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Calphalon Classic vs. Signature: 11 Key Differences

Are you considering buying Calphalon cookware but can’t decide between Classic and Signature?

How do these collections compare? What makes them different?

In this comparison of Calphalon Classic vs. Signature, I break down the major features of both collections and reveal their 11 key differences.

By the end, you’ll be able to choose the right cookware with confidence.

Use the links below to navigate the comparison: 

Calphalon Classic vs. Signature: Comparison Chart

The chart below provides a quick side-by-side comparison of Calphalon Classic vs. Signature cookware. I dive into more details in the following sections.

Calphalon SignatureCalphalon Classic
Where It’s MadeStainless Steel is made in China, non-stick is made in the USStainless steel and non-stick is made in China
Number of Pieces/Sets1626
Price$$$$ (view on Amazon)$$ (view on Amazon
Stainless Steel ConstructionFully-clad (5-ply w/ 3-layer aluminum core)Impact-bonded (steel with an aluminum bonded base)
Non-Stick ConstructionHard-anodized aluminumHard-anodized aluminum
Non-Stick Cooking Surface3-layer PTFE coating2-layer PTFE coating
Induction-CompatibleStainless steel: yesNon-stick: noStainless steel: yesNon-stick: no
Top Reasons to BuyMore durable construction, better heat distribution, higher oven-safe temperatureLess expensive, more pieces available, easier to clean with 2 rivets vs. 3
Top Reasons to NOT BuyMore expensive, more difficult to clean with 3 rivets, fewer sizes and setsOnly oven-safe up to 450°F, less durable non-stick coating (2 vs. 3 layers)

Similarities Between Calphalon Classic and Signature Cookware

Since Calphalon makes both the Classic and Signature collections, they naturally share several features. Let’s review these before we explore the differences.

First, the non-stick cookware in both collections is made of hard-anodized aluminum, which is aluminum that’s undergone a chemical process to make it stronger, harder, and more durable.

Calphalon Classic and Signature Hard-Anodized Aluminum Base
Calphalon Signature (left), Classic (right)

The metal is submerged in a chemical “bath” and subjected to an electrical charge, which oxidizes it and makes it corrosion resistant and tougher overall.

The Classic and Signature collections feature “stay-cool” stainless steel handles and tempered glass lids, allowing you to view your food while cooking.

Calphalon Classic Stay-Cool Handle
Calphalon Classic Stay-Cool Handle

Despite Calphalon being founded and headquartered in the United States, both collections’ stainless steel cookware is manufactured in China. 

Both collections come with limited lifetime warranties that protect against defects in materials or craftsmanship. It doesn’t cover minor imperfections, damage due to misuse, or standard wear-and-tear.

In other words, when the non-stick coating gets scratched or wears down, you’ll need to pay for a replacement.

Lastly, both collections are widely available at major cookware retailers and Amazon (Classic, Signature).

Difference 1: Cookware Options

While the Classic and Signature collections include hard-anodized aluminum non-stick and stainless steel cookware, the Classic collection is more extensive.

In total, the Classic collection includes 26 individual pieces and curated cookware sets, while the Signature collection includes 16.

Although you can find all the staples (frying pans, stock pots, saucepans, etc.) in the Signature collection, fewer sizes are available.

Difference 2: Non-Stick Surface

Both the Classic and Signature collections’ hard-anodized cookware is coated with a non-stick material, but the type of coating differs.

Classic cookware features a 2-layer PFOA-free non-stick coating. The first layer improves adherence to the hard-anodized aluminum underneath, and the second layer adds durability.

Signature cookware takes it up a notch. Instead of two layers, it features a 3-layer  PFOA-free non-stick coating.

Calphalon Classic versus Signature Non-Stick Coating
Calphalon Signature (left), Classic (right)

The extra layer improves its scratch resistance, and Calphalon claims it makes Signature non-stick cookware 1.5x more durable than Classic.

Difference 3: Stainless Steel Construction

In addition to non-stick, Calphalon Signature and Classic collections include stainless steel cookware. However, the way these pieces are manufactured varies significantly.

The Classic collection’s stainless steel cookware is impact-bonded, which means a conductive aluminum layer is bonded to the base of the pan but not along the sides.

Therefore, the sides of the pan, which are only made of stainless steel, are thinner, weaker, and less conductive than the base.

Impact-bonded stainless steel cookware is less expensive but results in slower and less even heating, which can affect your overall cooking experience.

The Signature collection’s cookware, by contrast, is made of fully-clad 5-ply stainless steel. That means each piece of cookware is fully conductive, with the 3-layer, conductive aluminum core present throughout the base and sides of the pan.

Since the conductive layers (aluminum) are present throughout, heat is distributed more evenly and doesn’t concentrate only at the base of the pan.

Bottom line  — Calphalon Signature stainless steel cookware is thicker, more durable, and heats more evenly than Classic.

Difference 4: Number of Rivets

Although the number of rivets connecting the handle to the pan may seem inconsequential, it affects the maintenance and cleaning process.

Classic collection handles are attached by two rivets, which is standard construction across most cookware.

Calphalon Classic Two Rivets
Calphalon Classic Two Rivets

Handles in the Signature collection are secured by three rivets, and the helper handles are secured by four rivets.

