All Clad vs Calphalon (2021): Is All Clad Worth it?

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All Clad and Calphalon are both leading manufacturers of stainless steel, and non-stick cookware. Neither are cheap, and in theory, both offer good quality pots and pans.

All Clad vs Calphalon Cookware: At a Glance

But when it comes to All Clad vs Calphalon cookware, which is best? I personally would recommend the All Clad D3 Stainless Cookware Set. Yet it is expensive and isn’t for everyone. Calphalon Tri-Ply makes a decent affordable alternative for the budget conscious.

If you are looking at non-stick then I prefer the Calphalon Simply Pots and Pans Nonstick Set. It’s not quite as good quality as All Clad Nonstick, but non-stick doesn’t last forever; so it’s harder to justify the All Clad cost premium.

Read my guide to find out more details, why I recommend All Clad.

All Clad Vs Calphalon Is All Clad Worth It? By Clan Kitchen: Stainless Steel Software in the background

Things To Consider Before Buying Quality Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Cookware Sets

Before helping your decide whether you want All Clad or Calphalon, let me just give some background on tri-ply cookware.

Tri-ply means three layers. In the case of cookware this is normally stainless steel outer layers with Aluminum sandwiched in the middle.

Quality, tri-ply cookware sets are an excellent choice for health-conscious home chefs who want to avoid using Teflon non-stick pans and invest in high-performing cookware.

The outer layers are made of durable stainless steel material, and won’t leach chemicals into your food. Meanwhile, the innerAluminum layer provides increased heating efficiency and avoids hotspots.

Yet stainless steel tri-ply cookware isn’t for everyone. It is harder to clean than non-stick, or even cast iron.

Here are some things to keep in mind when buying tri-ply stainless steel cookware sets.

Usability

What are you planning on using your cookware set for? Think about what you want to prioritize when picking your set. For example, decide if you need more frying pans or pots and what sizes you usually require when cooking.

You should also consider if you want a glass lid that allows you to see the cooking process in your pans without lifting the lid and letting steam out.

If you want to use the cookware in the oven, make sure they’re oven-safe.

Another comfortable feature is dishwasher-safe cookware to save you both time and energy.

If you have an induction stove, ensure your cookware is magnetic.

Materials

The pots and pans in the tri ply cookware sets are made from stainless steel. This is a very durable material due to its high corrosion resistance.

Because of this, most exterior layers on tri-ply cookware sets are stainless steel. Utensils shouldn’t scratch the cookware surface easily, and it won’t rust. 

Stainless steel cookware isn’t the best for heat transfer, which is why the inner layers of the tri ply sets are made from materials with higher heat conductivity, usually aluminum.

Aluminum is great at heat distribution and transfer but not as durable as stainless steel and potentially toxic if it leaches into your food. It works great for the inner layers of cookware but not so well as the outer layer.

Safety

One great thing about these stainless steel tri-ply sets is that they don’t usually contain Teflon, found in nonstick cookware. Teflon includes polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which can, when over-heated, release chemicals that are potential human toxins.

Even though ingesting too much aluminum may be toxic for humans, you’ll be safe using tri ply sets. Since only the inner layer is made from aluminum, the material won’t react with the food you put in the cookware.

5-Ply Cookware

If you are impressed by the idea of tri-ply but want something more, then consider multiclad 5-ply cookware. Check out an example in my All Clad Copper Core 5-Ply Bonded Cookware set review.

Now, let’s move on to the All Clad vs Calphalon battle!

All Clad Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Cookware Set

The All Clad D3 Stainless Cookware Set is manufactured by the well-known All Clad brand, famous for its high-quality products. The 10-piece set includes the following items:

  • 8-inch (20 cm) frying pan
  • 10-inch (25 cm) frying pan
  • 3-quart (2.8 liters) sauté pan with a lid
  • 2-quart (1.9 liters) sauce pan with a lid
  • 3-quart (2.8 liters) sauce pan with a lid
  • 8-quart (7.6 liters) stockpot with a lid

These All Clad pots and pans use tri ply technology with exterior layers of stainless steel and inner layers of hard anodized aluminum. 

Buyers agree that this All Clad stainless steel cookware set is high-performing and has even heat distribution.

As this stainless steel set doesn’t have a nonstick coating, some users find it difficult to clean properly because food sticks easily. Fortunately, the stainless steel pots and pans are dishwasher-safe.

