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Feb 3, 2013 01:19 PM

All-Clad Copper Core fry pans with warped/convex cooking surface

My question has come up before on this board, but I'd like to get some current opinions about what to do. I have three Copper-Core All-Clad fry pans (2 12" and 1 10") and the center of the cooking surface on each is clearly higher than the outer rim.

They were this way from the start (no excessive heat or dunking in cold water) and one of them is actually a warranty replacement after returning another one that had the same problem. If I lay a straight edge across the bottom of the pan there's clearly daylight in the middle and a straight edge placed on the cooking surface rocks around the high point in the center.

There seems to be some conventional wisdom that "quality" pans are built this way so that the bottom expands to be flat, but this doesn't seem to be the case with my pans. If I heat the pan to cooking temp and do the same straight-edge experiments I don't see any clear difference than with the cold tests.

There are also lots posts that say that this *shouldn't* be the case and that the pans should be replaced under the All-Clad warranty. All-Clad customer service claims that this sort of "warping" doesn't happen often and was happy to send me a return label, but I'm suspicious because my latest unused replacement is already "warped" this way. It's hard to tell what's right.

I'm afraid that I may just be neurotic about this because in a controlled experiment oil and water don't pool around the rim. During cooking, though, I do feel like the center of the pan ends up drier. I could just be trying to convince myself that something's wrong, too :)

Could this be something specific to the copper-core line? It's all I have, so I don't know whether any of the others pass these tests.

Appreciate any advice,

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  1. For what it's worth, the All-Clad display samples at BB&B all have a similar crown in the middle. The cheaper Calphalon SS pans are as flat as I can reasonably expect, so some pans pass the test. It does make me think that All-Clad is designed this way.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Rccoleman

      Both of my 10" and 12" tri-ply All-Clad pans have the same dome from new. When I went back to W&S to check out their samples, both of theirs had the same dome so I left it at that. I'd prefer a pan with a flat bottom though.

    2. This is normal. No, it is not specific to copper core. It is true for all. I don't believe this is done for some expansion. It is done due to manufacturing.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        I just returned a SS Calphalon pan because of this crowning, which was the first time I saw it in any pan. A new (non copper) AllClad that I bought was flat.

        1. re: sal_acid

          <AllClad that I bought was flat.>

          Like flat-flat?

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Flat flat. Oil coats it evenly. No pooling at the edges. A knife wont spin in the center of the pan.

            All my other skillets are flat too.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              I just checked. 5 frying pans. Aluminum x 1, Allclad MC2 x3, Lincoln Wearever SS clad x1. No domes to be seen.

              I was amazed when the calphalon pan arrived with a hump.

              1. re: sal_acid

                Hmm... This is usually how these threads go, and why I was hoping for some consensus. If you can lay a straight edge across the bottom of your fry pans and have it touch all the way across, I suppose there's hope for a replacement. I do see a flatter bottom on my sauce pans and saute pan, but they're not perfect either.

                I was frying some eggplant tonight in a small amount of oil and it was clear that the oil was deeper around the rim than in the center. I don't think that should happen in a $200 fry pan.

          2. re: Chemicalkinetics

            When you think about it, think of how little a dome in the other direction it would take to have a pan spin on a glass top range. Talk about annoying. So I guess if I were a manufacturer, I'd fudge a bit the other direction as well.

            1. re: mikie

              Agreed that its better to be high than low. I have a gas cooktop, but I can imagine that a convex bottom would be annoying on a glass top.

              1. re: Rccoleman

                This is why I bought my first AllClad. All of my skillets were warped in the wrong direction and I could not cook on my glass top. I thought my AllClad was perfectly flat until I just checked with a straightedge -- a piece of thick paper slips underneath at the center. I checked my DeBuyer -- same thing. The DeBuyer pools oil at the edge a little. No pooling in the AllClad. I would guess that the larger the pan, the larger the deviation and pooling. But think about why you use a large pan -- to cook more than one chicken breast at a time which will be arranged around the outside and not in the middle!

          3. I have a Viking saute pan that's 13" across and there is the slightest of domes in the center as you discribe. However, when I cook with it, the olive oil seems to be evenly distributed. On the other hand, an old saute pan we have is grosely domed in the center and the oil obviously pools to the edges and the center is dry. If it seems there is not an uneven distribution of oil when the pan just has oil in it, then it's likely alright. I too notice the center seems to have less oil, but that's where the food is too, so it must absorb some ot it.

            1. Just FYI, the German company Fissler specifically states that the CookStar bases that they use on their cookware are slightly concave when cold. They are designed to flatten out at cooking temperature.


              1 Reply
              1. re: tanuki soup

                Thanks for the tip. That's honestly what I was hoping, but it doesn't seem to work for my pans. I've heated them dry to a reasonable cooking temperature and also with oil. There was no difference when dry (it may have even gotten worse on the 10" - hard to tell), and I got the same results sticking my Incra Guaranteed Square edge into the oil (yum!). The All-Clad pans don't have the funky expansion joints, but maybe there's still some truth to it. I'm trying to give it the benefit of the doubt, but it's letting me down each time.

              2. I have an All-Clad Stainless 10 inch (5110) and it is alarmingly flat on the bottom. This is a pan I picked up at Homegoods and it's so flat that:

                I hand washed the pan and let it sit on a flat surface for a few days to dry, sort of carelessly. 3-4 days later when I picked it up there was a lot of water trapped in the space between the counter and the pan; a perfect seal. Yeah...

                1 Reply
                1. re: Wapptor

                  I suspect that that could just as easily have happened with a concave bottom. Good seal around around the outside rim and plenty of room for extra water inside. If it was truly flat, I'd expect a wet spot but not much water. As far as I can tell, the rims of my pans are nice and flat.