Calphalon Signature Helper Handle Four Rivets
Calphalon Signature Helper Handle Four Rivets

The additional rivets provide more areas for bits of food to get stuck and make it more difficult to clean. 

Difference 5: Handle Design

The Signature collection features curved handles that keep your hand away from the heat.

The Classic collection’s handles are straighter than Signature’s but still feature a slight curve.

Difference 6: Thickness

Classic pans are made of medium-gauge, hard-anodized aluminum that’s approximately 3mm thick. The Signature collection features heavy-gauge aluminum that’s 3.6mm thick.

Calphalon Classic versus Signature Thickness
Calphalon Signature (left), Classic (right)

That may seem like a minor difference, but the respective quality of each collection is affected by this variation –– thicker pans are more durable and better at retaining heat. Thinner pans are lighter and easier to maneuver.

Difference 7: Oven-Safe Temperature

Calphalon’s Classic collection is oven-safe up to 450°F but not broiler-safe. The Signature collection is oven-safe to 500°F and is broiler-safe.

Difference 8: Metal Utensil-Safe

Calphalon Signature non-stick cookware is labeled as metal-utensil safe thanks to its ultra-durable triple-layer coating. The Classic collection is not metal utensil-safe.

That doesn’t mean you should use metal utensils with the Signature collection.

I highly recommend using plastic or rubber utensils when cooking with non-stick pans regardless of brand or collection (even if the brand says it’s okay).

No matter how carefully you use them, metal utensils will eventually scratch the non-stick coating and shorten the lifespan of your cookware.

Difference 9: Dishwasher-Safe

Calphalon Signature stainless steel and non-stick cookware are dishwasher-safe.

Calphalon Signature Dishwasher Safe
Calphalon Signature Dishwasher Safe

Classic stainless steel cookware is dishwasher-safe, but the non-stick needs to be hand washed.

Calphalon Classic hand wash only
Calphalon Classic hand wash only

However, no matter which cookware you choose, I always recommend hand washing non-stick cookware.

Hand washing not only prevents scratches and knicks, but the high water temperature, steam, and harsh detergents in the dishwasher can damage the non-stick coating.

Difference 10: Where It Is Made

Calphalon has its headquarters in Toledo, Ohio, and some of its manufacturing still takes place there.

Lately, however, most of its manufacturing has been moved to China, including Classic and Signature stainless steel cookware and Classic non-stick cookware.

Individual pots and pans within the Signature non-stick collection are made in Calphalon’s Toledo, Ohio, factory. However, sets are made in China.

Difference 11: Price

Calphalon’s Signature collection features thicker materials (heavy-gauge vs. medium-gauge hard-anodized aluminum), extra non-stick layers (3 vs. 2), and more robust construction (fully-clad vs. impact-bonded). Therefore, it is more expensive than the Classic collection.

Regardless of the cookware you choose, exact prices will vary based on the specific piece and where you shop.

The pricing chart below will give you a general idea of what to expect. Prices are pulled in real-time from Amazon. Click the chart for more details.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Bottom Line: Should You Buy Calphalon Classic or Signature Cookware?

At a glance, Calphalon Classic and Signature cookware look similar. However, when you look closer, you’ll notice significant differences.

Before I give you my recommendation, let’s quickly recap:

  • The Classic collection features more cookware options, with a greater variety of individual pieces and sets.
  • The Classic collection features a 2-layer non-stick coating, while the Signature collection has a 3-layer coating. The extra layer makes Signature non-stick cookware more durable.
  • Signature stainless steel cookware is made of 5-ply stainless steel, which distributes heat evenly throughout. Classic stainless steel cookware is made with an impact-bonded base, which focuses the heat at the bottom of the pan (not up the sides).
  • There are aesthetic differences in the curved handle design and triple-rivets of the Signature collection versus the flatter handles and double-rivets used in the Classic collection’s design.
  • The Signature collection is broiler- and oven-safe up to 500°F. The Classic collection is oven-safe up to 450°F but is not broiler-safe.
  • The Signature collection is thicker, metal-utensil safe, dishwasher-safe, and the non-stick cookware is American-made. But with those perks comes a higher price.

Ultimately, Calphalon is a well-respected and highly-rated brand, and all its cookware is good quality. In fact, Calphalon earned an honorable mention in my guide to the best cookware brands.

That said, Signature is one of its higher-end and most expensive collections, while Classic is designed and priced for lower budgets.

If you want cookware that will perform the best and last the longest, go with Signature. You’ll pay more, but it’s worth the investment, especially if you’re shopping for stainless steel cookware since that can last a lifetime.

For non-stick cookware, both collections get the job done, but Signature pans are thicker, retain heat better, and are less likely to warp. They are also coated with one additional layer of non-stick material, which extends their life. In my opinion, that extra durability is worth the extra cost. 

Both collections are available on Amazon, where you can read more reviews and compare the current prices.

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He began his career in marketing, managing campaigns for dozens of Fortune 500 brands. In 2018, Andrew founded Prudent Reviews and has since reviewed 600+ products. When he’s not testing the latest cookware, kitchen knives, and appliances, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew via emailLinkedIn, or the Prudent Reviews YouTube channel.

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