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Are you in the market for a new set of cookware and trying to decide between T-fal and Calphalon?
Both brands have been making quality non-stick and stainless steel cookware for decades. Their products are high-performing, built to last, and significantly less expensive than ultra-premium brands like All-Clad.
In this in-depth comparison of T-fal vs. Calphalon, I uncover exactly how their cookware stacks up in terms of performance, design, features, product options, price, and much more. I also reveal the issues that dissatisfied customers complain about the most for each brand.
By the end, you’ll understand exactly how their non-stick and stainless steel cookware is similar, how it’s different, and the advantages and disadvantages of each brand.
Let’s dive right in!
Use the links below to navigate this article:
- T-fal vs. Calphalon: Quick Comparison
- Company Backgrounds
- How Does Their Non-Stick Cookware Compare?
- How Does Their Stainless Steel Cookware Compare?
- Bottom Line: Which Cookware Is Right For You?
If you only have a minute and are looking for a quick comparison of T-fal vs. Calphalon, here’s what you need to know.
Non-Stick Cookware Comparison: Quick Summary
Ten out of eleven T-fal non-stick cookware collections are made with standard aluminum while all nine Calphalon collections are made with hard anodized aluminum. Hard anodized aluminum is more durable and provides a superior cooking experience.
T-fal non-stick cookware comes with a few bells and whistles such as their Thermo-Spot® heat indicator and Sapphire/Titanium infused non-stick coating. Calphalon cookware has a traditional design that’s functional and elegant without any bonus features.
Three Calphalon collections are oven-safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, four are oven-safe up to 450, and two are oven-safe up to 400 degrees. All T-fal collections are oven-safe up to 350 except one which can handle 400 degrees.
T-fal and Calphalon cookware are both dishwasher-safe and both come with warranties that cover defects in materials and craftsmanship.
T-fal and Calphalon customers complain about the same thing: durability. T-fal customers complain that the non-stick coating scratches and the exterior peels while Calphalon customers complain that the cookware warps easily.
The biggest difference between T-fal and Calphalon non-stick cookware is price. On average, T-fal cookware costs half as much as Calphalon. To get the best idea of how T-fal and Calphalon compare in terms of price, use this chart to look at similar products side-by-side.
Bottom line—Calphalon makes higher-quality and better performing non-stick cookware without the unnecessary extra features. Only buy T-fal if Calphalon is out of your budget.
Stainless Steel Cookware Comparison: Quick Summary
Only two out of T-fal’s five stainless steel cookware collections are constructed with a core layer of aluminum, the other three are made with pure steel which is a poor conductor of heat (not a good thing when we’re talking cookware). All six Calphalon collections are constructed with an aluminum core.
Like their non-stick cookware, T-fal stainless steel cookware features some unique elements including a Techno Release™ patterned cooking surface and a copper heat channel bottom. Calphalon stainless cookware has a simple and elegant design with glass lids and stainless steel riveted handles.
Both brands are oven-safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, both are dishwasher safe, and both come with the same warranty covering materials and craftsmanship.
T-fal and Calphalon customers complain about the same issues: food sticks, they’re difficult to clean, and the exterior surface gets stained easily. T-fal customers also complain that pans take a long time to heat up (this is due to the lack of aluminum core).
Like their non-stick cookware, T-fal stainless steel cookware is about half the price of Calphalon. Use this chart to compare their stainless steel cookware prices side-by-side.
Bottom line—if you can afford it, go with Calphalon. Their cookware performs significantly better due to its multi-ply construction. Since stainless steel cookware lasts forever, it’s worth investing a little extra to get a product you’ll love using for years to come.
In 1954, a French engineer named Marc Grégoire attempted to bond PTFE (Teflon) to the cooking surface of an aluminum pan. Up until that point, PTFE was only ever used for industrial purposes like coating valves and sealing pipes. This experiment resulted in an amazing breakthrough—the first ever non-stick cookware.
Two years later, Marc Grégoire launched Tefal which is marketed in the U.S. as T-fal. The name comes from combining the words TEFlon and ALuminum.
Since the beginning, T-fal has been laser-focused on creating innovative products that, according to their motto, “make your everyday life easier”.
