What is a Roasting Pan: Every Kitchen Needs This!

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Written By Alivia Stone

A roasting pan is a high-wall, oven-safe pan, typically used to cook large amounts of meat, vegetables, and/or starches over high heat – usually 350 degrees and hotter. Roasting pan is an indispensable item in every family’s kitchen. But, what is a roasting pan? In this article, KITCHENBAR will answer that question for you!

What is a Roasting Pan?

What is a roasting pan?

A roasting pan is a high-wall, oven-safe pan, typically used to cook large amounts of meat, vegetables, and/or starches over high heat – usually 350 degrees and hotter. The best roasting pans are made from heavy metals with a non-stick surface that conducts heat very well, such as carbon steel, stainless steel or cast iron.

The high wall of a baking pan makes it essentially the opposite of a baking sheet in terms of the stuff you stick in the oven. The reason behind these high walls is that they trap heat inside, allow for storage and collection of liquids, and make tenting (cover your roasting pan with an aluminum foil tent to lock in heat and moisture) an easy way. Without a doubt the best roasting pan is the actual roasting pan although there are tons of articles about roasting pan alternatives out there.

Contrary to what is actually, you know, it makes sense, a roasting pan is somehow often not the best cookware for pan baking (baking on the stove then done cooking in the oven) due to its large size – they can while to reach extreme temperatures. However, some of the higher quality roasting pans are compatible with the stovetop and can be great roasting tools.

So, what is a roasting pan? When answering the question, it is important to distinguish that a roasting pan is not the same as a baking dish. Baking pans are usually made of glass or ceramic and have lower walls and are used at lower temperatures. While baking pans have higher walls and are used at higher temperatures, they are usually metal.

Roasting pans are often paired with roasting racks. As well as allowing air to circulate to ensure even cooking, the rack also serves the purpose of allowing the pieces of meat to rest above the bottom of the pan and coat starch and/or vegetables underneath them during cooking. The drip pan settles at the bottom of the roasting pan and serves the dual purpose of brazing whatever was in the pan during cooking and flavoring them after the cooking process, when the drips can thicken and become everyone’s favorite in the world – pan gravy.

What a Roasting Pan is Used for?

Grilling is where the roasting pan shines. Their large size makes it easy to fit both birds and large cuts of meat, the use of a grill rack allows for even heating when choosing to grill rather than braise, and the high sides allow you to cook, grill and braise vegetables and starches while your meat cooks.

The roasting pan is also a tool for roasting vegetables. Spaghetti squash, butternut squash, and other fall favorites are great roasting pan inserts because the roasting pan’s high walls retain heat and allow for even cooking. Furthermore, smaller vegetables like Brussels sprouts, asparagus and broccoli cook well in a roasting pan because they soften on prolonged exposure to steady heat as well as acquire a wonderful texture from frequent exposure.

You’ll see pan roasts most often around the holidays, when Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas ham, and roasted veggies are often combined. However, don’t put the roasting pan in a corner of the holiday season! The versatility of the roasting pan means that it can serve multiple purposes throughout the rest of the year. They are great because:

  • Cooking side dishes: Potato au gratin, brussels sprouts with bacon, roasted carrots – the roasting pan is great for making large side dishes that need a small cleanup afterwards.
  • The ultimate appetizer: A batch of braised meatballs, a deep-fried pizza, hot pot chicken and more can be made with a roasting pan.
  • Meal prep: Lasagna that’ll last you a month, a full roast chicken for lunch all week, a ratatouille that you’ll snack on to your liking – the roasting pan you’ve got.
The benefits of a roasting pan
The benefits of a roasting pan

Pros and Cons of Roasting Pan


  • Thick and heavy bottom: Better for pre-roasting.
  • Heavy duty: Rigid baking pans can hold more food than thinner baking pans.
  • Heating directly on the stove: To deglaze the pan, it can heat the roasting pan directly on the stove.
  • Looks more impressive: Let’s be honest. When we invite guests to dinner, we hope to bring in the WOW element. The baking pan looks better than the preset baking tray + rack.
  • High walls: Compared to a rimmed baking sheet, higher walls in a roasting pan are less likely to spill liquids and drip onto the pan. The high side wall also allows you to keep extra veggies under the rack so they can be grilled on the drip pan.
  • Large: Usually much larger than a baking pan, you can use a large, spacious roasting pan to make large stews. Cooking large vegetables like winter squash is no problem.


  • High walls keep moisture out: Instead of dry heat, food can absorb water vapor from trapped moisture, resulting in mushy skin and tender baked vegetables.
  • Heavy: Because the roasting pan is heavier than the baking tray + rack, especially if it’s filled with food.
  • Bulky: The roasting pan is too big and not often used in the kitchen. When it’s not Thanksgiving or Christmas, we pack it in the original box and store it in the basement.
  • Expensive: Roasting pans can be very expensive, especially copper pans and multi-layer premium roasting pans.

Roasting Pan with a Rack

When investing in a roasting pan, you should definitely have a sturdy roasting pan with a removable stand.

  • The rack keeps the roast from dripping.
  • It makes it easy to lift a roast or roast turkey into a single piece.
  • The rack also gives you more options for baking potatoes and vegetables.
  • If you don’t have a rack, use foil or even carrots/celery and onions to push the meat up and out of the liquid.

After removing the roast or turkey, remove the rack and transfer the pan to the stove to remove the grease in preparation for easy gravy preparation.

Alternatives for a roasting rack

Alternatives for a Roasting Rack

Some roasting pans have racks and some don’t. If you find yourself without a roast rack on holiday, there’s no need to go out and buy. There are several ways to raise your roast without using a rack.

  • Vegetable: You can always place your roast over a bed of hearty vegetables, such as carrots, potatoes, celery, and onions. Not only will this help your turkey lift off the base of the pan, but it will also bring a whole new layer of flavor to your roast.
  • Aluminum foil: Make your own roasting rack using aluminum foil cylinders. To do this, simply roll three to five pieces of aluminum foil into a tight and sturdy cylinder. Place them on the base of the pan, mimicking the layout of a traditional stand. That’s it! Your turkey should now be slightly above the juice pan.
  • Wire cooling rack: And finally, the wire-cooled rack is a great alternative to the roasting rack. After all, it has the word rack in the name. Choose a rack that fits on a standard baking dish and place the rack inside your pan. You now have a flat roasting rack!

Final Words

Hopefully, through this article of KITCHENBAR, you know what is a roasting pan and its uses. If you want to learn more cool kitchen tips, follow us!

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About the author

Alivia Stone

Alivia Stone became a professional writer in 2010, and her work is published all over the web. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of MD, a certification in Communications, and oddly enough, a mixology certification. After several years of writing columns about the home and saving money, she keeps her finger on the pulse of the latest technology and she has tested and written about cookware and kitchen appliances.

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