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Exactly What is a Roasting Pan For (or at least what do you use yours for beside your annual feast)?

There has been a lot of Roasting Pan talk here the last few days, and it all happens to coincide with me returning my warped All-Clad Roaster to the retailer. I do have various glass, ceramic, and stoneware dishes that I can roast in, several jelly roll pans, and an assortment of skillets and frying pans. However, my impulse is to replace my roasting pan with another, but why? Nostalgia? Presentation as the annual big bird comes out of the oven? Just because I couldn't possibly care about cooking and not own a proper roasting pan? I rather wonder if a single large (or an assortment) of oval au gratins might make more sense. Help me out here. Why do you have and use a roasting pan instead of using other pans in your arsenal, and what do you use it for other than the occasional large bird? I hope this doesn't sound inane, but I am questioning the necessity of a traditional roaster altogether, so I'd like to know.



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  1. We have two but they are wobbly and don't conduct heat well...but if they DID, then I would use them when I wanted to put the pan on the stove to either deglaze it or sear it first (like two really big briskets. Which I tried once, and that is how I found out that they don't conduct heat well.)

    1. I like to make a couple of big turkeys a year, even if only for us. To get great gravy, you have to have the right roasting pan....something that can go directly on the burner. Plus there has to be enough air around the bird to get it to cook right. I've been cooking long enough that the couple I've owned have paid for themselves, at least in my mind. When not in use in the winter, they make great holders to start my seed containers in the spring/early summer.

      1. We own 3 roasting pans: A small oval (speckled enamel) roaster that gets used throughout the year when we roast a chicken, pork roast, or roast beef for just ourselves -- in winter months we probably use it at least 2/month. A larger, rectangular Corningware French white roaster, for larger roasts, 2 chickens, or a smallish turkey (up to about 12-14 pounds) -- it also works well for lasagna.. And, a very large, rectangular roasting pan, for large turkeys (18-22) pounds, which we use at most 1/year, when we are hosting a large Thanksgiving dinner (which we did every year for about 25 years). We have a large kitchen with lots of cabinet space, some of which is more accessible than others. The large turkey roaster is on the top shelf of a cabinet above the fridge that can only be reached by stepstool -- i.e., the perfect place for items that are used very infrequently.

        1. I use mine for roasts and turkeys...but also when I make a mega-size baytch of "chex-mix"..and with a rack inside, I use it to slow cure-cook my home-made bacon ( I make 3-5 lbs at a time)

          1. Like everyone so far, our large roasting pan comes out about twice a year to roast a large fowl. I think that's the only time it gets used lately. We had cooked briskets in it in the past, but a new smoker took that out of play, same for pork butts and it's too large for anything else. However, if you only need it once a year, you need it.

            1. Hi, Jeremy:

              Why? If you were using the A-C and it warped, don't you still need a roaster?

              Nostalgia? Maybe, at least for the large rectangular shape.

              Presentation? Maybe, but also for stability and mobility.

              Just because...? Nah.

              Gratins? Yes, definitely. A range of oval gratins is spectacularly versatile; they make great roasters. The problem with gratins is that, for a large turkey or huge joint of meat, they either end up being too long to fit your oven, or not wide enough for large birds/cuts.

              The rectangular shape tends to maximize your available oven space--roasting carcasses and bones for making stock, for example. Likewise for spreading out multiple smaller birds and/or lots of vegetables--less apt to be overcrowded/steamed than in an oval.

              I do 95% of my roasting in skillets, gratins, rondeaux and on small shallow specialty platters. My one large conventional roaster gets the other 5%, which is mostly Holiday and party entertaining and stock making.


              1. So what I am hearing is that it is a a traditional roaster (large rectangle) is really a once or twice a year item for most. I am feeling the same way. I roast veggies all the time, but I can use any number of things for that. When I had the roaster, I would occasionally use it for veggies, but it was not strictly necessary. I only felt it somewhat 'necessary' for large birds.

                So, let me ask this as a followup. What would I lose in skipping a large rectangular roaster and getting a largeish, 16"x10" au gratin instead? Is there any reason not to?

                11 Replies
                1. re: jljohn


                  You answered my question while I was typing it.