Not only did they invent non-stick cookware, but they also played a major role in bringing waffle irons, raclette grills, and fondue machines into people’s homes in the 1970s. In 1995, they created the first ever single-click, silent-whistle, and time-controlled pressure cooker.
Today, T-fal manufactures over 50 million kitchen products per year and sells in over 120 countries. Although their main focus is on cookware, they also sell small kitchen appliances, pressure cookers, and irons.
Calphalon is hardly new to the cookware party. The cookware company began in Ohio in 1963 and was initially called Commercial Aluminum Cookware Company. The name changed to Calphalon in 1968, and they became known for being the first cookware company to treat raw aluminum through a process called hard anodizing. Anodization thickens the exterior layer of the aluminum making it more durable, less likely to corrode, scratch resistant, and creates a superior cooking experience.
Calphalon started out making only hard anodized aluminum cookware, but they eventually added a non-stick coating to its cooking surface in 1992. In 2001, they launched their first stainless steel cookware collection.
Today, Calphalon is considered a middle to high-end cookware brand that rivals the performance of premium brands, but at a cheaper price. They also make a wide variety of other kitchen products including bakeware, cutlery, and appliances.
Now that you know a little bit about T-fal and Calphalon’s history, let’s get into the details about what sets them apart, starting with non-stick cookware.
Unlike stainless steel cookware which can last forever, non-stick cookware typically needs to be replaced within 5 years. Over time, the non-stick surface wears down, scratches, and becomes ineffective. It’s important to choose a set that will hold up and perform in the kitchen, but you also don’t want to overspend since you’ll need to replace it with a new set down the road.
With that in mind, let’s take a close look at how T-fal non-stick cookware collections compare to Calphalon.
Within the non-stick category, T-fal and Calphalon both have several different collections to choose from.
T-fal offers a total of 11 different non-stick collections and Calphalon offers 9. With some collections, you can buy sets or individual pieces and with others, you can buy both.
Across both brands, the differences between each collection are mainly in the materials and design, both of which I will dive into in the next couple sections.
The point here is, T-fal and Calphalon both give you a wide array of non-stick collections to choose from and once you decide on the brand, you’ll have to think about which collection is best.
You can check out each collection from both brands on Amazon and other online retailers by clicking the links in the chart below.
Most low-cost non-stick cookware is made with a standard aluminum core and a PTFE (Teflon) or ceramic non-stick coating for the cooking surface.
Higher quality non-stick cookware is made with a hard-anodized aluminum core with multiple layers of PTFE coating. Hard-anodized aluminum starts as regular aluminum but after going through an electrochemical anodization process, it becomes hard, heavy, and resistant to scratches, warping, and other damage.
In terms of material, the biggest difference between T-fal and Calphalon is that all Calphalon non-stick cookware is made from hard-anodized aluminum while only T-fal’s Ultimate Hard Anodized Titanium collection is made with that material. The rest of T-fal non-stick cookware is made with regular aluminum.
Since cookware made with regular aluminum requires fewer manufacturing processes compared to hard-anodized aluminum, it’s less expensive. This is one of the ways T-fal keeps their prices very low. More on this later. (skip to price comparison)
Both brands use standard PTFE non-stick coating for most collections but also offer versions made with a ceramic non-stick coating if you prefer that (FYI – I’m not a huge fan of ceramic because it’s more difficult to clean).
Helpful Resource: Confused about the difference between ceramic and PTFE? Check out our recent article “Ceramic vs. Teflon (PTFE) Cookware: What’s the Difference?” to learn how cookware coated with ceramic and Teflon (PTFE) compares in terms of performance, safety, price, and durability.
T-fal HeatMaster cookware has “Sapphire Infused Non-Stick Coating” which they claim will last a lifetime and is safe to use with metal utensils. This cookware has small blue sapphire flecks spattered throughout the cooking surface which looks nice but there’s no proof that it actually improves durability.
Similarly, T-fal’s Signature, Color Luxe, Comfort, and Ultimate Hard Anodized Titanium cookware has a titanium reinforced non-stick checker-patterned coating that supposedly improves durability the same way.
You won’t find any blue checkered pattern cooking surfaces with Calphalon. Their approach to materials is much more simple, hard anodized aluminum coated with multiple layers of high-quality PTFE or ceramic.
