When it comes to roasting a turkey for Thanksgiving, not just any pan will do. Your favorite glass pan isn’t the right material for this, and your trusty 9×13-inch baking sheet won’t stand up to the drippings (or the weight). A good roasting pan might not be in heavy rotation in your kitchen, but it is still worth it since it will help you cook a better, juicier, more evenly browned bird.
What roasting pan should you get? Here’s three we like.
KitchenAid 16″ Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Roaster with Rack
This shiny, sturdy roasting pan is 16” x 13” x 3” — a good size for roasting a medium to large turkey. It can be used on the oven, stovetop or under the broiler as well.
Plus, it comes with a nonstick roasting rack, perfectly fitted to the inside. The nonstick is great because you won’t have to worry about the turkey sticking to it. That will make cleanup easier.
Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Stainless 16-Inch Rectangular Roaster with Rack
The riveted stainless steel handles on this roasting pan make it easier to lift to and from the oven (wearing appropriate potholders, of course).
Together with the handles, the pan measures about 21” long (the cooking area is 16” long) by 13” wide and about 3” tall. It’s a good size, sturdy and well-built, perfect for roasting turkeys, chickens and even roasts in your oven. And when you’re done, it’s all totally dishwasher safe too. This rack insert is stainless steel, so be sure to spray with cooking oil spray before using for easier cleanup.
This pan isn’t fancy, doesn’t have a rack and isn’t the most impressive piece of cookware you’ll own. But for the family that only roasts a bird once or twice a year, it’s perfect. It’s sturdy, reliable and gets the job done. Plus, it’s economical. This is best for a 10- to 12-pound bird.
What to look for in a roasting pan
A good size. You’re roasting pan should comfortably fit the bird you plan to roast. That means if you’re cooking just a split breast or a chicken, you’ll want a smaller pan. If you’re making a gigantic turkey for a crowd, you’ll want a larger pan. The pan should have room for air to circulate around the bird — it will cook the most evenly this way.
It should be sturdy. There’s nothing worse than trying to remove a roasting pan from the oven that is bending under the weight of the meal roasted in it. Choose one that’s sturdy but also not too heavy (imagine trying to transfer a steamy, hot heavy pan, with a heavy meal and losing your grip). Steel, aluminum or ceramic are all good choices.
Say yes to a rack. A rack nestled inside a roasting pan helps the air happily circulate around the cooking bird. Purchasing a pan with a rack guarantees it will be a good fit. But don’t fret if yours doesn’t come with one. You can purchase one separately as well.