Don’t Like

  • Too many options that are very similar to each other.
  • “Metal utensil safe” nonstick doesn’t hold up to the claim.

All-Clad vs. Calphalon: Stainless Steel Cookware

Collections

All-Clad offers three primary stainless steel collections. They are all fully clad but differ in the number of metal layers and the materials used for the inner layers.

D3 is their most popular choice and is great for most daily cooking tasks. The interior and exterior are both made from stainless steel, and the core is a thick layer of aluminum. The three layers design is hefty but light enough to be comfortable and easy to maneuver on a daily basis.

On top of the D3 line, there are two five-layer choices; D5 and Copper Core. D5 has a stainless steel core sandwiched between aluminum, with a stainless steel cooking surface and exterior.

The Copper Core line is very similar to D5, but the stainless steel core is replaced with a layer of copper throughout.  

Calphalon offers four different stainless steel collections. They cover both fully clad and less expensive single layer choices.

Calphalon Premier is their fully clad 3-ply option which is modeled after All-Clad’s D3 cookware. Similarly, it is built with a stainless steel cooking surface and exterior with an aluminum core.

The Signature collection is their “professional-level” cookware and includes their 5-ply design. Instead of an additional stainless steel layer in the center, Calphalon uses three layers of aluminum sandwiched between stainless steel. 

The 3-ply option is available in significantly more sizes than the 5-ply line and seems to be the more popular of the two.

Beyond their fully clad stainless options, Calphalon has two more budget-friendly collections. The Classic and Select lines are very similar. They feature single layer stainless steel pots and pans with a three-layer base bonded to the bottom. 

These two choices can be a solid option for entry-level stainless steel cookware, but in terms of cooking performance, it’s hard to compare them to the fully clad options.

Winner: Calphalon

Calphalon has done an excellent job emulating All-Clad’s three and five-layer options. While the quality of materials, as well as fit and finish, may not be at the same level, they are still high performing pieces. By adding some budget-friendly options to the mix, Calphalon is also able to appeal to a broader range of cooks.

Performance

The cooking performance between brands is going to vary from collection to collection.

All-Clad’s D3 and Calphalon’s Premier lines are the most popular options. Since they are built with the same layers I think comparing apples to apples here makes the most sense.

All-Clad D3 was the model that Calphalon based their 3-ply cookware. They did such a good job at this that most casual cooks are likely not going to notice any difference when it comes to cooking performance.

Both brands heat very evenly throughout the pan and also adjust to cooking temperatures quickly.

When it comes to pouring liquids, Calphalon makes it easy and drip-free with flared rimes on the entire line. All-Clad D3 on the other hand only offers flared, easy-pour rims on some of their pieces.

If you do a lot of high-heat roasting, All-Clad has you covered up to 600 F. Calphalon lacks in this department and can only be used up to 450 F in the oven.

Winner: All-Clad

While Calphalon does a good job emulating All-Clad’s performance, the lower oven limit puts some restrictions on how you use your cookware.

Durability

All-Clad has built its reputation on the durability and longevity of its stainless steel products. All of their stainless steel goes through strict quality control measures in their US factory.

Calphalon stainless steel is well made and built for daily use in the home kitchen. But, their stainless steel lines are mass-manufactured in China where quality control and oversight can be subpar. 

Calphalon makes “professional-level” cookware, but All-Clad is what I’ve found in most of the restaurants I’ve worked in. When it comes to cookware abuse, nothing comes close to how pots and pans are treated in professional kitchens.

Winner: All-Clad

There’s a reason All-Clad is used in restaurants around the world, and anything you put your cookware through at home will be like a walk in the park. With regular use, All-Clad’s stainless steel can easily be passed from generation to generation.

Design

Each of All-Clad’s collections looks very similar. The only real difference is that the D5 line is available in a brushed finish rather than polished like D3. The Copper Core collection on the other hand has a band of exposed copper around its base.

The handles and lids all look about the same across all collections. The handles are unique to All-Clad and are long with a deep groove running the entire length.

Some find the handles to be uncomfortable because they are not round like many cookware brands. I find them to be very comfortable and offer a more secure grip while tilting or pouring.

Calphalon’s lines look slightly more modern as they revamp and update their collections over time.

Their handles are hollow and somewhat boxy with rounded edges. Like All-Clad, the handles do a good job of staying cool when cooking on the stovetop.

Flared, easy-pour rims are standard on all of their pieces which is a welcome feature.

