In some ways, buying your first roasting pan is like a rite of passage into adulthood. Sure, maybe you dabbled with boxed cake mix and tin pans in college, but you probably weren’t roasting a whole chicken for your roommates. Committing to buying a roasting pan—that 16-inch, heavy-duty kitchen workhorse—means you’ve officially arrived in the culinary world. You’re ready to baste that Thanksgiving turkey, or host a dinner party where your main course is so pretty it doubles as a centerpiece. (Rack of lamb, anyone?)
But where to begin? Your budget, aesthetic, and what you like to roast—be it a whole head of cauliflower or a rosemary-rubbed beef tenderloin—will all help determine what pan is perfect for you. We’ve done the research and found six high-performance pans that will please any type of cook. Read on for our guide to the best roasting pans.
Features to Keep in Mind
Unlike most other cookware, there is a clear favorite material for roasting pans. “I think stainless steel is the way to go,” says chef and cookbook author Joshua Weissman. “It can handle pretty much any temperature, it’s hyper durable, super long-lasting, and it develops a beautiful fond for deglazing and making the greatest gravies of all time.” Many home chefs will also have an enameled cast-iron roasting pan, as they are not only incredibly durable, but look gorgeous on a table.
There are also definitely materials to avoid: “If you use a lightweight roasting pan,” like aluminum, “it will likely buckle under the heat, and also not cook evenly,” says Amy Brandwein, chef and owner of Centrolina and Piccolina in Washington, D.C. “And aluminum can also react poorly and transmit strange flavors to your food.”
“A roasting pan needs to comfortably fit in your oven,” says chef Felipe Donnelly of Colonia Verde and Disco Tacos in New York City. “It should be big enough to fit a turkey, but small enough to have ample breathing room in your oven. About 16 inches is ideal for most ovens.”
Most—but not all—roasting pans will come with a rack. These are necessary for your yearly turkey, of course, but also for roasting whole chickens or any other large meat dish where it would be helpful to have the heat circulate underneath it. Racks also allow juices to drain easily from meats as they’re cooking, making starting your gravy a breeze. And here’s a tip from chef Christine Lau of Kimika in New York City: “Put some tasty bits underneath your meat to catch the drippings and roast them. Then, you have potatoes or a root vegetable hash that’s covered with turkey jus or ribeye drippings.” Drool.
And don’t worry if your roaster doesn’t come with a lid: “Lids are completely optional,” says Weissman. Lids help trap steam, which can keep roasts moist, but will ultimately prevent a nice crust from forming. “They are helpful for braises, but honestly, I rarely use them. I typically use my Dutch oven for that purpose.”
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Stainless Roaster
With a 4.8 out of 5 rating on Amazon and over 3,500 reviews, this is one of the best-selling roasters on the site. We love it for its sleek design and durability. It features stainless, triple-ply construction; sturdy, riveted handles; and a stainless-steel rack to allow heat to circulate better while roasting. It can handle anything from a large turkey to slow-roasted root vegetables with ease, but it’s also perfect for searing foods on a stovetop. Plus, the price point makes it more accessible than other high-end models.
Best Value: Circulon Nonstick Roasting Pan
At just $40, this pan packs a serious punch: It’s nonstick, heats up quickly and evenly, and has a lifetime guarantee. It’s also an Amazon bestseller, with a superb 4.8 rating out of 5 and over 5,300 reviews. Other smart features include a U-shaped rack that hugs that side of the pan instead of resting on the bottom; an oversized, 17-inch length that can accommodate extra-large roasts; and extra-wide handles for secure, comfortable gripping. Just note that this pan (and all nonstick pans) should be hand-washed to preserve its nonstick coating.
Best Splurge: All-Clad Stainless-Steel Flared Roasting Pan
All-Clad is the go-to cookware choice for professional chefs the world over—and for good reason. “They are hands-down the most durable stainless steel brand,” says Lau. “I’ve had All-Clads that have been used 20-plus years with high volume at restaurants (an infinite amount more times than any home cook will ever use) and they’re still as good as new. Whatever All-Clad you buy will for sure last a lifetime—and maybe even generations.” We like this model for its fast, even heating; durable, three-ply construction; its seamless transition from oven to stovetop; and its lifetime warranty. The standard roaster is just over 16 inches in length, but it also comes in an extra-large size for feeding a crowd, which clocks in at nearly 19 inches—big enough to fit a 25-pound bird.
Best Cast-Iron: Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Roaster
You won’t find a more iconic or prettier pan than Le Creuset’s popular roaster. “Let’s just say this: Just like the rest of the cooking and chef community, I’m a simp for Le Creuset,” says Weissman. “I’m not immune to the gorgeous design and hypnotizing color. It’s insanely durable, can handle anything you put in it, and it retains heat beautifully.” You can also use it on virtually any cooking surface, from an induction oven to a grill, plus it’s safe for use with metal utensils and the dishwasher. And, of course, it comes in Le Creuset’s signature series of eye-catching colors.
Most Instagram-Worthy: Food52 x GreenPan Roasting Pan
This sage-blue roaster with brass-coated, stainless-steel handles is practically made for showing off, and it performs terrifically as well. And since it’s a collaboration with GreenPan, it’s eco-friendly too, without sacrificing quality or style. Thanks to its Thermolon ceramic coating, this pan is not only super nonstick, but free from many of the undesirable chemicals that other nonstick pans often use, like PTFE, PFOA, PFAS, lead, and cadmium. The hard anodized reinforced body also means this model is insanely durable (and dishwasher safe!), plus oven-safe to a whopping 600 degrees. It also comes with a rack. What’s not to love?
Best Nonstick: Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick Roasting Pan
Trying to chip burnt bits of meat off the bottom of your roasting pan is no one’s idea of a good time. That’s why a sturdy, nonstick roasting pan can be a necessary tool in your kitchen lineup. We love Calphalon’s because its coating is a multi-layer nonstick, making it more durable and better performing than your average pan. Plus, unlike other brands of nonstick, its heavy-gauge aluminum interior body is dishwasher safe. This model also comes with handy stainless steel rack lifters, plus an injection baster to help your meat reach its juiciest potential.
Ask the Experts
What’s the difference between a roasting pan and a baking pan?
“Baking pans tend to be smaller and have shorter walls,” says Lau. “They can be used for baking cakes and casseroles, and come in ceramic and glass versions as well as stainless steel. Roasting pans,” on the other hand, “tend to be larger, heavier, and have two handles to help with moving the pan in and out of the oven.”
Should I add liquid to my roasting pan?
Sometimes, when roasting with a rack, it can be helpful to add a liquid, like water or stock, to your pan. “It’s all dependent on what you are cooking, but adding water can help with steaming or braising,” says Donnelly. “It also helps in rendering fat better and faster, which in turn means a crispier skin with your chicken, for example.”
What size of a roasting pan do I need for a turkey?
Turkeys come in a variety of sizes, and it all depends on how many people you want to feed. For birds up to 20 pounds, which would feed 12-14 people, “a 16-inch, large stainless steel roasting pan with a V-rack is going to be your ideal choice,” says Weissman. If you expect to feed more people on the regular, you may want to opt for a slightly larger model.
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