May 8

Is Calphalon Cookware a Good Brand? A Detailed Review

By trk

Last Updated: May 8, 2022

calphalon, calphalon review, nonstick, nonstick review

Calphalon cookware is a hugely popular brand. They are probably best known for their PTFE nonstick cookware, but they also make clad stainless and ceramic nonstick as well as bakeware and cutlery. The brand has a loyal following, especially for the PTFE nonstick. But is Calphalon cookware really all that great? 

We take a deep dive into the Calphalon world and tell you what's good about it, what's not so good about it, and which are the best lines to invest in. 

Calphalon Cookware at a Glance

Here are Calphalon's current lines according to their website. Calphalon organizes their product lines by cooking expertise, so there can be PTFE nonstick, ceramic nonstick, and clad stainless steel all in the same line. The "beginner" lines (Select and Simply Calphalon) are the least expensive, the "intermediate" lines (Classic and Premier) are more (although the features are about the same), and the "advanced" lines (Signature and Elite) are the highest priced. 

We put Calphalon's product lines in alphabetical order, but include the "cooking level" for each. 

NOTE: We talk more about this below in How to Buy Cookware.

Calphalon cookware has different warranties, ranging from 10 years to lifetime, but they seem to be one of the few cookware companies that might actually replace a nonstick pan for having a worn coating. Some people give their customer service rave reviews, but some say it's awful.

Some Calphalon lines are available in space-saving sets, and some of these sets have nice pieces. If you have limited storage space, this is a nice option (though their highest-end lines do not have this option). 

Calphalon Line/Buying Options

Feautures

Classic Hard-Anodized PTFE Nonstick

(intermediate cooks)

see Classic PTFE on Amazon

see Classic collection at Calphalon.com

Caphalon Classic PTFE Skillet Set

-2 layers of PTFE nonstick

-3mm thick anodized aluminum base

-Stainless steel riveted handles

-Oven safe to 450F

-NOT induction compatible

-Hand wash/no metal utensils

-Measurement marks in deep pans

-Glass lids with strainers (deep pans)

-8"/10" set about $40; 10pc set about $175

-Limited 10 year warranty

-NOT available in space saving sets

-Made in China.

Classic Oil-Infused Ceramic Nonstick

(intermediate cooks)

see Classic Ceramic on Amazon

see Classic collection at Calphalon.com

Calphalon Classic Oil-Infused Ceramic Nonstick Skillet

-"Oil-infused" ceramic nonstick coating; PTFE/PFOA free

-3mm thick anodized aluminum body

-Stainless steel riveted handles

-Oven safe to 450F

-NOT induction compatible

-Hand wash (not dishwasher safe)

-Glass lids

-8"/10" set about $65; 11pc set $220

-Limited lifetime warranty

-NOT available in space saving sets

-Made in China.

Calphalon Classic Stainless Steel 10pc Set

-Stainless steel body with app. 3mm aluminum disc

-Stainless steel riveted handles 

-Measuring marks and pouring spouts (deep pans)

-Glass lids with strainers (deep pans)

-Oven safe to 450F

-Dishwasher/metal utensil safe

-Induction compatible

-Limited lifetime warranty

-Comes in space saving sets

-8"/10" set about $75;10pc set about $200

-NOT available in space saving sets

-Made in China.

Calphalon Elite Skillet Set

-Sold exclusively by Williams-Sonoma

-Hard-anodized aluminum body app. 3.6mm thick

-Triple layer, textured PTFE nonstick interior 

-Riveted stainless handles

-Glass lids

-Oven safe to 500F

-NOT induction compatible

-Dishwasher and metal utensil safe

-8"/10" set about $90; 10pc set about $550

-Limited lifetime warranty

-NOT available in space-saving sets

-Made in USA.

Premier Hard-Anodized PTFE Nonstick

(intermediate cooks)

see Premier PTFE on Amazon

see the collection at Calphalon.com

Calphalon Premier 8:12 Skillet Set

-Heavy gauge anodized aluminum body (3.6mm)

-Triple layer PTFE nonstick interior

-Riveted stainless handles

-Glass lids

-Oven safe to 450F (lids also safe to 450F)

-NOT induction compatible

-Dishwasher and metal utensil safe

-8"/12" set about $165; 11pc set about $374

-Regular and space-saving sets

-Limited lifetime warranty

-Some space saving options available

-Made in China or USA (depending on piece/set).

Calphalon Premier Stainless Steel 11pc Set

-Tri-ply fully clad stainless/aluminum body, app. 2.5mm thick

-Stainless steel riveted handles

-Glass lids

-Oven safe to 450F (lids also safe to 450F)

-Dishwasher/metal utensil safe

-Induction compatible

-Regular and space-saving sets

-10" w/lid about $70; 11pc set about $370

-Limited lifetime warranty

-Available in space saving sets

-Made in China.

Select Hard-Anodized PTFE Nonstick

(beginner cooks)

see Select Nonstick at Target

see the Select collection at Calphalon.com

Calphalon Select 10:12 Skillet Set

-2 layers of PTFE nonstick

-3mm thick anodized aluminum base

-Silicone-wrapped steel riveted handles

-Oven safe to 400F (Lids safe to 450F)

-NOT induction compatible

-Dishwasher safe

-Measurement marks in deep pans

-Glass lids with strainers (deep pans)

-10"/12" set about $45; 10pc set about $180

-Regular and space-saving sets

-Limited 10 year warranty

-Available in space-saving sets

-Made in China.

Calphalon Select 10pc Space Saving Set

-Stainless steel body with app. 3mm aluminum disc

-Silicone-wrapped steel riveted handles

-Oven safe to 400F (Lids to 450F)

-Glass lids

-Induction compatible

-8"/10" set about $80; 10pc set about $250

-Regular and space-saving sets

-Limited 10 year warranty

-Available in space saving sets (shown left)

-Made in China.

