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Home » Holiday Essentials: The Roasting Pan

Holiday Essentials: The Roasting Pan

Equipment Tips

Don’t get burned when buying a roasting pan.

It’s officially the holiday season! We made it this far, folks, time to start bringing 2020 to a close in style. 

What does that really mean?

It’s time to roast! 

Turkeys, Chickens, big family meals, root vegetables, Brussels sprouts, and more! The below list is designed to help you find the roasting pan that suits all of your deep caramelizing and maillard reaction filled dreams. 

There are a few things to think about when purchasing a roasting pan – besides looks of course. I list out a few of my favorite brands and why I think they are great options— and no, I do not have a paid contract with any of them (although that would be nice).

To begin – the question of size. There are two major questions to ask. First, what is the maximum number of people you need to feed with this roasting pan? Second, how much storage space do you have? 

How many people? 

For proteins larger proteins, like very large turkeys you’ll want to consider a much larger than just for a small young chicken. However, if a cornish hen, or quail or another smaller bird is your family tradition, then definitely look for a smaller pan – something in the 12-14” realm. If you need to feed an army, or a family of boys that eats like one, you’ll want to go for the large size. Don’t skimp on the size, because you will regret it and your oven will be a mess. I would say if feeding more than 8 people – definitely go for large. 

Larger roasting pans are wonderful because they leave a bit of extra room for roasting vegetables along with the bird. This idea is great for a weeknight meal too. 

Storage Space: 

Roasting pans work nicely in large drawers or spacious cabinets, but you’ll want to keep an eye out for the handle style when thinking about your particular kitchen space storage. The side handles that jut out are beautiful and oftentimes ornate, but is your oven wide enough for them (most standard ovens will be) and is your drawer/cabinet space wide enough? That adds an extra 2-4” of storage space as well. If you have this cabinet space – you go Glen Coco! Get those fancy handles. If you have a taller and narrower space, try for the vertical handles – still elegant, and always classic.

The next consideration is material. By that I mean, aluminum, Aluminum-Clad, Non-Stick, etc. There are many types of materials and as long as you’re buying from a top-end brand, you will most likely be in good hands. 

The thing is, you work hard for your money so you should make your money work hard for you in return. 

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Aluminum-Clad is definitely a workhorse material. Aluminum Clad actually means that the outside is stainless steel (very good for durability and chemical-free cooking) while the inside layer is made of aluminum (sometimes copper, and sometimes both) so that heat conducts evenly and quickly throughout the entire surface.  

All-Clad: 

Both have my favorite handle design for excellent and safe handling. One noticeable aesthetic difference is the All-Clad Logo on top of the Williams Sonoma option and the logo on the side of the pan (more hidden) with the Sur La Table example. Please note – currently both sites are having sales. Sur La Table currently has better sale prices between these two items. Smaller sizes fit up to a 15# bird and the larger fit up to a 25# bird.

Sur La Table: 

Demeyer Industry5 Roasting Pan

Aluminum throughout the center to quickly and evenly conduct heat, just like All-Clad, with handles designed to cool quickly (oven mitts still required when taking out of the oven) and a finger-print resistant coating combined with a Silvinox treatment that removes impurities to prevent discoloration. Also works well with induction cook tops.

This pan is more expensive than the previous two and the smaller roaster size does not come with a roasting rack. Sizes for this are 15” and 12.5” — the 12.5” can be attractive for smaller gatherings, weeknight meals, and less storage space. The previously mentioned All-Clad does not come in this small of a size.

Williams Sonoma:  

Thermo-Clad Stainless Steel Roasting Pan

It’s common for places like Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma to partner up with specific brands to create their own line of products. I’ve found 9 times out of 10 they can be just as great of a product, with excellent warranties, and often at market or just below market value. For example, I actually use Sur La Table’s all-clad version of pots and pans at home. I absolutely love them and I think that they work just as well as All-Clad. They were also a fraction of the price.

