Should You Worry If Your Sheet Pans Pop While In The Oven?

Baking is nothing if not a science, according to Delighted Cooking. More specifically, it's a form of chemistry. The application of heat to certain ingredients and the resulting chemical reactions defines baking. During the heating process, scientific phenomena — mainly physics — often affect the cooking vessel in addition to the food being prepared, All Recipes reported.

Who hasn't jumped out of their skin at the sound of a metal sheet pan popping in the oven as they wait on cookies to finish baking? This alarming sound rings out because the cold, metal sheet pan expands as it heats up in the oven, causing it to bend or warp slightly. This happens most often in thinner sheet pans, but all metal pans are susceptible to this occurrence.

Warped baking pans are unavoidable over time, but whether they're safe to use is, predictably, a matter of science.

Warped pans: safe but not ideal

Metal sheet pans bend and snap in the oven because the cold material expands when heat is applied, according to All Recipes, which explained that typically, the pan will return to its original shape once it's at room temperature.

A warped sheet pan is not inherently unsafe or bad to use. But, you may want to avoid using a cold pan when baking or cooking something that needs to be heated evenly, like a quiche. When the pan pops, it may cause spillage or an uneven top.

And, there are ways to avoid a warping situation. First of all, if you're relying on your dishwasher for cleaning, you could be ruining your baking sheets. The dishwasher does a number on baking pans, from bending them to discoloring them. You'll also want to avoid transferring sheet pans directly from the refrigerator to the oven. Rapid temperature change is a catalyst for that loud popping sound. Finally, per Checkered Chef, use a heavy metal pan that has rolled edges and is made of aluminum, which is less likely to warp than other materials.