What does a roasting pan look like?

A typical roasting pan is rectangular in shape with high sides and is more commonly made from stainless steel, aluminum, carbon steel, copper, cast iron, or in some cases a mix of two or more of these materials.

Roasting pans are often confused with baking pans but in general roasting pans have higher sides which help to keep the heat inside the pan which helps to cook the meat more evenly. They also keep vegetables easily contained within the pan as well as reducing evaporation of the juices that collect at the bottom of the pan.

Roasting pans also look a lot sturdier than baking pans. They need to be since they often have to hold a turkey or large cuts of meat. The sturdiness of the pan also helps with long cooking times as they have to stand up to long high temperatures.

This is why you often see roasting pans made from a thick metal construction like the ones shown below.

Here’s some examples of what a roasting pan looks like

This Cuisinart roasting pan is made from stainless steel and is a typical example of what a roasting pan looks like. Notice the high sides and the roasting rack (which I will get into in more detail below.) You can get this pan from Amazon here.

cuisinart roasting pan

Here we have a copper roasting pan. This is made by Mauviel who have a good reputation for high quality cookware. Copper cookware is well loved by chefs but it can be super expensive. This one is not too badly priced but even so it is more expensive than most other roasting pans. You can get this pan from Amazon here.

mauviel roasting pan

Below is an example of a carbon steel roasting pan made by the Chicago Metallic Store. Again very typical of what a roasting pan looks like with its high sides and roasting rack. You can get this pan from Amazon here.

It’s also very weighty at 9.25 pounds so factor this in when buying a roasting pan. The heavier it is, the more difficult it will be to take in and out of the oven.

This roasting pan is made by Le Creuset and is a beautiful example of an enameled cast iron roasting pan. Bear in mind, that cast iron is quite heavy so whether you buy bare cast iron or enameled cast iron, you are going to need good muscles to pick these suckers up especially with the added weight of the meat and vegetables in the pan.

This pan gets excellent reviews. I have a Le Creuset dutch oven so I definitely agree that Le Creuset enameled cookware is top-notch. You can get this roasting pan from Amazon here.

Roasting pans are made to cook meat and vegetables so they are usually quite large. You don’t want the meat and vegetables to be squished up together in the pan as that will only lead to uneven cooking. A large pan will mean that you can spread the meat and vegetables out so that they all get to cook evenly.

The rectangular shape is the most common shape you will find in a roasting pan but you may also see oval shapes which are sometimes referred to as roasters. However, a roaster is slightly different in that it will usually come with a lid whereas a regular roasting pan does not.

However, in order to keep us confused as much as possible, there is a tendency in the industry to also call roasting pans ‘roasters’.

Here’s a good example of a roaster. This is made by Granite Ware and is available on Amazon here.

A typical feature you might see on a roasting pan are handles which are situated at each end of the pan. Not every roasting pan you see will have them but they are a godsend if you have a large turkey for example and you need to lift the pan in and out of the oven.

There is however a disadvantage to having handles as this can add additional length to the pan. You can see a good example of this in the pan below. This Cuisinart roasting pan on its own measures 16.8″ in length but when you add the handles, it comes up to 21.1″

That’s a difference of a little over 4 inches!

So, it’s important to make sure you get the measurements from handle to handle to ensure the roasting pan will fit in your oven.

Another addition to roasting pans that you may see is a roasting rack. This is not found with every roasting pan but it can be a nice addition. You can also buy one separately if your pan doesn’t come with one.

Roasting racks keep the meat and vegetables up out of the juices in the bottom of the pan and prevent the food from stewing rather than roasting. It also allows the heat and air to better circulate around the food ultimately leading to more even cooking. A roasting rack also helps you to easily lift the meat up and out of the pan.

There are a couple of different types of roasting racks that you might see:

  • V or U shaped
  • Flat

The V or U shaped roasting racks are great for a turkey or chicken as it keeps everything bundled together so to speak. This means you may not need to truss the bird. Trussing is said to result in a more moist evenly cooked bird.

Here’s a good example of a V/U shaped roasting rack. This one is by Norpro and is available on Amazon here.

Flat-shaped racks on the other hand are said by many to be better as everything is spread out which means more even cooking.

Obviously it all comes down to personal preference and cooking style.

Here’s an example of a flat shaped roasting rack in this Rachael Ray Roasting Pan.