Calphalon Select Ceramic Nonstick Skillet

-"Oil-infused" ceramic nonstick coating; PTFE/PFOA free

-3mm thick anodized aluminum body

-Silicone-wrapped steel riveted handles

-Oven safe to 400F

-NOT induction compatible

-Hand wash (not dishwasher safe)

-No lids available

-8"/10" skillet set about $40

-Limited 5 year warranty

-NOT available in space saving sets

-Made in China.

Calphalon Signature 8:10inch Skillet Set

-3.6mm anodized aluminum body

-Calphalon's top-of-the-line-nonstick

-Triple layer, textured PTFE nonstick interior 

-Riveted stainless handles

-Glass lids

-Oven safe to 500F (lids to 450F)

-NOT induction compatible

-Dishwasher and metal utensil safe

-8"/10" set about $75; 10pc set about $400

-Good selection of open stock available

-Limited lifetime warranty

-NOT available in space saving sets

-Made in USA.

Calphalon Signature Clad Stainless 10pc Set

-5-ply fully clad stainless/aluminum body app. 2.5mm thick; 3 internal layers of aluminum

-Stainless steel riveted handles

-Glass lids

-Oven safe to 500F (lids safe to 450F)

-Dishwasher/metal utensil safe

-Induction compatible

-10" skillet about $70; 10pc set about $600

-Not a lot of open stock or set options

-Limited lifetime warranty

-NOT available in space saving sets

-Made in China.

Simply Calphalon Skillet

-3mm thick anodized aluminum body

-2 layers of PTFE nonstick interior 

-Silicone/stainless handles

-Glass lids, slightly domed

-Oven safe to 400F (lids safe to 450F)

-NOT induction compatible

-Not dishwasher/metal utensil safe

-12" skillet about $95; 10pc set about $180

-Not a lot of options so may be being phased out

-Limited 10 year warranty

-NOT available in space saving sets

-Made in China.

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Other Calphalon Lines (Probably Discontinued)

Calphalon has some other product lines on Amazon and elsewhere that aren't on their website, so we're assuming that these lines are being phased out. 

Calphalon (probably) discontinued lines include:

If you come across any of these lines, you can assume the specs are roughly the same (if not exactly the same) as Calphalon's current lines. 

We also think Calphalon may be phasing out some of their current lineup because of the lack of options on their website. Simply Calphalon, for example, has only one set available and no open stock. However, they may just be low on inventory (as so many manufacturers are these days). 

We'll stay on top of Calphalon's site and update their product line as it changes.

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About Nonstick Cookware

There are two types of nonstick cookware: PTFE and ceramic nonstick. These are the ONLY types of nonstick cookware. Titanium, granite, diamond, and other terms are merely additions to a nonstick coating, which is either PTFE or ceramic.

Ceramic nonstick is NOT the same as other ceramic or enameled cookware. Ceramic nonstick was invented in 2007, while traditional ceramic and enameled cookware has been around for hundreds of years. Ceramic nonstick coatings are applied to pans using a sol-gel process, which is much newer technology than traditional ceramics. Traditional ceramic and enamel is not nonstick, but cleans up easily under most conditions.

You can read more about traditional ceramic and nonstick ceramic cookware as well as "granite" nonstick cookware in our article about stoneware cookware.

You can read more about nonstick coatings in our article Nonstick Cookware Brands: PTFE or Ceramic?

Nonstick cookware has a number of disadvantages, including:

  • Doesn't last very long (average of 1-5 years--compare to decades of use for stainless and cast iron)
  • Isn't very durable (no high heat, metal utensils, etc.)
  • Doesn't brown food very well
  • Can contain toxic chemicals, or break down into toxic chemicals if heat is too high (above about 400F)
  • Terrible for the environment.

We talk more about safety and environmental issues of nonstick cookware below.

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About the Calphalon Company

Calphalon began its life as the Commercial Aluminum Cookware Company, founded in 1963 by Ronald Kasperzak. The company sold aluminum cookware to the restaurant industry and other commercial food services businesses. 

In 1968, Kasperzak began to use anodized aluminum for his cookware, inspired by a technique he saw used in the aerospace industry. Anodized aluminum is extremely durable and was a huge hit with professional chefs.

The anodized cookware became hugely popular. In the 1980s, the demand for Calphalon by home chefs was as great or greater than that of the food industry. In 1992, the company's name was officialy changed to Calphalon, and their primary market was home users.

Calphalon was purchased by Newell Corporation in 1998. Newell is a consumer product conglomerate that owns several well-known brands. In addition to Calphalon, their kitchen product brands include FoodSaver, Rubbermaid, Oster, and Sunbeam.

According to this business site, Calphalon's annual revenue is about $180 million. Calphalon headquarters remain in Perrysburg, Ohio, where the company was founded. 

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Where Is Calphalon Cookware Made?

When founded in 1963 as the Commercial Aluminum Cookware Company, all manufacturing was done in Perrysburg, Ohio. Calphalon still has the reputation of making cookware in the USA.

However, Calphalon (or perhaps more accurately Newell) has been quietly moving manufacturing overseas to China. The information available is a little sketchy, but as far as we can tell, the only Calphalon line still made entirely in the US is their Elite line, which is sold exclusively at Williams-Sonoma. 

Some pieces in other nonstick lines might be made in the USA, but no other nonstick line is completely made here. We suspect that eventually, all the lines will be moved to China.

All of Calphalon's other products--stainless steel cookware, cast iron, knives, and small appliances--are made overseas, mostly (if not completely) in China.

Yes: we know this may be a surprise to many readers, as Calphalon is known as American cookware. There are many reviewers on Amazon and even some cookware websites that say Calphalon is an American-made brand. While this was once the case, it no longer is. 