Customers report that this cookware performs well on induction stoves—yes, it’s induction compatible—, gas stoves, electric stoves, and open-pit cooking. The cookware set is also oven-safe.

The All Clad tri ply set is made in the USA and claims to be a high-quality, high-performing cookware set that’s made to last for a lifetime. But the stainless steel handles are actually made in China.

It’s worth pointing out that these pans can discolor with use. They aren’t show pans–they are cooking instruments.

This All Clad cookware set comes with stainless steel lids, so you can’t see through the lid to keep an eye on your food without first opening the lid. This makes the lids more durable, but, at the expense of convenience.

Whether you prefer stainless steel lids, or tempered glass lids (as with Calphalon below) is a matter of choice. Personally I vacillate between the durability of one and the convenience of the other.

With a limited lifetime warranty, this All Clad cookware set is undoubtedly a premium set for a serious home cook or chef.

Calphalon Tri Ply Cookware Set

The Calphalon 10-Piece Tri Ply Cookware Set is a more affordable than the All Clad tri ply set. The items included in the Calphalon set are:

  • 1.5-quart (1.4 liters) sauce pan with a lid.
  • 2.5-quart (2.4 liters) sauce pan with a lid.
  • 10-inch (25 cm) omelet pan with a lid.
  • 3-quart (2.8 liters) saute pan with a lid.
  • 5-quart (4.7 liters) dutch oven with a lid.

The Calphalon stainless steel cookware set also uses tri ply technology. Calphalon cookware has an aluminum core and two layers of stainless steel for the exterior. It’s advertised as safe to use with all utensils, including metal utensils, because of the durable stainless steel outer layer, and the aluminum core ensures even heating.

All the pans in the Calphalon set have accompanying tempered glass lids, allowing better oversight of the cooking process without any heat escaping. This cookware set is also oven-safe.

The pans are advertised as dishwasher-safe, but the manufacturer recommends hand washing to keep the stainless steel luster. Users report that the handles discolor in the dishwasher, but many Calphalon customers also say that the set is easy to clean when hand washing.

The Calphalon cookware set also works on induction cooktops and gas, halogen, electric, and ceramic stoves.

Users report that this cookware eliminates hot spots and maintains even heat distribution. The lightweight feel of the pans is another plus.

Calphalon Tri Ply has 3 layers

While some customers like the stainless steel handles on the Calphalon pans as they’re long and don’t get too hot, others don’t enjoy the teardrop-style shape of them. They feel like the thinnest point of the handles is where they want to naturally put their thumbs, which doesn’t make the grip very stable.

Another concern is that there are reports of the pans warping after a while, decreasing their performance as pans that don’t sit level and prevent even heating. One wait to help avoid this is to never heat an empty pan, and always cool and heat slowly.

In theory the limited lifetime warranty should help cover warping, but as with any lifetime warranty, it will depend on usage.

Whilst still premium cookware, Calphalon is on the more affordable end of the range.

All Clad vs Calphalon Stainless Steel Tri-Ply: How Does Their Cookware Compare?

After reviewing both sets separately, we’ll now move on to the All Clad vs Calphalon comparison section.

All Clad vs Calphalon: Commonalities

Both the All Clad and Calphalon cookware sets use tri ply technology with an outer stainless steel layer and an inner aluminum layer. This makes both brands durable and hard to scratch while providing even heat transfer. Customers of both stainless steel tri-ply cookware collections confirm the durability.

They’re both 10-piece cookware sets, even though the actual products differ slightly.

The All Clad and Calphalon cookware sets are both dishwasher-safe and oven-safe; they can also be used on any kind of cooking surface, including induction stoves.

Summing up, the common features are:

  • Tri ply sets, made from stainless steel and aluminum
  • 10-piece cookware sets
  • Dishwasher-safe
  • Oven safe
  • Works on induction cooktops
  • Stainless steel handles
All Clad vs Calphalon

All Clad vs Calphalon: Differences

But what sets these cookware brands apart from one another?

Well, let’s first look at the different items included. The All Clad tri-ply cookware set offers two frying pans, two sauce pans, one sauté pan, and one stockpot. The Calphalon stainless steel cookware set also has two sauce pans, one sauté pan, and an omelet pan (i.e. a fry pan), and a Dutch oven, which works similar to the stockpot.

