Even if you only pull out your roasting pan a few times a year, it has a big job to do. After all, no one wants to lose their Thanksgiving turkey to a roasting pan mishap. If you're looking to buy your first roasting pan or needing an upgrade, we'll give you all the info you need to choose the best pan for the job.
1. When buying a roasting pan, choose a shallow, heavyweight pan with good heat-conducting qualities. Disposable aluminum roasting pans should not be used for cooking turkey or other heavy roasts; those pans are not heavy enough to support the weight of the bird and could spill or break, causing serious burns when you try to remove it from the oven. Instead, look for a pan that's large and sturdy, with strong handles that will make lifting it in and out of the oven safe.
2. Also, look for a perfect fit. If you're cooking a turkey, your pan should just hold the turkey with no part of the bird extending beyond the pan so the meat juices don't drip into the oven. On the other hand, if the pan is too large for your turkey or roast, the juices in the pan will burn. This rule still applies for more everyday use, too—there's no need to roast a couple of pork chops in a massive roasting pan. If you roast a lot of smaller meats, look for a shallow roasting pan to keep in your kitchen for use with weeknight dinners.
3. Be sure your pan has a rack or trivet to hold a turkey out of the drippings and allow the heat to reach the underside of the bird so it cooks evenly.
4. If you aren't looking to invest in a roasting pan, you can use a broiler pan instead. Place a wire rack in the bottom of the broiler pan to keep your meat out of the drippings. You can also use a 13x9-inch baking pan for roasting meat—just place some veggies under the meat to serve as a rack. If you're really in a pinch, you can also make a large foil roasting pan work, as long as you place it on a shallow baking pan to make it more stable. But if you plan on roasting large meats more than once or twice a year, a good roasting pan is a great investment.