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All-Clad Vs Calphalon: Complete Pros & Cons Comparison

All-Clad-Vs-Calphalon
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When it comes to quality cookware, many cooks choose between All-Clad and Calphalon.

While All-Clad has a stellar reputation, especially for its stainless steel cookware, it’s more expensive. Calphalon is better known for its hard-anodized non-stick cookware. It costs less than All-Clad, though not “cheap.”

So, which brand wins, All-Clad vs Calphalon?

The differences between the two don’t stop at price… There’s much to consider before deciding which brand to pick.

To further complicate things, each brand offers various types of stainless steel and non-stick cookware. They’re called “collections.” This can make it difficult to choose between the many offerings even if you’ve decided on a brand.

Luckily, we’ve created this practical guide to compare All-Clad and Calphalon, including the pros and cons of each’s stainless steel and non-stick collections. We’ll review each brand’s quality, durability, price points, and more to help you determine which is right for you… All-Clad or Calphalon?

In a hurry? Skip ahead to our top picks for All-Clad and Calphalon’s stainless steel and non-stick cookware.

All-Clad vs Calphalon: Big Picture Comparison

Unsurprisingly, All-Clad and Calphalon are among the most well-known cookware brands. They’re famous for a reason; both offer high-quality, long-lasting pots and pans with a solid reputation.

While you really can’t make a wrong choice, each brand has its pros and cons. It’s worth being aware of these before buying.

So let’s start by reviewing what makes each brand unique.

Introduction to All-Clad

All-Clad got started back in 1971. Since then, the brand has cemented its reputation as one of the most premium cookware options today.

This reputation largely comes from their superior craftsmanship, though All-Clad’s generous Lifetime Warranty helps. True to their name, All-Clad is known for inventing a “cladding” or “bonding” process.

This process involves reinforcing stainless steel layers with a core of aluminum or copper. As a result, heat distributes more evenly, as copper and aluminum are better heat conductors than stainless steel.

These bonded stainless steel pans are often known as “Tri-Ply” due to the three bonded metal layers. All-Clad also sells cookware with five layers (more on that below).

Each of All-Clad’s stainless steel cookware options is “fully clad.” Fully clad means the conductive layers stretch entirely up the sides of the pot or pan. This design allows heat to distribute evenly across the entire piece – from the bottom center to the rim’s edge.

Calphalon also began producing bonded stainless steel pieces in the early 2000s. But, only some of their pieces are fully clad. Most feature a conductive base only.

As with most things, high quality comes at a cost, and All-Clad doesn’t have any “budget” options.

Introduction to Calphalon

Calphalon launched in 1963 and was known back then as Commercial Aluminum Cookware. This name came from founder Ronald Kasperzak’s invention of hard-anodized aluminum cookware. 

Hard-anodized cookware is created using an aluminum base that undergoes an electrolytic process. This process is where high voltage passes through a liquid, causing a chemical change in the aluminum.

So, the aluminum base becomes “hard-anodized” when dipped into these electrified chemicals. The surface hardens, forming a protective layer. Companies today usually then add a non-stick coating on top of this anodized layer.

After undergoing hard-anodization, pots and pans become highly durable, non-reactive, and corrosion-resistant… All unlike raw aluminum. This helps protect the nonstick surface from wearing off and also prevents aluminum leaching. (Calphalon stands behind this durability, offering a Lifetime Warranty on most of their products).

Hard-anodized cookware bases also distribute and retain heat quite well. And yet, weigh less than stainless steel and cast iron options! But, hard-anodized is not compatible with induction stoves.

Overall, Calphalon is the clear winner for affordability. They offer a vast selection of both stainless steel and nonstick cookware at more accessible prices.

Key Differences: Calphalon vs All-Clad

While each company has its specialty, both now produce bonded stainless steel and hard-anodized cookware.

Let’s quickly review each brand’s key similarities and differences in the overview chart below. Then, we’ll dive into the specifics.

Calphalon-Vs-All-Clad-Comparison-Chart

These are the main similarities and differences between the two brands, but it doesn’t end there! Keep reading to learn more about their cookware’s construction and how this impacts performance and durability.

