What is a Roasting Pan?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A roasting pan is a pan which is specifically designed for roasting things in the oven or under a broiler. There are a range of styles and designs for roasting pans available, ranging from plain tinfoil pans which are intended for single use applications to pans which help strain away fat for low-fat roasting. All kitchen supply stores sell roasting pans along with other roasting accessories; you can also typically find them at food markets and all purpose stores. If you have a specific need, you can also special order a roasting pan from a company which specializes in them.

Roasting pans are easy to clean.
Roasting pans are easy to clean.

The primary trait of a roasting pan is that it is designed to withstand very high heat, like that encountered in an oven. Roasting pans can be made from silicone, metal, and heat-treated glass, along with ceramic and enamel. The construction material used for a roasting pan is actually very important, as different materials can impact cooking times and the behavior of food in the oven. Depth is also an important issue; shallower pans, for example, tend to cook foods more quickly, with less tendency for browning on the bottom, while deeper pans can be used to roast deep dishes of mixed meats and vegetables which roast in their own juices as they cook.

Roasting pans conduct heat well.
Roasting pans conduct heat well.

Many people like to use metal roasting pans because they conduct heat well and they are easy to clean. Some metal roasting pans come with roasting racks, which are designed to elevate food above the pan to facilitate drainage. Using a roasting rack will ensure that food is evenly crisped, with no soft spots where the food was in contact with the bottom of the pan. For fans of poultry skin, roasting racks are a must-have, as they facilitate the creation of crispy, golden, perfectly browned skin.

Some roasting pans come in two pieces: one that holds the food and a drip pan to collect the fat and juices that drip off.
Some roasting pans come in two pieces: one that holds the food and a drip pan to collect the fat and juices that drip off.

In the case of a low-fat roasting pan, the pan typically has two pieces which come apart. One piece has a series of small holes punched into it, and it nests inside the larger piece. As the food roasts, the holes wick away drained fluids and fat, collecting them in the bottom pan. The cooked meat will be leaner, although it can dry out if not well basted. The collected fats and juices can be discarded or used to create a gravy or sauce; although this might defeat the purpose of using a low-fat pan, the resulting gravy is extremely flavorful and rich.

Disposable pans are handy for roasting food for potlucks, as you do not have to worry about reclaiming your pan at the end of the night. If you are seeking a permanent addition to your kitchen cupboards, look for a sturdy pan which will be easy to clean. Some roasting pans can be run through the dishwasher, which is a great option, while others will wear out when subjected to the stress of a dishwasher; make sure to ask whether or not a pan is dishwasher safe. Other roasting pans may need to be soaked or heavily scrubbed for cleaning, although surfaces like glass and enamel tend to be easier to scrub than bare metal.

Some roasting pans are dishwasher safe, while others should be hand washed.
Some roasting pans are dishwasher safe, while others should be hand washed.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


My sister has a roasting pan which has a fine metal mesh domed lid, no product name evident; she bought it many years ago. This lid allows hot air to flow over the roast for beautiful crispy skin on roasts without fat being plastered all over her oven walls. This roasting dish is large enough to hold large roasts, e.g., turkeys, large legs of lamb etc.

I have searched the internet but have not been successful in finding a producer or supplier. Does anyone have any ideas?


I have a black enameled pan with a center hole in the bottom about the size of a nickel. It fits in the top of my black enameled canning kettle. What is the pan with the hole for?


i roast chicken a lot but hate the mess in the oven with splattering. Can i still have crispy skin with a lid? or would a deep roaster help?


@anon127125: I've cooked great turkeys in the disposable turkey pans. However, I found a really nice roasting pan on sale at Target and bought it, and have found other uses for it (like for baking a cheesecake in a water bath).

It really all depends on your budget and how much you cook. The disposable pans work fine, though, especially if you're on a budget. And you also don't have a big old pan to wash when you get the meat off the turkey carcass. You just throw it all in the garbage, with the lid on tightly so you don't have your garbage dragged out all over the yard by the neighborhood dogs. LOL.


Question: What type of roasting is best for a great turkey - i.e., aluminum, foil disposable, etc.?


What are the vents on a roast pan cover for?


A lid keeps the water vapor inside. So, decide what you want to achieve. Crispy skin and drippings are much desired and achieved without a lid for the most part.

If you kind of want to protect your roast or bird somewhat, you can always use aluminum foil. I think the idea of roasting is best served without a lid. tlc


Is it better to have a roasting pan with a lid or does it not matter?

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