We suspect that this is the main reason Calphalon has changed their lineup so frequently in the past few years: they are replacing American-made cookware with Chinese-made cookware.

Is the Chinese-made Calphalon as good? It's hard to say unless you're a long-time user of Calpahlon and have noticed a difference. Several reviewers on Amazon say the quality is not as good. The best we can do is test the cookware currently made by Calphalon and report our conclusions, which we have done here.

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Does Calphalon Cookware Contain Teflon (PTFE)?

Most of Calphalon's nonstick cookware lines contain PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), which is the generic name of the Teflon molecule. So while Calphalon pans technically don't contain Teflon®, they contain an identical substance with a different brand name. 

Today, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of different brand names for PTFE. Some of the more popular ones are Autograph, Quantanium, Granitium, Stratanium, and Eterna.

Calphalon does not disclose the brand of PTFE they use on their cookware. They probably own their own brand and have decided not to make that information available to their buyers. But they freely admit that several lines of their cookware contains PTFE.

Calphalon's oil-infused ceramic nonstick cookware does not contain PTFE (Teflon). Ceramic nonstick is an alternative for people who want to avoid PTFE, but it generally does not last as long, and may have some health and safety issues of its own (which we briefly discuss below). 

Calphalon clad stainless cookware with a stainless cooking surface is also PTFE-free, but if the pans have a nonstick coating, then they contain PTFE.

You can read more about nonstick coatings in our article What Is PFOA? A Guide to Nonstick Chemicals.

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Is Calphalon Nonstick Cookware Free of PFOA?

Yes: all Calphalon cookware is free of PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid). Also known as C8, PFOA was banned in 2015 for uxd in all cookware sold in the US. Thus, no nonstick cookware you buy in the US today contains PFOA. 

However, you must look deeper to understand the complexities--as well as the safety issues--of the PTFE cookware industry. Most makers (if not all) have replaced PFOA with a chemical in the same family (the PFAS family) called GenX. Dupont, the makers of GenX, claimed it was safe and non-toxic, but GenX has proven to have many of the same issues as PFOA. That is, GenX has been associated with several of the same health issues as PFOA, including several types of cancers.

Thus, the term "PFOA-free" is largely meant to make people think they're buying a safe product, when in fact similar chemicals are still used in the industry to produce PTFE cookware. 

And while the cookware itself is considered safe when used correctly (this is a true statement), the industry engages in many unethical practices, including dumping these toxic chemicals into the water supply. This still happens today in the United States, and probably even more so in China, where the vast majority of today's nonstick cookware is made. There are few regulations about dumping these "forever" chemicals in the US.

If you don't want to support an unethical industry that is polluting the planet, don't buy PTFE nonstick cookware (even if it's PFOA-free). 

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Is Calphalon PTFE Nonstick Cookware Safe to Use?

Yes: according to the most up-to-date research, PTFE nonstick cookware is safe to use when used correctly. That is: no high heat, no metal utensils, no aerosol cooking spray, and always wash by hand.

Here's why these are no-nos:

High heat degrades nonstick cookware, and in the case of PTFE cookware, heat can break down the coating into reactive PFAS chemicals, including PFOA. So you must be very, very careful when using PTFE nonstick cookware cookware.

Aerosol cooking spray also degrades PTFE coatings. It contains a propellant that reacts with it, causing the coating to become tacky and soft (and almost certainly not safe to use).

Metal utensils and dishwasher detergent can both scratch nonstick coatings. Even if a maker says their products are safe for use with metal utensils and the dishwasher, you should never use either on a PTFE pan.

But even if you follow all these rules, there are bigger issues that make PTFE cookware a not-very-safe choice:

The PTFE cookware industry is not well regulated (as we said above), so it is free to dump PFAS chemicals into water supplies, and has been doing so since the 1950s. So even if you use nonstick cookware safely, you are contributing to an unethical industry that is polluting the planet just by buying it.

Furthermore, because nonstick cookware doesn't last, you may also be contributing to the landfill issue when you dispose of your old nonstick pans. Fewer than 5% of curbside recycling programs take cookware, so most of it ends up in landfills.

We know people aren't going to stop buying nonstick cookware, but please: limit your pans to just one or two skillets, and use them as carefully as you can.

You can read more about safe cookware in our Definitive Guide to Safe Cookware.

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Is Calphalon "Oil-Infused" Ceramic Nonstick Cookware Safe to Use?

Calphalon also makes two lines of "oil-infused" ceramic nonstick (Classic and Select), which is a different nonstick technology and free of all PFAS chemicals.

Because ceramic nonstick is PTFE- and PFOA-free, it is perceived as safer than PTFE nonstick. However, there is some evidence that the sol-gel coating used to make ceramic nonstick pans may have some safety issues. Namely, titanium dioxide nanoparticles, which have been associated with a number of health issues, including tumors. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of evidence yet, but what's out there seems to indicate that ceramic nonstick is probably safe at the temperatures used in a kitchen. (That is, it takes very high heat to release these chemicals.) 

You can read more about this in many of the articles we've already linked to about nonstick cookware.

We'd also like to say something about Calphalon's claim that their "oil-infused" nonstick requires no oil or butter for nonstick cooking. The coating itself contains olive oil, which is supposed to eliminate your use of cooking oil.

We have found in our testing that this is not the case. Like every other ceramic nonstick coating we've tested, Calphalon's work best with enough oil or butter to coat the cooking surface of the pan. 

The truth is that ceramic nonstick is best considered to be semi-nonstick, and will be sticky without cooking oil.

So if you're intrigued by the idea of oil-free cooking, you'll probably be disappointed in Calphalon's oil-infused ceramic nonstick. If this is what you want, a PTFE nonstick pan is the better choice.