T-fal non-stick cookware has some very interesting design elements that may be useful to some but come off as, quite frankly, gimmicky and amateurish to more experienced cooks.
For example, almost all T-fal non-stick cookware has built-in Thermo-Spot® heat indicator which is a spot in the middle of the pan that begins to glow red when your pan has been preheated. Sure, this might be useful when you’re busy and can’t keep a close eye on the stove, but in my opinion, it makes the cookware look cheap and it’s unnecessary for those that cook regularly.
Another example is T-fal TriForce cookware which is shaped like a triangle. The triangular shape allows you to pour the contents of the pan more easily but most normal circular pans have flared rims that are just as easy to pour. I wouldn’t ever buy triangular shaped pans simply because I think they look ridiculous, however, customers seem to love them as evident by their overwhelmingly positive reviews on Amazon.
Although I strongly dislike some T-fal design elements, there are two that I really like. First, their TriForce and Color Luxe collections come in different exterior colors so you can deviate from plain old black/gray. Unfortunately, Calphalon non-stick cookware is only available in black/gray.
Secondly, T-fal HeatMaster cookware has a stainless steel bonded base which helps distribute heat evenly, but more importantly, makes it compatible with induction cooktops. Between T-fal and Calphalon, this is the only collection that you can use with induction cooktops.
Note: If you happen to have an induction cooktop, I recommend looking at All-Clad’s two non-stick collections (we recently wrote an in-depth comparison of the two) in addition to the T-fal HeatMaster collection.
Calphalon non-stick cookware has a much more classic design with simple functionality. Since it’s made with hard-anodized aluminum, the outer layer is dark gray/black with a matte finish.
Most of their collections come with glass lids and have stainless steel handles except the Select by Calphalon and Simply Calphalon collections which have rubber grips on their handles.
The differences between each Calphalon non-stick collection are subtle with slight variations in the angle and design of their handles.
If you’re looking for a simple, classic look without the odd shapes, bright colors, gimmicky features, Calphalon might be the brand for you.
T-fal non-stick cookware is oven-safe up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit except for their Ultimate Hard Anodized Titanium collection which is oven-safe up to 400 degrees.
Calphalon Williams-Sonoma Elite, Signature, and Unison collections are oven-safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Their Contemporary, Classic and Simply Calphalon (PTFE and Ceramic) collections are oven-safe up to 450 degrees, and their Select by Calphalon (PTFE and Ceramic) is oven-safe up to 400 degrees.
T-fal and Calphalon both claim that their non-stick cookware is dishwasher-safe, however, I wouldn’t recommend it.
Harsh detergent and hot water can damage the non-stick coating. Besides, non-stick cookware is incredibly easy to clean since food releases so easily off the cooking surface.
To maximize the lifespan of your cookware, regardless of brand, wash it by hand and dry it immediately.
T-fal and Calphalon guarantee their non-stick cookware with generous lifetime warranties that protect you against defects in materials and craftsmanship.
Both of their warranties do not cover damage from improper use, stains, scratches, and deterioration of the non-stick coating from normal wear and tear.
When you sell millions of products a year like T-fal and Calphalon, some portion of customers will inevitably complain. While you shouldn’t let two or three dissatisfied customers sway your decision, it’s important to understand the most common complaints that are consistently reported.
While the majority of reviews are very positive, the most common complaints about T-fal non-stick cookware from dissatisfied customers are about its durability—or lack thereof. They claim that the exterior layers peel off, the non-stick coating scratches, and the base of the cookware warps.
Other customers complain that the non-stick coating wears down easily allowing food to stick to the surface. Some customers, like this one, even posted pictures of their damaged cookware after only a couple months.
Although less commonly reported, a fair amount of T-fal customers complain that the handles get dangerously hot and they needed to hold them with an oven mitt.
Like T-fal, the majority of Calphalon customers are extremely happy with their cookware. This is evident in hundreds of positive reviews on Amazon. Although the love is certainly there, every brand has their detractors and Calphalon is no exception.
The most common complaint about Calphalon non-stick cookware is that it’s susceptible to warping.
Even though Calphalon cookware is made with heavy-gauge hard anodized aluminum which is thick and strong, it’s not immune to warping, especially if you misuse it.
