Why Do Pans Warp? – Causes, Fix & Prevention

Pans warping seems to be one of the most common problems in the kitchen. It might not be as common as burnt food and such, but you might have found yourself often warned about it. With that, you might ask: Why do pans warp? Today, let’s discuss this common kitchen problem.

What is a Warped Pan?

Simply put, a warped pan is an uneven pan. It usually happens at the base of the pan, but it could also affect the sides. It could be obvious, giving your pan an appearance as if it received a beating. However, it is often subtle like this one:

If you’ve ever wondered why all the contents of your pan can’t seem to stay on a particular spot, you are probably dealing with a warped pan.

That unusual dip or odd bump that appeared all of a sudden? Yes, it’s probably because your pan is warped.

Why Do Pans Warp?

Many kitchen practices could cause warping, but it pretty much boils down to one thing – rapid temperature change or thermal shock.

If we try to be a little more specific, we’ll go to the atoms. Simply put, heat excites atoms, causing them to move apart and the object, in this case, the pan, to expand. Conversely, cooling causes the atoms to come closer, making the pan contract.

Now, we’ve got that down. Let’s see how this process could play out in the kitchen.


Washing your pans immediately after using them is one of the most common ways they warp. However, it could be worse. Washing your pans immediately while they’re still hot using cold water is pretty much the best way to make them warp.

Pans could also warp in the cooking or baking process. We will be talking about that in a bit. However, it seems it is in the washing process most pans warp.

Cooking or Baking

why do pans warp

Several things in the cooking or baking process could cause pans to warp. However, as you might have already expected, it usually centers on heat.

Heating your pan too fast is one way to cause your pans to warp. Say, putting the heat on high immediately, for example. Now, if you put some cold meat, vegetable, or liquid in there, that is like adding salt to the wound!

Uneven heating is also another way that your pan could warp, and one of the ways to do this is by partnering a large pan with a small burner.

Material and Quality

Buying cheap, soft, and thin pans could also be the reason you have warped pans on your hands.

You might wonder which pans to buy. We’ll address that in the next section.

How to Avoid Warped Pans

how to unwarp a pan

You now understand why a pan warps. okay, let’s discuss how you can avoid them.

1. Mind the Temperature

Since temperature changes are the main cause, it’s important to monitor them to avoid warping.

Heat your pan evenly and gradually. You could say that you shouldn’t shock your pans. To add, you might also want to thaw or put your ingredients to room temperature before putting them on the pan. We know that this is not always possible.

Additionally, try to match your pans and burners as much as possible. If some of your pans don’t fit with your burners, then you don’t need to worry. We’ll talk about this in the third point.

Finally, when it comes to clean-up, you’d want to let your pans cool down first before washing them. Don’t let them touch any water as long as they haven’t cooled down yet. That means you don’t want to put them in a sink that isn’t completely dry to cool down. When it’s time to wash them, you might also want to use hot water.

2. Get the Right Pans

Earlier, we mentioned that buying cheap, soft, and thin pans can lead to warping. They’re not always that bad, but it’s also a little challenging to find a quality pan among them.

Copper is one of the softer metals, but it doesn’t mean you want to tick copper cookware off your kitchen arsenal just because it’s on the softer side. No! Copper is also a great material for pans!

There is no perfect pan. They all have their pros and cons, there are the right pans for the right job.

Pan Material Main Use
Stainless Steel General cooking. Good for browning and deglazing.
Cast Iron Slow cooking, frying, and oven baking. Retains heat well.
Non-Stick Low-fat cooking. Ideal for eggs and pancakes.
Copper Fast, even heating. Good for precise temperature control.
Ceramic Non-stick alternative. Requires less oil and easy to clean.
Carbon Steel Similar to cast iron but lighter. Used for searing and sautéing.

3. Keep an Eye Out On Your Pans

Now, if you don’t have the best pan for the job, or if you have a large pan for a small burner, it doesn’t mean you can’t use them. For both scenarios, you just want to keep an eye out on the pan. You want to try your best to heat them as evenly as you can, gradually.

How to Fix Warped Pans

Prevention is ideal. However, sometimes, accidents happen. So, you might be wondering what you can do if your pan is already warped. There are a few ways to do this. However, the one we will show you is what we deem will yield the highest success rate.


  1. Get a woodblock that fits the dimensions of your pan. (a woodblock that aligns well with the pan is preferable.)
  2. Use some lining to protect your pan. (recommend using a towel or something similar to protect its coating.)
  3. To start, if you’re using a lining, then you want to place that on the affected side. Next, place your wood on it and grab a hammer or a mallet.
  4. Hit the woodblock to flatten the affected area. Start gently and gradually add force.
  5. If you overdid it, you don’t have to worry. Just flip the pan over and repeat the whole process until your pan becomes flat again.

Pro Tips: If the pan is dipped, you want to work on it from the exterior (i.e., the pan should be facing down). If the pan’s raised, you want to work on it from the interior (i.e., the pan should be facing up).

Why You Should Avoid Warped Pans

An uneven pan is not the best kitchen partner out there. Since they are uneven they could render your dishes unevenly cooked. Additionally, they could also be dangerous. A warped pan often wobbles a lot. A little wobbliness is an accident waiting to happen!

A warped pan might not be an immediate concern, but it will likely become one.


Why do pans warp? Well, today, we answered that and so much more!

First, we clarified what a warped pan is. After that, we’ve discussed why does a pan warp. Then, we also talked about how you could prevent or fix warped pans!

We hope we were able to be of service to you today. If you have any other concerns, feel free to drop by our past discussions. We might have the answer to your kitchenware concerns.

how to fix warped baking sheet

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