(But you shouldn't be cooking without oil or butter, anyway: several nutrients require fat for your body to absorb them, including vitamins A, D, E, and K. Small amounts of healthy fats are essential for good health.)

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Is Calphalon Clad Stainless Cookware Safe to Use?

Yes: clad stainless cookware is a safe choice. Though there are different grades of steel used in cookware manufacturing--and Calphalon is vague about the grades they use--most of it leaches tiny amounts of nickel and chromium when new (but stabilizes over time). However, there is no evidence that stainless steel cookware is unsafe.

In fact, stainless steel is one of the most stable and non-reactive cooking surfaces you can buy, regardless of the grade used.

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Calphalon Vs. Anolon

Calphalon Signature 8:10inch Skillet Set

Calphalon Signature skillets.

Anolon Nouvelle Luxe skillet set

Anolon Nouvelle Luxe skillets.

See our Anolon cookware review

Calphalon and Anolon are both best known for their anodized aluminum nonstick cookware. Both brands are affordably priced and both brands offer good quality nonstick and medium quality clad stainless cookware.

So which brand is best?

The best way to compare these brands is to look at their features in a table, which we do here. However, our overall choice for nonstick is in Anolon's lineup: Anolon Nouvelle Luxe. We like Nouvelle Luxe because of its amazing heating properties, which are better than any other line from Calphalon or Anolon. The heating properties come from its thick induction base, which contains 4mm of aluminum plus 0.6mm of copper, plus the 2.5mm thick aluminum body.

This is an incredible amount of heat-spreading aluminum and copper, and no Calphalon product offers anything like this. (In fact, we don't know of any aluminum nonstick cookware with a build quality close to Nouvelle Luxe.) Calphalon's top-of-the-line lines Signature and Elite, have a base of 3.6mm, which doesn't come close to Nouvelle Luxe's build, and costs about the same (Signature) or quite a bit more (Elite).

If for some reason you don't want the thick induction base--and you don't need an induction cooktop to benefit from it--then any line from Calphalon will give you better performance. But Nouvelle Luxe is far-and-away the best performer of any product line made by either company.

Anolon/Calphalon Nonstick Cookware Comparison Table

Feature:

Anolon

Calphalon

Owned By

Meyer Corporation

Newell Brands

Body Construction

-2.5mm anodized aluminum

-2.5mm anodized aluminum + 4mm alum/0.6mm copper base.

-3mm anodized aluminum

-3.6mm anodized aluminum.

Nonstick Coating

-2 or 3 layers sapphire infused PTFE.

-2 or 3 layers proprietary PTFE

-Oil infused ceramic nonstick.

Country of Origin

China

China

Induction Compatibility

Some lines are induction compatible.

No Calphalon nonstick is induction compatible.

Oven Safe Temp

400-500F (depending on handles).

400-500F (depending on handles).

Dishwasher Safe

Some lines are, some lines aren't.

Some lines are, some lines aren't.

Metal Utensil Use

Some lines are safe, some lines aren't.

Some lines are safe, some lines aren't.

Design

-Many lines have flush nonstick rivets for easy cleaning

-Stainless or silicone handles

-Nouvelle Luxe has stainless lids; all other lines have glass lids.

-Offers up to 4 color options and several open stock pieces in many lines.

-3 stainless rivets on cooking surfaces

-Stainless or silicone handles

-All lines have glass lids

-Colors are black or gray.

Usability

Lightweight and easy to use.

Lightweight and easy to use.

Price

Affordable. Nouvelle Luxe slightly less than Signature.

Affordable, with a wider range of prices than Analon. Signature slightly more than Nouvelle Luxe.

Warranty

Lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects (probably won't cover used nonstick coating).

Warranties vary from 10 year to lifetime. May or may not cover used nonstick coating (both good and bad experiences reported).

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Calphalon Vs. All-Clad

Many buyers think Calphalon is comparable to All-Clad in build quality and heating performance. Our testing has found that this is true for the nonstick (Calphalon Signature and Elite are better, the others are about the same, though not induction compatible), but not for the clad stainless steel. Here are our comparison tables.

Note that All-Clad's induction base does not contain the stellar amount of aluminum and copper as Anolon's Nouvelle Luxe, so our choice for nonstick once again is the Nouvelle Luxe.

Nonstick

All-Clad/Calphalon Nonstick Cookware Comparison Table

Feature:

All-Clad

Calphalon

Owned By

Groupe SEB

Newell Brands

Body Construction

-3mm anodized aluminum

3mm anodized aluminum + induction base (magnetic steel).

-3mm anodized aluminum

-3.6mm anodized aluminum.

Nonstick Coating

-3 layers proprietary PTFE

-2 or 3 layers proprietary PTFE

-Oil infused ceramic nonstick.

Country of Origin

China.

China.

Induction Compatibility

One line is induction compatible, one is not.

No Calphalon nonstick is induction compatible.

Oven Safe Temp

500F.

400-500F (depending on the line).

Dishwasher Safe

Yes (though not recommended).

Some lines are, some lines aren't (and not recommended).

Metal Utensil Use

Yes (though not recommended).

Some lines are safe, some lines aren't (and not recommended).

Design

-2 stainless rivets on cooking surface

-Stainless handles

-Glass lids

-Black exterior only.

-2-3 stainless rivets on cooking surfaces

-Stainless or silicone handles

-All lines have glass lids

-Black or gray exterior.

Usability

Lightweight and easy to use.

Lightweight and easy to use.

Price

Affordable. 

Affordable, with a wider range of prices than All-Clad. 

Warranty

Lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects (won't cover used nonstick coating).

Warranties vary from 10 year to lifetime. May or may not cover used nonstick coating (both good and bad experiences reported).