                  Do you think a 12" x 16" is large enough for most uses, or should I really try to maximize all available oven space with the large roaster?



                  1. re: jljohn

                    Hi, Jeremy:

                    It really depends on how many you cook for, and how often you need the large area, but a 12x16 is large enough for me.


                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      Dear K,

                      I didn't see anyone mention lasagna. For large groups (8 or more) I like to use my roaster for a really deep dish cheesy goooey.... you catch my drift.

                      I know you like to emply your LC Pate Terrine in order to maximize the surface area and to create lots of 'edge' pieces, and I would probably do the same if I owned the said dish.


                      1. re: alarash

                        Hey, Ala:

                        Very good use, but I'd be so fat my car would be a road-grader. But for parties, or a large or leftover-oriented family, great suggestion.


                        1. re: alarash

                          When I first read your post I was thinking wow that is a massively deep lasagna, but when I double checked the height of my AC roaster it's just 2 1/2 inches. That would be very nice for lasagna. Although I have the 16 inch pan and I can't think of a time I serve enough people justify using it for that dish.

                          Now the LC pâté terrine, I have coveted for years. It would be perfect for my usual servings.

                          1. re: rasputina

                            and oh my, Kaleo's description of having crisped edge pieces all the way around made me want it the moment he told me about it. maybe I'll try to find one on evil-bay.

                            1. re: rasputina

                              Hi, Rasputina:

                              The terrine is fantastic for lasagna for 2-4 people--just wide enough for a single noodle. The two end pieces finish with *three* sides with crisped edges, and the middle pieces have two. I just had this pan laying around--I'm sure you could do the same in small/narrow loaf pans.


                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                But then I can't use the crispy edges as justification for my purchase LOL

                                I actually can see other uses for the pan, of course it's namesake reason for terrines but also as a covered pullman type bread pan.

                      2. re: jljohn

                        I've never been able to justify cupboard space for a roaster, since they have limited uses. I use the bottom of a large broiler pan, enameled steel, with a roasting rack for turkeys or really big prime rib. When it is not being used as a roasting pan, it gets used as a broiling pan.
                        If I am roasting two chickens I use a big 12 x 16 baking dish (why heat up the oven/house for one chicken?) and if I am roasting a smaller cut of meat I use an LC braiser, minus the lid. All of these pans have multiple uses.

                        1. re: jljohn

                          Works for me, stores better and can be used for all sorts of dishes, including everything everyone has mentioned but smaller, LOL! What did you buy?

                        2. I don't cook large birds in mine, we have smoked our turkey on the bbq for probably 20 years now. No presentation factor involved in owning a roasting pan. I have an All-Clad one I've owned for about 7 years and I use it if I'm cooking brisket in the oven ( it's usually on the smoker instead too). I originally bought it for roasting meats on a bed of vegetables that's usually what I use it for.

                          I also own an assortment of Le Creuset gratin pans.

                          1. My roasting pan is the largest pan I own, so I also use it for making Chex Party Mix and other Party Mixes during the holidays.

                            Edit: Just noticed FriedClamFanatic uses the roasting pan for the same purpose! ;-)

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: prima

                              LOL.yep.and mine is "extra-spicy" and includes Bugles, Potatoe sticks, and Cheerios and Kix!..and it damn near fill the pan!.I freeze most of it, because of the butter content and bring out what I need.

                              1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                I keep mine in a big Rubbermaid container- usually doesn't last long enough to freeze!
                                Last year, I used Crispix, Cheerios, Cheese Bits, pretzel sticks and pecans. Do you used hot sauce or extra cayenne to make your version extra spicy? I'm fairly heavy-handed with the cayenne!

                                1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                  Hi, FCF:

                                  Bugles, yet no "Chicken-In-A-Biscuit" in your mix?


                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                    HA!...........you never know?! Part of the time, it's whatever is getting "left-over" in the snack drawer. Those crazy "all-natural veggie sticks" that tasted like styrofoam before being "re-incarnated", the last 4 TBS of nuts in a jar, pretzels that saw the light of day sometime back......etc

                                    But Bugles are fun, soak up the spices, and make a nice visual change

                              2. There are only two of us, but I use our roasting pan every week for roasting various vegetables in a single layer so they get nice and crispy brown. Couldn't do without it.

