A good roasting pan is a valuable investment, and an essential piece of kitchenware for anyone who takes their cooking seriously.
Whether you’ll be hosting large dinners for family and friends during the holidays or smoking a quantity of meat for a summer barbecue, roasting pans are an invaluable investment.
And that always raises the question of what pan to use – especially if you’re planning to cook a large turkey, ham, roast, or even a cold-smoked brisket.
They need to be sturdy and strong, distribute heat well, and be versatile enough that they can be used more than once a year.
They also need to be able to transfer from the oven to the stovetop for deglazing, without any hot spots or buckling over direct heat.
And for optimal performance, several additional factors need to be considered. The size, shape, and design are all important, as is the material used in construction, and the overall weight of the pan.
In this post, we’re going to:
- Give you our best pick up front
- Present a budget option
- Offer a buying guide, complete with the factors that make for an ideal pan
- Present a number recommendations for you based on quality, performance, aesthetics, and price
Our Best Pick – The Viking Large Roasting Pan
We feel that the Viking Large Roasting Pan is the best fit for most people. It’s the thickest of the bunch and is tri-ply, meaning it is made of aluminum sandwiched between two layers of high quality stainless steel.
What does this do for you?
Well, to be honest, not much, if you’re only going to use it in the oven.
However, if you ever want to use this pan on the stove top (to reduce drippings and broth into a gravy, for example) that thick aluminum layer will spread heat much more evenly than straight steel.
Unlike many roasting pans, this one has a flat bottom (many of the other examples are too thin for this – they’ve got to have bends to increase the strength) and works well with induction ranges as well as regular flat glass stove tops.
Even if you don’t have induction now, you may in the future.
Also, unlike many other offerings, the Viking comes with a usable rack. Almost all of them ship with some sort of rack, but they are usually afterthoughts.
Viking’s is strong and sturdy, oven safe up to 680°F.
Also, the fit and finish are incredible. It’s been polished to a mirror shine.
All in all, this is an heirloom quality piece. The only downside is the somewhat large (but not unreasonable) price tag.
Our Budget Suggestion – The Calphalon Contemporary 16-Inch Roaster
You may want to consider the Calphalon LRS1805P Contemporary 16-Inch Roaster for significant savings over the Viking.
And the best part?
It’s almost as good as the Viking, with a few caveats.
Like the Viking, it’s flat, tri-ply, and induction capable. Fit and finish are equally as good.
However, although it is thicker than the average roaster, it’s not as thick and heavy as the Viking (which may be a good thing for older folks, or those with physical disabilities) and is only good up to 500°F (which is still adequate for prepping almost almost all dishes).
Remember what I said about the quality of most of the racks that come with these types of pans?
Yep, this is one of those “afterthought” models. The rack is thin and chintzy, so you may end up needing to replace it with something more robust.
The Calphalon Contemporary a great pan, considering the price and aesthetics, but the Viking is better in most ways other than the price.
What to Look For
In the event that you want to explore more options on your own, we’ve included this handy guide to assist you in finding the perfect roaster.
When deciding what size to get, a few points should be considered:
You’ll want a pan with a large enough capacity to accommodate the largest items to be roasted without touching the sides, and one that will allow adequate air circulation for proper roasting and browning, including on the bottom.
However, if a pan’s too big, too much of the bottom with be unoccupied and exposed, which can burn the precious juices that are released while cooking.
If you can purchase multiple size pans, great. But if not, an easy solution for smaller cuts is to add some chunky veggies and herbs on the bottom, to prevent the drippings from burning (and you can’t say no to the healthy addition of roasted vegetables!).
It’s also important to remember that some pan size measurements include the handles and others don’t, so be sure to check the inside measurements for an accurate idea of much it will truly hold.
Here’s a general rule of thumb for size requirements:
- A small roaster (14 x 10 x 3”) is good for turkeys up to 12 pounds.
- A medium size (16 x 12 x 3”) will comfortably accommodate turkeys up to 16 pounds.
- A large pan (18 x 13 x 4”) works for turkeys up to 20 pounds.
And the depth of the side walls is an important factor as well. Walls that are too low run the risk of splashing hot liquids, when braising or using as a water bath.
And walls that are too high make it awkward to handle large cuts. They encourage hot air to rise to the top, with the potential for undercooked meat on the bottom.
