Non-stick pans are convenient and easy to clean, but they’re known for being… shall we say, less than durable? I don’t want to replace low-quality cookware every 6 months.
That’s why hard-anodized aluminum cookware has become so popular in the last few years. Hard-anodized cookware is tougher than regular aluminum, giving it superior performance.
Plus, this cookware typically has a non-stick cooking surface, which means cooking and cleaning just became that much easier.
But knowing what to look for is essential to getting the best hard-anodized cookware.
At a Glance
Both Anolon and Circulon are popular cookware brands that carry a variety of cookware with different materials. The Anolon brand is known for its hard-anodized cookware, as well as its steel-based cookware. They even offer cast-iron Dutch ovens and casseroles.
The Circulon cookware brand also makes a line of stainless steel cookware and hard-anodized cookware items.
They are distributed by the Meyer Corporation, a cookware distributor that also is responsible for distributing various cookware brands like Farberware, Ruffoni, and Hestan.
I found the Anolon pans to have a slim advantage with their sturdy construction and comfortable handles.
But these cookware sets are very similar, and there are several cases in which the Circulon would actually be better–such as if you have an induction stove.
So which of these brands comes out on top, Anolon or Circulon? Read more to find out.
Things to consider before buying Hard-Anodized Aluminum Non-Stick Cookware
What is hard-anodized aluminum cookware?
Hard-anodized cookware is cookware made from anodized aluminum.
This means the aluminum has undergone an electrochemical process that produces a layer of aluminum oxide on the surface. This hardened layer makes the aluminum harder, more resilient, and scratch-resistant.
Aluminum is also prone to warping, and that’s one of the reasons you can’t use a lot of basic non-stick pans on high heat. Hard-anodized aluminum is much less susceptible to warping, although I still recommend a low to medium heat.
Almost always, a non-stick coating is then applied to the hard-anodized aluminum.
Almost all hard-anodized aluminum pots and pans have a non-stick coating. Most of the time, this coating is a Teflon brand coating. Sometimes cookware brands also incorporate a pattern or raised circles to improve food release and protect from scratching.
The best non-stick cookware means you can use less oil, making it ideal for healthy cooking.
A note about PFOA & PTFE
Some people have concerns regarding non-stick cookware due to harsh chemicals. PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid) is the most concerning, but it isn’t used in manufacturing cookware anymore. So when products are labeled as PFOA-free, that doesn’t mean anything. All new cookware is PFOA-free.
PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene), on the other hand, is still present in Teflon. It’s a polymer that’s safe to use at temperatures up to 500°F (260°). There is not much research on PTFE’s long-term effects, though. So some people wish to avoid it.
Max Oven Temperature
Oven-safe cookware gives you maximum utility in the kitchen. But a lot of non-stick cookware is only safe for oven temperatures up to 350°F (177°C), severely limiting its usefulness beyond the stovetop.
In order to have the most versatile cookware, look for a cookware set that can handle high temperatures. 400°F (204°C) and above are more suitable for oven use.
Hard-anodized pots and pans are generally compatible with electric, ceramic, and gas stovetops. But induction stoves are a different matter. Some cookware sets are fine for induction, while others are not.
If you have an induction stove, be sure to check the product description for induction compatibility.
Can you use metal utensils with hard-anodized non-stick?
The short answer? That depends. Regardless of manufacturer claims, I would never recommend metal utensils with non-stick cookware. Wooden or heat-resistant silicone cooking tools are always a safer option.
That being said, some hard-anodized non-stick sets are metal utensil safe. If you’re unsure whether a set is metal utensil safe or not, check the product description.
Is it dishwasher-safe?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. You’ll want to check the product description to see. But a word of caution: Even if the cookware set is dishwasher-safe, handwashing will help you preserve and get the most out of your cookware.
Circulon vs. Anolon: Product Reviews
Anolon Advanced Hard-Anodized Non-stick Cookware Pots and Pans Set, 11 Pieces
This set of Anolon pots and pans features anodized aluminum with a triple layer of non-stick. It comes in four color choices and includes the following 11 pieces:
- 1.5-quart (1.42 liters) saucepan with lid
- 3-quart (2.84 liters) saucepan with lid
- 8-quart (7.57 liters) covered stockpot
- 8-inch (20.32 cm) French skillet
- 12-inch (30.48 cm) covered deep skillet with helper handle
- 3-quart (2.84 liters) covered sauté pan
I like the large, covered deep skillet for one-pot meals and stovetop-to-oven dishes. The stockpot is large enough to boil an entire box of pasta, which is nice. And the saucepan sizes are perfect for most uses.
What does Anolon have to say about their Advanced hard anodized cookware line? Well, remembering to treat their claims with a degree of skepticism, let’s check it out:
Circulon Symmetry Hard-Anodized Non-stick Cookware Pots and Pans Set, 11-Pieces
Circulon’s Symmetry set also has a hard-anodized aluminum construction and non-stick cooking surface. It comes with the following 11 pieces:
- 1-quart (.95 liters) pouring saucepan
- 2-quart (1.89 liters) saucepan with lid
- 3-quart (2.84 liters) saucepan with lid
- 8-quart (7.57 liters) covered stockpot
- 8.5-inch (21.59 cm) frying pan
- 10-inch (25.4 cm) frying pan
- 3-quart (2.84 liters) sauté pan with lid
This Circulon set swaps out the cover for one of the frying pans for a small saucepan with pouring spouts. One reviewer really liked having the pouring saucepan, whereas others would have preferred a covered skillet. That depends on your cooking needs, of course.
