What do a perfectly crisp roasted chicken and a holiday turkey have in common? They're best cooked in a roasting pan, like our favorite, the Calphalon Contemporary Stainless 16-Inch Pan. The cooking vessel keeps food in place and allows air to circulate, so you can experience a bird that's browned and glistening on the outside but juicy and tender on the inside. A high-quality roasting pan is easy to clean, a cinch to transfer from oven to tabletop, and sturdy enough to make it through hundreds of family dinners. To learn more, keep reading our buying guide to help you select the roasting pan that's perfect for your cooking needs.
Considerations when choosing roasting pans
Design and construction
The trouble with a kitchen item like a roasting pan is that they all look a lot alike; it's difficult to tell whether a model will stand the test of time. First off, you must assess the bulk of the pan. If you dropped it on your toes, would it hurt? Good! A heavy pan typically signals high-quality construction materials, and the weight promotes even cooking. However, it's important to choose a pan that you can manage to comfortably remove from the oven and transfer to the table without dropping it or hurting yourself.
Roasting pans are available in either stainless steel or copper because both are excellent conductors of heat, easy to clean, and durable. Other possible materials include aluminum and cast-iron, but we don't recommend them. Cast-iron is extremely heavy, and aluminum is the least durable option.
Pick a roasting pan with sturdy handles that offer a comfortable grip, especially if you plan to cook a large cut of meat in the pan.
Assess the size of your oven interior before you purchase a nonstandard-sized roasting pan.
A nonstick coating translates to an ultra-easy cleanup. Choose a pan with a durable coating to avoid flakes making their way into your food. Note: if you opt for a pan with this type of surface, it requires more maintenance than a non-coated vessel. Nonstick is easy to scratch, and pans aren't always dishwasher-safe.
Many roasting pans are outfitted with a removable rack. This elevates food, which helps with air circulation and allows for drippings to collect at the bottom of the pan.
The pan should be large enough to accommodate food items without compromising air circulation. Food shouldn't protrude from the sides of the pan because this may cause drips in your oven. A standard roasting pan is 16 inches in length.
Roasting typically involves longer cooking times than other methods of cooking. The larger the bird or cut of meat, the more time required to cook it. A sizeable 20-pound turkey, for instance, can take as long as five hours to cook through. Position your roasting pan in the center of the oven to promote even cooking. Use aluminum foil to cover your food. Remove toward the end of the cooking process to encourage the exterior of your food to crisp and turn golden brown. Always let meat rest before digging in. A bit of patience will result in a juicier cut of meat.
Roasting pans cost between $10 and $150. Budget options for less than $50 include inexpensive disposable aluminum pans. These are ideal for serving a crowd or for those who roast foods infrequently. Glass pans are also available for less than $50. We suggest investing in a premium stainless steel roasting pan if you tend to entertain a lot.
Q. How do I know when my food is safe to eat?
A. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of food. Some ovens feature a built-in probe attachment. Always use a heat-safe thermometer if you intend to leave the probe in while your food cooks. When checking the temperature of meat, avoid sticking the probe in too deep (hitting bone or the bottom of the pan), which may lead to an incorrect reading.
Q. What can I cook in a roasting pan other than a Thanksgiving turkey?
A. Use your roasting pan for nearly anything -- from roasted root vegetables to lasagna.
Roasting pans we recommend
Best of the best: Calphalon's Contemporary Stainless 16" Pan
Our take: A top-notch roasting pan made of high-quality materials from a reputable company.
What we like: Heats evenly, and it features an incredibly sturdy stainless steel design.
What we dislike: Stainless steel surface is not nonstick. Needs a good scrubbing after use.
Best bang for your buck: Cuisinart's MultiClad Pro Stainless 16" Pan
Our take: A mid-range option with a reasonable price tag that performs nearly as well as premium options.
What we like: A great value. Durable construction that heats food evenly.
What we dislike: Scattered claims that the material pits and flakes over time.
Choice 3: All-Clad's Hard Anodized 16" x 13" Pan
Our take: A premium quality roaster that will likely last a lifetime.
What we like: Cleverly designed V-shaped rack promotes even browning, and it limits spills and splatters. Handles available at all ends.
What we dislike: Heavy.
Steph Coelho is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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