So, instead of two frying pans, as in the All Clad, the Calphalon has one dutch oven. This means that the All Clad offers one more pan than the Calphalon cookware set. This gives you more flexibility when it comes to matching your cookware to the food you’re making.

However, the Calphalon stainless steel cookware set comes with tempered glass lids. Having this feature allows the user to check their cooking without letting the heat escape.

The All Clad stainless steel cookware set only includes four metal lids. These lids are more durable and great for oven use, yet not as convenient.

Another major difference is that Calphalon cookware is significantly more affordable than All Clad cookware. Yet keep in mind that the All Clad is manufactured in the USA while the Calphalon isn’t. Further theres is a significant difference in the quality of the materials and build of the cookware brands.

To summarize, the differences between All Clad and Calphalon cookware are:

  • All Clad offers two frying pans, where Calphalon offers one Dutch oven
  • Calphalon comes with tempered glass lids for all its cookware, All Clad has stainless steel
  • Calphalon cookware is much more affordable than Calphalon
  • All Clad tri-ply is manufactured with a higher quality build (Calphalon is high quality, just not to All Clad standards)
  • All Clad has a polished mirror silver finish on the exterior, while Calphalon has a brushed finish

Calphalon vs All Clad: Non Stick Alternatives

Calphalon vs All Clad: The Non Stick Version

We’ve looked at the stainless steel collections, yet stainless cookware isn’t for everyone. Some people prefer convenience over durability.

If you’re more into non stick pans, both All Clad and Calphalon offer nonstick cookware sets with hard anodized aluminum bodies.

All Clad Non Stick

The 10-piece All Clad Hard Anodized Nonstick Cookware Set includes an 8-inch (20 cm) and a 10-inch (25 cm) frying pan, 2-quart (1.9 liters) and 3-quart (2.8 liters) sauce pans with lids, a 4-quart (3.8 liters) saute pan with lids and a 8-quart (7.6 liters) stock pot with a lid. The lids on these pans are glass.

The pots and pans have stainless steel bonded anti-warp bases, which makes them perfect for induction stoves. All Clad advertises the hard anodized aluminum body as heating up fast, with even heat distribution, and easy to clean. Buyers support these claims as well.

Most customers like that All Clad does what it claims to do: provide you with non stick pots and pans that food doesn’t stick to.

This cookware is oven safe to 500°F(260°C),

Users report that the stainless steel handles on the pans get hot; this is likely because they don’t have a silicone or rubber coating.

In theory, these pots and pans are dishwasher safe. Yet, many customers experience issues with the nonstick coating peeling off. Non-stick coatings on all brands can get damaged in my experience. Make sure not to use with metal utensils, and that the coating doesn’t touch anything in the dishwasher. (Or, better yet, avoid washing in the dishwasher.)

Pros

  • Food barely sticks at all
  • Easy to clean
  • Fast and even heating
  • Glass lids you can see your food through
  • Anti-warp bases make them great for induction stoves
  • Durable hard anodized aluminum
  • Oven safe to 500°F(204°C)

Cons

  • Stainless steel handles tend to get hot
  • Non stick peeling comes off if misused
  • Dishwasher safe (in theory)

Calphalon Non Stick

The Calphalon Simply Pots and Pans Nonstick Set is also a 10-piece set, including an 8-inch (20 cm) and a 10-inch (25 cm) fry pan, 1-quart (0.9 liters), 2-quart (1.9 liters), and 3-quart (2.8 liters) sauce pans with lids, as well as a 6-quart (5.7 liters) stockpot with lid. Calphalon includes similar cookware to All Clad, but in smaller sizes.

Calphalon claims these pans have a hard anodized aluminum body and are both durable and warp-resistant, but customers tell another story. 

There have been reports of the pans discoloring after being used once, and the lids seem to shatter easily. However, users do praise the high non stick performance of the pans.

Compared to the All Clad, the Calphalon set has silicone handles, which prevents them from getting hot; this is a plus in its favor.

This cookware is oven safe to 400°F(204°C), (All Clad is oven safe to a higher at 500°F)

It’s also cheaper than the All Clad cookware set.

These pans are not dishwasher safe. Users report that the nonstick coating tends to wear off when not hand washed.