Winner: All-Clad

All-Clad found a winning design and stuck with it. Their pieces are simple without a bunch of bells and whistles, but they elevate any kitchen they are in. It’s also nice to know that you can continue to add pieces over time without worrying about changes in appearance.

Materials

Both brands construct their cookware from similar materials. They are each constructed with an 18/10 stainless steel cooking surface which is durable and safe to use with any ingredients.

The exteriors are then made from 18/0 stainless steel. This is very hard-wearing and is compatible with any cooking surface, including induction.

The core of each is a thick gauge aluminum for excellent heat conductivity and distribution.

When it comes to the handles they are both stainless steel, but Calphalons are hollow where All-Clad’s are solid.

The biggest difference between the two comes down to the lids. All-Clad uses stainless steel lids with matching handles. Calphalon has gone for tempered glass lids with a stainless steel handle and rim.

Some owners have found that water and grease can get stuck between the glass and metal rim of those lids.

Winner: Tie

This comes down to personal preference. I prefer a solid metal lid that has no chance of breaking, but many prefer an option that allows you to monitor your food with the lid on.

Affordability

All-Clad is marketed as a premium brand and their prices certainly reflect that. One of the biggest reasons for the high price tag is that they source and manufacture their stainless steel cookware entirely in the US.

Calphalon on the other hand prides itself on offering similar performance in their cookware at half the price or more than All-Clad. They are able to do this by outsourcing production overseas.

A full set of All-Clad is out of budget for a lot of home cooks, but they do offer each of their pieces individually as well. Adding a piece here and there is a great way to build your perfect set over time.  

Winner: Calphalon

Calphalon makes getting into fully clad cookware more accessible to more people. That can be especially important for those who want to give stainless steel cookware a try for the first time.

Care

Cleaning stainless steel cookware is pretty straight forward. Most of the time soapy water and a sponge are all you need. When things get a little messy we have a guide to getting your pots and pans back in action in no time.

All-Clad recommends handwashing in order to keep your cookware looking like new. Technically they are dishwasher safe, but they can be prone to discoloration. 

If you look at the edges of All-Clad cookware you can clearly see the different layers of metal that are used. That means the aluminum is exposed and is more susceptible to corrosion and pitting in a harsh dishwasher environment.

Calphlon does say that their stainless steel is dishwasher safe and they don’t have the exposed aluminum to worry about. But, many owners have noted discoloration after dishwasher use.

Winner: Tie

Both options will benefit from handwashing but can also handle an occasional round in the dishwasher.

All-Clad vs. Calphalon: Nonstick Cookware

Collections

All-Clad has two dedicated lines of nonstick cookware. Those are the HA1 and Essentials lines. Both are constructed from hard-anodized aluminum and use a three-layer Teflon based coating.

The primary difference between the two is that HA1 features a stainless steel base that is compatible with induction cooktops.

On top of the two nonstick collections, you can also find nonstick fry pans in the D3 and D5 lines.

Calphalon is a whole different story when it comes to nonstick options. They actually carry seven different collections.

The Elite, Signature, Premier, and Contemporary collections all use a three-layer Teflon based nonstick coating that is very similar to All-Clad. The Classic, Select, and Simply collections are more budget-friendly and have two-layer nonstick construction.

Many Calphalon collections include both stainless steel and nonstick. It can become a little mind-boggling when comparing all seven lines, so be sure to take a look at our breakdown of all of Calphalon’s offerings.

Winner: Calphalon

It may be too many, but Calphalon does offer cookware solutions for just about every situation.

Performance

All-Clad’s hard-anodized nonstick cookware performs about the same as the higher-end collections from Calphalon.

Both brands use very thick and durable aluminum and similar three-layer nonstick coatings. The nonstick properties are good and these options wipe clean after most cooking tasks.

The induction compatibility of All-Clad’s HA1 line is the only major performance difference.

On the more budget-friendly front, Calphalon dominates. These options are built from thinner gauge aluminum and only use a two-layer nonstick coating.

The result is slightly less even heat distribution and less durability in the nonstick coating and the pots and pans themselves.

Winner: Calphalon

All-Clad doesn’t really have an answer to the lower cost options that Calphalon offers, but if you cook with Induction then All-Clad is the only way to go. 

Durability

When it comes to the cooking surface, All-Clad and the top end options of Calphalon offer about the same level of durability. The three-layer design is some of the best around, but only when used properly.

