Circulon vs Calphalon: 2021 Non-Stick Cookware

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This article reviews Circulon vs. Calphalon cookware and which one is the best.

I love non-stick, lightweight cookware. It’s perfect for making eggs. But you know what I don’t love? Non-stick coatings that peel and are full of questionable chemicals.

That’s why I prefer hard-anodized, non-stick cookware. It gives me the best of both worlds. Yet, there’s a significant difference between the higher-end brands and the cheap, low-quality sets.

At a Glance

My recommendation: Go with the Circulon Premier Professional Set. It performs well and is a better option for non-stick cooking.

For readers keen to avoid Teflon, I would recommend Calphalon Classic as, unlike Circulon, it is Teflon-free.

When it comes to exclusive cookware brands, Calphalon and Circulon are two that come to mind. Both home and professional chefs turn to these products, making them trusted choices.

But there are some differences between these sets. You may want your cookware to handle high temps in the oven, or you may want a set that is especially easy to clean.

Which one is the best set for you? Read on to find out.

Things to consider before buying a hard-anodized non-stick cookware set

Why hard-anodized non-stick?

I love stainless steel cookware, but it has its drawbacks. It’s more prone to sticking and is slower to heat. The same goes for cast iron or enamel cast iron. They are durable and versatile, but they’re also slow to heat and heavy.

That’s why, for many people, having non-stick cookware is a must. Delicate and sticky foods like eggs, fish fillets, and crepes are better in a non-stick pan.

The only problem? Non-stick aluminum cookware can be a bit delicate and tends not to last very long. (Though it does depend on the brand.)

Plus, plain aluminum is highly reactive with acidic foods and may be toxic. This is why it is normally coated in a non-stick layer – yet this layer can get scratched and expose the aluminum.

So what’s the solution? Hard-anodized aluminum cookware. Hard-anodized aluminum is aluminum that has been submerged in a chemical bath with an electrical charge. The ensuing reaction causes a hard, nonporous, highly durable layer of aluminum oxide to form on the surface.

This layer of aluminum oxide is non-reactive, meaning you can safely cook acidic foods without worry.  Another perk? Hard-anodized aluminum is very tough and doesn’t damage as easily.

One note, however. Most hard-anodized sets apply an additional non-stick coating on the outer layer of the cookware. This cookware is still wholly safe to use. If you’re worried, you should always check the product description for exact materials.

Non-stick, Teflon and PTFE

Non-stick coatings traditionally contain a polymer called PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene). Teflon is the brand name of non-stick coating containing PTFE.

While no studies conclusively show PTFE is dangerous, many people feel uneasy about using it. PTFE does release toxic vapors at high temperatures (above 500°F or 260°C). (You can avoid this in everyday cooking by never heating an empty pan and not leaving the pan on a high heat for long.)

If you want to avoid Teflon, look out for the words: PTFE-free. (Or read my reviews as I check this for you.)

How to care for hard-anodized non-stick

There are a few things you need to know to properly take care of hard-anodized aluminum cookware. After all, you want it to stay safe and in tip-top shape!

First, it’s better to hand wash hard-anodized pots and pans. Some brands advertise their cookware collections as dishwasher-safe,  but I would stick to hand-washing just to err on the safe side. Be sure to stay away from abrasive and scratchy cleaners.

Treat this cookware with care. I would use extra caution when handling it to avoid damaging the surface. Avoid stacking these pots and pans, if possible. Use wooden or silicone cooking utensils.

Finally, stick to low or medium heat. High heat is not recommended for hard-anodized cookware. If your cookware is oven-safe, only cook at temperatures below 500°F (260°C). As always, let your cookware cool before washing. Going from a hot oven to cold water can lead to thermal shock, thereby damaging your cookware.

Features to look for in hard-anodized non-stick

If you want a PTFE-free hard-anodized aluminum set, make sure your cookware has no additional non-stick coatings.

Want to monitor food efficiently? Look for transparent glass lids. Some saucepan lids have rims with holes so you can strain any cooking liquid. This is great for pasta.

Of course, handles that stay cool to the touch are essential. Many feature stainless steel or silicone-covered stainless steel handles.

Some sets are dishwasher-safe. While I wouldn’t recommend cleaning hard-anodized aluminum pots and pans in the dishwasher, it’s helpful when brands offer this option.

