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hmm...first turkey, I guess a roasting pan would be helpful

Well, I am planning my first big turkey dinner to serve on New Year's Eve and I figured it'd be best to start planning ASAP - grocery list, timeline, etc. I just realized that I do not own a roasting pan but of course have seen the piles of aluminum which grace the shelves every holidays. Is it OK to just grab one of these disposable pans? Any tips for using it? Do I need a rack as well?

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  1. They are fine, but you do need to set them on a sturdy cookie sheet, or you will have a hard time getting the birdy out of the oven without the foil collapsing.

    A rack is a good idea.

    Oil the rack and pan before you put the bird in.

    1. While you can roast in a disposable pan most are not sturdy enough to handle the weight of even a small turkey so make sure you put the pan on a cookie sheet/jelly roll pan first. You don't have to have a rack but some believe you get a more even cooking with one,

      Making gravy can be tricky too and your chances of burning the drippings are higher with such a thin pan.

      Honestly? If you plan on making another turkey soon, roast a chicken or make a pork/beef roast I would buy a sturdy roasting pan with rack. With all the after Christmas and "White" sales at chains like Bed Bath and Beyond, Macy's etc you could easily find a nice roasting pan for little money. While there some as low as $19.99 if you can swing it get a good mid range one ($40-$50).

      2 Replies
      1. re: foodieX2

        While we do have a small (medium?) sized roasting pan for general occasions, the turkeys on the table around here once or twice a year are usually too big (22- 25 lbs). The largest aluminum disposable pan is a super convenience on those occasions. And afterwards, throw it away! (Don't clean it/ don't store it!) Another "real" roasting pan in the cupboards year-round just would not fit.

        1. re: foodieX2

          I have several pans I could use to roast a turkey, but I'm a fan of disposable. There's always lots of stuff to clean up after a turkey dinner, so just getting rid of the pan is a treat. (Plus, we roast turkey in the grill - removing pan for about the last 30 min - and I'd rather not crud up my good pans in the grill.)

          The disposable pans with attached rack/handles cost a little more but work well without other support.

        2. You don't need a rack unless you want to purchase one for future roasting....

          A simple disposable aluminum tray, 2-4 inch sides, or the specific oval roaster disposable is suffice. You can make a faux rack by placing carrots and celery underneath the turkey....you can also elevate the bird by making a base out of crumbled aluminum foil.

          To make the tray sturdy so it will not collapse, keep a sheet pan or cookie sheet underneath for easier removal.

          To make for easier removal of the turkey from the pan, tie double strength twine under the wings and back...and legs and thighs and back. You can do this diagonally or straight,,,,or truss the bird in a fashion where you make the twine easily to pick up....No need for a rack.

          Depending on the size of your turkey...a pyrex lasagna dish will also work if you have one.....but the high heat blast to crisp the skin will probably create grease splatter...so you would want to use a sheetpan underneath as well to catch the splatter.

          1. I've successfully used a disposable turkey pan both when cooking one from scratch, and warming up a cooked whole turkey (from a restaurant).

            The way we've generally done it is to use two pans and double them up in the oven. Seems to help with insulation.

            Also, putting the pans on a cookie sheet will make them easier to get into and out of the oven.

            I've never bothered with a rack. But you can use carrots and celery on the bottom of the pan to similar effect, and then use those veggies in the delicious stock you'll make with the turkey carcass!

            1 Reply
            1. re: allgimbel

              I do the same, double the foil ones, put them on a strong cookie sheet, and have never had a problem. It does help with the insulation and prevents burning. Some of the disposable pans also come with a rack already installed in them.
              Another trick I learned from a newspaper article years ago is to make slings for the bird before you put it in the oven. IF you take a length of heavy duty foil, fold it up until it's about an inch wide, and place it under the bird (with enough sticking up to grab onto later) before cooking (with the foil folded back so the bird can brown), you can just grab the ends and lift the bird out of the roaster and onto your platter. Place one sling near the tail of the bird, another toward the neck. Give it a test run before putting it into the oven to make sure of your sling placement - don't want that bird slipping out and splatting on the floor or kitchen counter when you're trying to get it transferred.
              I realize this is late, but figured I'd throw my 2 bits in anyway.

            2. I'd try to gather up a roasting pan and rack. Costco had the combo for about 30.00. If you go the alum route, you'll have to remove the drippings to a sauce pan to make gravey.