Another user didn’t like the stockpot’s tall and narrow construction. The Anolon set’s stockpot does have a large diameter, helping it heat up more quickly.
With the usual skepticism, what does Circulon have to say about their Symmetry hard anodized cookware? Let’s find out:
Anolon vs. Circulon: Feature Comparison
The Circulon and Anolon cookware sets have a durable construction featuring a hard-anodized aluminum core with a non-stick coating and stainless steel handles.
The hard-anodized aluminum provides even heat distribution and makes the pan more heat resistant than regular aluminum.
Overall, both cookware sets have solid construction and similar performance. Some users did say the Anolon set was heavier, but I couldn’t find the exact thickness of each set. So this category has no clear winner.
The Anolon Advanced set features a triple layer of non-stick coating on the cooking surface, and there is also a non-stick coating on the exterior of the pans. The Advanced cookware collection uses a more common Teflon coating, so it does contain PTFE.
Circulon’s Symmetry collection also has a triple layer non-stick coating on the interior non-stick surface, with a non-stick layer on the exterior, as well. Like Anolon, this cookware uses Teflon (PTFE) in its non-stick.
The only difference between the two brands? Circulon’s TOTAL non-stick surface features raised circles to increase the durability of the non-stick and help food release. Circulon claims this surface is metal utensils safe, but I would use wooden or plastic utensils to help preserve the coating.
Customers had good experiences with both of these sets. There doesn’t seem to be a noticeable difference in the non-stick cooking surfaces.
Both the Anolon and Circulon sets feature a non-stick coating on the pan’s exterior. They also have matching silicone covers over stainless steel handles.
In terms of color choices, however, there is a difference. The Anolon Advanced cookware set comes in four attractive color choices: onyx, graphite, indigo, and bronze finish.
The Circulon cookware set, however, only comes in two colors: black or chocolate. There is a smaller set with 10 pieces that comes in a Merlot color.
Overall, you’ll have more choices with the Anolon set. So that cookware set gets the advantage.
Maximum oven-safe temps
Both Anolon and Circulon are oven-safe, a must for versatile cookware. The Advanced and Symmetry sets can handle temperatures up to 400°F (204°C).
Customers had success with using both of these sets in the oven. For that reason, there is no clear winner in this category.
Handles and Lids
This Anolon cookware set comes with tempered glass lids, and stainless steel handles covered in silicone. The glass lids have a stainless steel rim.
And for the handles? Customers consistently praised how comfortable this Anolon cookware set is. They liked the balance and how these pans handled.
The Circulon set also has tempered glass lids, stainless steel handles, and lid handles with silicone coverings. These are quite similar, but some reviewers said they found the Anolon set more comfortable.
Both sets are suitable for use on electric, ceramic, and gas stoves. However, if you have an induction cooktop, it can be a challenge to find hard-anodized aluminum sets that are compatible.
The Circulon Symmetry set has a stainless steel base bonded to the cookware to make it induction-compatible. The Anolon cookware set does not have a stainless steel base. Therefore, it’s not suitable for induction stoves. For that reason, Circulon wins this category.
Ease of Cleaning
Circulon advertises its pots and pans as 100% dishwasher-safe. This is a bold statement for any non-stick cookware set, but the user reviews back up the claim. Several said they cleaned their pans in the dishwasher without issues.
Users also said the Anolon cookware set was a breeze to clean. But if you were hoping to put your Advanced set in the dishwasher? Think again. Anolon recommends hand washing this set only.
While both of these cookware sets are easy to clean, I give Circulon a slight edge.
These sets are similar in performance and specifications, but the Circulon set comes at a friendlier price point than the Anolon set. If you want to get the most value for your dollar, the Circulon set is the better option.
An Alternative: Calphalon Simply Non-stick Cookware Set, 10 Pieces
In addition to Circulon and Anolon, the Calphalon cookware brand is one of the most popular cookware brands for this quality and price range. This 10-piece set includes two open skillets, two saucepans with lids, a covered stockpot, and a covered sauté pan. It comes in a single color choice, black.
The Calphalon set can handle a hot oven, being oven-safe to 400°F (204°C). The cooking surface features two layers of non-stick technology, and the inner core is hard-anodized aluminum.
The tempered glass lids have stainless steel handles covered in silicone, and the stay-cool handles have a comfortable grip.
Overall, this Calphhalon set is less expensive than Anolon or Circulon cookware sets, but it has one fewer piece and does not have the triple layer of non-stick that the other two have.
It also features a medium-gauge construction, so it does not have the sturdiness of the Anolon and Circulon cookware sets.
This is a good budget pick if you want anodized aluminum at a lower cost, but be prepared to replace it eventually.
Want to see more Calphalon cookware sets? Visit my review of Anolon vs. Calphalon.
Final word: Anolon vs. Circulon
In the Anolon vs. Circulon battle, there is no dominant winner. Both Anolon and Circulon offer reliable cookware with solid performance.
That being said, I found the Anolon Advanced hard-anodized set to be of slightly higher quality. The reviews are more positive, and the cookware’s durable construction means it should last.
But if you must have a cookware set that’s induction-compatible or dishwasher-safe? You should go with the Circulon. The Anolon can’t work on an induction cooktop and can’t go in the dishwasher.