Product Reviews: Calphalon vs. Circulon cookware

Circulon Premier Professional, 13 Piece, Brown

This Circulon cookware set features hard-anodized aluminum construction with a bronze-brown exterior. The 13 piece set includes:

  • 8-quart (7.57 liter) covered stockpot
  • 5-quart (4.73 liters) covered sauté with helper handle
  • 3-quart (2.84 liters) covered saucepan
  • 2-quart (1.89 liters) covered saucepan
  • 1-quart (.95 liter) covered saucepan
  • 12-inch (30.48 cm) French skillet
  • 10-inch (25.4 cm) French skillet
  • 8.5-inch (21.59 cm) French skillet

These Circulon pots and pans have rubberized stainless steel handles for a comfortable grip that stays cool to the touch. The tempered glass lids are self-straining. Customers loved how they could strain pasta and rice without having to use a separate colander.

The cooking surface features Circulon’s TOTAL patented food release system, a triple-layer non-stick coating with raised circles to prevent sticking during the cooking process. This ringed cooking surface also makes it more impervious to nicks and scratches. 

However, the non-stick system is by DuPont, the manufacturer of Teflon. In theory, Teflon is safe if used correctly and not overheated, but some people prefer to avoid it.

Watch to learn more about Circulon’s non-stick system:

While the manufacturer claims these Circulon pans are dishwasher-safe, I would stick to washing them by hand. Circulon also claims this cookware is metal utensil safe. Some customers back up this claim. My recommendation: Stick to wooden and silicone utensils. Why risk it?

This Circulon non-stick cookware is safe for induction cooktops, electric and gas stoves. It is also oven-safe for temperatures up to 400°F (204°F).

Users praised the heat distribution and the non-stick quality of this Circulon cookware. Several had success with a variety of dishes.

One reviewer mentioned the 5-quart (4.73 liters) sauté pan was nice to have.  When sauté pans are large enough, they can handle cooking family-sized dishes. This one fits the bill.

This Circulon cookware set does not include a Dutch oven, but I’m okay with that. I typically prefer enamel cast iron Dutch ovens over those with non-stick coatings.

The only complaints? Some reported the non-stick coating peeling or flaking after a while. You’ll want to treat these pans with care. Avoid nesting them, if possible. Also, there is no lid for the skillets. While many sets don’t include lids for frying pans, it’s nice to have them.

Pros

  • Sturdy construction
  • Straining glass lids
  • Even heat distribution
  • Rubberized stainless steel handles
  • Dishwasher-safe
  • Oven-safe up to 400°F (204°C)

Cons

  • No lids for skillets
  • Some reports of non-stick peeling
  • Not made for nesting
  • Non-stick is made from Teflon

Calphalon Classic Oil-Infused Ceramic Cookware, 11-Piece

Calphalon products are lauded by professional chefs and home cooks, alike.  These Calphalon Classic pots come in a dark gray color and feature an infused anodized aluminum construction.

Watch how Calphalon makes their pans:

The hard-anodized aluminum is coated with an oil-infused ceramic. The manufacturer claims this oil-infused coating gives cooks the ability to cook without needing oil or butter.

This 11-piece set includes:

  • 8-inch (20.32 cm) fry pan
  • 10-inch (25.4 cm) fry pan
  • 1.5-quart (1.42 liter) covered saucepan
  • 2.5-quart (2.37 liter) covered saucepan
  • 3-quart (2.84 liters) sauté pan with cover
  • 5-quart (4.73 liters) Dutch oven with cover
  • 12-inch (30.48 cm) round griddle pan

This Calphalon cookware has stainless steel handles that stay cool to the touch. This set can stand heat and oven temperatures up to 450°F (232°C), giving it versatility. The lids are tempered glass and vented. They also have stay-cool stainless steel lid handles.

The ceramic coating is PTFE-free. (PTFE is the main component of Teflon.) But there were some reports of food sticking to the pans. One user recommended preheating the pan before cooking to help prevent food from sticking.  

Pros

  • Oven-safe up to 450°F (232°C)
  • Transparent glass lids
  • Attractive dark gray color
  • Stay-cool stainless steel handles
  • PTFE(Teflon)-free 

Cons

  • Not safe for induction cooktops
  • Several reports of food sticking & staining
  • Not dishwasher-safe
  • Not safe for metal utensils

Side-by-Side Comparison

Performance

Both the Calphalon products and Circulon cookware have good reviews in terms of performance. The hard-anodized aluminum construction performs well. Just remember to keep the heat at a low to medium temperature.  This type of cookware can’t handle the heat that stainless steel cookware can.