Clad Stainless

All-Clad is the original clad stainless and there's a reason it's expensive: it's high quality and contains more internal aluminum than any Calphalon line, which means it will heat more evenly and hold heat better. All-Clad's lifetime warranty is real and they will honor it. Their clad stainless cookware is still made in the USA.

Calphalon's 10 year warranty on their Select clad stainless is awful--no reputable brand of clad stainless cookware should have less than a 30 year warranty. 

And you may think that more plies means better heating, but this is only the case if a pan has thicker layers of internal aluminum. This is not the case for Caphalon Signature, which is a 5-ply pan that is the same thickness as its tri-ply Premier. Thus, you will get about the same heating performance from the cheaper tri-ply Premier as you will from the more expensive 5-py Signature. (Incidentally, the same is true for All-Clad: their 5-ply D5 is no thicker than their tri-ply D3, so the D3 is the better buy--but both are better than Calphalon.)

If you want clad stainless cookware, we do not recommend Calphalon. There are better options out there, even if you don't want to pay All-Clad prices. 

See our article on The Best Stainless Steel Cookware Sets for more information. 

All-Clad/Calphalon Clad Stainless Cookware Comparison Table

Feature:

All-Clad

Calphalon

Owned By

Groupe SEB

Newell Brands

Body Construction

-Tri-ply w/2.6mm walls (D3)

-5-ply w/2.6mm walls, s-a-s-a-s (D5)

-5-ply w/alum and copper interior: s-a-c-a-s (Copper Core).

-Disc-clad w/3mm alum disc (Classic, Select)

-Tri-ply w/app 2.5mm walls (Premier)

-5-ply w/app 2.5mm walls, s-a-a-a-s (Signature).

Grade of Stainless Steel

18/10 on cooking surface, 439 magnetic on exterior.

Doesn't disclose, though they say some of it is 18% chromium (18/10).

Country of Origin

USA.

China.

Induction Compatibility

Yes, all lines.

Yes, all lines.

Oven Safe Temp

600F.

400-500F (depending on line).

Dishwasher Safe

Yes.

Yes.

Metal Utensil Use

Yes.

Yes.

Design

-Stainless rivets

-Stainless handles and lids

-Polished or brushed stainless exterior.

-Stainless rivets

-Stainless or silicone handles

-Glass lids

-Polished or brushed exterior.

Usability

Mid-weight.

Lightweight.

Price

$$$. 

$$

Warranty

Lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects (won't cover used nonstick coating).

-10 year warranty on Select clad stainless

-Lifetime warranty on other lines.

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How to Buy Cookware

This section is a general tutorial on what to look for in cookware. If you consider all of these factors before you buy (as well as any other factors that are important to you), you should end up with cookware that you love.

About Your Cooking Level

This is not a topic we usually include in a How to Buy Cookware section, but Calphalon organizes their cookware lines by level of cooking expertise, so we thought we'd share our thoughts about it. 

To be perfectly blunt, we think this is just silly. The beginner lines are their thinnest, cheapest lines, with silicone handles and less durable nonstick coating (or at least, fewer layers of it). They have a lower oven safe temp (400F vs. 450F or 500F).

Why would any cook want lower quality cookware, regardless of their skill level? 

We could even argue that higher quality cookware is more important for beginner cooks. It's more durable and will likely perform better under the conditions that a novice might subject it to. 

So our recommendation is to ignore Calphalon's skill level rating, and buy the best quality cookware you can afford. 

Our only caveat is that quality is less important for nonstick cookware, which will last 1-5 years no matter how much you spend on it. However, thicker, heavier cookware performs better and is more durable than thin, cheap cookware, so although we recommend buying cheap and often, you don't want to buy too cheap. 

Calphalon's 3mm-thick bodies and 2 layers of nonstick on their beginner and intermediate lines are actually pretty good, but we recommend avoiding silicone or rubber handles, which wear out quickly (especially if you have a gas range) and lower the oven-safe temp. 

Calphalon's clad stainless cookware is about the same across the skill levels, and it's all thinner than comparably priced brands, so we don't recommend any of it.

Sets Vs. Open Stock

There are advantages to buying both sets and open stock, depending on what you need.

If you need a lot of cookware, a set can be a great way to get it at a great price. Just be sure you need and will use all the pieces in the set.

You may think if you invest in a large set you'll have everything you need and are done buying cookware, but this is almost never the case. No sets have everything you need in the sizes you want. For example, no sets come with a roasting pan or baking sheets, which are essential pieces for most cooks. And few sets come with a large 12-inch skillet which is a useful size for anyone cooking for more than two people or meal prepping. (The exception is very large sets, 12-15 pieces, but large sets tend to also have "filler" pieces, like two small sauce pans, that you won't find very useful.)

Very few sets have specialty pieces like woks, steamers, or deep sauté pans, all of which many cooks will find useful. Many cooks also want a cast iron or carbon steel skillet for high heat searing. 

And, you may prefer to buy different types of cookware rather than a whole set of, say, clad stainless. For example, an enameled cast iron Dutch oven is a more useful piece than a stainless Dutch oven.

If you want a set, a smart strategy is to buy a small set--5-7 pieces--and plan a budget to add more pieces as you need them. This way, you get a deal on pieces you know you'll use, but still have a budget for the other pieces you want to buy. (And you won't have to settle for using pieces in the set you don't really like.)

There are exceptions to this, such as Tramontina's Tri-Ply Clad 12 piece set, which has excellent pieces, including two large skillets (10"/12") and other large pieces. But most large sets have too many small filler pieces and not enough large ones. 

We also recommend buying sets in clad stainless steel and not in nonstick. Nonstick wears out, so you're better off buying it just where you need it, which is skillets (or sauté pans, if you prefer). Nonstick griddles can also work, but we prefer cast iron griddles for their longevity and durability.