Pros

  • Great at preventing food from sticking
  • Tempered glass lids
  • Silicone handles that don’t get too hot
  • Hard anodized aluminum
  • An affordable alternative
  • Oven safe to 400°F(204°C)

Cons

  • Smaller sized pans than All Clad
  • Color comes off easily
  • Reports of glass lids shattering
  • Nonstick coating peels off after some time
  • Not dishwasher safe

All Clad vs Calphalon Nonstick Cookware Collections

Since both cookware brands have made their nonstick cookware with the same hard-anodized Aluminum and Teflon nonstick coating, it’s easy to suppose they would have similar performance.

Yet that just isn’t the case. Once again All Clad cookware proves to be of superior quality. If you can get All Clad nonstick cookware for the same price as Calphalon–go for it.

But you can’t. And here’s the thing–I’m not convinced that All Clad nonstick cookware is so much better than Calphalon that it’s worth the price difference.

Here’s a good example: All Clad non-stick is oven safe to 500°F while Calphalon is oven-safe to only 400°F. So All Clad beats Calphalon. Except I never put non-stick cookware in the oven–so who cares?

Frequently Asked Questions

Is All-Clad stainless steel the best?

All Clad stainless steel cookware is among the best and most expensive cookware on the market. All Clad stainless steel is always multi-clad; meaning 3 or more layers to maximized performance.

There is other, cheaper, multi-clad cookware on the market which makes a decent alternative to All Clad.

What is the difference between Calphalon Tri-Ply and classic?

Calphalon Classic stainless steel cookware has an aluminum disc impact bonded to the base. However Calphalon Tri-Ply stainless steel has an aluminum core that wraps around both the base and the sides.

This means Calphalon Tri-Ply stainless steel cookware is more durable than Calphalon Classic, and offers superior cooking performance as it distributes heat throughout the whole pan or pot.

Is Tri-Ply better than stainless steel?

Stainless steel offers poor heat conduction. This means stainless steel cookware has an uneven heat distribution, resulting in hot and cold spots.

Tri-Ply sandwiches another material (normally aluminum) between two stainless steel layers. This gives the benefits of stainless steel (non-toxic, durable, long-lasting), but with a much better heat distribution.

So, Tri-Ply has better cooking performance than stainless steel. However, it’s normally more expensive.

Are stainless steel lids oven-safe?

Stainless steel lids are normally oven safe–and to much higher temperatures than tempered glass lids. However it is always worth checking the manufacturer’s guidance.

Specifically for All Clad, their stainless steel lids, along with the rest of their cookware, are oven safe to 600°F (316°C). If that’s not enough, then I’m not sure what you’re cooking!

Stainless steel lids are quite rare on the cookware market aimed at home cooks, as most people like to monitor their cooking. Chefs who know exactly how long to cook for and want something durable, often prefer stainless steel lids.

Is hard anodized aluminum cookware the same as Teflon?

Hard anodized aluminum cookware refers to the material of the body of the cookware. Teflon is a non-stick coating for the cooking surface.

So they aren’t the same. However most, but not all, hard anodized pots and pans have a Teflon coating.

You can also find ceramic-coated hard-anodized cookware, thought it’s rare.

Calphalon vs All Clad Cookware: Is All Clad Worth it?

The question you must ask yourself is, is the heftier price of the All Clad stainless steel cookware set actually worth it?

All things considered, I think All Clad Stainless Steel is worth it.

Not only does the All Clad tri ply set offer two frying pans, while the Calphalon doesn’t, but it’s also built to last and can proudly boast being made in the USA from high-quality materials.

If glass lids are an important feature for you, however, go for the Calphalon. If you’re looking for tri-ply cookware sets with reliable performance but without breaking your budget, the Calphalon is a good alternative.

Go check out the All Clad D3 Stainless Cookware Set and see if you and your family agree.

All Clad vs Calphalon: Nonstick options

I focused my review on stainless steel as I think that’s what these brands are strong at. There’s plenty of cheaper cookware brands in the nonstick space.

The thing is that while stainless steel can last a lifetime, non-stick won’t. It will peel and scratch at some point and you’ll need to throw it away.

Hard-anodized Aluminum helps, as it is more durable. But no non-stick pan will last more than 10 years (and most will last less)

Because of this, when it comes to All Clad or Calphalon non-stick, I’m slightly less interested in the premium option. The Calphalon Simply Pots and Pans Nonstick Set is a decent non-stick cookware set that is more affordable than the All Clad cookware set. So if you want non-stick cookware then I’d recommend it.

I slightly hesitated over this as I do prefer dishwasher safe cookware collections. Yet, it’s non-stick cookware–you don’t need the dishwasher!