Look for the Goldilocks mean of 3-4 inches in depth for the most efficient roasting.
Roasters come in two basic shapes – oval and rectangular.
Oval roasters have sleek lines and, not surprisingly, work well with ovate shaped roasts such as chicken, turkey, ham, prime rib, and so on. They also make whisking a gravy or sauce a breeze, as there are no corners to block the whisk.
However, they have their limitations when cooking multiple items such as chickens or game hens, because of the loss of surface area.
Rectangular pans offer a bit more versatility when cooking more than one item, because of the extra area the right angles provide. But tight corners can be awkward for sauce making, and difficult to clean.
For the best of both worlds, a rectangular pan with rounded corners is a good choice.
When it comes to roasting pans, the heaviest isn’t necessarily the best. But neither is the lightest.
The heft of your roaster should feel solid when you’re handling it, but should not be so heavy as to make it cumbersome when lifting.
Remember that you’ll also have a multi-pound roast adding to the overall weight, and you want to be able to handle it easily when it’s hot from the oven and loaded with goodies.
The weight of your pan is important for a couple of reasons. It needs to be able to handle the heat of the oven and the weight of your roast without warping, twisting, or popping out of shape. And solid construction is also needed for even heat distribution – not only for cooking your roasts, but also to prevent burning of the treasured drippings that are converted into reductions, sauces, and gravies.
Roasting pans come in a variety of materials, from the familiar enameled carbon steel that Gramma used to use, to aluminum, stainless steel, clad stainless steel, nonstick, cast iron, or copper.
Copper has the best properties in terms of conductivity and even heating, and it makes the transition from oven to stove easily.
But, it’s very expensive. And you’ll need a full time maid to keep it looking good. Also, it does NOT work with induction unless you find a hybrid, such as de Buyer’s Prima Matera line.
In our opinion, copper is worth it for everyday cooking pots, but not for occasional use cookware.
Tri-ply or multi-ply cladding (aluminum and/or copper sandwiched between layers of stainless) offers superb performance in terms of even heating without hot spots, and has all the aesthetics and durability of stainless steel.
Just about the only drawback with full cladding is that these can be on the pricey side.
Both our top pick and budget recommendations above, and 4 out of our 5 recommended products that are reviewed below, are multi-ply or tri-ply.
Encapsulated/Spun Disk Bottom
Stainless steel with a clad disk bottom of either aluminum or copper is a very good option.
You get the light weight, durability, and ease of cleaning that comes with stainless, plus superior conductivity, regardless of whether the inner disk layer is aluminum or copper.
One of the very best encapsulated bottom roasters is the Norpro KRONA model shown above.
The bottom on this bad boy is very thick. Also, this is one of the few QUALITY options available if you need something with a lid.
A bit pricey, but it may be worth it if you need those particular features.
Pure Stainless Steel
Stainless steel has many plus points, and it is a popular choice for several reasons. It’s easy to clean up and durable under high heat, it has a relatively light weight, and it also offers an attractive appearance.
However, on its own, heat distribution can be uneven and spotty, which can result in scorching and burning.
The All-Clad item shown above is great example of a pure stainless steel option. Note that we don’t recommend this one. It’d be a great product at about a third of the price, for oven use only.
It’s made in China of straight stainless, unlike most All-Clad. In our opinion, they are selling a name with this product. The real deal is made in the U.S. and is multi-ply.
Carbon Steel with Enamel Coating
Carbon steel with an enamel coating is a good heat conductor, and it is still widely used.
Enameling makes cleanup quick and easy, plus they’re light weight and inexpensive. Unfortunately, enamel is also prone to chipping.
Also, caution needs to be exercised to ensure that the gauge of the steel is adequately thick. Thin construction can cause buckling or warping, in the oven and on the stove.
And this trend pertaining to thin materials seems to be particularly true with products made overseas.
Aluminum, although very light weight with excellent heat conductivity, is a poor choice for roasters.
Leaching regularly occurs with acidic ingredients, it stains easily, and it’s a soft metal that warps and dents with only a slight impact.
Anodized aluminum prevents leaching, but its dark color makes the interior of the pan difficult to see, and it’s tough to gauge what’s happening on the bottom.
Anodized aluminum has some nonstick qualities – it’s just not as good as Teflon. But, it is much more durable.