Calphalon’s Elite and Signature series both claim to be safe to use with metal utensils, but many owners strongly disagree.

The stainless steel base on All-Clad’s HA1 line does offer some extra protection against warping.

All of these options are rated to be dishwasher safe. But, I have heard of owners causing serious damage to the nonstick coatings after only a couple of dishwasher uses.

No nonstick pans will last forever but you can greatly extend their useful life by avoiding some common mistakes.

Winner: All-Clad HA1

The nonstick coatings are about the same, but the addition of a stainless steel base adds extra rigidity and will protect against warping.

Design

Just like with their stainless steel offerings, All-Clad sticks with a simple and timeless aesthetic. While most of their shapes are the same, some of the saucepans and stockpots have a wide and round base that gently tapers to the top.

They use the same long, v-shaped handles but they have swapped out the stainless steel lids for tempered glass ones.

Calphalon has similarities across all of their lines with the biggest visual differences being the handles. Some feature silicon wrapping and some are shorter than others. The pots and pans themselves all look very modern.

The stand out feature for Calphalon is their space-saving stacking sets in the Premier and Select lines. These are designed to neatly nest in a single stack along with their lids.

Winner: Calphalon Signature and Select

The space-saving, stacking system is an innovative design that’s great for smaller kitchens.

Materials

Both brands utilize very similar hard-anodized aluminum for their pots and pans. They also both feature tempered glass lids with stainless steel handles.

The aluminum on All-Clad and the higher-end Calphalon options is very thick and strong enough to offer good durability. All-Clad has gone one step further by bonding a stainless steel base to their HA1 series.

The lower end Calphalon options use a medium gauge aluminum. While this is still pretty strong, it is more prone to warping.

All of the two and three-layer nonstick coatings are PFOA-free but they do contain PTFE. There is some controversy around the possible environmental effects of PTFE to be aware of.

When treated properly these surfaces are quite safe. They also tend to be more durable and nonstick than ceramic options.

To address this concern Calphalon does offer a couple of ceramic nonstick options. These pieces do not contain any PFOA or PTFE but many owners found the nonstick properties to diminish very quickly, even with proper use and care.

Winner: Calphalon

By offering Teflon-free nonstick options Calphalon is once again offering more choices to appeal to a wider group of cooks.

Affordability

All-Clad stainless steel is some of the most expensive on the market. Their nonstick options on the other hand are competitively priced.


I wouldn’t say they are cheap, but an HA1 10-piece set is often only about $100 more than a similar set in the Calphalon Premier series. The Essentials pieces are often on par with the cost of Calphalon Premier.

Calphalon’s two-layer nonstick choices on the other hand are about half the price as the high-end options.

Winner: Calphalon

When you consider that no nonstick cookware will last forever, it might not make sense to spend big bucks on a top-tier set. Having a wide range of prices is especially important when dealing with cookware that will periodically need to be replaced.

Care

Even though some of Calphalon’s most expensive options claim to be metal utensil safe, I would treat all nonstick cookware the same. That means no metal utensils, ever.

Stick to wood, plastic, and silicon while you’re cooking, and never use abrasive sponges or detergents when cleaning.

Most of these nonstick options are technically dishwasher safe, but that will greatly reduce the useful life of the cookware.

In general, it’s pretty difficult to really get food stuck to a nonstick pan. Even when things don’t go quite as planned, soap and a soft sponge will almost always get the job done.

Winner: Tie

Stick to hand washing and don’t use metal utensils even when the manufacturers say its ok.

Our Recommendation:

I’ve been using All-Clad stainless steel in professional kitchens for years so it has a special place in my heart, and it is what I stock my kitchen with. Slowly, but surely.

Calphalon on the other hand is a very attractive and more affordable alternative for stainless steel. For nonstick options, I think Calphalon is the clear winner unless you have an induction cooktop.

Calphalon offers a much wider selection of nonstick options. Plus, paying premium All-Clad prices for cookware that will need to be replaced in a few years may not be the way to go.

Choose All-Clad If You:

  • Want induction compatible nonstick pots and pans.
  • Want the option to purchase all stainless steel pieces individually.
  • Have the budget for it.
  • Want to take advantage of the higher stainless steel oven limit (600 F).

Choose Calphalon If You:

  • Want a full set of cookware on a lower budget.
  • Want Teflon-free nonstick cookware.
  • Want a larger selection of nonstick options.


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