Stainless Steel Overview

Calphalon and All-Clad offer multiple stainless steel collections, each varying slightly. Read through their differences or jump to our winner.

Let’s start with a general overview of each brand’s stainless steel collections:

All-Clad

All-Clad’s collections have bonded layers stretching entirely up the sides (known as “fully-clad” cookware). Yet, each collection varies in the number of metal layers and the type of metal used in the core.

For example, the D3 collection features three layers – two steel with a conductive aluminum core.

The D5 copper, with a much higher price, uses five layers. This includes two steel with two alternating aluminum layers and a copper core for enhanced responsiveness.

All-Clad’s lids are 100% stainless steel, which means they’re oven and broiler-safe. Also, each All-Clad collection can withstand temperatures up to 600℉.

Finally, most All-Clad cookware features a curved rim, making pouring easier. Calphalon does not have this feature.

Calphalon

Like All-Clad, Calphalon’s stainless steel lines vary by the number of layers and metals used.

Their collections differ even further as their Classic, Select, and Simply lineups are not fully clad. They are instead “bottom-clad” (or “impact-bonded”). This means only the pan’s bottom has conductive layering. Bottom-clad is cheaper, yes, but less effective in cooking food evenly.

Calphalon’s lids are glass, allowing you to monitor your food without breaking the lid’s seal. This benefit improves efficiency and food tenderness but limits oven versatility.

Calphalon’s Classic and Select collections can only withstand up to 400℉. Though Premier can withstand 450℉, others can go up to 500℉.

Both All-Clad and Calphalon stainless steel cookware is dishwasher-safe. However, the brands recommend you hand-wash to avoid dulling the steel.

Comparing Stainless Steel Collections

Let’s briefly review each brand’s most popular stainless steel collections, starting with All-Clad.

All-Clad’s Stainless Steel Collections

– The main benefits of All-Clad’s steel collections are their high-heat tolerance, high-quality metals, and excellent cooking performance. The main downside is their cost.

The D3 is All-Clad’s most popular offering due to its simple nature: a classic tri-ply stainless steel design.

It heats quickly and evenly and is easier to maneuver than the D5 collection (lower weight). It actually heats faster than the D5 as well.

The only major downside is its price compared to Calphalon’s tri-ply set.

  • Layers: 3 – Two stainless steel layers (top and bottom), aluminum core. Fully clad.
  • Compatible with all cooktops
  • Broiler & oven-safe up to 600
  • Current price for a ten-piece set: $699.95
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Most similar to Calphalon’s Premier Stainless Steel Collection.
All-Clad-D3-Stainless-Steeel-Cookware
Source: All-Clad & Amazon

All-Clad’s D5 costs a bit more due to the extra layers – five, not three. But it’s worth it for such an impressive increase in durability and performance. An extra aluminum layer further prevents hot spots, while the steel core retains heat and limits warping.

The D5 Collection comes in two styles… A brushed version (matte finish) and a polished version (classically shiny stainless steel).

  • Layers: 5 – Two stainless steel layers (top and bottom), dual aluminum layers, inner steel core. Fully clad.
  • Compatible with all cooktops
  • Broiler & oven-safe up to 600℉
  • Current price for a ten-piece set: $899.95
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Most similar to Calphalon’s Signature Stainless Steel Collection.
All-Clad-D5-Stainless-Steel-Collection (1)
Source: All-Clad & Amazon

The D5 Copper is All-Clad’s most expensive option (which is really saying something!), but it’s also the highest-performing.

We can thank the copper core, which distributes heat 2x faster than aluminum.

By sandwiching copper between two aluminum layers, this collection gets a hefty boost in heat response. You can make sudden heat adjustments when cooking delicate recipes, offering more control. (For example, to prevent scorching when reducing heat to simmer.)

And, of course, food cooks quickly and evenly.