The All-Clad pictured above (again – made in China, unlike most All-Clad) would be a decent selection if you want a product that is mostly nonstick, and if you want durability.
Cast iron is heavy and heating can be uneven – periodically turning a quarter rotation while on the burner may be needed for even heat distribution.
It will form its own nonstick coating if seasoned properly, but some maintenance is required to keep it performing well. And, it can crack if left on direct, high heat.
Enameled cast iron transitions from oven to stove very well, and has better conductivity than straight cast iron, but again there’s the issue of its weight. And, regardless of how carefully it’s handled, an enamel coating is prone to chipping or cracking with use.
The Le Creuset Signature piece pictured above is a great example of an enameled cast iron product.
A quality enameled Dutch oven can be used as roaster at lower temperatures. Add a little bit of liquid, and that’s your basic braise.
Glassware such as Pyrex and CorningWare are not safe for the hob, and should never be placed on a hot burner. Glassware can also be very heavy, and it is prone to chipping, cracks, and breakage.
Nonstick and Teflon
Nonstick surfaces aren’t the best choice for roasting pans either. Nonstick materials are high maintenance and delicate, and they need to be babied to prevent scratching, peeling, and chipping.
Also, they definitely aren’t broiler safe – you shouldn’t go over 400°F with such a coating, as it will be destroyed.
Moreover, roasting produces delicious drippings for deglazing into sauces and gravies – but the very nature of nonstick coatings prevents the juices from binding and developing deep flavors and color.
And again, the dark coloring of most nonstick surfaces makes it difficult to see what’s happening on the bottom.
Another important feature to give some thought to are the handles.
As you’ll be lifting a pan with X pounds of weight out of a hot oven, the shape, style, and construction of the handles deserves your attention.
Bale handles (rectangular wire handles that slide up and down in guides) don’t add any extra length, which makes them convenient for storage.
However, they can be on the flimsy side, and unstable with a heavy load.
For the greatest stability and ease of use, look for large loop handles that are securely fixed in place with sturdy rivets – and that are wide enough to accommodate a comfortable grasp with thick oven mitts.
Stovetop performance is another area to think about.
Once your plump, juicy turkey or roast is finished in the oven, you’ll want to be able to transfer your pan to the stovetop. There, you can deglaze the fond or sucs – the delicious, browned drippings that collect on the bottom, and create a delectable gravy, reduction, or sauce.
According to the Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver, “sucs” is the term used in French cooking for the browned bits, and it comes from the French “sucre for sugar, derived from the Latin “succus” for sap.
Deglazing the sucs creates a fond, from the French for “base” or “foundation.” The word fond can refer to the sauce made with these drippings, though it is more common in the U.S. to use this term to refer to the tasty browned bits.
If you have an induction range, only certain materials will work with it. Only those pans with a magnetic base are suitable for resistive heating – clad stainless steel, enameled cast iron, cast iron, and carbon steel are good options for induction stovetops.
Some roasting pans come with racks, and some without – and there are pros and cons for both.
A rack raises your roast off of the bottom of the pan and allows air to circulate freely, which is necessary to roast meat properly . Without it, you’re likely steaming or boiling instead. This results in soft, saggy skin on poultry, and inadequate browning on the bottom of roasts.
Racks also permit the drippings to actually drip onto the pan bottom, and this helps to create the reduced juices that are needed for making delicious gravies and sauces.
But, a rack will also collect a lot of those valuable drippings, and foods tend to stick to them as well – so they can be a pain to clean. Also, as I’ve already mentioned, some racks that come with roasting pans can be a bit on the flimsy side.
If you like to use a rack, look for ones that have sturdy handles for easy lifting and that provide adequate clearance between the bottom of the pan and the rack for unobstructed air circulation.
You can also create a “pseudo rack” with large chunks of onion, carrots, celery, and fennel to lift your roast from the pan bottom – and they contribute wonderful flavor to your drippings.
However, this won’t make it any easier to lift a large roast out of the pan. If you opt for the veggie rack to roast with, make a sling out of kitchen twine to cradle your roast, and make lowering and lifting it easier.
To make a sling, cut two pieces of twine twice the length of your bird, then tie cross pieces about as wide as your roast between the two lengths. Four or five cross pieces work well.