Williams Sonoma has created a line of products, Thermo-Clad, that incorporate the aluminum clad technology with a beautiful design. There are two options for roasters (the one below is the flared so you can see a different style than previously shown, but know that another style exists on the website as well). 

There are two things I like about this “flared” design – first, the flared corners make it very easy to go from roasting in the oven to gravy making on the stove and finally, a very simple pouring step into a gravy boat. That last step can be tricky when making the gravy in the large roasting pans. Second, I like the raised rack, rather than the full on bird-rack you’ve seen with the other options. I like this better because it does the same thing but requires less storage space, since it lays flat in the pan, and you can use it for more applications (such as roasting vegetables and evenly finishing off steaks, fish, or other proteins). 

Consequently, this is one of my top choices for a roasting pan that will last you years to come, and be of use to you for more than just holidays. Also – it’s just beautiful. 

This pan comes in Large: 17″ x 14″ x 2 1/2″ high, and Extra Large: 18″ x 14″ x 3″ high.

Non-Stick can be a great asset, I will include a few options here in the event that you’re sold on purchasing this. However, as a precursor I will give you my two cents on why I don’t recommend it. 

First, non-stick oftentimes flakes. Even if the brand claims it’s fine. We are humans, and we use metal on it when we shouldn’t, we can overheat it when we don’t pay attention to the stove, and we put it in the dishwasher when we probably shouldn’t. And maybe the first few years are okay, but after that it starts to chip and you lose confidence in whether your food is safe to eat or not. At that point, you’ll have to buy a new pan and start all over again. 

I recommend that no matter the roasting pan you get, whenever you use it, put a layer of parchment or aluminum foil in the bottom while roasting. If you’d like to make gravy in the pan after roasting, you don’t need to use a covering because when adding the roux and stock you actually help any food release into the gravy and it comes out of your pan. 

So – if this is the route you would like to take there are a few ways you can go about this.  

Sur La Table

First, spend just a little bit of money and throw it away the second it starts flaking on you. For $30 you can get a usable pan that will serve you well. The better you take care of it (no metal utensils, no forks/spoons/knives for cutting or scooping food on to plates, and absolutely no dishwashing) the longer it will last.

All-Clad

And of course you can choose to spend more on top brands, All-Clad included. These brands will last longer than the less expensive option, but not as long as the All Clad stainless/aluminum ones listed above. 

This is a similar style to the previous two All Clads, however it only comes in one size, 13”. 






Aluminum

It’s possible to get just plain aluminum roasting pans. They are lightweight and usually much less expensive than the aluminum-clad alternatives. They also cool very quickly which is sometimes a plus. However, they also show wear and tear much more quickly than some of its counterparts.  Aluminum can last a while but you will see discoloration, stains, and spots right after the first use. 

Again, the lightweight capabilities are quite nice. However, these pans aren’t what you’d want to serve your meal in by any means. 

This option could also be found in the non-stick area, but if you wanted to go aluminum and have it look classy – this is what I’d go for. 

So if I had to list these in my order of favorites here’s what they would be:

  1. Thermo-Clad Stainless Steel Flared Roaster
  2. All-Clad Stainless Steel Roaster – Sur La Table/All-Clad Stainless Steel Roaster – Williams Sonoma
  3. Sur La Table Demeyer Industry5 Roaster
  4. Viking Anodized Roaster, nonstick
  5. All-Clad Non-Stick
  6. Chicago Metallic Roasting Pan

As far as best values – nearly all of them are on sale right now. I think any of these pans (with the exception of the aforementioned non-sticks) will last you for years and years to come. These pans, as long as they are well taken care of, can be gifts to your grandkids some day.

The holidays can be overwhelming and stressful for everyone — take some of hassle out of the cooking by using high quality and reliable pans.

Happy Cooking!

Have questions or want to share your favorite cooking dish during the holidays? Reach out!

Hi! I'm Sydney,

nice to meet you!

I left a marketing career in Hollywood to go to the Culinary Institute of America. After a few years of working in restaurants, I am now a private chef and sommelier in the 30a area.

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