                                1. I use my roasting pan for four or more turkeys a year, maybe two to three times for two chickens at once, a prime rib or two, perhaps a leg of lamb, and a fresh ham or two.

                                  Moreover, I probably use it eight to ten times a year to steam soft shell lobsters (works for hard shell too, but I'm more inclined to boil the bigger bugs). Up to four lobsters are placed on racks over water, the pan is covered with foil, and then placed across two burners. Takes around twelve minutes and is easy as can be without introducing too much water to the meat.

                                  For what it's worth, it's a twenty-some year old Calphalon with those floppy, stainless handles.

                                  (Oh, and it's also great to keep meat in (ribs, shoulders, etc.) while it absorbs the rub the night before I fire up the offset.)

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: MGZ

                                    We have two, multi-layered stainless steel, in high and a low wall versions.

                                    BAKE: Ham, chicken, beef, game birds, fish, + vegetables.

                                    ROAST: The same as above. Schweinshaxe, Steize, + Lamb..The pan drippings, some beer or wine, and a little seasoning on the cooktop hob make the accompanying sauce.

                                    STEAM: 99 % of our usage. As both pans included a stainless steel steam insert, we steam almost daily. Fish, chicken, sausage, tortellini, ravioli, and 2-3 days per week only vegetables, with an accompanying sauce, using a sauteuse pan. This is how our roasting pans are is primarily used.

                                    GRILL: Primarily on Holidays ( Glazed ham or gamon ), or for large parties.

                                    The roaster can be a very versatile kitchen tool if you use it creatively.

                                    1. re: SWISSAIRE

                                      Do you have the high and low versions of the Mauviel M'Cook? If I go with another stainless roaster, the high wall is high on my list. Which do you prefer, the high or low wall?

                                      Also, can you please describe how you steam in your roaster a little more for me? The steam insert...what does it look like? Did your pans come with both a rack and a steamer insert?


                                      1. re: jljohn


                                        No not Mauviel.

                                        We only have a few very treasured copper Mauviel items, but don't tell Kaleo.

                                        The roasters I mentioned are Rösle Brätern niedrig + hoch, items Nr. 91112, & 91114..

                                        The lower roaster (91112) is used more. It cooks less items, enogh for 2-3. people, but more quickly. Both pans included a lid, and the steam oval insert with lifting tynes.

                                        Our method is to first oil the inside of the pan lightly with a few drops rubbed in. A small amount of water, a little garlic, and a few fresh herbes follows into the pan bottom. Then the steam inserted over the above, followed by the vegetables and meat items. Some items like potatoes, leek, and carrot cook longer, while others like fish, ravioli, delicate meat, or sausage go in last. Medium to mid-low heat settings only, 20-30 minutes or more..

                                        1. re: SWISSAIRE

                                          I understand now! You and I are talking about two slightly different things. I'd call the taller one of yours an oval dutch oven and the shorter one...well I have no idea. Below is the roasting pan shape I am talking about throughout this post (in both it's tall and short configurations), and you'll understand why I was baffled by steaming in it!

                                          I love the steamer inserts in those though--very helpful!

                                          1. re: jljohn

                                            jljohn, I have that high walled one in your picture, and will be getting the low walled one soon. Really like the quality and handles.

                                            1. re: breadchick


                                              I had a credit over at Bed Bath and Beyond, and they carry the high-walled Mauviel pictured, so I ordered it. When I received it, I decided it was a very nice pan in terms of looks and ergonomics, but it was not nearly as thick as they and Mauviel had advertised!

                                              I know this pan comes in a 1.5mm holiday special variety and a 2.6mm standard variety. I ordered the thicker one and received the right pan from Mauviel (at least according to the stock number on the Mauviel box), but my pan was only 1.95-2mm thick. I weighed my pan and asked some folks who have the 1.5mm what theirs weigh, and mine was only one-two pounds heavier. I called Mauviel, and they wouldn't even address my question about pan thickness. So, I gave up and returned it this morning.