Place your stuffed bird or roast on the sling, lower it onto the veggies, and loosely tie the ends together so you can find them when it’s done.
Measure the inside walls of your oven before purchasing a larger roaster.
The interior measurements of ovens can vary a great deal, particularly with newer models. Take the time to measure your oven to be sure it can accommodate the size of the pan you’re looking at – and don’t forget to include the length of the handles when measuring oven size.
Our Best Recommended Roasters Reviewed
Viking Tri-ply 16″ Mirror Finish Roasting Pan with Nonstick Rack
Our overall top pick in roasting pans comes from Viking in the form of this tri-ply, mirror finish, 16” roasting pan.
Striking in appearance and thoughtfully designed for maximum efficiency, this roaster delivers professional performance from start to finish.
Large Viking Mirror Finish Roasting Pan available on Amazon
The three-layer construction combines the efficiency and durability of stainless steel along with the superb conductivity of aluminum, which delivers quick and even heat distribution along the bottom and walls of the pan.
The exterior is induction ready, and the interior is finished with a layer of high quality 18/10 stainless steel for a non-reactive surface, making it ideal for reducing sauces or liquids on the stovetop. The curved corners make whisking sauces easy and effortless, and the entire piece is finished with a lustrous mirror finish that compliments any kitchen.
The handles are sturdily riveted to the base, uniquely designed with an inverted plane that allows the roaster to fit into ovens with ease, and making storage a simple task.
The elevated rack is V-shaped with a wide, flat bottom to sit securely in the pan, even when loaded with a 25-pound bird, and it is has an easy to clean, PFOA- and PFOE-free nonstick surface. The elevation also helps to create a convection effect that cooks foods more quickly and evenly.
The Tri-ply Mirror Finish Roaster measures 16 x 13 x 3” and weighs a bit over 8 pounds. The length, including the handles, is 17.5”.
All components are dishwasher safe, and it comes with Viking’s limited lifetime warranty.
What Others Are Saying
Not a lot of reviews are in at Amazon, but those that have cooked with this pan have shared the following insights.
All reviews (at the time of writing) are highly favorable with performance, durability, construction, and appearance all receiving top marks. And this corroborates our findings as well, after we purchased one of these magnificent pans.
The robust tri-ply construction produces exceptionally even heat distribution, cooking ingredients in the oven to perfection with no hot spots.
It also transitions to the stovetop very well, with the flat bottom providing the ideal surface for creating smooth, delicious gravy – there’s no scorching or burning with this beauty.
The edge of the pan has a small, flared lip all around the perimeter, which makes pouring gravy and sauces effortless and clean, with no messy drips running down the side.
The proprietary “Eternal” nonstick coating on the rack provides a quick release from ingredients, so no hard scrubbing is necessary for cleaning. And the rack itself is well designed, able to cradle a large bird securely in the pan without any slipping or sliding.
The ergonomic handles are easy to grip and comfortable, and their clever design takes up no additional space in the oven or storage cupboard.
The aesthetic of the mirror finish is flawless, elevating this pan to the level of functional art – one reviewer calls it “mesmerizing.”
And, since it is made of high-grade stainless steel, the pan cleans up beautifully with just soapy water, and there are no tight corners to trap debris.
Calphalon Contemporary Stainless Steel 16” Roaster with Nonstick Roasting Rack
Our recommended budget piece is from Calphalon, who offer this very handsome 16” roaster made from lustrous, fully clad, brushed stainless steel.
Sophisticated in style as well as construction, this roaster has sleek lines and radial corners, and it is professional on all fronts.
Calphalon LRS1805P Contemporary Stainless Special-Value 16-Inch Roaster available on Amazon
A heavy gauge aluminum core is heat pressed between two layers of stainless steel using high pressure for extreme durability, as well as superior conductivity and even heat distribution on all surfaces.
The Contemporary Roaster also comes with a nonstick, V-shaped roasting rack that allows air circulation for crisp browning all over.
Able to handle up to a 25-pound turkey, the triple-riveted handles have a lightweight, ergonomic design for comfort, and a secure grip for easy lifting. Plus, their inward curve means they take up less space in the oven and cupboard.
The dual metal construction has a highly reflective surface, offering maximum visibility, and it transfers from oven to stove, which makes it ideal for crafting gravy and sauces.
