Calphalon Vs Chicago Cutlery: Which Is The Better Brand?

When it comes to American knife brands, to names that usually come to mind are Calphalon and Chicago Cutlery.

After all, they are some of the most popular brands in the entire market today.

But which one is better for your kitchen?

In this article, we’ll be taking a close look at both of the brands.

We look into their manufacturing process, the collections offered, as well as their price in this Calphalon vs. Chicago Cutlery comparison.

Keep reading to learn more.

A Brief History Of Calphalon

Calphalon’s beginnings date back all the way to 1963.

Founded by Ronald Kasperzak, but back then it was called Commercial Aluminium Cookware.

The company’s beginnings are found supplying the restaurant industry and other food services.

The brand is largely credited with inventing hard-anodized cookware, which many, many brands adopted.

This invention was dubbed Calphalon.

It was only in the 1980s that the brand began marketing to culinary schools and gourmet stores.

But the brand’s popularity grew fast, and they eventually had to stock up in department stores as well.

The way in which their products were sold was unprecedented at the time, with in-store demonstrations and culinary sponsorships.

And in 1992, the brand officially changed its name to Calphalon.

Nowadays, the product is known for being durable, high-quality, and innovative products.

And this trickles down from its cookware, all the way down to its knives.

A Brief History Of Chicago Cutlery

 

Chicago Cutlery traces its roots far back to 1930 when the company began providing knife care services butcher shops in Chicago.

Their knife sharpening skills were very renowned in their area, and for a while, the brand kept providing this service.

It took some time for them to start making their own knives, but fast forward to the 1960s’ and that’s exactly what they did.

Their knives at the time were known all around, and they quickly grew to become one of the country’s biggest knife brands.

And today, they still have this reputation amongst a lot of enthusiasts.

While some of their recent models haven’t garnered as much praise as their original ones, they are still one of the few American knife brands respected in culinary circles.

Which Brand Is Better?

Where Are They Made?

While both of these brands began in the USA manufactured a lot of their original products there, things are much different now.

Both Calphalon and Chicago Cutlery outsource their manufacturing to China, which can be a bit misleading, seeing as both brands are known as American brands.

While the brands still source their steel and other components from around the world, most manufacturing is done in China.

And while this can be misleading to some, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are bad knives.

A lot of people have claimed that older models from both brands are better, but the exact date on which manufacturing was moved to China is largely unknown.

So even if this doesn’t necessarily mean their products are bad, it’s still important to note where they are made.

Construction

One characteristic that Calphalon takes pride in is that most of its blades are forged.

This means that they are made from a single piece of steel, which is heated and pounded into shape.

Sometimes this is done by a craftsman, but in the case of Calphalon, it can also be done by a machine.

The counterpart of this construction is stamped blades, which is how Chicago Cutlery models are made.

Stamped blades are cut out of a large sheet of steel, which is then pounded and honed.

Typically, forged blades are much stronger than stamped ones, which is why they tend to garner a steeper price.

But with advancements in technology, stamped blades are beginning to catch up with their counterparts, so it doesn’t matter as much in this day and age.

Especially for home cooks.

It might be hard to find the specific steel that Calphalon uses in its blades, but they are known to be a type of high-carbon stainless steel.

The high carbon content makes the blade much harder, meaning the edge will last longer.

However, too much carbon and the blade will become too hard, making it brittle.

Just like with Calphalon, it is hard to find the specific steel used by Chicago Cutlery.

But it is known to be high-carbon and stainless as well.

Some people have noted that older Chicago Cutlery knives tend to have stronger and better steel than the newer ones, but that can be hard to prove.

Both brands manufacture knives that are full-tang.

A full-tang knife has the blade run throughout the entire handle.

This provides more balance and a more comfortable feel when slicing.

Generally, it’s always best to go for full-tang knives, whether you’re shopping for a home kitchen or a professional one.

This is because they give you much more control over your tools, preventing accidents, and making work much easier.

The Edge

Right out of the box, a Calphalon knife will be sharpened to around 15-20 degrees on either side.

This is very sharp for a home kitchen, and will probably be sharper than most blades you have in your cupboard already.

And since the blades are made of high-carbon steel, the edge will stay sharp for a fairly long time.

Chicago Cutlery claims that their knives come out of the box at a 13-degree angle on each side.

This is very sharp, and for the most part, the knives are really this sharp out of the box.

The edge of their knives will make things much easier for you in the kitchen, especially if you haven’t owned a knife this sharp before.

Both brands make blades that are double-beveled, which means they are ambidextrous.

The Handle

Depending on the model and collection you’re shopping from, the handle of the knife will be very different.

This is the same regardless of the brand you’re buying from.

Both brands use a wide variety of materials in their handles.

They have some models will synthetic handles, and some with stainless steel ones.

Calphalon has one collection with triple-riveted handles, called the Classic.

Chicago Cutlery, on the other hand, has three collections with triple-riveted handles.

These are the Insignia 2, Essentials, and Belden collections.

Both brands make modern and ergonomic handles, designed to fit very comfortably in the hand.

They are also both fit for a variety of slicing styles, whether you use the pinch grip, hammer grip, or point grip.

Price

Of the two brands, Calphalon is the more expensive choice.

It’s easy to see why, though.

Calphalon prides itself in having forged blades, which are supposed to be of better quality than stamped ones.

Chicago Cutlery’s blades are stamped.

Full sets of Calphalon knives will usually cost you anywhere between $180 and $230.

Chicago Cutlery sets, on the other hand, can go for as low as $35 and as high as $190.

So, if you’re looking to find a quality set of kitchen knives on a tight budget, you might have better luck looking at the latter brand’s models.

But if you have a wider budget and you’re willing to invest in a set of high-quality, forged knives, the Calphalon is the right pick for you.

Conclusion

With that, our comparison comes to an end.

So, which is the better brand?

Well, if you’re looking for quality, forged kitchen cutlery and you’re willing to spend money for it, then we recommend Calphalon.

Their knives have a modern design, comfortable feel, and very sharp blades.

On top of that, a lot of their sets also come with self-sharpening knife blocks that can make maintenance much easier.

However, if you’re on a tighter budget, we recommend shopping from Chicago Cutlery.

Their products are much cheaper, and they are still great blades to have in a home kitchen.

And if you can, try to find their older models as these tend to be sharper and stronger than the newer ones.

Last Updated on July 19, 2021 by Andy Wang

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My name is Andy Wang, and I'm a retired chef. I used to work at the City Vineyard restaurant in NYC. I also had a culinary degree from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. And this blog is where I share my love for knives and cooking with people like you.