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Jan 31, 2014 10:27 AM

What is the purpose of the raised center area that some pans have?

For example, old Saladmaster "Tri-Clad" saucepans and skillets had a raised center, like so:

I've even seen a cast iron skillet with a raised center:

It is usually seen on older cookware, but it can also be seen on the thin aluminum pot that comes with a Whirley Pop:

Was this done for structural reasons, i.e., to make it more resistant to warpage?

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  1. Pretty sure that is a feature designed to drain grease away from the food item. My toaster oven pan has that feature and it drives me nuts. it doesn't really work and it makes food placement more difficult.

    1 Reply
    1. re: RealMenJulienne

      Agree with Real Men and Cannibal's...draining fats. I too hate that feature.

    2. I also think that it's for draining oil/fats off to the sides. Is it's to keep food items a little less oily? To concentrate the oil where a heat ring would be on a gas stove?
      I have no idea :)
      Maybe there's no real purpose.

      edit: I was thinking that maybe on the thin steel pieces it was used for combating warping of the bottom like you were saying. The cast iron piece might have copied the design for no other reason than "everyone else was doing it". CI can still warp though. Hopefully someone with a solid answer will chime in soon.

      1. Hi, MR:

        In the case of Saladmaster, the idea is to elevate the food so that it *steams* not boils. Crappy idea, but at least there's a theory. Minimal structural help

        In the case of the cast iron skillet, it must be some ridiculous nod to "low fat" cooking. If this was intentional, it's one of the dumbest things I've seen. No structural help.

        In the case of the corn popper, I think the reasoning is twofold: (a) it actually works to stiffen the thin aluminum pot; and (b) it concentrates the oil where the unpopped kernels will tend to settle.


        3 Replies
        1. re: kaleokahu

          But with Saladmaster, starting in the early '80s with their "5-Star" line, everything had flat bottoms, which continues to this day. So if they were promoting such a theory, they clearly didn't believe it themselves. It also seems odd that they would have the raised centers on the old skillets, which are normally used for cooking with fat, rather than boiling or steaming.

          1. re: MaximRecoil

            Hi, MR:

            There's no telling what Saladmaster actually believes relative to what they promote. The whole "waterless" and "sealing" concepts were ruses (if not outright frauds) to get people to spend 5x more than the stuff is worth.


            1. re: kaleokahu

              Yeah, many of their claims are dubious at best, and they are shockingly overpriced, especially these days. I still love vintage Saladmaster (Tri-Clad) cookware though, especially the stuff with the carbon steel core. Much of it has to do with nostalgia, but they are also high quality and the handles are hand-filling/ergonomic. All my Saladmaster cookware was free; my parents bought it in 1971, 4 years before I was born. It was overpriced then too, but not nearly as bad as the new stuff is today.

              They really do stand behind their lifetime warranty, by the way. In the late '90s I noticed that the handle on my 11" skillet was loose no matter how much I tightened the screw. I removed the handle to see what the problem was, and noticed that 1 of the 4 spot welds which held on the bracket that the handle screws to was broken. They sent me a brand new one (the newer "5-Star" version, which is how I know that the 5-Star stuff has flat bottoms); I only had to pay to ship the old pan to them (which was about $12; they paid to ship the new pan to me).

        2. Back when I was a kid--long ago--a lot of the stovetop cookware in my grandmother's kitchen had a raised edge around the bottom, with an indented center. I always thought it was so that soot from the burners would collect in the raised middle and not rub off on the table or countertop after cooking. (This was pre-World War Ii cookware--used on a 1920s era stove which was not replaced with a shiny new electrical model until 1955. )

          1. Most of the time, the slightly raised center is part of the engineering of the pan, and is made made to flatten when heated, and is supposed to prevent warping of the pan.

            1 Reply