The durable, non-porous stainless steel is easy to clean, and safe for use with all of your kitchen utensils.
All components are dishwasher safe, and it carries Calphalon’s full lifetime warranty.
It measures 16.5 x 14 x 4.25”, and the length extends to 17.5” including the handles. It weighs approximately 7 pounds.
What Others Are Saying
The following comments are a compilation of the most prevalent notes from the reviews of verified purchasers at Amazon.
A very popular item with mostly rave reviews (at the time of writing), it receives high grades for its durable construction and performance, with no bending or warping, and superb heat distribution.
And, it’s heavy enough to transfer to the stovetop without any problems.
Kudos also go to the design, with well-placed handles that are sturdy and comfortable, and easy to grip with mitts – and they don’t take up any space in the oven.
Both the nonstick rack and the pan itself clean up well with a sponge and soapy water. And the curved corners not only clean easily, they can accommodate a whisk for making the most of the valuable drippings.
There aren’t many complaints, and most are about the rack. Some feel it doesn’t fit well in the pan and slips about when loaded, making it unstable and creating a bit of a tipping hazard. And there’s a couple of comments about the nonstick coating bubbling and flaking as well.
The other complaint is about the design of the bottom of the pan, which has a trough running around the perimeter.
It’s not a deal breaker, but the gravy-makers would like to see an entirely flat bottom.
And, although the product description on Amazon claims that a tempered glass lid is included, a lid is not actually included with this item.
Mauviel M’Cook 5-Ply Stainless Steel 16” Roasting Pan and Rack
Another high-end performer, the Mauviel M’Cook roasting pan and rack offers professional performance, quality, and design.
The M’Cook collection is comprised of 5 bonded layers for superior operation: a brushed, stainless steel interior; aluminum; aluminum alloy; aluminum; and a resplendent magnetic stainless steel exterior.
Mauviel M’Cook 5 Ply Stainless Steel 5217.15 Roasting Pan available on Amazon
Precision construction ensures each piece has a standard uniform thickness of 1.5 millimeters (5/8”), and is designed for efficient functionality on all stoves – electric, gas, halogen, and induction.
The cast stainless steel handles are securely riveted in place and will stay cool on the stovetop, and they are ergonomically designed for comfortable and safe usage.
The M’Cook roaster has a smoothly flared pouring rim for the drip-free transfer of gravy to serving dish, and it comes with a V-shaped nonstick rack that will handle a 20-pound bird.
The pan measures 16 x 12 x 4” and weighs approximately 7 pounds. With handles, the length extends to 18.25 inches.
Both the pan and the rack are dishwasher safe. Made in France, with a lifetime warranty.
What Others Are Saying
The following notes are comprised of the most commonly noted features from verified purchasers at Amazon.
Although a very popular item, a few years back the product description on Amazon listed the thickness as being 2.6 millimeters, while the actual measurement is 1.5 millimeters. This resulted in a number of demerit marks from disappointed purchasers, but doesn’t accurately reflect its performance.
That being said, a number of purchasers actually did receive the 2.6 millimeter thick pan – but don’t expect that now.
The performance, construction, design, and quality all receive top marks from happy shoppers. The pan itself has a good heft and is well-balanced, and the 5-ply construction provides excellent heat distribution with no hot spots and even browning throughout.
The quality of construction is magnifique – a well-made pan that functions perfectly, is exceptionally durable, and is of heirloom quality.
The large loop handles are well designed and thoughtfully shaped for maximum comfort and leverage, and they take up minimal space in the oven.
The flared, dripless pouring rim is another bonus, as are the rounded corners and the completely flat bottom, which makes full contact on all stove types.
And its handsome appearance is another selling point, with classy style lines and a matte interior that resists scratching.
Aside from the thickness issues noted above, the only other major complaint is about the nonstick rack. Shoppers describe it as cheap and flimsy, and recommend replacing it with a sturdier one composed of stainless steel.
Although it’s a decent pan (scratch that – it’s a great pan) we’d pay a few extra dollars for the much thicker Viking, or save a few dollars and grab the equally good Calaphon we reviewed above.
We do like the fact that Mauviel M’Cook is still made in France in Mauviel’s own factories, rather than being off-shored to the lowest bidder – a refreshing change from many other cookware “manufacturers.”
Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel 14” Roaster with Rack and Lifters
Another economical offering from Calphalon, the elegant tri-ply brushed stainless steel provides durability and corrosion resistance, while the aluminum core gives quick and even heating.
The combination of the two metals provides precision control of the cooking process whether in the oven or on the stovetop.
Calphalon Tri-Ply Stainless Steel 14-Inch Roaster available on Amazon
The lovely reflective cooking surface makes it easy to check progress while you cook, and retains its beautiful appearance over time.
The large loop handles are double-riveted for a sturdy, secure grip, and they provide ample room for handling with bulky oven mitts.
The nonstick V-rack lets heat circulate over and under for proper roasting and crisp browning on all surfaces. And a pair of brushed stainless steel lifters make handling a larger bird or roast easy and safe.
All pieces of cookware in this set are dishwasher safe, and carry Calphalon’s full lifetime warranty.
The Tri-ply Stainless Roaster measures 14 x 12.25 x 4.5”, and with the handles the total length is 18 inches. It weighs 5 pounds with the rack.
What Others Are Saying
The following comments are compiled from the reviews of verified purchasers on Amazon.
Another popular item, with the majority of reviewers being very complimentary (at the time of writing), the leading comments reflect the pan’s rugged, durable construction, professional performance, and stylish appearance.
It heats evenly and quickly, and goes from the oven or broiler to the stovetop without any performance loss. The pan has a well-balanced heft, and the base is an ideal fit for the largest element on the hob.
Design details like the curved corners, the high quality finish, the generous loop handles, and the entirely flat bottom surface are also widely appreciated – as is its easy clean-up.
A nice bonus, the four-tined turkey lifters are lightweight, but effective.
The only notable complaints are about the rack not fitting well in the pan. When loaded with a large bird, it becomes unstable and slides around easily.
And again, the product description on Amazon says a tempered glass lid is included, but a reply from Calphalon indicates that no lid is manufactured for this item.
Granite Wear 18” Covered Oval Roaster
From Granite Wear, we have another budget roaster in an 18-inch size that comes with a lid. And, at the time of writing, it’s the #1 Best Seller on Amazon in roasting pans.
Constructed with a strong carbon steel body, a porcelain coating is fused to this for efficient heat absorption and excellent distribution.
The non-porous porcelain surface is naturally inert and nonstick, with no PTFEs, PFOAs, or any chemicals that might affect the color, taste, or texture of the food. It’s also safe for use with any utensils, and releases food quickly for easy cleaning.
The oval shape is ideal for accommodating poultry, roasts, and gravy. This also helps to make cleanup simple and quick.
It will easily accommodate a 15-pound turkey with the lid on, or up to an 18-pound bird without the lid. And the generous oval lid has self-basting bumps, to direct moisture back onto the food.
The Granite Wear Roaster measures 15 x 11 x 4.25” and weighs close to 3 pounds. With handles, the length extends to 18 inches. It also comes in two smaller sizes, 15 inches and 13 inches.
Both the pan and lid are dishwasher safe. Made in the U.S.
What Others Are Saying
The following comments are a compilation of the pros and cons of this cookware, as reviewed by verified purchasers at Amazon.
At the time of this writing, the majority of reviewers were happy with the performance of this roaster.
Its porcelain finish and dark color make it very energy efficient, with good heat distribution.
A reliable performer, it’s sturdy yet lightweight and the smooth, rolled edges and oval design make gravy-making and pouring easy tasks.
Easy to use and easy to clean, users feel it offers good value for the asking price.
On the negative side, there are numerous complaints of the pan arriving with chips in the porcelain and large patches with no coating at all – quality control seems a bit iffy.
Several have also complained about the thinness of the steel, which results in hot spots and burning.
Also, there are a number of comments about the lid not fitting properly, as it often slips into the pan itself.
And that concludes our look at the best roasting pans on the market today. There’s a pan available for every need and budget – you just need to decide which one will best suit your requirements.
First published December 30th, 2015. Last updated March 7th, 2017.
About Lorna Kring
Recently retired as a costume specialist in the TV and film industry, Lorna now enjoys blogging on contemporary lifestyle themes. A bit daft about the garden, she’s particularly obsessed with organic tomatoes and herbs, and delights in breaking bread with family and friends.