                                              I really wish the thickness was as advertised, because I really liked the pan otherwise. I just don't want to risk having another pan warp!

                                            2. re: jljohn


                                              Thank you. Now I know the North American terms.

                                              The oval shapes are more common here, and usually include a lid.

                                              You have more space in your rectangular pans for meat and vegetables.If one added a tight lid and an steam tray or insert, you could do the same thing.

                                              1. re: SWISSAIRE

                                                Rectangular version (which Swissaire has already seen :-)):


                                                1. re: iyc_nyc

                                                  Well, well.

                                                  My sister likes our cooking. So she just bought the larger WMF Roasting Pan, with a few extra container options. So far she has cooked only a few meals in it, but seems happy with the results and her purchase.

                                                  It would seem that Atlantic Salmon, although farmed, steam cooks quite well in both models. Almost a foolproof recipe for both steamers.

                                    2. I use my All-Clad roaster for roasting chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, vegetables, potatoes, lasagna, and anything else I can think of. Nothing else works as well.

                                      It's a beautiful addition to my kitchen, highly utilitarian, and I would never think, even if it 'warped?' not replacing it.
                                      My pot/pan collection is just that....a collection of anything I've purchased and those that I've inherited from past generations of family and friends...all shapes and sizes and copper, metal and ceramic.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: latindancer

                                        Yep, it warped. As in, by the third use, the bottom was so bowed out that I could rock it back and for like a boat in either direction or spin it like a top on a flat counter.

                                        1. re: jljohn


                                          What did the company say?

                                          1. re: latindancer

                                            I called WS, where I bought it, and they happily offered me a swap for another roaster or anything else of equal or greater value (with me paying the difference of course). There was another item I have been wanting at the same price point, so I snatched that up, and went my merry way to figure out my roaster issue.

                                      2. I have two roasting pan. One of which is nearly perfect straight edge and I use it for many bake goods (like rugelach squares and key lime square....etc). The other roasting pan I use for catching drips from hang roasting. I also use it for making my jerk pork.

                                        1. Honestly I don't know. I have owned several, including a very vintage one which had a vent in the lid. I have kept three, I think. (They are packed away at the movers, and I don't remember exactly.) My smaller roaster also handles chicken. The larger ones handle turkeys. I only do turkey for a holiday, and I don't do holidays all that much any more. My roasters are all enamel over steel, with domed lids. I like using these very well. I have learned to pull the lid off during the last 45 minutes or so, to brown the bird nicely.

                                          If you can put your hand on a vintage enamel steel roaster, you will use it a couple of times a year. The price for one of these should not be more than moderate.

                                          When I had a huge roaster, I put it over two burners and boiled water in it for a lot of fresh corn. it seems to me that I also made caramel corn in it as well.

                                          These used to be sold in hardware stores.

                                          1. My roasting pan is a 10"x15" All-Clad whose best feature is that it fits in the 24" oven here. Many things, including half sheet pans, don't.

                                            It was an impulse purchase about twelve years ago, on a garden-visiting trip. My companions wanted to stop at a cookware store along the way where a friend worked. I thought at least one of us should spend some money, and lo, there was the smallest A-C roasting pan, on sale. Even so, it cost more than I'd spent for any piece of cookware up to that point.

                                            It's seen action just a bit more than once a year, the most glorious occasion being the goose of Christmas 2010. But just yesterday a chow post called my attention to a use that might change that: a big batch of caramelized onions (about two hours at 350F). There's appeal in the relatively unattended aspect (turn/stir every half hour or so), which would fit well into a stovetop stock or bean cooking session. Plus, it would allow me to do a lot more onions at once than I could easily manage on the stovetop.

                                            Not to mention make me feel better about that roasting pan.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: ellabee

                                              Update & report-back on caramelized onions in the roaster: Outstanding.

                                              The roaster is no longer a uni-tasker! It'll go into use at least once a month, as the onions are such a handy ingredient to have on hand. This method makes enough at once to be worth the fuel and time, even more so if I can organize myself to use the oven-on opportunity to roast garlic or bake a gratin on the lower rack.