  • Layers: 5 – Two stainless steel layers (top and bottom), dual aluminum layers, inner copper core. Fully clad.
  • Compatible with all cooktops
  • Broiler & oven-safe up to 600℉
  • Current price for a ten-piece set: $1,499
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Most similar to Calphalon’s AccuCore Stainless Steel Skillet (not available as a set and not available on Amazon).
All-Clad-Copper-Core-Collection
Source: All-Clad & Amazon

Calphalon Stainless Steel Collections

– The main benefits of Calphalon’s stainless steel collections are their lower cost despite good performance. The main downsides are their slightly lower quality and heat tolerances.

Like All-Clad’s D3 Collection, this option covers the basics with three bonded layers. It is fully clad, allowing for even heating throughout.

The biggest downside is that it’s only oven safe up to 450℉.

  • Layers: 3 – Two stainless steel layers (top and bottom), aluminum core. Fully clad.
  • Compatible with all cooktops
  • Oven-safe up to 450℉
  • Current price for an eleven-piece set: $355
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Most similar to All-Clad’s D3 Stainless Collection
Calphalon-Premier-Stainless-Steel-Collection
Source: Calphalon & Amazon

This is Calphalon’s priciest collection due to its 5-layer build, featuring a triple-layer aluminum core. This core offers fast, even heating and improved heat retention for tastier browning and searing.

The Signature collection also has a higher heat tolerance than Premier (500℉ compared to 450℉).

  • Layers: 5 – Two stainless steel layers (top and bottom), three-layer aluminum core. Fully clad.
  • Compatible with all cooktops
  • Oven-safe up to 500℉
  • Current price for a ten-piece set: $588
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Most similar to All-Clad’s D5 Stainless Collection (although D5 has a steel core, offering more durability).
Calphalon-Signature-Stainless-Steel-Collection
Source: Calphalon & Amazon

This is Calphalon’s least expensive collection. Unlike the fully clad options above, this aluminum core is “impact-bonded” at the base. The conductive metal layers do not travel up the sides.

As a result, the sidewalls heat unevenly, causing hot and cold spots.

Now, this option is suitable for most uses. But compared to fully clad cookware, you may need more heat distribution for cooking delicate sauces or soups. That said, it’s a great budget option for most meals.

  • Layers: 3 – Two stainless steel layers (top and bottom), aluminum core (in the base only). Not fully clad.
  • Compatible with all cooktops
  • Oven-safe up to 450℉
  • Current price for a ten-piece set: $199
  • Lifetime warranty
  • No similar All-Clad comparison due to the lack of fully-clad construction.
Source: Calphalon & Amazon

Our Winner for Stainless Steel Cookware

Our top pick for the most wallet-friendly option is Calphalon’s Signature Stainless Steel Collection. Most home cooks are unlikely to notice a difference between this set and All-Clad’s D5.

Yet, despite a lower cost, Calphalon Signature maintains high quality and great performance. Its five-layer, fully clad construction produces fast, even heating and retains heat well for searing.

That said, if you have the budget or are a professional chef (or very observant home cook!), we’d recommend All-Clad’s D5. It distributes heat equally well but sears better and offers more durability. It’ll last longer as a result (generally).

Finally, if your only criterion is performance and quality, go with All-Clad’s Copper Core Collection. With added copper, you get the cream of the crop in heating abilities. Still, you may not find it worth the exorbitant price tag.

Nonstick Overview

Both Calphalon and All-Clad offer multiple hard-anodized nonstick collections. Stick around to learn about their differences, or jump to our winner.

First, let’s do a general overview for each:

All-Clad

All-Clad produces its non-stick collections in China and all feature glass lids. They can withstand temperatures up to 500℉ and are also dishwasher-safe.

But, all their non-stick coatings are PTFE-based (PTFE = brand name of Teflon). And PTFE has some associated health concerns worth knowing (more on that below).

Calphalon

Calphalon produces its nonstick collections in China and the US. All sets feature glass lids and are dishwasher-safe.

There are two major differences between Calphalon and All-Clad’s nonstick cookware…

First, some of Calphalon’s nonstick collections can only withstand 400 to 450℉ tops. Second, Calphalon offers both PTFE and ceramic nonstick coatings. All-Clad offers PTFE only.

A Note on Nonstick Coatings: Are There Toxic Chemicals in All-Clad and Calphalon Nonstick Cookware?

PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) is a chemical most commonly used to create nonstick Teflon coatings. However, PTFE belongs to a class of chemicals called PFAS. And studies show that PFAS can cause health problems through exposure.

Historically, companies made PTFE (Teflon) coatings using the binding agent “PFOA” (perfluorooctanoic acid). This is another type of toxic PFAS chemical.

Now, All-Clad’s nonstick cookware is all PFOA-free. But, they likely produce their coatings with the chemical “GenX” as a replacement for PFOA. While debates about its safety continue, the EPA has shown PFOA links to cancer in animal studies. Also, the organization is considering regulations to avoid contaminating drinking water with GenX.

The bottom line: More research is needed to say for sure whether GenX is safe or not.

The good news is that exposure is likely low when the non-stick coating is intact. All-Clad and Calphalon’s coatings are safe in this case (just don’t surpass 464℉). But, here’s the tricky part…

It can be hard to tell when the layer starts degrading, off-gassing, and leaching into food. And when this happens, harmful chemicals can leach into your food (and the air),  eventually threatening your health.

A good rule of thumb is never to use metal utensils with PTFE-based nonstick cookware. Carefully check for damage to the coating, and do not go above medium heat. The best thing is to avoid PTFE nonstick cookware altogether when possible.

Luckily, Calphalon does offer several PTFE-free, ceramic-based nonstick coatings.

Read more about the dangers of PFAS and find some healthy alternatives in our round-up of the 9 Best Nonstick Pans Without Teflon.

Our Winner for Nonstick Cookware

All-Clad has three nonstick collections that are all made using hard-anodized aluminum.

As mentioned above, All-Clad’s nonstick cookware is made using a PFOA-free nonstick coating. But, it may contain GenX, a PFOA-replacement chemical with questionable safety. For this reason, we can’t recommend any of All-Clad’s nonstick products.

Our nonstick winner is Calphalon’s Classic Ceramic Nonstick Collection, featuring a hard-anodized base and ceramic interior.

While ceramic is a little more difficult to clean, it’s still a great nonstick option. The ceramic also has an olive oil-infused coating, meaning you don’t even need to add oil or butter to your non-stick pan! The collection is oven-safe up to 450℉; Calphalon recommends you hand-wash.

Calphalon-Classic-Ceramic-Nonstick-Collection
Source: Calphalon

The complete eleven-piece set is available on Calphalon’s website for $299.99; it’s currently out of stock on Amazon. But you can still grab their fry pan set on Amazon. It includes an 8” and 10” pan for $79.99.

Read more about ceramic coatings in our article on Healthy Non-Toxic Cookware materials.

Final Thoughts

So, after comparing Calphalon vs All-Clad, what do we think? Which brand is better?

When it comes down to it, there’s no single answer to which brand is better for stainless steel.

All-Clad and Calphalon both offer several great stainless steel options— All-Clad wins for quality and even heat distribution; Calphalon wins for the best price-to-quality ratio.

Which brand you choose (for stainless) boils down to what you value more… Choose All-Clad if you value performance overall and have a flexible budget. All-Clad’s D3 Stainless Steel Collection is an excellent choice if that’s you.

For everyone else, Calphalon is perfectly sufficient. Most home cooks will be pleased with the cheaper yet still high-quality Calphalon Signature Stainless Steel Collection

For nonstick, the clear winner is Calphalon for their Classic Ceramic Nonstick Collection. It offers quality cooking performance, a reasonable price, easy cleaning, and the safety of a ceramic interior. Remember, All-Clad offers only PTFE-based nonstick coatings; Calphalon offers PTFE and ceramic.

On the fence between stainless steel and ceramic? Check out our Ceramic vs. Stainless Steel Cookware Comparison.

Adam Heck
Adam Heck

Hey, I'm Adam - TGL author and founder. Since 2016, I've produced and sold non-toxic kitchenware throughout the US. Today, I'm using my background in sustainable product manufacturing to help families avoid unsafe reusable foodware. When I'm not writing, you'll find me throughout Appalachia camping, hiking, or both!

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