The Best Roasting Pans
They're not just for Thanksgiving or Christmas: Invest in a good one and use it all year!
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So, you've been told that you need a roasting pan to make a big holiday meal. You simply can't cook up a Thanksgiving turkey or a Christmas prime rib roast without one! But why should you buy an expensive roasting pan–like our winner, the Viking 3-Ply Stainless Steel Roasting Pan with Nonstick Rack (available at Amazon for $144.00)—if you're only going to use it twice a year? Let me tell you why: Because a roasting pan can do so much more than just cook your holiday dinner.
You see, a good roasting pan can sear meats like short ribs, chicken thighs, or pork chops on the stovetop and finish cooking them over a bed of vegetables in the oven. But, as we found out in our testing, not all of them are created equally. Thankfully, the majority of them proved to be a worthy purchase, even if you only use them once a year. If spending $200 on a roasting pan is not in your budget, there's no need to fear. Our runner-up nearly bested our top pick in many of our tests and it's regularly on sale for less than $40.
Here are the best roasting pans we tested ranked, in order:
- Viking 3-Ply Stainless Steel Roasting Pan with Nonstick Rack
- Circulon Nonstick Bakeware with U-Rack
- Anolon Tri-Ply Clad Stainless Steel Large Rectangular Roaster with Nonstick Rack
- All-Clad E752C264 Stainless Steel Large Roaster with Nonstick Rack Cookware
- Cuisinart MCP117-16BR MultiClad Pro Stainless Rectangular Roaster with Rack
- KitchenAid KC1T16RP Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Roaster with Rack
- Calphalon Classic Hard Anodized Roasting Pan with Nonstick Rack
- Tramontina 80203/005DS Gourmet Prima Rectangular Roasting Pan with Basting Grill
Whether you plan to use your roasting pan all year round or you just want a fuss-free way to cook your holiday meals, you can't go wrong with the Viking 3-Ply Stainless Steel Roasting Pan with Nonstick Rack. It was the top-performing roaster in the group, both on the oven tests and the stovetop tests. This tri-ply stainless steel roaster definitely has some heft, but the handles are super wide and comfortable, distributing the pan's weight nicely. It had excellent heat distribution as well, searing the pork loin perfectly on all sides and cooking the vegetables evenly from the center to edges.
If it's in your budget to pay for the highest-quality pan on the market, this is definitely the one to get. It's big and sturdy enough to handle a 20-pound turkey and it's capable of cooking anything you throw at it. Since it also happened to be the easiest to clean, even after we let the chicken pan drippings cake-on overnight, this pan solidly earned our pick as Best Overall.
The Circulon Nonstick Bakeware with U-Rack was the most unique roasting pan in this group. It was the only pan made with carbon steel—the same material used to make nonstick baking sheets—which we thought might work against it. It's significantly lighter than the other pans, weighing a mere 6.55 pounds (as compared to our winner, which weighs 10.3 pounds). And yet, it seared pork with the best of 'em, cooked up a beautiful-looking chicken, and was a breeze to clean. It also had our favorite rack of the group, a wide-grid, stainless steel rack that clips onto the sides, making it nearly impossible for that 20-pound turkey to slide around.
The nonstick surface on this pan definitely won't last a lifetime, so you may want to make another choice if longevity is important to you. But, this pan will create excellent food for a value price while it's around, making it a shoe-in for our Best Value pick.
How We Tested
I'm Lindsay Mattison, a professional chef and a big believer in the dinner party. There's nothing I love more than inviting eight or ten people over to share a meal around my (sometimes too-crowded) table. Because I always invite more people than I intend, I've gotten used to super-sizing the entree! That's where my roasting pan comes in handy: I can use it to sear and braise a ton of short ribs, cook a roast over a bed of vegetables, whip-up an extra-large casserole, or make a larger-than-life batch of lasagna. I use it all year long, and I'd love to help you find one that you'd use that often.
We chose eight stainless steel and nonstick roasting pans and put them to the test. Our tests were designed to evaluate a few things, most notably the pan's performance in the oven, on the stovetop, and overall ease of use.
A roasting pan is essentially a very, very large casserole dish, complete with a roasting rack. Like the casserole, it has tall sides which can prevent proper heat circulation if the pan's not well-designed. The material used to make the pan can either cause excellent heat distribution or leave you with less-than-stellar results. To see how these pans stood up, we roasted a chicken in each pan to see if the skin browned evenly, and we cooked a pork loin over a bed of vegetables. If the vegetables were burnt around the pan's edges, we took away points.
Once we were satisfied with oven performance, we moved onto the stovetop. Your pan should be able to straddle two burners on the cooktop and heat evenly without warping or causing burned spots. We deglazed the chicken drippings and made a batch of gravy (where we also discovered that pans with flat bottoms are much easier to work with). Then, we cranked up the heat and seared all four sides of a pork loin, hoping for an Instagram-worthy, golden-brown crust on each loin.