                                              In my earlier post I misremembered the dimensions of the roaster; it's 11" x 14", the same item All-Clad currently sells as a 'petite roti'. It was the right size for a three-pound bag of onions plus one onion. Cut the onions up lengthwise (lyonnais), add a tablespoon or so of oil, a pinch of salt, and stir to coat and distribute before putting them in the oven. Thank you, JoanN! http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3611...

                                            2. BTW.if we have company for breakfast, it's a great way to do a lot of bacon. I put it in cold, set the oven for 425, and about the time the oven is fully heated, the bacon is just about done. Sometimes with thicker cuts, theyh do require turning.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                Ha! We do that, too. It is an old caterer trick to cook bacon in the oven. I love to use a big roaster for that purpose -- the high sides of the roaster help keep splatters from going into the oven. In a pinch for big brunches, I'll use cookie baking sheets for the same purpose and grit my teeth over the splatters. We put parchment paper down first and that make clean-up a breeze. Perfect bacon every time AND it frees up my stove top. :)

                                                1. re: AnneM5

                                                  smiles............There you go..........happy eaters......en masse...........and not much clean-up!

                                              2. Great when making quantities of pan-fried noodles (pancit, chowfun, chopchae, etc.).

                                                1. Mine gets used in fall to keep glass jars hot in the oven for canning. We are not turkey fans so I use it for large ducks and geese. Other than that I roast everything else using my other cookware, including chickens in cast irons pans (I dislike high sides for most roasting).

                                                  1. I have a large (I'm guessing 12" x 16"), medium-quality roasting pan that rarely gets used for actual roasting, but it's my go-to pan when I'm braising a whole brisket. For braising, I put all the ingredients into the pan and then cover it tightly with heavy duty aluminum foil. If the braising liquid has tomatoes, I put a layer of parchment paper over the top and then cover that with the HD foil.

                                                    1. I don't think there's any perfect pan for all tasks. Hence we equipment junkies. I've got arthritis in my hands and can no longer handle big, heavily laden pans, so my preference these days is to go with a lighter weight pan. I don't recommend nonstick under any circumstances, they flake and peel, you can buy one good pan for the price of several of these. I speak from experience, sadly.

                                                      I've got a big enamel roasting pan that I'm mostly happy with, but it's a bit thin for putting on the burners. It does a great job of holding other nested pans, though! I use it for making Chex Mix, roasting veggies, roasting two chickens, briskets, turkeys with lots of veg in the bottom, caramelizing onions, whole fish, ribs, all sorts of things that are just plain too big for anything else I'd prefer to use. The enamel is really nice for roasting tomatoes. Because it's on the thin side, there are limitations, but the same can be said of heavier pans you can't lift or twist your back out trying to heave it out of your oven. Like the idea of using it to keep hot jars in the oven when canning. and, it's a good water bath for quantities of ramekins or two cheesecakes, etc.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: blaireso

                                                        I have three old covered enamel roasting pans which I use for roasting chickens or turkeys. I love them for this, but I have just realized that I need an open roasting pan for my new meat love, pork sirloin roast. I had to use my cake pan this weeekend to roast two of these for a nice dinner I made for family.

                                                        At any rate, I think enameled steel performs well for roasting birds. I remove the cover late in the roasting for good browning.

                                                        Thanks to all for adding to my knowledge about roasting pans. But I doubt I will go buy an All Clad. Although, you never know.

                                                      2. I have a big metal roasting tin with a rack and a stoneware roasting pan. I use either at least once a week. Even though they're large, I like them a lot because they collect all the meat juices.

                                                        1. I primarily use mine for whole turkey or turkey breast & whole goose. Also the occasional smaller bird like chicken or guinea fowl if I'm going to be roasting mixed vegetables along with them in the pan (otherwise I always use my rotisserie for the smaller poultry).

                                                          The other very handy use for my large roasting pan is for reheating Alaskan King Crab legs. I put about an inch of water in the bottom lay the whole legs in, & bake/steam them for around 15-20 minutes or so - just until they're heated through. Keeps them tender & juicy without drying out.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Bacardi1

                                                            I do the same basic thing with crab legs - king or snow - I just use a rack.