The good news: if you follow the usage instructions and avoid exposure to rapid temperatures changes, you have nothing to worry about. As you can see in this sample of over 1000 reviews, only a couple dozen customers complain about warping.
Besides warping, Calphalon customers, just like T-fal customers, complain that food sticks, the non-stick coating scratches, and the exterior peels.
Bottom line—both brands receive complaints about quality and durability which is pretty normal for non-stick cookware that’s built to last only 3 to 5 years. Although the nature of complaints is similar, I’ll give the slight edge to Calphalon for two reasons. First, the severity of T-fal’s issues is greater. Second, a higher percentage of T-fal customers complain.
The most significant difference between T-fal and Calphalon non-stick cookware is the price. Calphalon, while not the most expensive brand, is significantly more expensive than T-fal.
After comparing dozens of similar T-fal and Calphalon non-stick cookware sets across several retailers, I found that Calphalon non-stick cookware is almost twice as expensive than T-fal.
Calphalon is more expensive than T-fal mainly because they use superior materials (hard anodized aluminum vs. standard aluminum) and they make some of their cookware collections in the U.S. T-fal cookware is primarily made in China.
|Non-Stick 12-Inch Skillet||Check Current Price||Check Current Price|
|Non-Stick 12-Piece Set||Check Current Price||Check Current Price|
|Non-Stick 14-Piece Set||Check Current Price||Check Current Price|
Every home cook should have a good quality set of stainless steel cookware in their kitchen. Unlike non-stick cookware which wears down and needs to be replaced every 3-5 years, stainless steel cookware, when used and maintained properly, can last a lifetime.
It’s important to keep this in mind when comparing T-fal and Calphalon in terms of their stainless steel cookware. The most expensive brand isn’t always the best, but with stainless steel cookware, you should be less concerned about price and more concerned about finding a set that you’ll be happy using for many years to come. Skimping on quality now may cost you more long term.
Although T-fal and Calphalon are more well-known for their non-stick cookware, both brands offer quality sets of stainless steel cookware too. Let’s take a look at how they stack up in this category.
Since T-fal and Calphalon focus mainly on non-stick cookware, they both offer a limited selection of stainless steel collections.
T-fal offers only 5 stainless steel collections: Performa, PerformaPro, and Performa X, Ultimate Copper Bottom, and Tri-Ply Multiclad.
The main differences between the three Performa collections are their design and material of their handles. Performa and Performa X have bare stainless steel handles and PerformaPro has stainless steel handles wrapped in soft-touch silicone. All three have a unique design on their cooking surface that prevents food from sticking (more on this later).
The Ultimate Copper and the Tri-Ply Multiclad collections are unique because they are both constructed with a thick heavy-gauge aluminum core layer between two layers of stainless steel. The core aluminum layer conducts heat quickly and rapidly. When you change the heat on your stove, these pans react quickly which gives you more control while your cooking.
Calphalon has 6 stainless steel cookware collections: Signature, Contemporary, Tri-Ply, Classic, Select by Calphalon, and Simply Calphalon.
The Signature is Calphalon’s most premium collection featuring 5-ply construction with a 3 layer aluminum core encased with 2 layers of stainless steel.
Their middle tier collections are Contemporary and Tri-ply which feature exterior layers of stainless steel and an aluminum core, just like T-fal Ultimate Copper and Tri-Ply.
Their lower cost collections are Classic, Select by Calphalon, and Simply Calphalon. These three collections have an impact-bonded aluminum layer at the base for heat conduction, but unlike Calphalon’s other collections, the aluminum layer doesn’t extend through the sides of the cookware.
You can check out each stainless steel collection from both brands on Amazon by clicking the links in the chart below.
|T-fal Stainless Steel Collections||Calphalon Stainless Steel Collections|
|Ultimate Copper Bottom||Classic|
|Tri-Ply Multiclad||Select by Calphalon|
High-performing and durable stainless steel cookware starts with high-quality materials.
T-fal and Calphalon both use the best quality 18/10 stainless steel. 18/10 stainless steel contains 18% Chromium and 10% Nickel which helps the steel resist-rust and maintain its polish. All you need to know is that it’s the ideal steel for cookware and both T-fal and Calphalon got it.