Never buy a nonstick wok: woks are meant to be used at high heat, and high heat destroys nonstick cookware (both PTFE and ceramic). 

Also: Always check the sizes of set pieces, because sets will often have smallish pieces, sometimes two small pieces so close in size that they're essentially the same. While most sets are going to have smaller pieces, you should look for one that has decent sized sauce pans (for example, a 1.5 quart and a 3 quart, not a 1.5 quart and a 2 quart). 

About Buying Nonstick Cookware

Since Calphalon is best known for its PTFE nonstick cookware, we're including a section on it to help you buy.

Most of this also applies to ceramic nonstick pans. 

Here are some pointers for buying nonstick cookware (some of them already mentioned above):

  • Buy only skillets or sauté pans, as that's where the nonstick coating is needed. Don't buy sets.
  • Buy aluminum pans, not clad stainless. Aluminum is cheaper and has better heating properties. You don't want to pay clad stainless prices for a pan you'll have to toss out in a few years.
  • Cast or forged aluminum is thicker and will provide better heating properties than thinner stamped aluminum pans without costing much more. (Calphalon pans are cast aluminum.)
  • Anodized aluminum is more durable than non-anodized aluminum without costing much more (all Calphalon nonstick is anodized).
  • If you can live with semi-nonstick cookware, consider cast iron or carbon steel. When seasoned, these are nearly nonstick, they're inexpensive, they last forever, and have no potentially unsafe chemicals ever.

Heating Properties

You want cookware with good heating properties because that's the most important reason you're buying it: to cook your food.

In general, you want cookware that heats quickly and evenly, and also holds heat fairly well. These properties are called thermal conductivity and heat retention respectivelyThermal conductivity is generally the more important property for most cooking tasks. Fast, even heating is ideal, as cookware that heats unevenly creates hot and cold spots and makes for a frustrating experience (in particular, thin, inexpensive aluminum pans). 

Cookware with good thermal conductivity includes thick aluminum, copper (real copper), and good quality clad stainless steel. The thicker it is, the better its heat retention will also be. 

Cookware with excellent heat retention includes cast iron and carbon steel. They heat unevenly, but once heated, they retain heat exceptionally well (unlike thin aluminum). Many people love cast iron and carbon steel for their daily cookware, but they truly shine--especially cast iron--for tasks that require heat retention such as searing steaks, deep frying, and braising. 

Calphalon's 3mm - 3.6mm cast aluminum they use on their nonstick lines provides good heating; as good or better than many brands of aluminum nonstick (except, of course, Anolon Nouvelle Luxe). Avoid thinner, stamped aluminum cookware. 

Calphalon's clad stainless cookware is thin, and won't have very good heating properties, even compared to other budget clad stainless lines like Cuisinart Multiclad Pro or Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad, both of which are close to All-Clad D3 in aluminum content. Calphalon's clad stainless is thinner than all of these brands, so it won't heat as evenly and will be more prone to warping. 

Thicker, heavier cookware will always have better heating properties than light, thin cookware, regardless of the material. If you care about heating performance, you should buy the thickest, heaviest cookware you can comfortably handle.

Durability

Durability is also an important feature for most cookware buyers. Even if you're looking at nonstick cookware, which is the least durable cookware you can buy, you probably still want it to be as durable as possible. This is the reason most people prefer anodized aluminum nonstick over non-anodized: it's as durable as stainless steel, yet at a much lower price point (so you won't feel so bad when you have to toss out the pan in a few years).

But if you want true durability, nonstick is the wrong cookware to buy. Clad stainless, cast iron, carbon steel, copper, and enameled cookware are all going last for decades (possibly centuries), while nonstick-coated cookware will only last, on average, 1-5 years, no matter how much you pay for it.

This is a huge difference. So if you want cookware that's going to last, nonstick is not it. And this is true for both PTFE and ceramic nonstick. 

We understand that many people want a nonstick pan for eggs and other delicate foods. If so, that's fine. But if you care about durability, buy a skillet only, then invest the rest of your cookware budget in clad stainless sets that will last. 

Alternatively, you may want to consider cast iron or carbon steel for your "nonstick" pan. Neither material is completely nonstick, but seasoning can make the cooking surface almost as nonstick as PTFE; some enthusiastic fans even claim it's better. (And seasoning can take a while to get the hang of, but once you do, it's a simple process.)

Safety and Stability

Safety is also an important factor in cookware, as most people don't want to feed their families food that's been cooked on potentially toxic, unsafe cookware. 

Our picks for the safest, most stable types of cookware are clad stainless, enameled or ceramic cookware (traditional, not ceramic nonstick), stainless- or tin-lined copper, cast iron, and carbon steel. 

The drawbacks of cast iron and carbon steel are that they require seasoning to be a non-reactive cooking surface. But even unseasoned, cast iron and carbon steel are non-toxic; they can just leach metallic flavors into your foods, and rust if not dried thoroughly after washing. (The material leached is iron, and is not unsafe for most people; it just tastes bad.)

Aluminum cookware--that is, bare aluminum cookware, like this pan--is popular in the restaurant industry because it's cheap. There is a lot of propaganda about aluminum cookware being associated with Alzheimer's disease, but this has been largely debunked. The biggest reason not to use aluminum cookware is that it's a soft metal that can impart a metallic flavor to your food. Nobody wants that.

Nonstick cookware is safe when used correctly, but there are so many caveats to its use that we don't believe it's worth the risk. High heat, in particular, can cause PTFE coatings to break down into toxic chemicals. So if even one person in your household overheats a PTFE pan, you and your family could be exposed to toxic fumes and chemicals in your food. 

Ceramic nonstick also has potentially dangerous chemicals in the form of titanium dioxide nanoparticles, which have been associated with several health issues, including cancerous lesions. Though it is probably safe at the temperatures used in kitchens, there isn't a lot of research, so we can't be 100% certain. 

