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Why Do My Baking Sheets Buckle In The Oven

The woman puts the asparagus in the oven

Photo: Grace Cary/Getty Images

Place a baking sheet in the oven and you may soon hear a reverberating “PONG!” that blows you a mile out of your shoes. Before you open the oven door to check for casualties, it helps to know a little about the physics behind that sound: It’s metal warping or twisting slightly as it expands and contracts.

So why does that pop take place? And is that something you need to worry about? We get to the end of both and share tips to keep your pans from warping the next time you roast, toast, or bake.


Why do trays warp?

The metal of your pan is at a cooler temperature than your hot oven. Metal expands as it heats up. The large surface area of ​​the pan will heat up and expand faster than the short sides. This creates stress right where the flat base meets the raised edge, causing some pans to bend or twist.

Sheet metal skillets tend to warp more often than heavier ones, but all skillets are likely to warp at least a little at some point.


Is it bad for pans to warp in the oven?

The short answer is really not.

The pans usually straighten out as they reach temperature. Even a slightly warped pan will work just as well as a regular one.

The pop you hear isn’t loud enough to fling the food up the walls of your oven, so don’t worry there either. The main case where it might make a difference is when it helps to have a very flat surface, like if you’re pouring an egg mixture into a crust for a quiche or making créme brûlée.


How can I prevent my trays from warping?

First, try to avoid placing cold pans in a hot oven. If you need to chill the cookie dough balls, do so on a plate instead of placing the cookie sheet in the refrigerator before baking.

You can also place an empty roasting pan in the oven while it’s preheating—a great trick to make roasted veggies extra crispy. For cookies, though, it’s best to preheat the pan for just a couple of minutes or run hot water first, as a pan that’s too hot could cause the cookies to spread too quickly.

Second, use the right size pan for the job. The surface of the pan should be evenly coated with whatever you’re roasting. Any bare spots will heat up faster than those covered by food, and that temperature difference could cause the pan to warp. Be careful not to crowd the pan as the vegetables need room to brown, but try to fill in any larger spaces.

Third, pay attention to the hot and cold spots in your oven so you can place the pan where the heat is more even. Generally, the oven is hotter at the top and bottom center, where the heating elements are located, and on both sides (the walls of the oven). Try placing the pans in the center of the center rack, turning the pan from side to side or front to back while cooking as needed.

Ready to stock your kitchen with the best baking pans? Check out our best baking pans tested and reviewed.


Place a baking sheet in the oven and you may soon hear a reverberating “PONG!” that blows you a mile out of your shoes. Before you open the oven door to check for casualties, it helps to know a little about the physics behind that sound: It’s metal warping or twisting slightly as it expands and contracts.

So why does that pop take place? And is that something you need to worry about? We get to the end of both and share tips to keep your pans from warping the next time you roast, toast, or bake.


Why do trays warp?

The metal of your pan is at a cooler temperature than your hot oven. Metal expands as it heats up. The large surface area of ​​the pan will heat up and expand faster than the short sides. This creates stress right where the flat base meets the raised edge, causing some pans to bend or twist.

Sheet metal skillets tend to warp more often than heavier ones, but all skillets are likely to warp at least a little at some point.


Is it bad for pans to warp in the oven?

The short answer is really not.

The pans usually straighten out as they reach temperature. Even a slightly warped pan will work just as well as a regular one.

The pop you hear isn’t loud enough to fling the food up the walls of your oven, so don’t worry there either. The main case where it might make a difference is when it helps to have a very flat surface, like if you’re pouring an egg mixture into a crust for a quiche or making créme brûlée.


How can I prevent my trays from warping?

First, try to avoid placing cold pans in a hot oven. If you need to chill the cookie dough balls, do so on a plate instead of placing the cookie sheet in the refrigerator before baking.

You can also place an empty roasting pan in the oven while it’s preheating—a great trick to make roasted veggies extra crispy. For cookies, though, it’s best to preheat the pan for just a couple of minutes or run hot water first, as a pan that’s too hot could cause the cookies to spread too quickly.

Second, use the right size pan for the job. The surface of the pan should be evenly coated with whatever you’re roasting. Any bare spots will heat up faster than those covered by food, and that temperature difference could cause the pan to warp. Be careful not to crowd the pan as the vegetables need room to brown, but try to fill in any larger spaces.

Third, pay attention to the hot and cold spots in your oven so you can place the pan where the heat is more even. Generally, the oven is hotter at the top and bottom center, where the heating elements are located, and on both sides (the walls of the oven). Try placing the pans in the center of the center rack, turning the pan from side to side or front to back while cooking as needed.

Ready to stock your kitchen with the best baking pans? Check out our best baking pans tested and reviewed.


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Ask the Test Kitchen: Why do my baking sheet pans warp?

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