Choosing the Perfect Roasting Pan

Sarah and the Turkey

The holidays are approaching and turkeys, hams and rib roasts will be heading into the ovens across the land. It you don’t already own a great roasting pan, it is high time to get one. Please tell me you aren’t going to use one of those flimsy foil pans!

If chosen with care a good roasting pan could be a once in a life time purchase.

It pays to pick wisely.  So, what are we looking for in a roasting pan?

A good roasting pan should be able to do double duty, going from stove top to oven for searing and from oven to stove top for making gravy.   Let’s not forget crispy roasted potatoes and vegetables throughout the year. The right pan can serve up lasagna and big batches of scalloped potatoes.

These are my opinions based on my experience.  I have received no compensation in exchange for testing or reviewing any of these roasting pans.

These are the things that I think are important when selecting a roasting pan.

Size:  A good size roasting pan should be at least 12″ wide and 16″ – 18″ long with sides that are about 2.5″ – 3.5 inches tall.  Check the inside dimensions of your oven, the pan should be able to fit comfortably without touching the sides of the oven.  Pans with 4″ tall sides, unless used with a rack, do not allow for adequate heat circulation.  The roast will sit too low in the pan and will ‘steam’ rather roast.  I am thinking of bone in rib roast, where the bones are the rack.

Weight:  The roasting pan should be heavy but not so heavy you can’t lift it with a 20 pound turkey or a large rib roast.  Both the bottom and the sides of the pan should be hefty.  You want good heft for a couple of reasons. You don’t want a hot and heavily loaded pan to warp, twist, or flex. You want even heat distribution so your drippings don’t burn during roasting and gravy making.

Heat distribution:   Stainless steel looks good and cleans up nicely, both on the interior and exterior but alone it is not a good conductor of heat.  Even a hefty all stainless steel roasting pan can warp and buckle. Used stove top, it can scorch and burn the drippings / gravy.  If purchasing a stainless steel roasting pan make sure it has a layer of aluminum or copper sandwiched between the stainless steel.

Handles: I prefer handles that are large and easy to grip with oven mitts or pot holders. Pans with big handles facing upward are the easiest and safest to transport.  Handles that flare outward make it difficult to remove from the oven without touching the side of the oven and they are also make storage more difficult.

Racks: The rack should fit the pan and not slide from end to end more than an inch or so.  You do not want a 20 lb hot turkey shifting 6 inches as you are removing it from the oven.

Interior surface:  Here is where it get tricky.

Non-stick surface is not your friend in a roasting pan.  A non-stick finish is not going to give you the beautifully caramelized drippings essential for a beautiful gravy.  The fond never develops that golden glow as it has nothing to hang onto.  Even though non stick surfaces have improved, they will wear out over time.  When de-glazing and making gravy I like to use a metal whisk, which is a no-no with non stick surfaces.   Unfortunately, these are the pans that are most reasonably priced.  These pans will not will last a life time.

Stainless steel interior with an aluminum or copper cored bottom, will last a lifetime.  My friend Julie has had her roasting pan like this for about 40 years and it is still awesome. The stainless steel surface will produce a nice fond, is easy to deglaze and cleans up well. There are many brands that produce a quality product like this that will last a life time.

Anodized aluminum:  This is the type of roasting pan I own and I love it.  It is 18 x 12 x 2.5 and can hold a full 7 bone rib roast.   I bought it at a kitchen outlet store at least 30 years ago and it will outlast me. Like cast iron, it seems to get better with use and age.  In reading other opinions of this type of pan the main complaint seems to be the dark finish.  A dark finish makes it harder to judge the depth of color of the drippings.  I have never found that to be a problem and have made gallons of gravy in this pan throughout the years.  It fits across two burners comfortably for searing and gravy making, heats evenly, is easy to de-glaze and I think the dark finish actually helps develop the color on roasted vegetables better than any other surface.

Roasting PanI don’t remember how much I paid for this pan, around $100 I imagine.  It has served me well. I doubt if this exact pan is still in production but if you ever see one at an Estate Sale, snag it.

As I said above, the heft is important but you have to be able lift it with a large roast and hot drippings inside and that is very doable with a pan like this.

 

 

 

When I decided to write this article, I went on a fact finding mission.  My first stop was Kohl’s just because they carry the Food Network line of products.   In store I found only two roasting pans, both Food Network Brand.

Food Network Pan Collage 70

The more expensive pan of the two was priced at $69.99

Although the bottom and side of this pan seemed fairly thick, it had a non stick finish and a flimsy rack that hooks over two rivets on each end of the pan.  This rack would not be easy to replace and I don’t see it lasting very long.  The handles of the rack hang out over the edge of the pan, so it actually takes up a lot more oven and cabinet space than the 17 x 13.5 x 4″ pan.
For $70, I would spend a bit more and get a pan that will last more than a year or two.

 

Food Network Pan Collage 50The other pan offered was $49.99 – the best feature of the pan was the nice wide handles.

It was very light weight, the bottom would not hold up to being placed on the stove, the rack was flimsy and like the other model would be very difficult to replace.

I don’t think pan would last a year.

I would save my $50 and skip this pan.