For more information on safe cookware, see our Definitive Guide to Safe Cookware.

Design and Usability

Demeyere Industry 5 set with callouts

This section is about what best serves your needs and makes you happy. Everyone has different usability concerns, but these are the features we think are important to look at.

Pan shape: Do the skillets have a good amount of flat cooking surface? Are the sauce pans too deep or too shallow? 

Handles: Are they comfortable to grip and easy to stabilize? Are they stainless for durability? Do the larger pieces have helper handles? 

Lids: Do the lids fit snugly? Are they stainless for durability and easier handling? Are the handles comfortable and easy to grip? If the lids are glass, are there any complaints about water seeping into them (a common issue with glass lids).

Weight: Are the pans heavy enough to heat evenly, yet easy to handle? 

Rivets: Does the cooking surface have big rivets that are hard to clean around? Not a deal breaker, but there are brands with no rivets (Demeyere) and brands with flush rivets (Anolon, Hestan) that don't collect gunk and make the pans easier to clean. (We think one of Calphalon's worst traits is the huge steel rivets on the cooking surface.) 

Sets: Does the set have good-sized pieces? Will you use all of them?

Ease of Cleaning

Ease of cleaning is a usability issue, but it's important, so we gave it its own category. 

People buy nonstick cookware primarily because it's easy to clean. And if you read reviews of many clad stainless cookware brands, you will see many negative reviews because of how badly food sticks.

We certainly understand not wanting to spend a lot of time scrubbing your cookware. And clad stainless steel will never get 5 stars for ease of cleaning as long as nonstick cookware exists.

But the truth is, ease of cleaning any cookware depends more on use than on type. That is, if you know how to use your clad stainless cookware, cleaning becomes pretty much a non-issue. Just follow these steps:

  1. Heat pan on medium to medium high heat.
  2. When pan is hot, add enough oil to coat the cooking surface (you don't need a ton of it).
  3. When oil starts to shimmer (or butter is completely melted, but not smoking), add your food.
  4. Turn temperature down, if necessary (depending on what you're cooking, how much browning you want, etc.).
  5. Allow food to cook without moving for several minutes. This allows it to form a crust, and it will release from the pan naturally with very little sticking.
  6. If applicable, make a pan sauce after removing food, using wine or stock, seasonings, and a little butter. The liquid will release most of the bits left in the pan, resulting in even easier cleaning (not to mention a delicious sauce).

Yes, you will occasionally still get stuck-on food. When this happens, you can let the pan soak in warm soapy water. This should take care of most messes.

Overall, we think the durability and ability to use high heat and metal utensils make clad stainless steel, cast iron, and carbon steel cookware the best choice (real copper, too, if you can afford it). You may want one or two nonstick skillets for tasks like cooking eggs, but for most other foods, nonstick is not the best choice. 

Ease of cleaning is important, but if you use the right techniques, it should be a small concern. 

Budget and Warranty

How much you want to spend on cookware is a personal decision, but we include this because it's something to consider. You don't need to spend a ton of money to get good quality cookware. Just be sure you budget for both a set and individual pieces because no set will have everything you need.

You should also buy cookware with a long warranty period, at least 30 years up to a lifetime for clad stainless. Nonstick cookware often comes with a "lifetime" warranty but it will not cover a worn or damaged nonstick cooking surface. 

Calphalon's nonstick cookware warranties vary from 10 years to a lifetime. They have one of the best reputations for replacing pans when their nonstick surface wears out. This is one of Calphalon's best features, but even so, don't count on them replacing a worn out nonstick pan. Reviews are mixed on replacement, but there are more instances of it than we've seen for other nonstick cookware brands.

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Which Calphalon Lines Are Best?

Calphalon Signature 8:10inch Skillet Set

Calphalon Signature skillets: see the rivets?

Calphalon's top two lines are Signature and Elite. Here's what makes them higher-end than other Calphalon lines:

  • Thicker base: 3.6mm vs 3mm anodized aluminum body 
  • 3 nonstick coatings (vs. 2 on other lines)
  • Oven safe to 500F (instead of 400F or 450F)
  • All stainless handles
  • An extra rivet (which we think is a fault, not a feature)
  • Higher price.

And here are a couple of drawbacks:

  • Typically, higher-end lines of cookware have stainless steel lids, but Calphalon uses glass lids on all their lines. Even if you prefer glass lids, they are an indication of lower end cookware. They aren't as durable as stainless and they're heavier.
  • We hate the rivets on Calphalon's pans. All the nonstick lines have 2 or 3 steel rivets. These rivets collect gunk and are hard to clean around, especially on a nonstick surface. (In contrast, Anolon's higher end lines have flush, nonstick rivets for easier cleanup.)

In summary, Signature and Elite are very nice nonstick (PTFE) pans. Calphalon's intermediate lines, Classic and Premier, are also nice, and have the advantage of having just two rivets on the cooking surface instead of three. The bodies are thinner, at 3mm, but this is still a decent amount of aluminum and will provide durability and even heating. 

None of Calphalon's lines are exceptional, though, and while the PTFE nonstick Calphalon should serve you well for at least a few years, we prefer other brands. 

Clad stainless: We've already said that we aren't impressed with any of Calphalon's lines. They're too thin to provide the kind of heating performance you can get from similarly-priced (or even some less expensive) brands.

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What to Buy Instead of Calphalon?

Calphalon is a mid-range brand, which means you could do worse, but you could also do much better, for the same price or even less.

Here are our recommendations for nonstick and clad stainless cookware.