The biggest difference between the brands in terms of materials is that all Calphalon collections have an aluminum core layer while only two T-fal collections (Ultimate Copper Bottom and Tri-Ply Multiclad) do. To better understand this multi-ply layering, check out the illustration below (Calphalon cookware is constructed very similarly to All-Clad).
Steel is a great exterior material due to its durability, however, it’s not so good at transferring heat. Aluminum, on the other hand, is excellent at conducting heat. To get the best of both worlds, cookware makers like Calphalon sandwich a core layer of aluminum between exterior layers of steel and, voila, you get high-performing, ultra-durable cookware.
The T-fal collections that don’t have an aluminum core (Performa, PerformaPro, Performa X), don’t heat up as fast and often cook unevenly due to hot and cold spots. On the positive side, because they don’t have that core aluminum layer, they’re significantly less expensive.
The design of T-fal stainless steel cookware is a little bit more classic compared to their nonstick cookware, however, it still features some interesting elements that you don’t normally see.
For example, their Performa, PerformaPro, and Performa X collections feature a Techno Release™ patterned cooking surface that makes it easier to release food and much easier to clean. It works by allowing moisture and heat to flow beneath the food, similar to a grill pan. The downside is that you can’t get a completely even sear like you can on a flat, smooth surface.
As its name suggests, T-fal Ultimate Copper Bottom has a copper heat channel in its base which helps with heat conduction and provides a nice design element, however, the layer of copper is very thin and many customers complain that it peels off after only a few uses.
All T-fal stainless steel collections come with glass lids and stainless steel handles. The handles on PerformaPro cookware are wrapped in soft-touch silicon which provides a nice grip but, in my opinion, makes the cookware look cheap.
Like their non-stick cookware, Calphalon stainless steel cookware is has a very traditional look with no out-of-the-ordinary design features.
Similar to T-fal, all of their stainless steel cookware comes with glass lids and stainless steel riveted handles. The handles on Contemporary, Select by Calphalon, and Simply Calphalon are wrapped in rubber while the rest are bare stainless steel.
Besides T-fal’s Techno Release™ patterned cooking surface, the differences between T-fal and Calphalon in terms of design are simply the shape, angle, and material of their handles.
Recipes often call for a quick sear or browning on the stove followed by a slow roast in the oven which is why it’s important to have oven-safe stainless steel cookware.
Fortunately, T-fal and Calphalon make stainless steel cookware that’s oven-safe at very high temperatures.
Without the lid, T-fal cookware is oven safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit except for their PerformaPro collection which is oven safe up to 400 degrees.
Without the lid, Calphalon cookware is also oven safe up to 500 degrees except for their Classic, Select by Calphalon, and Simply Calphalon collections which are oven-safe up to 400 degrees.
T-fal and Calphalon stainless steel cookware is dishwasher safe, but I recommend hand-washing it for the same reasons you should hand wash their non-stick cookware.
Even though stainless steel cookware is extremely durable and doesn’t have a non-stick coating that can easily deteriorate, the excessive heat and harsh detergent from the dishwasher can tarnish and damage the exterior. Also, knives and other sharp utensils can bang into your cookware and scratch it.
If you’re in a pinch and don’t have time to hand wash, go ahead and toss them in the dishwasher, but I wouldn’t make a habit of it. Fair warning.
T-fal and Calphalon’s warranties for their stainless steel cookware are the same as their warranties for their non-stick cookware.
To recap, both brands’ warranties protect you against defects in materials and craftsmanship but don’t cover damage from improper use, stains, scratches, and normal wear and tear.
Read the fine print here:
The most common complaints about T-fal and Calphalon stainless steel cookware are that food sticks to the surface, it’s impossible to clean, and, after the first couple of uses, the exterior gets stained and discolored.
Interestingly, if you look at the negative reviews for any brand, including very expensive brands like All-Clad (see reviews on Amazon), you’ll see the same themes.
Unfortunately, food sticks to the surface of stainless steel cookware. Stainless steel cookware will stain and be more difficult to clean compared to non-stick cookware, especially if you don’t understand how to cook with it properly.
The important thing to know is that these downsides are not specific to T-fal and Calphalon; you’ll encounter these issues with any brand you buy.
