We are reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Calphalon Unison vs Contemporary (2021): Which Cookware Line Is Better?

Because it seems like everyone will be doing more staying at home and cooking their own meals this year, it might be a good idea to invest in quality cookware. This way, you’ll have a more efficient and enjoyable experience in the kitchen. Calphalon, a popular cookware brand among home chefs, has two great cookware collections you can look into: their Unison and Contemporary lines. It’s important to choose wisely though because they have a number of differences in terms of surfaces, construction, and heat conduction. To help you out, here’s an in-depth comparison of the two collections.

Calphalon Unison vs Contemporary Comparison Chart

ModelUnisonContemporary
 Amazon productAmazon product
PriceAmazon productAmazon product
ConstructionHeavy-gauge aluminumHeavy-gauge aluminum
Non-Stick SurfaceSlide or SearSmooth surface that’s similar to Unison’s Slide surface
PFOA-FreeYesYes
Handle and Lid MaterialHandle – cast brush stainless steel
Lid – tempered glass
Handle – cast brush stainless steel
Lid – tempered glass
Oven UseMaximum temperature of 500 degrees FahrenheitMaximum temperature of 450 degrees Fahrenheit
Induction UseNot compatibleStainless steel pieces are compatible
Dishwasher-SafeYes but washing by hand is recommendedYes but washing by hand is recommended
Available VariantsNon-stick cookware onlyNon-stick and stainless steel variants
Lifetime WarrantyYesYes

Construction and Design

Both the Unison and Contemporary lines are made from quality materials and are solidly built.

Both the Unison (right) and Contemporary (left) collections are made out of heavy-gauge aluminum.

When it comes to construction, both the Unison and Contemporary cookware lines are solidly built. Not only are they made out of heavy-gauge aluminum which is extremely durable, but they also boast of hard-anodized exteriors. This is pretty impressive because compared to stainless steel, hard-anodized aluminum is 80% stronger. So yes, you can expect to get plenty of use from these two lines because they’re quite rugged and they won’t bend or break on you. They’re protected by a lifetime warranty as well so you don’t have to worry even if you bump your pots and pans from time to time.

Aside from construction, the Unison and Contemporary lines are also similar in terms of handle and lid design. They both have handles made out of cast brush stainless steel which is a great choice of material because it’s extra durable. To boot, their handles are quite long so even if your hands are on the larger side, you won’t find it hard to get a good grip. The most amazing thing about their handles though is that they stay cool to the touch throughout the entire cooking process, thanks to insulated rivets that attach them to the pan. As for their lids, they’re made out of tempered glass. They’re transparent so it’s easy to check on your food and they’re heavy as well so they don’t crack or break easily.

Non-Stick Surface

The Unison line offers two kinds of non-stick surfaces while the Contemporary line only has one.

Both the Unison and Contemporary lines have 3-layer non-stick surfaces.

If you’re worried about safety, you don’t have to be because both the Unison and Contemporary lines are PFOA-free. This means that they don’t contain any toxic materials that might transfer to your food during the cooking process. Another thing that these two collections have in common is that they’re designed with a three-layer non-stick surface. The fact that there are multiple layers in place is great news because this means that they’ll stand the test of time and you can continue to cook without your food sticking to the bottom of the pan.

That’s where their similarities end, however, because they actually have very different types of non-stick surfaces. For the Unison line, you get to choose from two kinds of non-stick surfaces, namely the Slide and the Sear. With the Slide surface, you can cook absolutely any kind of food and it will just slide right off the pan sans any sticking. As for the Sear surface, it’s designed to catch all the flavors that escape during the cooking process and put them back into your food. The Contemporary line, on the other hand, only has one kind of non-stick surface. Similar to the Unison’s Slide surface, it’s smooth and is able to release your food with ease. Don’t expect it to boost your food’s flavor though.

Because both the Unison and Contemporary lines have non-stick surfaces, it’s important to never use metal spoons or spatulas on them to avoid scratches and chipping. Also, it would be better to wash them by hand instead of sticking them in the dishwasher to preserve their non-stick surfaces.

Cooking Performance

Both the Unison and Contemporary lines deliver good cooking performance.

The Unison and Contemporary lines heat up quickly and have even heat distribution.

Even though they come with different kinds of surfaces, you can expect similar cooking performances from the Unison and Contemporary lines. Because of their aluminum construction, you don’t have to wait long for them to heat up. Also, they do pretty well when it comes to heat distribution so your food will always come out evenly cooked. And as mentioned, you won’t have any problem flipping your food over, especially with the Unison’s Slide, thanks to their non-stick surfaces. It’s safe to say that it’s possible to achieve professional-grade dishes with the pots and pans from either collection.

Aside from cooking on a stove, you can also use both lines in the oven and broiler. That said, it’s important to take note of their respective maximum temperatures. The Unison’s limit is at 500 degrees Fahrenheit while that of the Contemporary is slightly lower at 450 degrees Fahrenheit. These temperatures are pretty high though and should be enough to cook or bake different kinds of food with. As for induction stove users out there, the Unison and Contemporary lines are unfortunately not induction-compatible (unless you opt for the Contemporary’s stainless steel pieces which we’ll talk about in the next section).

Available Variants

The Contemporary line offers both non-stick and stainless steel cookware while the Unison line only has the latter.

The Contemporary line has stainless steel pieces that are induction-compatible.

When it comes to variety, the Contemporary line has a bit more to offer, having both non-stick and stainless steel cookware. One drawback of their stainless steel pieces, however, is that food tends to stick to them and so you need to grease them up beforehand. But it’s a small inconvenience, considering that stainless steel pots and pans do a great job at browning, searing, and deglazing. Not to mention they’re compatible with induction stoves. As for the Unison line, it’s a strictly non-stick cookware collection.

Verdict

We recommend the Unison line more for having two non-stick surface options and a higher temperature limit.

Amazon product

Both the Unison and Contemporary lines are great options for home chefs who want to level up their cookware. These collections are robust, made with high-quality materials, and are able to deliver excellent cooking performances. That said, we recommend the Unison line more for having two non-stick surfaces to choose from. To boot, the pots and pans from the Unison line are able to withstand higher temperatures in the oven. The only reason you should pick the Contemporary line over the Unison is if you have an induction cooker and you need stainless steel cookware that you can use with it.

FAQs

๐Ÿ“Œ Is Calphalon cookware bad for your health?

No, Calphalon is safe. Both the Calphalon Unison and Contemporary lines are PFOA-free, meaning they don’t contain any toxic materials that might transfer to your food during the cooking process.

๐Ÿ“Œ What is Calphalon made of?

Both the Calphalon Unison and Contemporary lines are made with heavy-gauge aluminum with hard-anodized exteriors. Their handles are cast brush stainless steel while their lids are tempered glass.

๐Ÿ“Œ Can you use Calphalon in the oven?

Yes, both the Calphalon Unison and Contemporary lines are safe for oven use. However, they have different temperature limits. The Unison line can withstand up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit while the Contemporary line’s max is slightly lower at 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

๐Ÿ“Œ Which is better, the Calphalon Unison or Contemporary line?

We recommend the Unison line more for having two non-stick surfaces to choose from. To boot, the pots and pans from the Unison line are able to withstand higher temperatures in the oven.

RELATED  Cuisinart vs Tramontina Dutch Oven (2021): Which One Should You Buy?
Denise Jose

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying. Researcher and yoga teacher passionate about article writing, photography, wellness, and mindfulness.