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Sep 23, 2009 05:42 PM

My All-Clad pan's interior isn't flat and things are getting crispy....

I saw this question posted a few months ago but there weren't many responses.... so I'll give it another shot. I have a stainless All-Clad 11" fry/saute pan and I notice that the interior is higher in the middle than the perimeter. Whatever oil I add runs to the sides leaving a dry spot in the middle where things naturally start to burn. I guess I could use more oil...I need to add over a 1/4 cup to just cover everything, and that seems like a lot. The exterior bottom is completely flat, which it oughta be, since I just got it a week ago from All-Clad as a warranty replacement (for the third and final time). Are all large fry pans like this? How do you deal with it? Should I get some other brand of pan or just resign myself to deep frying everything?

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  1. Chez, I feel your pain. I had read here and there on the Internet that some of the larger AC pans have a tendency to warp, and guess what? Mine is. I have the...hmm, I think it's 13". It's the really big round one. I keep the heat down low, and I don't put it on my most powerful burner (gas), though according to AC, I ought to be able to. Yet everytime I go to use it, I hear the metal buckle as it heats up and, yes, you guessed it--it's not flat inside and oil or liquid contents run to the sides.

    This does *not* happen with the other pans I used for some of the same things--namely, a Demeyere Atlantis saute pan; a Marcus 10" fry pan/skillet; or my big LC skillet (12", I believe); or my Lodge cast iron skillet.

    JMO, but if I were you, I would NOT resign myself to deep frying everything. Aside from the health implications (even with a healthier oil), I can tell you something as a person who was without an oven for several months until this week...even though I like braises and sautees, you get tired of too much fat after a while.

    I have two AC pans--the warped skillet and a chef's pan--and that's enough for me. They're going to Good Will.

    But I know tons of other people love their AC, so perhaps they'll be able to help you with some ideas for using yours, if you prefer to keep it. I just wanted to let you know that you're not alone...and I *know* it's not because of anything I did. I've been cooking long enough now to know to heat pans gently and not to heat them empty on high-BTU burners.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Normandie

      Farberware gave me free replacement of a 10 year old saucepot that warped. All clad should do the same. If you do not want it anymore, you can send it to me. I will gladly pay shipping.

      1. re: phantomdoc

        You know, I didn't even think of that until Chez mentioned that his/hers has been replaced before. Kind of silly, huh? I mean, I'm neurotic about nailing down the warranty before I purchase anything that's either expensive, finicky or something I intend to depend on a lot (which was the case when I bought that pan). But when something went wrong, I didn't think about it. So what do you *really* want me to do here, phantom? That was pretty nice of you to give me a head's up re calling AC, when it's obvious you covet my pan. :-D

        1. re: Normandie

          I think you should call them and tell AllClad the problem. They will probably give you return shipping instructions. Then contact me and I will tell you where to have the replacement sent. (haha). They will send you a new pan.

          Last night I saw a program called HOW ITS MADE and they had a segment on All Clad. It shows how they make a sandwich of aluminum in between two sheets of stainless steel. They press the pans with 240 tons of pressure.

          I am beginning to think that they may want a slight deviation from flat in the design of the pans that may flatten out when temperature rises. Different metals expand at different rates when exposed to heat. Oven thermometers work by the action of a bi-metal strip that uses this principle. Just a theory, have never heard this.

          1. re: phantomdoc

            19. How do I return my cookware under warranty?
            We would be happy to provide a warranty evaluation for replacement. Follow this procedure to return the item for examination as follows:

            • First, please contact us for an RA # (Return Authorization number) to be able to send your product back; you can e-mail us at or call us at 1-800-255-2523 to get your number.

            • Once you receive your number, please write a brief note that explains the problem that you are experiencing with the item(s). Include in the note your name, return address, and please mention your RA #. Package the note and the item together and return them to:

            Groupe SEB USA

            All-Clad Metalcrafters

            2121 Eden Road

            Millville, NJ 08332

            Attention: RETURNS

    2. That's a defect. Get a different brand, I would.

      1. I have seen something like this in a multi-ply pan where the interior heat conducting layer did not extend all the way to the sides. At least that was my supposition. In that case it was a manufacturing 'feature' rather than warping.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Paulustrious

          All clad makes a sandwich of aluminum in between two sheets of steel before stamping out a circle. The circle is then pressed into the shape of the pan. The inside aluminum goes all the way to the rim.

        2. It appears that the cladding has delaminated, and should be replaced, but if this is the 3rd time that it has happened for you I am wondering if the situation might have other causes beside a manufacturing defect.

          What kind of stove do you have and what level of heat are you using?

          2 Replies
          1. re: Kelli2006

            ^ good point; a lot of pans are not meant to be used at full heat.

            1. re: Soop

              They are not meant to heated over 300°F when empty, Full heat is fine, as long as the pan is properly sized to the burner and there is something in the pan to transfer the heat into.

              Chez Buttons, have you ever measured how much the pan is warped?

          2. Isn't it normal? Every single cookware I have, let it be cast iron dutch oven, stainless steel sauce pan, carbon-steel wok...., a touch higher in the middle of the cooking surface. It is not super obvious in my wok, but if I run my finger over the surface, I can feel it. In fact, I am 100% sure that my lodge cast iron dutch oven came in with the edge of the cooking surface lower than the center. I know because I reseasoned the dutch oven with lard and I noticed it from day one when I was scratching it with a stainless steel brush.

            This is a random AC pan picture I found on the internet. I think the edge of the cooking surface is lower just by looking at this picture and this is definifely a new pan.


            If you are talking about major curvature, then I think you have wrapped your AC pan due to overheating (probably). I would say the foremost issue is not getting a new pan, but rather finding out how to avoid wrapping your pan in the future. Spending more money on high quality cookware only gives you a better starting point, but not the end point. In other words, an expensive All-Clad is a better performing cookware on Day one when compared to a cheaper pan, but how they will fare on Day 1657 will depend on the user.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              One of the posts in Harold McGee's Curious Cook blog explains that oil naturally migrates away from the center of a hot pan. It is called Benard-Marangoni convection:

              In addition to McGee's suggestions for mitigating the problem, Paul Prudhomme's technique is to coat/mix his ingredients with a small amount of oil rather than oiling the pan. This also minimizes the amount of oil needed.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    Thank you for posting that. After all these years it was proof that are none so blind as those that do not see. And that this included me.

                    Even more inexcusable is that I read Chandrasekhar's mathematical explanation of Benard cells in fluid dynamics. Didn't really understand it though.