Besides sticking, staining, and difficulty cleaning, T-fal customers who bought the Performa, PerformaPro, or Performa X collections also complain that the cookware takes forever to heat up. This complaint doesn’t come as a surprise because those three collections lack the aluminum core found in T-fal’s other collections and all Calphalon collections. Aluminum conducts heat much faster and more evenly than steel and without it, the cookware takes longer to heat up, doesn’t retain heat as long, and often has hot and cold spots.
If buying the lowest cost cookware is your priority, you definitely want to go with T-Fal over Calphalon.
The exact price difference depends on the collections, set/piece, and where you buy it, but in general T-fal stainless steel cookware costs about half as much as Calphalon.
Calphalon is more expensive because all of their collections are made with an aluminum core layer (multi-ply construction). Only two T-fal collections (Ultimate Copper Bottom and Tri-Ply Multiclad) feature an aluminum core, the rest are made with just steel. This added layer of aluminum in Calphalon cookware improves cooking performance and durability but also adds steps to the manufacturing which drives up cost.
|Stainless 12-Inch Fry Pan||Check Current Price||Check Current Price|
|Stainless 13-Piece Set||Check Current Price||Check Current Price|
|Stainless 14-Piece Set||Check Current Price||Check Current Price|
Regardless of the type of cookware that you’re in the market for (non-stick or stainless steel), deciding between T-Fal and Calphalon comes down to three main factors: design, performance, and price.
In terms of design, T-fal cookware features unique elements like the sapphire and titanium infused non-stick coating, the Thermo-Spot heat indicator, the TriForce triangular shaped pans, and the Techno Release patterned cooking surface. While these elements have functional benefits, they come off as a marketing ploy more than anything.
On the other hand, Calphalon cookware has a more traditional design. Instead of the gimmicky features, Calphalon cookware is sleek, elegant, and designed for performance.
When it comes to cooking performance, Calphalon is the clear winner.
All Calphalon non-stick cookware is made with ultra-durable hard-anodized aluminum. Only one of T-fal’s 11 non-stick collections is made with hard anodized aluminum, the rest are made with standard aluminum which is much less durable.
Similarly, all Calphalon stainless steel cookware features a heat conducting aluminum core. Only one T-fal collection has an aluminum core, the rest contain only pure steel which is a poor heat conductor and is known for producing hot and cold spots.
Price is the one category that T-Fal has a clear advantage over Calphalon. On average, T-fal cookware costs half as much as Calphalon.
For example, if you’re looking to buy a 12-piece set of non-stick cookware, T-fal has several options under $200, including this one. For similar sets, most Calphalon collections cost several hundred more. Select by Calphalon is Calphalon’s lowest cost option, but even that is typically more expensive (check price) than T-fal.
Bottom line—if you can afford it, go with Calphalon because of its superior cooking performance and durability. Although the upfront cost is higher, buying Calphalon will actually cost less in the long run since you won’t have to replace it as often.
If the price of Calphalon is too steep, T-fal is a much more economical option. If you decide to buy T-fal, I highly recommend buying their Ultimate Hard Anodized Titanium in the non-stick category and the Ultimate Copper Bottom or Tri-Ply Multiclad in the stainless steel category. These collections are built with similar materials and construction as Calphalon but at a much cheaper price.
If the price is your concern but T-fal cookware doesn’t appeal to you, Cuisinart is a brand worth considering. Their cookware is designed similarly to Calphalon but it’s usually more affordable. Check out our recent comparison of All-Clad vs. Cuisinart to learn more.
You can check out T-fal and Calphalon cookware for yourself at your local kitchen supply store, but I’ve typically found the best deals on Amazon (link to T-fal cookware, link to Calphalon cookware) so I recommend taking a look there first.
If you found this article helpful, you should also check out:
- All-Clad HA1 vs. B1: Which All-Clad Non-Stick Collection Is Better?
- All-Clad vs. Calphalon: Non-Stick and Stainless Cookware Compared
- All-Clad D5 vs. Copper Core: How Do They Compare?
- All-Clad vs. Cuisinart: How Does Their Cookware Compare?
- Is All-Clad Cookware Worth the High Price? An In-Depth Review
- All-Clad D3 vs. D5: Which Stainless Steel Cookware Is Better?
- Ceramic vs. Teflon Cookware: What’s the Difference?