The Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel 8-piece Cookware Set offers a middle ground between pricey All-Clad and budget-friendly Tramontina cookware. Its cooking performance is comparable to both, and its selection of pieces is similar. One difference is the glass lids included in this set. Some users enjoy watching what they're cooking, but experts say stainless-steel lids are more durable.
In professional tests, these pans keep up with pricier sets. Testers at a foodie magazine find the Calphalon cookware's performance comparable to the top-rated Tramontina 8-piece 18/10 Stainless Steel TriPly-Clad Cookware Set (*Est. $130) and the high-end All-Clad Tri-Ply Stainless 10-piece Cookware Set (*Est. $700). All three are made of fully clad stainless steel, with an aluminum core that extends fully up the sides of the pan. This construction results in steady, evenly distributed heat. User reviews confirm that this cookware heats up quickly, cooks food evenly and holds its heat well. "It caramelizes foods beautifully and the flavor is amazing," says one owner at Amazon.com.
Be prepared for a learning curve. Several owners complain about foods such as eggs and hamburgers sticking to the pan -- more experienced users attribute this problem to overheating. For the best performance, they advise, the heat should be kept on medium or lower. "If you've never used stainless steel, you will have a small learning curve and need to watch your food closely for the first few attempts," warns one Amazon.com reviewer. Most reviewers find the shapes and sizes of the pans convenient. Professional testers note that the low, wide sides of the frying pans and saucepans make it easy to see what you're cooking and help liquid evaporate during simmering. Owners generally say cleanup is easy with the help of a stainless cleanser called Bar Keepers Friend (*Est. $3 for a 12-ounce can). These pans are technically dishwasher-safe, but the manufacturer says washing by hand "maintains the luster of the stainless steel."
Few owners mention appearance. However, the references we did find regarding the cookware's looks were positive. One owner at Amazon.com calls it "strikingly beautiful," and an owner providing feedback at Macys.com says "they look great on the pot rack."
Lack of durability complaints is promising: A few owners report problems with white spots appearing on the finish, but others say these come off easily with a little Bar Keepers Friend. Another owner at Amazon.com had to replace warped pans more than once under Calphalon's lifetime warranty. However, we found no other reviewers who experienced this problem. Professional testers do express some uneasiness over this cookware's glass lids. They explain that stainless-steel lids are more durable and can withstand oven temperatures. (While this cookware is oven-safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, the lids are only oven-safe to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.)
1. Cook's Illustrated Magazine
Review Credibility: Very Good In this review, editors narrow the wide selection of cookware on the market to six sets that offer what they consider the most commonly used pieces. The Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel 8-piece Cookware Set goes up against high-end brand All-Clad and four other competitors. Reviewers consider a few common cooking tasks in addition to unnamed cooking tests and consider the cookware's construction, the weight of the pans and whether the handles get hot.
Review: Cookware Sets, Editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine, May 1, 2009
Review Credibility: Good We only found a handful of reviews for the Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel 8-piece Cookware Set at Amazon.com, but all of them are positive. Owners praise the cookware's even heating, solid construction and "strikingly beautiful" looks. They also say the selection of pots and pans is useful, and cleanup is easy with the help of Bar Keepers Friend.
Review: Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel 8-Piece Cookware Set, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of December 2012
Review Credibility: Good Because there are so few reviews for the Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel 8-piece Cookware Set at Amazon.com, we also consulted the 30 or so reviews for this larger cookware set in the same line. These reviews confirm that the pans perform well and are easy to clean, but they also call attention to a couple of problems. Users warn that this cookware can overheat very easily, causing food to stick. Low heat, they advise, is the key to good performance. A couple of users also say the stay-cool handles don't do their job.
Review: Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel 13-Piece Cookware Set, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of December 2012
Review Credibility: Good There were no reviews at Buzzillions.com for the Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel 8-piece Cookware Set, but there are about 50 reviews here for the 13-piece set in the same line. Reviews are pulled from a variety of retail sites, including Macys.com and Cooking.com. Overall, this cookware set receives a user rating of 4.5 stars out of a possible 5. Owners praise its fast, even heating, durability and easy cleanup. However, we did see some complaints that food, especially eggs, sticks to these pans no matter how much oil is used.
Review: Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel 13 Piece Cookware Set, Contributors to Buzzillions.com, As of December 2012