 

 

If I were shopping for a new roasting pan today, my recommendation would be this roasting pan from Chefs Catalog.  Chefs Tri-Ply Roasting Pan   Tri-Ply 18/8 stainless steel with solid aluminum core throughout the entire pan.  Nice big handles. The rack is stainless steel that sets into the pan.  Measuring 17 x 13.75 x 3.5  This roasting pan will easily handle a 24 lb turkey or a large rib roast.  This is the kind of pan that will last.  I think I sold myself & I am going to order one.  Besides, I have two daughters so they can each inherit a ‘life time’ roasting pan.

If you are ordering also take a look at this Grease Separator which I own and love. This probably won’t last forever but it has lasted at least 5 years and if it were to break I would order another one.  Good gravy needs one of these!  Making Gravy for details.

The bad part of ordering online is that you can’t actually hold the pan but I have to say, I order often from Chef’s Catalog, they offer free shipping on most orders, ship quickly and offer free return shipping if you are not happy.  I have never had to return an item. Everything I have ordered has been top notch.

If you have any questions, please ask.  Please note that your first comment will go into ‘moderation’ to prevent spamming – after that is approved you can post and ask questions without them being moderated.  I and other readers will do our best to help.

Happy Roasting!  Enjoy!

 

About Baking Nana

Each morning my granddaughter Sarah calls to ask, “Watcha doing, Nana? Are you baking Nana?” Hence my “name” Baking Nana. I am a mother to three wonderful children and a grandmother to 12 very hungry grandkids. I don’t bake fancy cakes but I do make wonderful yeast bread and home cooked meals made with love.


Comments

Choosing the Perfect Roasting Pan — 13 Comments

    • It has proven itself over and over again. Funny, at the time I bought it, I didn’t know that I was buying a pan that would outlast me. Hopefully, my daughters and grand daughters will remember it’s history and keep it in the family. 🙂

  1. Hello Baking Nana, i own 2 wonderful roasting pans that were given to me over 30 year ago by a lady that had them in her family for many years also. I can’t tell you the brand, there’s nothing on them . One is oval and holds a 20 pound turkey very nicely. The other one is square with a high dome lid that holds a 30 pound turkey. These are the best i have ever had, they hold the heat very well and wash up is a breeze, they both go from stove top to oven.

    • Good morning, manella. You are so fortunate to have those pans! The older pans were built to last for generations, so it seems yours have. 🙂 Any more pans are built to wear out so you have to buy a new one every couple of years. Antique stores and Estate Sales are great places to find these gems.
      Happy Holidays, manella. Thanks for stopping in.

  2. Penny, Appreciate the info. What do you think of a roasting oven? Just purchased to use at Thanksgiving because I only have only one oven. Was planning to cook turkey in it.

    Thank you for your input.

    • Good morning Laurel. My daughter uses a counter top roasting oven and it works great. One warning though, the turkey cooks really fast. Last year I think it was done in about half the time she expected. I think she should have turned the heat down a bit. If I were short on oven space I would use one.
      Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. I have two Magnalite pots–one that I got for my wedding 50 years+ ago and one that I got from a friend who found one at a garage sale. If I found anything Magnalite at all anywhere, I’d snag it in a heartbeat! I’ll put out the info to my garage-sale-lookers so that they can be on the alert. I have a roasting pan that I got for free when I bought a big roast when Vons (Safeway) started selling their brand of meat over five years ago. It fits your estimations of a good pan. I’m pretty sure it is stainless, and it’s done me well. Nicely done, Baking Nana!

    • I am sure your roasting pan will last a life time, Marianne. Those Magnalite pans sure will. Then they will be going strong into the next generation too!
      My Magnalite roasting pan was a big expenditure for me at the time. I am glad to say, it has proved it’s worth!

  4. Hey Penny! I really like the looks of the Chef’s Roasting pan. Here’s my situation and question – – we are doing an “nontraditional” thanksgiving in that I’m going to serve fried chicken – – lots of it (large family – lol) – – I’m actually going to cook the fried chicken on the grill – – meaning that I’m going to use the gas grill as a large outdoor stove top. That’s my situation – – now for the question – – I’m debating purchasing either a large braizer pan or this Chef’s roasting pan for frying the chicken. What’s your opinion – brazier or roasting pan? Thanks!!

    • I don’t think I would fry in this pan – just a gut feeling, as I have not tried it. Have you checked out the make ahead, Graduation Chicken from Michael Ruhlman? The big issue with frying chicken is the depth of the pan. I would be tempted to buy a turkey fryer and do it in that. Safer, deeper and seems like you could control the oil temperature easier.

      • Thanks for the info Penny! I had not read the Graduation Chicken by Michael Ruhlman but I googled it and am now armed with his recipe and information on making “do ahead” fried chicken. It was a fabulous article and recipe – lots of great insight and cooking tips. I’m going to check into a turkey fryer – that may be the way to go. Are you going to blog about any Thanksgiving recipes? What’s your favorite dressing recipe? Thanks for all your help!

        • Hey again Penny! Well…. after letting my fingers do the browsing through google – – I believe I’m sold on getting a turkey fryer to do my fried chicken for Thanksgiving. I’ve found a Butterball XL turkey fryer at WalMart for $129 that has gotten many rave reviews – – plus I like the advantage of controlled heat and less mess. So thanks again for all your input!

          • I am glad that you figured that out! You are going to be the fry queen!
            As for stuffing – I do several, but I am not a corn bread stuffing expert. It is not that I don’t like it, I just just didn’t grow up with it so it is not my forte. I have A dressing / stuffing recipe onsite that is a knock off of Marianne’s recipe. What kind are you looking for?

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