It's not all about performance, though, when it comes to something as heavy and bulky as a roasting pan, even if it has a nicely shaped rack. It has to have comfortable handles that help distribute the weight as you carry around a 20-pound turkey. And, those handles have to be well-designed so they're just as easy to grip when you're gloved-up with potholders! We also put the pans through other ease-of-use tests, like how easy it was to clean off those burned bits, whether the rack moved around wildly as it held a turkey, and if it was easy to pour the gravy out of the pan.
What You Should Know About Roasting Pans
There are a few considerations to keep in mind when looking for a roasting pan. First, let's talk size. For these tests, we focused on 16-inch roasters because they're large enough to hold a 20-pound turkey but small enough to fit inside a regular home oven. You might not regularly roast a turkey that size, but it's a good benchmark of the largest thing you might cook in this kind of pan. With that size, you'd have no problem roasting vegetables for a crowd without overcrowding the pan.
Next, materials: Our favorite pans were made from try-ply stainless steel. They have an aluminum core for excellent heat conductivity but stainless-steel linings for durability. These pans worked best both on the stovetop and inside the oven. But, our runner-up is made from carbon steel—similar to baking sheets—and it aced our tests. The worst performing pans were made from hard-anodized aluminum and stainless steel alone. They just weren't able to distribute the heat in a way that satisfied.
Finally, there's the rack. About half of them were stainless steel, while the other half had nonstick coatings. While the nonstick racks were significantly easier to clean after we let the chicken drippings cake-on overnight, we know that nonstick coating eventually wears off. There are inexpensive rack replacements available if that happens, and we weren't too concerned since all the racks were removable. Most of the time, I don't even use that rack: I prefer to cook my roasts on a bed of vegetables to get a two-for-one meal!
Other Roasting Pans We Tested
If our top pick is outside your budget and you're looking for a tri-ply stainless steel roasting pan, you'll love the Anolon Tri-Ply Clad Stainless Steel Large Rectangular Roaster with Nonstick Rack. Our biggest complaint is the large channel that runs along the sides, which doesn't create a clean whisking experience for making gravy or searing meats. That being said, it performed just as well as our top pick with slightly less-comfortable handles. In the end, we'd be happy to eat the beautifully roasted chickens or seared pork loin made in this pan.
It's definitely not inexpensive, but the All-Clad Stainless Steel Large Roaster with Nonstick Rack Cookware is a quality roasting pan. That tri-ply stainless construction definitely shows, both in the heft of this pan and also in its performance. The handles have a nice, flat design that help you handle the weight while giving you plenty of room to get your hands in (even while you're wearing oven mitts). It definitely excelled in our oven tests and it made a nice gravy, but we did experience some difficulties searing the pork loins. The center of the pan is slightly raised, causing the oil to pool around the edges. We had to constantly redistribute it to get an even sear.
This is a great roasting pan for under $100. The Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Stainless Rectangular Roaster with Rack wasn't our top performing roasting pan, but it did well enough on our tests that we would recommend it. It has a nice, flat surface, making it easy to sear pork loins and whisk flour into gravy. The lofted rack handles make them easy to lift out, even while holding a large turkey, but we wish the pan's handles had a little more room. It was a bit difficult to clean off some of those burned-on bits, though, leaving us with a few permanent stains.
I loved the rack on the KitchenAid Tri-Ply Stainless Steel Roaster with Rack—it was one of the easier racks to clean and it fitted quite nicely inside the roasting pan. It was also one of the few pans that still looked almost new after we used and abused it for a few days. When it came to performance, though, this one fell to the middle of the pack. It did okay on our oven tests but it wasn't our first choice for searing tasks.
The Calphalon Classic Hard Anodized Roasting Pan with Nonstick Rack did a fine job roasting our chickens in the oven, but it struggled quite a bit on the rest of the tests. The center was slightly raised, causing the oil to pool to the sides and the roast to sear unevenly. Speaking of uneven, the heat distribution on this pan was off and our vegetables burnt around the edges of the pan. If you're only looking to use this pan in the oven with the rack, it'll do just fine, but there are better pans available for a similar price.
The Tramontina Gourmet Prima Rectangular Roasting Pan with Basting Grill performed so poorly, I'd definitely prefer a disposable aluminum roasting pan from the grocery store! While we liked the flat rack design and the way it fit inside the pan, our list of likes ended there. It was downright dangerous on the stovetop, scorching a deep burn mark into the stainless steel that was impossible to remove. And it buckled and warped—both on the stovetop and inside the oven—making it a pan we'd definitely never like to use again.
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