Cooking Hacks

How To Fix a Warped Cooking Pan So It’s Good as New

It’s the strangest thing: You’ve just used a perfectly good sheet pan to make a batch of cookies, and now it’s warped and wonky. Even a slight change — such as one corner tilting up a little more than the rest — is enough to render the pan useless. The same is true with stovetop pans. As soon as they become warped, they’re difficult to use and won’t cook food evenly. But don’t throw them out just yet! Thankfully, there are a few easy ways to fix warped pans. Here’s what to do!

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How to Fix a Warped Pan 

While many methods exist for fixing a warped pan, there seems to be one that works very well: the wood method. The YouTube channel Joe’s Phenomenal does a great job of illustrating this technique. To use this method on a frying pan, you’ll need a piece of wood that’s about as long as the diameter of your pan. You will also need a flat, heat-resistant surface and a light mallet, preferably made of wood or rubber. If you don’t have a mallet, a hammer works, too.  

First, heat your pan on your stove top on low heat for about five to 10 minutes. (Remember: Metal is more malleable when it’s hot!) When the pan is hot, set it on the heat-resistant surface using oven mitts. If the warping pushes outward, place it right side up. If the warping pushes inward, place it upside down.  

Next, place the piece of wood inside the pan — or on the outside of the pan, if it’s upside down. Tap the mallet on the wood, over the area that is warped. The wood will help to evenly distribute the force of the taps, so that you don’t create an even more irregular surface. (If you try to tap on the warped areas without the wood, you could create smaller irregularities, dents, and dings.)  

Keep tapping the wood over warped areas. Feel free to flip the pan over, center the wood on the metal, and tap further to make sure you eliminate any warping going the opposite way. If you still notice warping by the time the pan has cooled down, heat it again and repeat the process.  

How to Fix a Warped Sheet Pan 

You can fix a warped sheet pan the same way that you fixed the frying pan. First, heat up the pan on low heat in the oven, then place it on a flat, heat-resistant surface. Place your block of wood over the warped area and tap with your mallet.  

If it’s helpful, try using a longer block of wood to cover more of the surface. And if one corner of the sheet pan is popping up, you may need to hold the non-warped side of the pan with an oven mitt while tapping on top of the wood block on the other side. Once you have finished un-warping it, place something heavy (like book stacks) on the pan to hold down the edges as the pan cools.  

How to Prevent Sheet Pans and Frying Pans From Warping 

For the future, it’s a good idea to go over your cooking habits and figure out what caused your pan to warp in the first place. These are the most common culprits: 

  1. Overheating. When a frying pan or sheet pan gets too hot, the metal is more malleable. Once you place a piping hot frying pan on a back burner or take a fiery sheet pan out of the oven, you’re exposing it to a huge temperature change. Sometimes, the difference between the hot pan and the room-temperature air is enough to cause warping. 
  1. Using a frying pan that is too big for the burner. Placing a large pan on a small burner means the burner will heat up the pan unevenly, which could result in warping.  
  1. Rinsing a hot pan with cold water. This causes a quick change in temperature, which makes the metal expand and contract in strange ways. Not only does this ruin pans, but it also ruins the pan’s ability to heat food evenly. 
  1. Your pan is too thin. Thicker pans tend to do a much better job of conducting heat and maintaining an even temperature, according to experts at MDRN KITCHEN.  
  1. Your pan is made of aluminum or copper. These metals are more likely to warp than stainless steel.  

If you think your frying pan or sheet pan isn’t the best quality, it might be better to replace it rather than try and fix it. Stainless steel pans are pricey, but they should last you an incredibly long time. We like the Tramontina Stainless Steel, 12-Inch Fry Pan (Buy from Amazon, $49.95). For a splurge, try the Misen Stainless Skillet, 12 Inches (Buy from Misen, $85).  

In terms of sheet pans, it will be awfully hard to find one made of stainless steel. Instead, try to find a thick aluminum sheet that has rolled edges. We recommend the Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Half Sheet Cookie Pan (Buy from Walmart, $10.98). For a slightly higher-end model, try the Artisan Professional Classic Aluminum Baking Sheet Pan (Buy from Amazon, $16.99).  

With new tips and cookware under your belt (or apron, we should say), you’ll be well on your way to better cooking! And if you need a trick for cleaning your baking pans in a flash, check out this tip.

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