Calcified cartilage extracellular matrix (ECM) is a critical interface at the osteochondral junction which plays an important role in maintaining the structural continuity between articular cartilage and subchondral bone. This mineralized network is primarily composed of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and collagen type II (col II) and hosts hypertrophic chondrocytes. This work aimed to investigate the effect of gel composition and collagen II content on the behavior and hypertrophic differentiation of ATDC5 cells for regeneration of calcified cartilage tissue. For this purpose, chitosan/collagen type II/nanohydroxyapatite (chi/col II/nHA) composite hydrogels were prepared to mimic the calcified cartilage ECM. ATDC5 cells were encapsulated within the composite gels and the viability, ECM production and hypertrophic gene expression were assessed during culture. All composites were favorable for ATDC5 viability and proliferation, whereas specific ECM production and hypertrophic differentiation were dependent on gel composition. Chitosan: collagen II ratio had an impact on ATDC5 cell fate. Hypertrophic differentiation was best pronounced in chi/col II/nHA 70:30 composition. The results obtained from this study offers a scaffold-based approach for calcified cartilage regeneration and provide an insight for biomimetic design and preparation of more complicated gradient osteochondral units.