It’s the time of year where you might be asking yourself, “Shoot. Do I actually need a roasting pan?” The answer is yes. Yes, you do.
While other cooking vessels can handle a roasting pan’s secondary uses, no other vessel can stand in for a roaster when you’re staring a 14-pound turkey in the face. But roast, er, rest easy. A good roasting pan isn’t something you’ll pull out of the cupboard once a year. It’s more versatile than you think.
What are they made from?
Some feature nonstick finishes, which can be incredibly helpful for cleanup. The downside is that you won’t get as many browned bits for your pan gravy with a nonstick surface.
Whether you choose a nonstick or a traditional variety, be sure your roaster has large, sturdy handles. Carrying a heavy, sizzling roasting pan across the kitchen can be tricky, so you want to ensure a good grip — especially when wearing bulky oven mitts.
Many roasting pans come with handy removable racks that raise the roast up off the pan for all-over browning. This is a piece that you’ll definitely want to have a nonstick finish.
What do I do with one?
First and foremost, you’ll use a roasting pan for large roasts — whole turkeys, prime rib, ham, leg of lamb and the like.
But they’re also great for roasting vegetables and baking lasagna, macaroni and cheese or a hearty gratin — any dish that you’re baking or roasting for a crowd can be made easily in a roasting pan.
How do I care for a roaster?
You’ll want to check with the manufacturer’s instructions, but most should be washed by hand using a mild soap. Soaking for a few hours and then scrubbing with a stiff brush will remove any stubborn, stuck-on spots.
How do I choose one?
First, think about the type of cooking you’ll do with it. Lots of big roasts and cheesy dishes? You’ll probably want nonstick. But if you’re a stickler for making traditional pan gravy, then you might want to look at stainless or copper.
Next, think about the size. You want something that’s large enough for the biggest roast you’ll make all year. And if you’re the type to roast whole chickens and pork tenderloin often throughout the year and a big turkey and prime rib during the holidays, you might benefit from having both a smaller and a larger roasting pan.
When selecting a large roaster, it’s a good idea to double-check the internal size of your oven. You’ll want to opt for the largest pan that fits into your oven, but be sure to account for the surrounding extra space you’ll need to reach in and pick it up, and for the handles, as well.
If you need more help deciding on the roasting pan for you, check out our handy interactive comparison chart.
Do you have a roasting pan? What do you use it for and how often?