Winner: Draw

Versatility

Both Calphalon and Circulon sets are oven-safe. The Calphalon pots and pans are safe for oven temperatures up to 450°F (232°C), while the Circulon cookware is only safe for temps up to 400°F (204°C).

These cookware sets are compatible with electric and gas stovetops. Only the Circulon is safe for an induction cooktop, however.

Winner: Circulon

Non-stick Quality

Both cookware sets are non-stick, but their materials are different. The Calphalon’s ceramic coating is PTFE-free (i.e. Teflon-free), but there are several reports of sticking. The Circulon non-stick coating seems to hold up better.

On the other hand, there are some reports of peeling from the Circulon non-stick. In my experience, this can be avoided by handwashing and metal utensils, but it isn’t as durable as Calphalon.

Circulon does use a form of Teflon, so some users may have health concerns.

So Calphalon just edges a win here. Its non-stick is not quite as slippery, but if used right it’s healthy, durable and works.

Winner: Calphalon

Cleaning

Is this cookware dishwasher-safe? The Circulon cookware is, but the Calphalon cookware is not. However, I would recommend hand washing either set to preserve the hard-anodized non-stick.

So which cookware brand is easier to clean? I would go with the Circulon. The grooved rings on the cookware interior help release food easily.

Winner: Circulon

Lids

Both sets feature tempered glass lids. The Circulon pots and pans have straining lids, which are great for draining pasta water and other cooking liquids. For that reason, I give the edge to Circulon in this category.

Winner: Circulon

Price

Circulon and Calphalon products are higher-quality, so you’ll pay more for these sets than the cheap non-stick pans at a box store. But these sets are similar in cost. There’s no clear winner for this category – it’s a draw.

Winner: Draw

Alternatives

T-fal Ultimate Hard-Anodized Non-stick Cookware Set, 12-piece

From T-fal comes this 12-piece hard-anodized aluminum set. It features the signature T-fal thermo spot indicator, which turns red when the pan is preheated. This set is safe for gas, halogen, and electric stovetops, but not induction.

This set includes the following:  8-inch (20.32 cm) fry pan, 10-inch (25.4 cm) fry pan, 1-quart (.95 liter) saucepan with lid, 2-quart (1.89 liter) saucepan with lid, 3-quart (2.84 liter) saucepan with lid, 5-quart (4.73 liter) Dutch oven with lid, spoon & spatula.

T-fal claims this set is dishwasher-safe, but several users had issues with peeling and flaking after running through the dishwasher. I would hand-wash these to be safe.

Pros

  • Thermo spot indicator
  • Less expensive than other cookware sets

Cons

  • Not induction compatible
  • Contains PTFE (Teflon)

All-Clad Hard-Anodized Non-stick Cookware Set, 10-Piece

All-Clad is the luxury cookware brand of the cookware industry. This 10-piece set comes in a gray stainless look.

This cookware set includes the following: 8-inch (20.32 cm) fry pan, 10-inch (25.4 cm) fry pan, 2.5-quart (2.37 liters) saucepan with lid, 3.5-quart (3.31 liters) saucepan with lid, 4-quart (3.79 liters) sauté with lid, and 8-quart (7.57 liters) stockpot with lid.

The All-Clad set is steel-based cookware, making it safe for induction cooking. It has a non-stick surface with a hard-anodized aluminum core. It’s oven-safe up to 500°F (260°C), and it can go in the dishwasher, although the manufacturer recommends hand-washing.

This non-stick cookware set is top-quality, but you’ll pay a top price for it. Be prepared to spend significantly more on this set than on the others listed.

Pros

  • Stainless steel base, safe for induction
  • Oven-safe up to 500°F (260°C)
  • One of the saucepans has a helper handle

Cons

  • Significantly more expensive
  • Contains PTFE (Teflon)

If you are interested in reading more, I’ve actually done a head to head comparison of All Clad and Calphalon.

Or, if All Clad really tickles your fancy, non-stick isn’t the only cookware they offer. I actually prefer All Clad for its stainless steel cookware: check out my All Clad Stainless Steel Copper Core review, where you can read about amazing cooking performance.

The Last Word: Circulon vs. Calphalon cookware

If you want the best quality and value, I’d go with the Circulon Premier Professional non-stick cookware set. This is a complete, high-performing set that should last for years. 

On the other hand, if you want Teflon-free non-stick cookware, then I suggest the Calphalon Classic cookware set.