What Is a Roasting Pan and When Should You Use One?

If you're only using your roasting pan for Thanksgiving turkey, you're missing out. Let's take a closer look at the humble roasting pan (and why you should use it all year round).

You know you need a roasting pan for the holidays. Cooking up a Thanksgiving turkey, a glazed ham or a standing rib roast is much easier with a roasting pan in your arsenal. But what about the rest of the year? You don’t have to stuff your holiday cookware in a corner and let it collect dust, because a roasting pan is one of those things that you could use on a weekly basis.

What is a roasting pan?

A roasting pan is basically just a large, oven-safe dish fitted with a rack. Think of it as an oversized casserole dish, or a tall-sided baking sheet. You can use a roasting pan without the rack, but the rack prevents a roast from touching the bottom of the pan, promoting even heating and allowing the pan drippings to fall through the rack.

Because they’re usually used for large cuts of meat like a turkey, the most common size is a 16-inch pan, which can be large and heavy. Even though it’s heavier than nonstick pans, we’d recommend investing in a multi-ply stainless steel roasting pan (like our go-to roasting pan). These pans are fantastic at searing meats for braised dishes on the stovetop because they get a harder sear and can be used at hotter temperatures than pans made with nonstick materials (like this one). They also tend to hold their heat better than nonstick, making them ideal for casseroles.

When should I use a roasting pan?

There are so many ways to use your roasting pan all year round! They can be used in most recipes that call for a sheet pan, so swap in your roasting pan the next time you whip up a sheet pan dinner. You can also use it to roast a whole chicken (most 16-inch pans will hold two chickens, making it easy to meal prep for leftovers). Roasting pans are also fantastic at cooking large quantities of potatoes or other vegetables, which is especially helpful if you’re preparing for a dinner party. Don’t be afraid to pull out your roasting pan to make an extra-large batch of lasagna, enchiladas or your favorite casserole for a potluck, either.

One of our favorite ways to use a roasting pan is for braises, like braised short ribs. You can use these pans on the stovetop to sear the meat, locking in that delicious flavor. Then, deglaze directly in the pan, add your liquid and vegetables and toss the whole thing into the oven. A one-pot meal!

The best recipes to make in a roasting pan
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Lindsay D. Mattison
Lindsay is a Taste of Home food writer with a passion for sustainability. Although she left restaurant life behind, she still cooks professionally for pop-up events. Drawing on her professional chef background, Lindsay develops recipes that masterfully blend flavors from various cultures to create delicious dishes. Her expertise lies in guiding cooks and food enthusiasts to embrace seasonal ingredients and craft meals that celebrate their region’s unique offerings.