Nonstick

Anolon Nouvelle Luxe

Anolon Nouvelle Luxe Skillet, exploded view

For budget-level PTFE nonstick, you cannot beat Anolon Nouvelle Luxe. Its body has a build quality similar to Calphalon--2.5mm anodized aluminum body, so thinner--but with an amazing extra feature: an induction compatible disc base that has an additional 4mm aluminum and 0.6mm copper. This means it has an astonishing 6.5mm of aluminum, plus the copper--this is an outstanding amount of heat-spreading material that no other pan at this price point has. 

Nouvelle Luxe is so much better than other aluminum nonstick cookware that it is literally in a class by itself. It is closer in heating properties to a brand like Demeyere Atlantis than to any aluminum cookware nearer its price point. (Yes, it is really that good.)

The thick base on Nouvelle Luxe also ensures that the pan will pretty much never warp.

Nouvelle Luxe has stainless steel lids and handles and flush, nonstick-coated rivets on the cooking surface to make cleaning easier. We much prefer these features to Calphalon's big stainless rivets and glass lids.

Other lines of Anolon cookware have the same 2.5mm thick body but no disc base; without the thick base of Nouvelle Luxe, Calphalon beats out all the other lines of Anolon with its thicker, heavier bodies. (But why pay more for a any pan that can't come close to Nouvelle Luxe's heating?)

GreenPan

Ceramic nonstick coatings aren't going to last as long as PTFE, but they're probably safer to use. Calphalon's ceramic nonstick is pretty good quality, with the same 3mm-thick body as its PTFE pans. However, we dislike Calphalon's misleading marketing about not needing to use any cooking oil because the coating itself contains olive oil. This is simply not the case, and cooking in these pans will benefit greatly from a small amount of healthy fat if you food to not stick.

If you really want ceramic nonstick, GreenPan is a viable alternative. It's not as heavy-bodied as Calphalon, but they're honest about their product, so we think they deserve people's business. Green Pan cookware has a lifetime warranty on the construction, but just a 2-year warranty on the nonstick coating. This is one of the most honest warranties we've seen an any nonstick cookware. GreenPan prices are reasonable, and they make induction-compatible lines, which Calphalon does not. 

Cast Iron and Carbon Steel

Our best nonstick recommendation is to get away from nonstick coatings altogether and go with cast iron or carbon steel. Both types of nonstick coatings contain chemicals that probably aren't good for humans, and some that have been proven toxic. The PTFE nonstick industry is terrible for the environment, and has polluted the Earth's water supply. Since regulations are almost nonexistent, contamination continues to this day (yes, even though PFOA is no longer used).

Why not go with a traditional pan that has no scary chemicals--cast iron or carbon steel? Both types are inexpensive, incredibly durable, and will last forever. The only drawback is that they need to be seasoned, but this is a simple process once you get the hang of it. 

They're not 100% nonstick, but when well seasoned, they come really, really close.

If you don't mind the weight, go with cast iron. It has excellent heat retention and is the best choice for high heat searing.

If you want something lighter, go with carbon steel. It won't hold heat as well, but it's close, and it makes an excellent all-around skillet.

For more info, see our articles:

The Best Cast Iron Skillet: How Much Should You Spend?

Carbon Steel Vs. Stainless Steel Cookware: Which Is Better?

The Best Omelette Pans without Teflon (PTFE)

Clad Stainless

Calphalon's clad stainless lines are just all-around unimpressive. Their Select line has just a 10-year warranty--unheard of for quality clad stainless steel cookware.

You can spend less and get better quality. We recommend:

Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad

Cuisinart Multiclad Pro

Or, if you want a truly high quality line that will last forever and have the budget, consider:

All-Clad D3

Demeyere Industry.

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Calphalon Cookware FAQs

Is Calphalon a Good Brand of Cookware?

Calphalon is a mid-range quality brand. Their nonstick cookware is fairly heavy and durable, but their clad stainless cookware doesn't come close to a brand like All-Clad, or even much less expensive All-Clad knockoffs. 

Where Is Calphalon Cookware Made?

Most Calphalon cookware is now made in China. Calphalon Elite, sold at Williams-Sonoma, is still made in the USA.

Is Calphalon Cookware Made in the USA?

While once an American brand, most Calphalon is now made in China. All of their steel cookware and all but Elite nonstick is made in China now, as well as their bakeware, knives, and small appliances.

Is Calphalon Cookware Safe?

When used correctly, all Calphalon cookware is safe. See more detailed information above.

How Long Does Calphalon Cookware Last?

Like all nonstick cookware, Calphalon PTFE and ceramic nonstick will last an average of 1-5 years.

Calphalon clad stainless should last a couple of decades (but won't perform as well as some other brands).

Is Calphalon Cookware Dishwasher Safe?

Some is and some isn't. See the table at the beginning of this article for information on each line.

Is Calphalon Cookware Oven Safe?

All Calphalon cookware is oven safe, but to different temperatures, ranging from 400F-500F.

Is Calphalon Cookware Induction Compatible?

Calphalon's clad stainless steel cookware is induction compatible. None of Calphalon's nonstick cookware are induction compatible. 

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Final Thoughts on Calphalon Cookware

Calphalon is a mid-range brand. Their PTFE nonstick has heavy bodies that will perform well, and are probably the best choice for this brand. None of their nonstick is induction compatible, and none of it has the super-thick aluminum base of Anolon's Nouvelle Luxe which is the better choice for PTFE nonstick--although we recommend avoiding nonstick altogether, and going with cast iron or carbon steel, both of which are healthier, safer, and better for the planet.

Calphalon clad stainless cookware is too thin to compete with the best All-Clad knockoffs and costs the same or more. If you're on a budget, both Cuisinart Multiclad Pro and Tramontina Tri-Ply Clad are better choices. If you have a bigger budget, All-Clad D3 or Demeyere Industry are the best options.

(We have links to reviews and buying options for all of our recommendations above.)

Thanks for reading!

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